Single Malt Recommendation App

Life is too short to drink whisky you don’t like.

How often have you found yourself in a duty free shop in an airport, wondering which whisky to take back home? Unless you are a pro at this already, you might want something you haven’t tried before, but don’t want to end up buying something you may not like. The names are all grand, as Scottish names usually are. The region might offer some clue, but not so much.

So I started on this work a few years back, when I first discovered this whisky database. I had come up with a set of tables to recommend what whisky is similar to what, and which single malts are the “most unique”. Based on this, I discovered that I might like Ardbeg. And I ended up absolutely loving it.

And ever since, I’ve carried a couple of tables in my Evernote to make sure I have some recommendations handy when I’m at a whisky shop and need to make a decision. But then the tables are not user friendly, and don’t typically tell you what you should buy, and what your next choice should be and so on .

To make things more user-friendly, I have built this app where all you need to enter is your favourite set of single malts, and it gives you a list of other single malts that you might like.

The data set is the same. I once again use cosine similarity to find the similarity of different whiskies. Except that this time I take the average of your favourite whiskies, and then look for the whiskies that are closest to that.

In terms of technologies, I’ve used this R package called Shiny to build the app. It took not more than half an hour of programming effort to build, and most of that was in actually building the logic, not the UI stuff.

So take it for a spin, and let me know what you think.


Buy me an Ardbeg

On one of my other blogs I have analyzed which is the most “different” single malt. It turns out it is Laphroaig, which I recently tasted for the first time and absolutely love.

My all-time favourite single malt, however, is Talisker. In the blog post I wrote last night, I also analyzed single malts which are similar to other single malts. The analysis revealed that the three single malts which are closest to Talisker are Clynelish, Ardbeg and Oban.

Coming back to the list of most unique whiskies, my analysis revealed that there are three whiskies whose degree of uniqueness is much higher than that of the others. One, as I mentioned earlier is Laphroaig. Then, there is Lagavulin, which the similarity table says is close to Laphroaig. And the third? Ardbeg.

So Ardbeg is this rare whisky (similarity score of only ~60%), and which is 95% similar to Talisker, my all-time favourite whisky. So the next time you want to impress me, you know what to get!

The most unique single malt

There might have been a time in life when you would’ve had some Single Malt whisky and thought that it “doesn’t taste like any other”. In fact, you might have noticed that some single malt whiskies are more distinct than others. It is possible you might want to go on a quest to find the most unique single malts, but given that single malts are expensive and not easily available, some data analysis might help.

There is this dataset of 86 single malts that has been floating about the interwebs for a while now, and there is some simple yet interesting analysis related to that data Рfor example, check out this simple analysis with a K-means clustering of various single malts. They use the dataset (which scores each of the 86 malts on 12 different axis) in order to cluster the malts, and analyze which whiskies belong to similar  groups.

Continue reading “The most unique single malt”