For a vast majority of the whiskeys reviewed on this site, we've each taste the whiskey, made independent notes, and discussed/compared. Generally, we'll do a second tasting to confirm our initial impressions before assigning a "gut grade" of A+ through F. We vary the vessels we use to taste whiskey, especially with whiskeys we've consumed many times, but we generally use Glencairn glasses.
A+: Legendary: A truly amazing whiskey that we probably spent way too much $ on.
A-B+: Outstanding: A well-balanced, delicious whiskey that we'd give as special gifts.
B-C+: Good: A whiskey with character but some negative qualities.
C-D+: Not awful: but not something we'd buy again for ourselves or as a gift.
D-F: Awful: Will actively tell others to avoid, even at a $8/bottle.