Jan 17, 2010

Scotch, Double Blind and Coke

After a double blind taste test I've found Clan McGregor is not as good as Johnny Walker Black, my poison of choice. Though Clan is THE best bar (or well) Scotch I have ever had.

How does one go about doing a double blind study? It helps to have a willing wife and daughter. Fix two samples the same, glass, ice and portion. Then my daughter brings them to me one at a time. I'm literally blind folded, so only my sense of taste and smell come into play. After doing this twice, I decide which one I like best. Then the results are reveled.

So how is this double blind? The subject, me, doesn't know which one is being served. I'm blind, literally. The one serving me doesn't know either. The one setting up the test isn't involved in giving the test, only recording the results.

This way the person setting up the test doesn't give any clues as to which I'm tasting or introducing any bias into the results and neither does the sever. If we were to do a real world study to find out which Scotch I did like best we would follow stricter blind rules and due the test for a longer period of time.
To start my wife would put both liquors in two different bottles that looked the same, mark them A and B and then put them in plain paper bags. My daughter now marks the bags 1 and 2. At this point none of us know what containers hold which Scotch. Then my daughter or my wife would fix me a drink as I would normally consume them alternating between the two and recording the data. This method although thorough, would take far to such time effort. I usually take about six months to a year to drink a bottle of Scotch.

But why would such a level of detail ever be needed for a taste test? Ask Coke about the Pepsi challenge. Coke never challenged the study, didn't due a controlled study, and their conclusion was that people like the taste of Pepsi better. They reformatted the formula, and because they didn't follow a strict scientific methodology, Coke almost went out of business.
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