RecoMentor, a whisky flavor search engine

Akasaka-based Asian Frontier has launched a new search engine called RecoMentor that enables you to discover new whiskies by flavor profile, flavor tags, and even entire flavor wheels. And its results are human-tested!

Many of us have probably been in the situation where you're at a whisky bar and overwhelmed with options. So you ask the bartender for a recommendation. Chances are, the bartender will in turn ask you what kind of whisky you like -- peaty, fruity, woody, or something else? Perhaps you'll discover a bottle entirely new to you, and maybe you'll even love it.

It's difficult to recreate that experience on the internet. But RecoMentor is attempting to do just that. And yes, its search engine is available in English as well.

You're offered three different ways to search. The first is probably my favorite: a radar chart with six axes, one each for woody, peaty, smokey, cerealy, floral, and winey. Set the values to whatever you want, and the engine returns bottles that match. The other two options allow you to search by flavor tag (select up to six), or using a flavor wheel provided by Aromaster.

While I admittedly had never heard of Asian Frontier, there are some big names attached to the project. What really sets RecoMentor apart from something like Whisky Suggest is the human element.

That's because the flavor dataset is powered by a team of Japan's professional whisky tasters and bartenders. There are too many big names to mention here, but just to hit a few: Kitakaji-san of Rudder Ltd. (former famed buyer for Shinanoya), Kurashima-san of Liquors Hasegawa, Shizuya-san of Bar Livet and Shinjuku Whisky Salon, and Yoshimura-san of M's Tasting Room. The full roster is here.

Of course, a whisky search engine that doesn't lead to whisky is sort of useless. To that end, RecoMentor provides links to Rakuten and Amazon JP, and also directs you to Tokyo Whisky Library, who can set you up with takeout if they have the particular bottle(s) in stock. Bartenders may be interested in RecoMentor PRO, their app that provides the same functionality and can be adapted to match the bottles you offer.

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