Review Assignment Due Oct. 30

Time Table
10/11 Assignment Prompt Distributed
10/30 Assignment Due in Class

The Basics
For this assignment, you will choose a product, a place, an experience (distillery tour, tasting, etc.) and write a 500-750 word review aimed at a specific audience. You must identify where you’d ideally want to publish the review (though I am not requiring you to publish it): Amazon, Yelp!, Chevy Chaser, Trip Advisor, The Bourbon Review or some other venue and also the audience you are targeting.The purpose of the review is to make an evaluative argument based on your experience and knowledge. While each of the venues above has its own conventions for what makes a “good” review, in general you’ll want to include the following elements in your review:

Introduction–Identify the product, place, or experience in detail. Include its full title, address, details about cost/length of tour/experience etc. Explain how you came to be familiar with this particular item or experience.

A Discussion of the strengths
–What does this place have going for it? You want to identify several aspects that are strong, positive, good; describe them in detail by providing concrete examples and details. Explain what criteria you used to evaluate them as such. You want to make it clear that you are evaluating with a specific audience and set of criteria in mind. Remember you’re not going to describe EVERYTHING in detail, but be selective about which aspects would be most important for your audience to consider in making their decision about how to spend their time or money.

A Discussion of the weaknesses/drawbacks–What aspects didn’t work out as well, didn’t conform to your expectations, didn’t succeed, or would benefit from improvement? What suggestions can you offer to help them improve? Again, you don’t need to mention everything that went wrong, but select the key most important elements whose improvement might help your audience enjoy the experience, place, purchase more. The best reviews include a balance of strengths and weaknesses, which helps to establish you as a credible reviewer.

Contextualize to Establish Ethos/Gain Reader Trust (Compare and Contrast)--To help demonstrate your knowledge and expertise, compare and contract this product, place, experience with others like it. How does going to Claiborne differ from going to Sisters Horse farm? What is different about visiting Bluegrass, Barrel House, Old Pepper, compared to Town Branch, which we already visited for class?  How is Old Kentucky Chocolates different from Ruth Hunt or the speciality chocolates you buy in the gift shop at the end of a distillery tour? What kind of experience will you have at Crank and Boom vs. Graeter’s vs. Sorello’s ice cream shops, and how many versions of Bourbon themed ice cream/treats do they offer?

Identify the Audience-
-Describe who would enjoy/benefit most from what you are evaluating.If you’re reviewing a product, you might focus on how easy/difficult it is to use, how intuitive it is; for a restaurant or experience you might focus on service, ambience, as well as the food/beverage itself.  Is it accessible? Compare it to others you’ve visited or enjoyed in the past.

A Clear Overall Evaluation
What is your overall recommendation? Should people buy, come, visit, enjoy this particular thing? Why or why not? What is the overall “grade” that you’d give it and why? Is it a good value, worth making the out of the way stop, etc? Explain why you think so.

The Rationale
As you begin to do research for your final project, which is a larger, research-based assignment, you will want to go on some field trips to investigate potential spots/items/merchandise, etc. that you will feature as part of your final project. The goal of this assignment is to give you some practice in the (now very popular) genre of the review, so that you have practice using descriptive, evaluative language for your final projects. The goal is also to get you to do some field-research to explore some aspects about Bourbon-related industry that you’re interested in to see how you might pitch/shape your final story. Remember, people use reviews all the time–to make decisions about where to eat, what to choose on the menu, which bourbons to buy/sample, and which destinations to visit on a trip. Some companies will even pay you to write reviews of their products, services, etc. Having a review in your portfolio will help prepare you to market yourself as a professional writer, should you choose to continue on this path.

Tips for Getting Started
Identify the type of review you will write, then identify what you will review, then identify the audience you’ll keep in mind as you write your review. Note, if you’re reviewing something with the idea of including it on a “Lexington for Families with small children and a shoestring budget” itinerary, the criteria will be very different from a review written for an itinerary that aims to highlight”African Americans in KY history.” While there may be overlap, the general criteria will be different (i.e. are the tours at kid-friendly times, are there snacks available and/or can children eat during the experience, is it within a short enough time frame to keep attention,  vs. do they highlight African American experiences/history etc. Of course if you’re an African American family with small children, you might be interested in reading both reviews!)
Although these directions focus specifically on the “Product” review, they offer excellent tips and suggestions for writing a review that someone will actually want to read.

Once you’ve identified the type of review you’ll write, the audience you’ll target, and the thing you’ll review–go experience it. Take notes. Make detailed observations–you don’t know what you’ll want to focus on, so take a lot of notes which you can draw upon later. You may want to visit more than once. If you’ve not frequented this type of experience, product, etc, you’ll want to try several others in the same category so that you have a range of experiences to draw upon to help contextualize this one thing.

Make an outline/mind map.

Some ideas for experiences (with under-21 options):
Keeneland Family Day
Old Kentucky Chocolate free factory tour (10 am, 2pm you must call ahead to confirm a reservation)
Distillery Tours–Old Pepper, Barrel House, Bluegrass Distilling , Justin’s House of Bourbon,
Black Horseman of the Kentucky Turf Exhibit

Under-21 bourbon taste experiences
Bourbon ice-cream tour–Graeter’s, Sorello, Crank ‘n’ Boom
Bourbon BBQ sauce samplings–Lyle’s, Blue Door,
Horse farm tour–Claiborne (free), Sisters

Evaluation Criteria
Rhetorically Sophisticated understanding of audience and the way it shapes criteria
Evaluative criteria are clear to the reader
Inclusion of appropriate details (both positive and negative) to earn the reader’s trust
Inclusion of appropriate contextual information to establish author expertise/knowledge
Inclusion of clear recommendation that is supported by the observational evidence