“Proof” Web App Teaches You To Be A Scotch Connoisseur

Dorking around with an iPad should be the last thing a cool single-malt drinker would be interested in, but this app from Zeus Jones is as classy as they come.

“I love scotch. Scotchy scotchy scotch. Down into my belly.” If you’ve ever wished you could embody the worldly, single-malt-appreciating charisma that Ron Burgundy does in the opening credits to Anchorman, but simply lacked the knowledge (or the mustache), an iPad app called Proof should be able to give you an education. (It won’t help with the mustache, though.) Created by Zeus Jones, it’s actually a charming, classily designed experience that lets you use your iPad as an interactive guide to a private whisky tasting for you and your friends.


Let’s face it: Drinking scotch isn’t about geekery, it’s about appreciating the finer things in life while enjoying good company, ideally in a room decorated with rich mahogany. You don’t want to worry about futzing around too much with the app, which is why Zeus Jones’s decision to make Proof an HTML5-driven webapp–rather than a bona fide, download-it-from-iTunes-and-wait app–is a canny one. There’s nothing to install with Proof, so when it’s time to break out the bottles, you just type in a URL and there it is, instantly.

In fact, the creators of Proof say they drew more UX inspiration from board games than from high-tech multimedia. That low-key experience definitely fits the mood that an intimate scotch-tasting party should strike. Proof lets you punch in the names of your guests, the names of the whiskies you’ll be sampling, and then offers up a simple target-shaped graph which you can tap and drag to describe the drinks’ taste profiles (using descriptors like “winey,” “fruity,” “complex,” and “puts hair on your chest”).

The idea is to turn scotch tasting into a kind of casual parlor game: Can you guess which scotch is which, based on how it rolls around on your tongue? When the tasting is all over, the app lets you compare these personalized infographics to see which ones you got right and wrong–and how your taste description of each scotch compares with your guests’. But Proof’s design is simple enough and its game mechanics subtle enough that, much like a good single malt, it acts like a social lubricant rather than the center of attention. The app includes a handsome-looking “Single Malt 101” section if you want to learn some fun facts about what you’re drinking, but if you just want to sip top-shelf booze while schmoozing with your pals, Proof can guide that experience and get out of the way. Just like Papa Burgundy would want it.

Play with Proof here.

About the author

John Pavlus is a writer and filmmaker focusing on science, tech, and design topics. His writing has appeared in Wired, New York, Scientific American, Technology Review, BBC Future, and other outlets.