Whisky tasting is done principally with the nose - a far
more acute organ than the tongue, although the two
interrelate as the sample is swallowed.
While there are only four primary tastes, there
are 32 primary smells. These are aromatic
volatiles, which are detected by a small fleshy
bulb called the Olfactory Epithelium, located
at the back of our noses and having a direct
link to the brain.
Macallan is one of my favourites. Along with
Edadour and Highland Park. These have
distinct smells and tastes.
As well as registering the primary tastes, the tongue also
detects what is termed 'mouthfeel' - the viscosity, texture
and smoothness of the fluid we are swallowing - and
'pungency' (which is essentially an evaluation of pain
- from irritation to unbearable - and is also picked up
by the nose). In whisky tasting, pungency is particularly
apparent in very strong spirit, which may sting your nose
and tongue and induce numbness (temporary anaesthesia).
So you have to be careful when nosing whisky at full
strength - i.e. as it comes from the cask.
Is a combination of three factors: smell, taste and feeling.
Our noses detect scents - nuances of flavour from volatile
aromatics - and pass this information direct to our brains.
Our sense of the smells that surround us are recorded
unconsciously, yet smells probably trigger memories more
effectively than sounds or sights: they are the most
evocative of experiences. With a little practise you can
soon learn to break smells down and identify their
constituent parts. Putting names to them is more
difficult, and will be explored later in this section.
Primary tastes are registered by little sensory receptors
on our tongues and palates. These are broadly arranged
so that sweet flavours are picked up on the tip of the
tongue, sour and salt flavours by the sides and middle and
bitter flavours at the back. The time it takes to stimulate
the different areas of the tongue varies, with the bitter
receptors taking the longest, so it is important when tasting
to hold the liquid in the mouth and to make sure it coats
the tongue thoroughly.
Great Brands to try...
Mists of Ben Nevin
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