Talk About Taste
Most people are lost for words when they are asked to describe the taste of a distilled beverage spirit. The description typically does not go much beyond "I like it." The difficulty in describing taste is not confined to spirits, it applies to almost anything we drink or eat. Try, for example, to describe the taste of your favorite food. Unless you are a special person you will find it difficult.

Your ability to talk about taste can significantly improve if you study the terms used by taste testers. Taste testers use words which describe how the beverage looks, how the beverage smells, and how the beverage tastes. In order for a beverage spirit to reach the tongue, which registers taste, it must pass through the mouth. The mouth is connected by an opening to the nose. Consequently, it is impossible to taste a beverage without smelling it at the same time. Through experience, visual qualities, like the color and clarity, have become associated with taste. Thus, when taste testers describe the taste of the beverage, they describe how it looks, how it smells and how it tastes.

  Words to describe aroma

A more sophisticated way ot refer to the smell of a beverage is aroma. Aroma is the scent or bouquet of the beverage spirit.

The first group of words describe the presence of an aroma.

  • None . . .judged to be lacking aroma
  • Neutral . . .has a scent but not easily describable
  • Pronounced. . .has a definite scent and it can be described

The second set of words is used to pinpoint the type of aroma

  • Fresh. . .clean smelling as in fresh air
  • Spicy. . .a scent similar to that of spices
  • Pungent. . .a strong, unpleasant piercing scent
  • Medicinal. . .suggestive of odors associated with medicines
  • Woody. . .an odor similar to that of wood
  • Musty. . .a smell suggestive of mold

  Words to describe color

These words used to describe the color of distilled spirits and their definitions are presented below:
  • Pure White. . .lacking color as in vodka
  • Light Gold. . .a light yellow
  • Dark Gold. . .a deep yellow as in the metal-gold
  • Dark Brown. . .a dark brown as in dark rum

  Words to describe taste

The first taste judgment made deals with the presence or absence of flavor.
  • Subtle Flavor. . .flavor is presnet but only slightly
  • Light Flavor. . .flavor is present and can be tasted, another common term is light bodied.
  • Full Flavor. . .flavor is present and easily noticeable, another common term is full bodied.

The second set of taste judgments deals with sweetness of the beverage spirit.

  • Very Sweet. . .similar to a sweet syrup
  • Sweet. . .similar to sugar water
  • Dry. . .lacking sweetness
  • Very Dry. . .totally lacking in sweetness

The third set of taste terms describe the texture of the beverage as it makes an impression on the mouth and throat.

  • Velvety. . .an especially smooth taste
  • Smooth. . .a pleasant, even mellow taste
  • Uneven. . .a taste that is not smooth but also not harsh
  • Clean. . .a pure natural taste
  • Herbetic. . .a taste suggestive of food made with herbs
  • Smoky. . .a taste similar to that of barbecue sauce or dark toast
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Last Touched: 5/30/00 2:22PM