Monday, August 9, 2021

On Taste vs. Flavor (& on Smell Plus Blowing it Out Your Nose)

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On Taste vs. Flavor (& on Smell Plus Blowing it Out Your Nose)

If you read enough cigar reviews, you'll eventually come across the term 'smell-taste.' Heck, I've used it myself. It's a lot like this... when I first started reviewing cigars I did not include a rating system. In other words, I simply wrote about the cigar I had smoked sans grading the thing. A review. No rating. My thought was, "Who the hell cares what Kaplowitz has to say?" I mean for crying in the sink, I wasn't even Kaplowitz Media. yet!

I refused to believe that somewhere there was a person who was looking into a cigar, and upon seeing Cigar Aficionado's then Cigar Journal's ratings--held off till they could find mine. "I'm holding off until Kap numerically weighs in," they'd say. Eventually, however, I acquiesced. Sorta. Hence the letter grade. To whom did I acquiesce? Readers more-so than manufacturers. Why am I telling you all this? I'm just drawing parallel lines. Smell-taste ain't going anywhere.

Quickly, TASTE is what you distinguish via your palate alone. Your taste buds. Mainly, this is limited to the primaries of sweet, salty, sour, bitter, umami. Interestingly, these are far, far less subjective than relating notes of marshmallows in hot chocolate, wet fence posts, or blueberries grown on the mountain's south-side during a rainier than normal season. So next time you hear a hack reviewer hide behind how subjective everything is--tell him I said take a hike. A flying hike. Off a short pier.

Taste is hardwired into your brain. Our brains.  It's akin to a universal language. Smell is not. I don't really know what that means but I think you can say then, that taste is not really all that subjective and possibly even teetering on being utterly objective [there are some interesting studies on this that I won't get into here]. Of all our senses, smell is most closely linked to memory--our memories are what are open to individual subjective whims. 

Now FLAVOR, that's a thing that incorporates both taste and smell. Again, TASTE AND FLAVOR ARE NOT SYNONYMOUS. Also, this outs 'smell taste' as being superfluous. We already have a word. I know this--now you know this--& so's to be clear, we both know it ain't gonna change a thing. And also again, I have a rating system. So what's smell? In our premium tobacco-centric sitch, it's aroma and room-note. Personally, I look at room-note as being akin to taste & flavor's finish. Dig? But into the palate, it doth creep.

But everything is all tied together and who was it that said a cigar engages all your senses? I forget too. And perhaps now I'm expected to speak to the importance of THE RETRO-HALE. The ultimate nose-engager. Sorry, that's an overdone and over-rated bit of silliness. Just sit with and in your smoke. Let it linger in your mouth. Chew it, even. Don't wave it away. Never rush. Take time with a wounded hand. No need to blow it out yer nose. Unless you want to for SUPER COOL IG SELFIES OMG. 

Seriously, you do not need to forcibly engage your schnoz.

These are actually funny times, these times. By that I mean everyone is hyping the importance of the retro-hale while everyone is also chasing pepper/flavor bombs. If people just sat with the smoke, most wouldn't need full-full-flavored offerings to begin with, and really--the last thing you want to do is retro one of those things. At this point, I've almost entirely forgotten why it was I began writing this article. 

Here's something else: my review categories for both cigars and pipe tobaccos feature TASTE and not flavor. They each also feature BURN, in which smoke is taken into account, further in which aroma and room-note are addressed. In full disclosure, it's not ideal but I feel it's less confusing than throwing FLAVOR in there and jangling together the two different face hole sensations everyone seems to confuse as one. 

Also, see the italicized sentiment above. As well as below.

Kaplowitz Media. "Face hole sensations."

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