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Mouthfeel: Chewy. Chew on this!

 
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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot


Joined: 11 Dec 2006
Posts: 3467
Location: Paradise: Fort Lauderdale of course...

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 4:00 pm    Post subject: Mouthfeel: Chewy. Chew on this! Reply with quote

Chew on this...


Another descriptor you'll find in the wacky world of reviewer-speak, one which you'll wonder about, is the decriptor "chewy". This is another of those name-dropped descriptors that is appears way too frequently, and which serves mostly to convince you that the reviewer has his shit together.

Not really. Let's get down to it.

This descriptor and a few others all have to do with tannin. Despite the Artic Wonder's belief that tannins have aromas and flavors, they have neither. Tannins are a component of wood aging that serves mostly as a catalyst for other chemical reactions. First fill barrels have lots of it, but the used barrels used for rum and whisky do not, and gladly so.

Why?

An excess of tannins is actually quite unpleasant. Ever overbrew a really strong, unsweetened black tea? Think oolong tea. After a swig of this you'll be saying "so long" to your tastebuds, as the sides of your mouth go powder dry and pucker up with this truly unpleasant sensation. So when a reviewer exclaims over pleasant tannin aromas and tastes, you can change reviewers.


The Descriptors

Dry: has nothing to do with tannins, but simply the absence of sweetness.

Slightly Astringent: tannin related, desireable if slight, with a slightly drying sensation (usually sides and back of the mouth).

Chewy: the most tannic effects that most people can stand, without crossing over into unpleasant.

Aggressive: the line has been crossed and the excessive tannins cause your gums and cheeks to tingle, and your throat to dry. You reach for a glass of water.

Tannic: the maximum amount, and the show is over. Can be very unpleasant. Some distillers cover this effect with masses of added sugar (just as you'd add an extra sugar pack or two to your overly strong tea or coffee).

Woody: Just what you think. Tastes or smells like wood, be it new, green, old, polished or rotting. Has absolutely nothing to do with tannins.


Bottom Line

"Chewy" - used appropriately - is not really a compliment, despite the fact that many new reviewer seem to use it that way. The word comes from the idea that such a spirit makes you want to move your mouth in reaction to the drying and puckery tannic effect. In the world of rum this is a borderline sensation, and not really a positive.

Compare to smooth. I'd think that a chewy rum could use more time in the barrel, to let the tannins dissipate and react. That's it...

You can swallow now...
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Cap'n


Joined: 04 Nov 2011
Posts: 178
Location: Marvelous Madera Ranchos, CA

PostPosted: Wed Dec 07, 2011 10:27 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Excellent post, Cap'n.

On a slightly related note, my brother points out that George Lucas was showing his Central Valley (read "Modesto, CA") roots in a film that has a character named "Chewie"(probably originally spelled "Chuuy") who rides around in a tweaked vehicle. Yeah, he's a MAJOR Star Wars fan Laughing


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Capn's Log: Yes! Yes! I remember Chewie! Like Robin Williams, but with less hair, lol...
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