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Techniques: Dave Broom

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Capn Jimbo
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PostPosted: Sat Jan 21, 2012 9:50 am    Post subject: Techniques: Dave Broom Reply with quote

This is one of a series featuring techniques used by some of the best tasters in the world. Pay attention!

Dave Broom

Keep it simple, get to know a spirit of one style, then compare and contrast to similar spirits. Use simple terms familiar to you like "fruity", "light" or "smoky". You'll get better. Repeat, and repeat. 5 star system:

1 - poor
2 - average
3 - recommended
4 - excellent
5 - superb

Words are more important than scores.

Glass: copita, snifter or white wine glass. Well lit, aroma-free room. Taste a number of rums at a session, being sure to include a familiar one for comparison and differentiation.

Logical order: clear to dark, light to heavy, young to aged, weak to strong, low to high ester. Mineral water on hand, and relax. If you don't "get" a rum, go on, and by all means enjoy the experience. If with friends, share, compare and learn.

Clarity: should be bright.

Color: aged is darker (except for altered rums). Green edge: indicates age and lack of carmelization.

Tilt away, then back for legs: thick and slow indicates full body (unless altered), probably "chewy".

Sniff: just above rim, note first aromas, these are the "central" aromas that establish the character of the rum. Light of heavy? Toffee, flowers or fruit? Spicy or oaky? Vegetal (cane juice)? Pungent pineapple or nail polish (acetone, for estery rums).

After tasting, add water then nose again. Think of the "cardinal" (central) aromas, try to ID fruit: banana, mango, citrus, dried? ID the spices: pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon? Wood aromas: vanilla, coconut, chocolate? Is the aroma simple or complex?

Most of the time is spent nosing. Aromas are limbic and recall all manner of life experiences and memories - note and cherish these.Tasting is really a confirmation.

First neat: hold in your mouth to determine weight, texture and primary flavor. Light, fresh or robust? Silky soft, or dry and hard? Thin or mouth coating? Add water and repeat the tasting. Is the neat taste confirmed, or do new tastes emerge? What happens to the complexity? Think of the tastes and where they appeared: early, mid or late/finish? Spirits should grow, change and evolve.

Finally: determine if it's balanced: sweetness by dryness and oakiness or vice versa.

Capn's Note: Broom is both brilliant and accessible. He is matched by only a few tasters (think Jackson, Pacult, Serge) and must be taken seriously.

A good basic presentation of technique, simple and understandable. Perhaps his most important point is the notion of development - from nose, to opening, mid and late palate and finish. As he so well puts it "Spirits should grow, change and evolve".

This evolution is what makes great spirits exceptional. Compare to an utterly smooth, harmonious and balanced spirit that just doesn't go anywhere. Delicious and easy to drink? Sure, but predictable and bordering on uninteresting.

Last, Broom is huge on the idea of flavor groups or styles. In the case of rum he speaks of four basic styles. Of whisky he notes two intersecting axes representing ranges of values, that place whiskies variously in the four quadrants. Specifically the whisky ranges are "smoky" to "delicate", and "light" to "rich". As simplistic as this sounds in theory, it works and groups like whiskies near one another.

A little detail of the two axes may help:

Smoky: "Single malts found in the two smoky quadrants all contain discernible levels of peat, which is burned in the malting process. Ranging from scented smoke and bonfires, to kippers and lapsang souchong, they're epitomised by Islay malts such as Lagavulin and Caol Ila."

- to -

Delicate: "The whiskies at this end of the axis normally use no peat in the malting process. While movement up the axis sees an increase in complexity, this is without any discernible level of smokiness derived by peat. Towards the light end there is a floral, grassy freshness. Moving towards the richer side of the map, subtler nutty, barley and biscuity flavours start to come through."

Light: "This end of the vertical axis houses whiskies whose characteristics exhibit fresh flavours: green grass, soft fruits, cereal. Such flavours tend to reflect the processes followed by a distillery, such as fermentation or size and shape of the stills."

- to -

Rich: "Whiskies at the rich end of the axis contain characteristics often derived from the nature of the wood used during maturation. Typical flavours range from vanilla (given by American oak casks) to nuttiness to cigar box, chocolate and dried fruit (from European oak casks). Whether a cask is first fill or refill will make a difference to flavour."

Deceptively simple, yet competent and useful. That's Dave Broom...


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Minor God

Joined: 04 Mar 2013
Posts: 796
Location: Swansea

PostPosted: Mon Apr 22, 2013 3:16 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

I like the way Dave Broom describes the way to taste rum. Now the average consumer like me can use this system to good effect in determining quality rum not, just for our self's but in recommending rum to our friends and family (note I left out becoming a pseudo rum expert).
Life is under no obligation to give us what we expect!

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