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Palate Cleansing: a cheesy summary...

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Capn Jimbo
Rum Evangelisti and Compleat Idiot

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

PostPosted: Sun Nov 21, 2010 8:17 am    Post subject: Palate Cleansing: a cheesy summary... Reply with quote

What do private pool parties and rum tasting have in common?

If you've done any tasting at all, and particularly if you've done groups or comparisons (which you should), cleansing the palate between tastes is important. No taste should be carried forward, and remember, no means no, lol!

Now the usual advice is usually have a cool (not discrimination inhibiting cold) water available for sips inbetween spirits. Filling, swirling and drinking the water out of your tasting glass will also clear the glass (but be sure to shake out all the remaining droplets before proceeding). Many sources also recommend having some neutral crackers about as well.

But there's really some other techniques which should be noted.

1. Avoid coffee, smoking or strong foods for at least an hour before starting.

2. Pass on aromatic deodorants, perfumes or aftershave.

3. Crackers should be unsalted, unflavored. Thin slices of a plain, white French bread is perfect.

4. Water should be cool, not cold, and a couple squeezed wedges of lemon or lime is fine.

5. Some tastings recommend a small piece of pineapple, or another summer citrus fruit (orange, tangerine, sliced green apple) perhaps a spoon of lime or lemon sorbet (followed by water) to refresh during longer breaks.

We often organize a flight from light/young to heavy/aged. But there is no firm rule. As you gain experience and your collection grows you are certain to consider comparing your new rum to selected others that are similar, or in contrast.

In any case, we strongly recommend having a rum reference standard at hand for a good comparison and to better position your new rum. To really taste a new rum takes time. And rum. You will not know a new rum until it's down to the shoulder and approaching the label of the bottle. New pours are deceiving, and I'm not kidding!

It is not a bad idea to hydrate pre and post tasting, especially for those, like us, that actually drink the rum, er rums.

Expect to spend at least 20 to 30 minutes with a rum, plus additional time to compare and contrast with your reference rum, et al. If you can resist anything beyond cool water for cleansing you'll do better. The rum "tastings" that offer fruit and cheese, plus quickie thimblefull sized offerings is a fun social experience, not a tasting.

One last note: there are times when we don't clear the palate, especially when comparing the new rum to another. Often we'll hold a dram in each hand, then go back and forth for both aroma and taste. In these cases we actually want a lingering impression of the last one as we move to the comparison. By doing so the difference will become crystal clear.

And that is the way it is... last one in the pool is a party pooper!

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