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Techniques: F. Paul Pacult

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Capn Jimbo
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Joined: 11 Dec 2006
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PostPosted: Sun Jan 22, 2012 4:17 am    Post subject: Techniques: F. Paul Pacult Reply with quote

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

F. Paul Pacult is a well known independent consultant and author. His master work is "Kindred Spirits 2", a collection of about 2500 spirit reviews from a number of years. In this tome he covers gin, vodka, rum, tequila, brandy, liqueurs (including schnapps and vermouth), cognac, armangac, calvados, grappa and many more. Oh and of course whiskies (Scotland, USA, Canada and world).

Bottom line? A great guide and overview of all the spirits. A must buy.

F. Paul Pacult:

Scoring: 1 to 5 stars, 1-avoid, 5-benchmarks, 2-4 safe.

Consistent environment, thin crystal hand washed glasses including a copita, small wineglasses, 6 oz Riedel Vinum Port, others, washed without detergent, air dried. Plastic beer spit cups, no more than 8 spirits per tasting, am tasting, no food or drink before, start with totally fresh palate.
Review: to computer in real time ASAP.

Rare second tastings and changes, finds first impressions almost always accurate. Price, packaging and bottling are completely ignored.

5 Star system:
1 - well below established standard, undrinkable, unbalanced, not recommended
2 - average or fair compared to peers, also not recommended
3 - better than average, exceeds the norm, recommended
4 - far exceeds average or fair, highly recommended
5 - watershed, landmark product, highest recommendation, borrow money if you have and buy it.

Abv (alcohol content) is reported, cask strength (from the cask) if known, plus suggested retail prices.

Method: 20-30 minutes, I am very deliberate compared to my peers (so was Michael Jackson)

Sight: first, but not the most important, under bright lamp for 10-30 seconds, judging color, clarity, overall cleanliness (sediment?),
appealing? About 1 minute.

Nosing: about 50-60% of the score, accounts for 90% of taste, will not proceed if allergies or a cold, in three stages:

1. series of gentle sniffs direct after pour, mouth open, lip of glass just beneath nose, then sit for 3 minutes.
2. 5 min mark - deeper, longer inhalations
3. 10 min mark - final whiff for confirmation, 5 to 15 minutes total.
Return to nosing after tasting to double check or erase doubts.

Tasting: immediately following nosing. Small sip, let rest on tip of tongue (palate entry), should remind me of aroma, usually but not always in harmony.

1 minute - larger sip, rest on tongue for 15 to 30 seconds (whole of tongue, the midpalate). This makes or breaks the taste.
Continued whole tongue tasting for perhaps 10 minutes (several tastings) to firm up rating.
Cask strength: add mineral water for another round of tasting.

Touch: mouthfeel, worth up to one star: oily, thin, syrupy, raw, biting, silky smooth?

Savor: did I enjoy it or not? Three questions: did I like it? If so, to what degree? If I don't like it, to what degree?

Total time: 20-30 minutes, and my method is purposefully rigid - this trains the tastebuds to work together.

Capn's Note:

We can learn from all the great tasters, and we should do so. Indeed, one of the first tasks for any budding taster (pun intended) is to find, follow and learn from competent tasters. Intially this is not so easy, but soon you will find resources whose findings seem accessible and congruent with your own.

We have isolated a small number of truly brilliant tasters who we believe are exemplarily honest and worthwhile for most. Here's what struck me about F. Paul...

1. He is scrupulously independent and painfully honest.

2. As you have read above, his routine is precise and unvaried from time, setting, glasses, the pour and the evaluation. He believes that the repetition of proper technique actually trains the tastebuds.

In our case, I can tell you it is all to easy to deviate, even only a little, and I do agree this may well affect the tasting. although it is not mentioned, F. Paul has spoken of his "airing" of spirits for about seven minutes, regardless of the spirit, prior to the tasting. As for overproof or cask spirits are tasted, then retasted with water.

3. One thing missing from his decription of technique is comparison tasting. He does not appear to do so, but relies on his considerable experience and memory. Most of us are not so skilled and should not be so bold as to avoid comparison tasting (many top tasters swear by comparison tasting).



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