A sensory soiree

Hi Bill:

I host sensory wine tastings, bringing everything from cut-up cigars to limestone, etc., to build smell files about wine varieties.

Can something similar be done with vodka, tequila and gin?

Many thanks,

Allison Robbins

Dear Allison:

That's an interesting question. I'd say one can definitely do that with all three, although vodka would be the least aromatic.

Vodka must be, by legal definition, odorless, colorless and tasteless. I agree that it's colorless, but there is a bit of a nose and one can detect tastes depending upon the type of water used as well as whether is is a grape, potato or grain vodka.

Because vodka can be made from any organic matter, so tastes and aromas do sometimes come into play.

Gin, however, is virtually a booming bottle of herbals. There are some basics in each blend, such as juniper berries, lemon, etc., but the varieties are enormous. (Just take a look at the side panel on a large bottle of Bombay Sapphire Gin for an example of a lengthy list of infusions.)

Tequila presents some good possibilities, depending upon the style. There are three -- blanco, which is silverish or clear and is not aged; reposada, which is aged 3-11 months in wood and picks up nuances from the leaching process, and anejo, which is aged a year or more in oak and picks up caramel, butterscotch and herbal notes.

If you try any of these, I'd love to hear back from you on the details.

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