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10 Things to Know About …Taste

What we smell, see, hear and feel has a significant influence on how we taste and experience foods. Teagasc researchers are investigating the science behind taste and feature on RTÉ’s 10 Things to Know About … Taste, this evening, Monday 23rd November.

10 Things to Know About …Taste

Flavour is derived from approximately 75% aroma (odour) and 25% (taste). The number of taste compounds is relatively limited to sweet, sour, salty, bitter and umami but the number of odour compounds is in the thousands, resulting in the range and diversity of flavours in our food. Presenter Kathriona Devereux meets Professor Kieran Kilcawley and Dr Maria Kyraleou from the Flavour Chemistry Facility at Teagasc Moorepark to learn how they can identify the compounds that positively, or negatively, influence flavour, as well as the “Whiskey Terroir” project.

Kieran explains: “Through an Enterprise Ireland funded project, Whiskey Terroir, in collaboration with Waterford Distillery Teagasc set out to determine if barley variety and the location of where the barley was grown could influence the sensory characteristics of new make spirit, which is the distillate prior to maturation in wooden casks for the production of whiskey. This concept encompasses Terroir which is readily accepted in wine, but to date has rarely been applied to other alcoholic beverages. Terroir is the set of all environmental factors that affect a crop's phenotype, including unique environment contexts, farming practices and a crop's specific growth habitat. In this study we were able to prove that the geographical location where barley was grown (unique soil and wider climate and environmental contexts) had an even greater influence on the sensory and aroma character of new make spirit than variety alone, over two seasons.” Dr Maria Kyraleou demonstrates Gas Chromatography-Olfactometry (GC-O), a technique that enables trained panellists to sniff individual volatiles separated by gas chromatography to identify the significance of their contribution to the overall sensory perception of the new-make spirit (sample). Meanwhile presenter Jonathan McCrea heads to Waterford Distillery to learn more about the Whiskey Terroir project and uncovers the hidden secrets in a glass of whiskey.

At Teagasc Ashtown, presenter Aoibhinn Ní Shúilleabháin meets Teagasc’s Dr Emily Crofton to learn about how our environment impacts our perception of flavour in food. Emily is a Teagasc Research Officer at the Sensory Science Suite, where her research aims to understand how humans perceive and respond to the various sensory sensations in food using each of the five senses of sight, smell, touch, taste and hearing.

Emily explains: “As humans we are naturally influenced by our surrounding environment; so sensory testing facilities are designed to be as neutral as possible to minimise any sources of potential bias. However, the highly controlled setting of a sensory facility does not reflect the real life conditions in which people typically consume food. At Teagasc, we are using virtual and augmented reality technologies to stimulate immersive-type settings, enabling consumers to test food products in a more realistic environment, such as a café or restaurant.”

During this episode, Emily puts the 10 Things presenters Aoibhinn, Kathriona and Jonathan to the taste test to see who has got what it takes to become an expert taster.

The promotional video for this episode can be viewed here: https://twitter.com/10Things_ToKnow/status/1329369794383130625

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