normal? Does it smell moldy? What does it smell like? Sensory training on mashing and fermentation are also based on smell. The general idea is to determine if the processes smell normal or not. This is the most basic form of distillery sensory training. After employees have mastered basic training, they are ready for the complexity of spirits sensory analysis. There are many different aspects of distilling that require sensory analysis training. The most important aspects are separating collections â€” white whiskey prior to barrelling and finished whiskey before it is bottled. These stages require discriminatory sensory analysis panels. Panels are very important to a quality management program as they allow statistical reason to make product decisions instead of emotions. Sensory analysis is divided into affective and analytical methods. Affective methods tend to use consumer panels and trained panelists to answer questions. This method is not realistic for a small distillery. Analytical methods can be broken down into either discriminatory or descriptive methods. Discriminatory methods find a difference in samples. Descriptive asks panelists to determine differences in samples. Descriptive tasting panels are more indepth and require a higher level of training and understanding. A tasting panel should include at minimum 10 people for statistically significant results. Distillation collections require training to decipher between heads, hearts, and tails. Fresh off the still, fractions should be collected, proofed, and watered down to 40 percent ABV in a tulip shape glass with room for headspace. Samples should be prepped and covered for 30 minutes to allow congeners to build up in the headspace before starting sensory analysis. Decisions should be made based on preference, as well as with the intention of creating a consistent profile. The same process for sample prep should be followed for whiskey prior to barrelling and finished product. Each element of spirit production should be dissected to help ensure their likeness to a standard spirit.
CONCLUSION Quality Management is the best way to fight inconsistencies and batch-to-batch variation. It is the un-sexy key to success for any distillery that is split into QA (proactive) and QC (reactive) elements. Having good processes and documentation will alleviate problems before they occur. Training programs for distillery employees should anticipate distillery floor issues, as well as prepare employees to make the correct decisions on whatever problems may arise. One of the most important elements of a training program should include sensory analysis. Sensory analysis will help prevent problems, keep problems from spreading, and will help determine if products are quality and consistent.
Molly Troupe earned a bachelor's degree in chemistry before she attended Herriot-Watt Unversity. At HWU, she earned a master's degree in brewing and distilling. Molly has worked as a quality control assistant, distiller, lead distiller, and is currently the production manager and lead distiller at Oregon Spirit Distillers. To contact her, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. 118â€
The magazine for craft distillers and their fans.