I found a definition of flavor that defines it as “the sensation caused by those properties of any substance taken into the mouth which stimulates one or both of the senses of taste and smell and/or also the general pain, tactical and temperature receptors in the mouth.”
Sounds a bit clinical for something so ephemeral, so associated with pleasure, disgust, emotion, desire and satisfaction.
There are said to be only five basic tastes: sweetness, sourness, saltiness, bitterness, and umami (savoury). We sense tastes via the interaction of molecules with our taste bud receptors.
We sense flavor, however, largely through our olfactory abilities combined with our taste receptors – when it comes to flavors, the nose leads the way.
And flavors, unlike the basic tastes, are practically endless.
Hence the lovely infographic above for whisky, which doesn’t even attempt to describe all the flavors which manifest in various whiskies – what it does is talk about the shared flavors across various whisky regions. And that’s a huge service to those of use looking for a quick reference illustration to do exactly that. Be sure to enlarge it on the original image to get the full effect.
Now, all I need is the addition of my current obsession, Japanese whiskies, to complete the picture.