A jury typically consists of experienced tasters, sommeliers and chefs who deal with taste professionally. On a tasting jury there is usually a wide range of nationalities, and there may be up to 200 tasters.
The tasting itself is normally conducted blind, which means that the tasters cannot see the bottle. This is to ensure that prior knowledge of a given brand cannot influence their judgement. The tasting is conducted in a well-lit and noise-free room, and each product is served in the same way at the same temperature in the same type of glass. After the blind tasting is finished, some juries combine these impressions with a visual impression of the bottle and in some cases this can result in recognition at that point.
Most taste institutes use the same five criteria for analysis (the AFNOR XP V096A standard): First Impression, Vision, Olfaction, Taste and Final Sensation.
1. First Impression
The taster gives his or her spontaneous and immediate impression of the rum on a scale of 0-100. This first impression is given a relatively high weight in the overall evaluation.
The taster then gives marks for colour, clarity and viscosity (consistency), as compared with the traditional expression that is familiar in the category ‘rum’.
The sense of smell then comes into play when the taster gives marks for nose and aroma. Is the rum harmonious and coherent in its expression?
Next, the taster tastes the rum and assesses the experience in the mouth and on the tongue. What is the balance like among the five fundamental tastes: sweet, salty, sour, bitter and umami? What about the balance between taste and alcoholic strength?
5. Final Sensation
Finally, the taster evaluates the finish that remains in the mouth after the product has been swallowed or spat out into the receptacle used by tasters.
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