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Palate Fade, Myth or Reality?

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Palate Fade, Myth or Reality?

Postby Lawrence » Tue Aug 23, 2005 1:52 am

What are your thoughts on Palate Fade, is it a real occurence or is it all just rubbish?

I had an experience two years ago that I've been mulling over in my mind but have been unable to come up with a definitive answer. I was on antibiotics for two weeks due to an infected tooth and during that time I stopped drinking, it sucked. (My dentist later told me, "Oh I know you, I gave you a prescription that would allow you to continue drinking" :roll: ).

In any case my first dram at the end of the two weeks was an OB Laphroaig 10 and it knocked my socks off it was so strong. I couldn't believe it; it was like a Laphroaig of old. However naturally after a few drams the effect disappeared.

Last year after my annual 30 days of not drinking (it's once again rapidly approaching, shudder) I made sure that my first dram was a Laphroaig 10 and .......nothing. It was like I had been drinking Laphroaig all month long.

In any case your thoughts on the subject would be appreciated.

Lawrence
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Postby Frodo » Tue Aug 23, 2005 2:34 am

I stopped dramming for about 6 months about 2yrs ago, and found when I started again the flavour profiles of everything I tried for the first week were more powerful that before.

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Postby Mr Fjeld » Tue Aug 23, 2005 3:33 am

Interesting experiences you've had Lawrence and Frodo!
I can't say I'm very keen on staying away from whisky for very long - but then I only drink whisky every other week and occasionaly in between.
However, in other respects the process of aging have quite strong effects on all our senses such as hearing and sight in particular - and I wouldn't be surprised if taste and palate is affected too.
Not that I worry a lot!

Skål!
Christian
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Postby Admiral » Tue Aug 23, 2005 4:36 am

I don't have personal experience to draw upon....I've never abstained for any longer than a week at most! :wink:

However, there are times when - even having only had a dram the night before - a whisky can suddenly blow your tastebuds away.

I'm convinced it's simply the variability of our palate, and the influence of what else was recently there, e.g. did we recently brush our teeth? eat fruit? have confectionary? drink juice?

All of these leave residue and texture on our tongues, and will affect how our palate perceives the first hit of spirit.

A palate cleanser before a whisky (a gentle beer is best) is a tremendous way to prepare the palate for what is to come.

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Tom » Tue Aug 23, 2005 6:18 pm

Lawrence, I had the same thing, with Macallan 12. Only after 1 week abstence though. and once again with a highland Park 12 after a week abstence.However the second dram was back as usual...
What is the reason btw for the 30 days hell you go trough? (Only answer if it has to do with whisky, I dont want to nose in your private life) Is it like a taste-reset or something?

Admiral, you suprised me there with a mild beer as a palate cleanser, so a standard beer neutralizes the palate? Will this work between 3 drams too? like 3 drams, a beer, then 3 again etc...?
I am really curious because I could use a good "cleanser" on tasting festivals.
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Postby Lawrence » Wed Aug 24, 2005 2:01 am

Tom, it's just an annual 'vacation' for my liver and other assorted parts. Lots of tea & it's nice to have a dram or two at the end of it!
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Postby Deactivated Member » Wed Aug 24, 2005 3:48 am

Funny -- I was basically spiritless for a decade while battling chronic illness, and was surprised at how 'tame' bourbon/spirits are when drunken 'neat' when my health improved (they finally just removed the organ). But, just to avoid such a 'blandness by redundancy', I almost never have the same whiskey -- in my case, usually bourbon -- two nights in a row. With a dozen or so bottles open at any given time, I might not resample tonight's pleasure for another week (then, again, I'm free to if I want :D ). So, each taste seems pretty fresh.
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Postby Jeroen Kloppenburg » Wed Aug 24, 2005 7:34 am

Interesting experiences Frodo and Lawrence. It has always been my opinion that over time we develop our palates and that changes there are the reason for these "laphroiag is not anymore what it used to be!" type of threads you will see popping up by new people every 6 months or so on forums such as this one.

Your experience confirmed my opinion about this.

I still use Laphroaig to introduce people, as the palate of that is powerful enough to rise above the alcohol effects on the tongue.
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Postby Aidan » Wed Aug 24, 2005 7:39 am

Well I know a cask strength whisky drunk straight when I was 15 would have tasted harsh to me. I'm sure even now, my liver isn't so keen on it.
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Postby Admiral » Thu Aug 25, 2005 4:16 am

so a standard beer neutralizes the palate? Will this work between 3 drams too? like 3 drams, a beer, then 3 again etc...?


I'm not sure Tom....I've only used beer as a palate cleanser before a tasting session with whiskies. I can't say I've ever then turned to beer whilst in between whiskies.

I have a colleague who is actually a bit of an expert in these matters. I shall consult him and report back! :)

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Tom » Thu Aug 25, 2005 6:08 pm

Thanks Admiral.

Aidan, thats a good point, I have no doubt that the one's among us that have a dram every day have less sensitive tastebuds for alcoholic strength then someone that does so occasionally. This is a pitty, because it happens when I am really fond of a specific dram I offer it to someone that rarely or never drinks whisky, and every time, with whatever whisky all they say is, "ouch, jeez, hot stuff this is" all they receive is the alcoholic bite, rarely anything more.
Si I guess it all makes sence to "reset" your tastebuds by staying off whisky for awhile.
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Postby Lawrence » Fri Aug 26, 2005 7:51 am

The simple act of 'sniffing' a glass of water will 'clean' the nose and 'reset' it. Try it, it works quite well.
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Postby patrick dicaprio » Fri Aug 26, 2005 3:14 pm

is there any reason to think this wouldnt happen? seems logical to me and from experience it has. Last week i was ill and didnt have a whisky for about two weeks. the first one back was Lagavulin 16 and it was much stronger than usual, and i needed to add some extra water to calm it down. so there are two explanations, :one is that i had palate fade and teh other is that my being ill affected my tastes. after all taste is mostly smell anyway.

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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Sat Aug 27, 2005 8:04 pm

Like so many things related to the human senses the detection of changes from zero are easily disearned yet the same degree of change from a larger volume is much more difficult. For instance we could easily detect the change from zero to 5kph, buy much harder to tell the difference from 60kph to 65kph, such is life and so goes the palate as well. Stop dramming and the palate resets itself back to zero, is a likely scenario and with it brings more questions. How long does this resetting process take and can it be expidited? Can you induce the same resetting qualities by changing to a different style of whisky perhaps by region as in: "a change is as good as a rest" adage?
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Postby hpulley » Sat Aug 27, 2005 8:47 pm

Like many others, I've been sick for a few weeks or vacationing in places where beer and wine are what the hosts were serving. After returning to whisky I do find it stronger but still not like the first time I tried it. There will never be another first sip of Ardbeg, Port Ellen, Lagavulin and Laphroaig. I guess that's what we're hoping for sometimes when we try new whiskies, we want another first time experience. With a seasoned palate it is never quite the same, unfortunately, as with a naïve one.

Harry
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Postby Deactivated Member » Sat Aug 27, 2005 9:58 pm

I do think the tongue becomes desensitized after a while, especially if it is overloaded. I don't think it's possible to get it reset to "virgin". But I definitely feel compelled to take a break from whisky occasionally, at least of a few days.

I wouldn't count on beer as a palate cleanser if I were planning to make an "objective" tasting. But I never do that, anyway, and very much enjoy alternating good pints and good drams.
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Postby Tom » Mon Aug 29, 2005 8:27 am

Lawrence wrote:The simple act of 'sniffing' a glass of water will 'clean' the nose and 'reset' it. Try it, it works quite well.


You are absolutely right Lawrence. I tried this in the HP HTH and was amazed by the results. Thanks alot for this, it is something I will do everytime I'm at a tasting as of now.
No opportunity arrised yet to try the beer, but it will come to it shortly.
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Postby Lawrence » Mon Aug 29, 2005 4:31 pm

It is quite something isn't it? Who would have thought such a simple 'device' would work so well? I first read about it in Philip Hills Appreciating Whisky, he deserves the credit.
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Postby Tom » Tue Aug 30, 2005 6:41 pm

ahh, you'r being too shy.
I had read it before in his book but must have forgotten about it. It was one of the first books I bought. YOU told us so, so you deserve the credit. I get the feeling you want to point out Mr Hills' value for us after I raved against him. If this is so, dont worry, I was a bit insulted by his new book, but can never forget what he has done for us malt enthousiast before. He was a pioneer and for that I will always respect him.
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Postby Admiral » Wed Aug 31, 2005 4:37 am

Well, I've now gone 10 days without a single dram. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up :wink:

Anyway, needless to say, when I enjoy my first dram, I'll be thinking of this thread and will report back accordingly.

(Gosh, the things I do for you guys! :D )

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Lord_Pfaffin » Wed Aug 31, 2005 5:03 am

Admiral wrote:Well, I've now gone 10 days without a single dram. I'm not sure how much longer I can keep this up :wink:

Cheers,
Admiral


Ten days is nothing, more often then not i pour doubles. :wink:
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Postby Admiral » Wed Aug 31, 2005 1:52 pm

:lol: hee hee.....can't argue with that! :)

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Deactivated Member » Thu Sep 01, 2005 4:29 am

You remind me that my tour guide on PEI told us that there isn't a single mosquito on the island. They're all married with huge families.

And the passengers on my bus today were musing about whether one could raise one's blood alcohol level high enough to kill the mozzies (them's skeeters in Arkansas) that bite you. Alas, .5 per cent would be about the level in Coca Cola, negligible to any who drink it, but more than enough to kill you as BAC.
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Postby Admiral » Fri Sep 02, 2005 1:23 pm

Well, I couldn't hold out any longer....my whisky drought lasted 12 days.

I broke the drought with a cask-strength (60%) Imperial.

I found it a little hot, but of course, just about any 60% whisky would be hot!

But I didn't find it overpowering or uncomfortable, so I conclude that a 12 day break has not caused my palate to fade! :D

Cheers,
Admiral
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Postby Deactivated Member » Fri Sep 02, 2005 7:47 pm

I would think quite the contrary, Admiral!
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