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Issue 96 - The Man who Sees with His Nose

Whisky Magazine Issue 96
June 2011


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The Man who Sees with His Nose

Martine Nouet meets a man at the cross

Our senses ‘speak' to each other. If you think lemon for instance, you will ‘see' yellow and ‘taste' sour. Honey will appear sweet and light brown… Salad? Your brain will immediately send
the colour green and maybe the sound of something crisp.

The interaction of all our senses gives us a sensory experience which brings emotion and pleasure. This relatively new approach in whisky tasting – ie defining whiskies more by their aromatic profile than their belonging to a region of production – paired with the right amount of technical information helps us to understand (and appreciate more) the dram we are enjoying.

In France, an artist has a revolutionary method to describe wines and spirits. Didier Michel calls himself a ‘chromaticien' (from the Greek chroma, colour). He stands at the crossroad between art and science.
With a degree from the school of Arts appliqués and Métiers d'Art, he could have remained an engineer but thanks to his bringing up – his grandfather was the manager of a perfume company and his mother initiated him to gourmet food – he soon found himself more comfortable in an artistic environment.
A decisive encounter was that with Jacques Puisais, the founder of the French Institut du Goût (Institute of Taste). Didier Michel started researching a new way to express wine tasting-notes and developed the first ‘chromatic ID' in 1985. His training as an engineer and a chemist helped, complementing the sensory intuition.

Didier Michel ...

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