Super-Tasters and Non-Tasters: Is it Better to Be Average?

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This is a long article with some fascinating insights that I believe are directly relevant to cigar tasting. 

Super-Tasters and Non-Tasters: Is it Better to Be Average?




  • We sense the smell of food by two routes. Sniffing through our nose is called orthonasal smell, while the aroma released up through the back of our mouth into our nose when we chew and swallow food is called retronasal smell. Orthonasal and retronasal smell appear to be processed in different parts of the brain. The latter is the most important route for sensing the aroma of food and is believed to account for as much as 80-85% of the flavor of food (2). That explains why we can’t detect the flavor of food when we have a cold and our nose is blocked.

  • The taste and aroma of food are sensed through special receptors (proteins) on the surface of taste and olfactory cells in our mouth and nose. They provide a direct link between our brain and the outside world.

  • While the number of taste receptors is limited, it is estimated there are about 400 different types of receptors for smell.
  • Cells that contain the receptors for taste and smell are replaced every 10-30 days. As we age the total number of these cells decline, especially after age 70.
  • The flavor of food is not something we actually sense, but is created in our brain based on what we taste with our mouth and smell with our nose (2).
  • Taste, smell, and flavor are distinctly different from each other. Our sense of taste is built into our genes and can be observed in newborn children within six months of birth, whereas recognizing smells is a learned experience (2).


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