Learn the Art of the Cannabis Sommelier
Whether you're an enthusiastic budtender, home grower, or cannabis lover, communicating the delight that is cannabis aroma is part of today's cannabis conversations. Smell has become an exciting topic in the cannabis world because it is how we can distinguish different types of cannabis flowers. Many educational programs are available to Cannasseurs interested in navigating the complexities of cannabis aromas beyond the unmistakable "cannabis smell". However, there are ways you can efficiently train your nose and advance your sommelier skills on your own.
Cannabis Sommeliers are professionals trained to identify the nuanced aromatic characteristics of individual cannabis strains. The scent of cannabis, much like wine, can determine its quality and lineage. To hone this cognitive skill, professionals learn the unique smells of particular cannabis compounds called terpenes. Terpenes are the tiny volatile scent molecules that give cannabis its signature odors! Becoming familiar with terpenes is the best way to identify and describe distinctive scents within the aromatic bouquets of each cannabis flower.
The aroma of every cannabis strain is a combination of terpenes that form its unique scent. Cannabis plants contain hundreds of different terpenes, but many are found only in minuscule amounts. To become cannabis aroma experts, Sommeliers start by learning to identify the most commonly abundant terpenes in cannabis using isolated scent molecules. Terpene isolates are identified by their scientific names, like Myrcene, Pinene, or Limonene. Each contains its respective isolated scent molecules that form a singular, distinctive smell. Isolates are typically available in liquid form and often sold in small resealable amber bottles to preserve their aromatic potency.
Aromatic Training Kits
Recognizing distinct aromas and unique terpenes is the first step to honing your cannabis sommelier skills. To discern complex cannabis aromatics, Sommeliers use baseline aromas to distinguish between the most common cannabis terpenes. Terpene isolates are the only way to study individual aromatic notes. Cannabis Sommeliers will analyze each scent, using their noses, and create olfactory profiles to identify these specific aromas in cannabis. The best terpenes are organic, natural terpenes in the form of high-quality isolates or blends to guarantee precise aromas to learn from. Memorizing low-quality or artificial aromatics will hinder your skills.
The CannTerp TerpTender pack is an excellent Sommelier-level aromatic training kit. It has five common cannabis terpene isolates: Limonene, Alpha and Beta-pinene, Beta-caryophyllene, Myrcene, and Linalool. Once you've mastered these five standard cannabis terpenes, you can expand your aroma library with other terpene isolates for sale, such as Humulene and Terpinolene.
How to Memorize Smells
When working with terpenes, start with short sniffs instead of big snogs. A gentle waft or quick sniff will provide you with all the sensory information you need to evaluate the smell. It will also help you avoid nose burnout or olfactory fatigue.
Investigate one terpene at a time. Sniff it once and write down all of your personal impressions. Call to mind what the smell reminds you of—plants, feelings, colours, or maybe a familiar memory. On the second sniff, observe whether the aroma is a very light top note like lemon or is it a heavy base note like wet dirt. Write down these scent observations. Try to find the category into which this singular smell fits by the third sniff. Is it floral, citrus, woodsy, spicy, or fruity? The idea is to try and discover what it is that sets this particular smell apart from all other scents. Write down all of your impressions. This process is known as a sensory evaluation, which is the first step to honing your cognitive scent skills.
Don't Give Up!
Describing smells is equally as challenging as identifying them. The more you practice finding keywords and creating individual impressions for each terpene, the easier it will be to memorize, recall, and place them in a bouquet of smells. Successfully identifying terpenes and describing aromas is a learned skill, and practice makes perfect! You can become a scent connoisseur!
Test Your Scent Memory
The best way to test your scent memory is to identify each terpene isolate without looking at the label. Close your eyes, concentrate and remember the terpenes. Once you can successfully and confidently identify common cannabis terpene by smell alone, it is time to practice your newfound elevated sense of smell. You can do this by using cannabis flower or strain-inspired terpene blends. Additionally, you can practice identifying terpenes in essential oils. Essential oils can be excellent teachers because their terpene profiles are widely available on the internet.
The Cannabis Sommelier Challenge
Cannabis has many pungent aromas, so the Sommelier-level cannabis challenge is finding the dominant terpenes with other smells present. Use cannabis strains that have full terpene profiles available so you can confirm your personal impressions against the terpenes listed on the package. Take a sniff and try to identify individual aromatics present. No cheating! Can you identify the lemony-fresh scent if a strain is rich in Limonene? Are you getting flowery fresh lavender aromas from the Linalool? Aside from the dominant terpenes, try to identify any other smells present using the three-sniff sensory evaluation technique. With some training, you can unlock aroma profiles and develop fantastic sensory descriptions using just your nose!
Underrated Perks of Learning Terpenes
There are many benefits to training your nose with isolated botanical terpenes. For cannabis enthusiasts, educating yourself about terpenes will take the guesswork out of finding new strains, especially with many cannabis brands labeling their products with terpene profiles. Understanding and recognizing terpene profiles and their associated scents is the best way to find the cannabis products you enjoy. Of course, not all products list their full cannabis strain terpene profiles. Identifying terpenes through blind tasting is considered expert knowledge and a sought-after skill. Once familiar with common cannabis terpenes, you will be able to confidently assess cannabis using Sommelier-level aromatic terms.
Build your Scent Library
Educating yourself on cannabis aroma and terpenes will open the door to exciting conversations with everyone in the cannabis community and sweeten conversations with other cannabis and aromatherapy enthusiasts. People love talking about their favourite terpenes! Start building your scent library using isolated terpenes and strain-specific blends. You're on your way to becoming a cannabis terpene and aroma expert.
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