Using the Brain (Not the Nose) to Smell


Over the past 10 years I have had the pleasure of instructing more than 6,000 students via online courses and in-person workshops and private courses. Their ages have ranged from eight to 80, from complete beginners to some of the most experienced professionals in our industry. One of the first questions I ask in the workshops is, “Have you ever had lessons in how to smell?” I usually raise my hand in the hope of encouraging a positive response. Usually receiving none, I will dig further and add something like, “Maybe your mother sat with you and went through smells with you.” Still, without fail, I will receive no response.It seems incredible that the most important and fundamental of techniques to the perfumer’s and flavorist’s skill—smelling—is hardly, if ever, systematically taught, even for those in the industry.

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