Articulating the Power of Aroma

Gingerbread Man 400A study in the Journal of Psychopharmacology indicates that the smell of alcohol makes people more likely to drink. This may have to do with pleasant associations, like warm times with friends and past enjoyable experiences. Here’s an interesting pull-quote about the power of the sense of smell:

“The smell in an old cupboard can remind us of a fond relative, for instance. The same is true for alcohol. I know some people who cannot stand the sight nor the smell of a certain drink, because it reminds them of a past, unpleasant, experience resulting from drinking too much of that drink.”

An aroma’s ability to bring back deep memories is marvelous, but in the methodical analysis of fine drinks can be confusing. A smell that piques a specific memory can, perhaps paradoxically, make it harder to articulate the aroma. It’s hard for anyone else to know what your grandmother’s cookies smelled like, for example. So we teach a new association with a particular aroma. We wouldn’t rob you of the pleasant memory of your grandmother’s kitchen. We just teach you to recognize that aroma as a combination of vanilla and pecans and butter. Those are terms other people can understand.