Olive Oil Tasting

Common Descriptors

Good

  • Apple/Green Apple: indicative of certain olive varietals
  • Almond: nutty (fresh not oxidized)
  • Artichoke: green flavor
  • Astringent: puckering sensation in mouth created by tannins; often associated with bitter, robust oils
  • Banana: ripe and unripe banana fruit
  • Bitter: considered a positive attribute because it is indicative of fresh olive fruit
  • Buttery: creamy, smooth sensation on palate
  • Eucalyptus: aroma of specific olive varietals
  • Floral: perfume/aroma of flowers
  • Forest: fresh aroma reminiscent of forest floor, NOT dirty
  • Fresh: good aroma, fruity, not oxidixed
  • Fruity: refers to the aroma of fresh olive fruit, which is perceived through the nostrils and retro-nasally when the oil is in one’s mouth.
  • Grass: the aroma of fresh-cut (mowed) grass
  • Green /Greenly: aroma/flavor of unripe olives
  • Green Tea: characteristic of some unripe olive varieties
  • Harmonious: balance among the oil’s characteristics with none overpowering the others
  • Hay/Straw: dried grass flavor
  • Herbaceous: unripe olive fruit reminiscent of fresh green herbs
  • Melon: indicative of certain olive varietals
  • Mint: indicative of certain olive varietals
  • Pear: indicative of certain olive varietals
  • Peach: indicative of certain olive varietals
  • Peppery: stinging sensation in the throat which can force a cough (see pungent)
  • Pungent: stinging sensation in the throat which can force a cough (see peppery)
  • Ripely: aroma/flavor of ripe olive fruit
  • Round/Rotund: a balanced, mouth-filling sensation of harmonious flavors
  • Spice: aroma/flavor of seasonings such as cinnamon, allspice (but not herbs or pepper)
  • Sweet: characteristic of mild oils
  • Tomato/Tomato Leaf: indicative of certain olive varietals
  • Tropical: indicative of ripe olive fruit with nuances of melon, mango, and coconut
  • Walnut/Walnut Shell: nutty (fresh not oxidized)
  • Wheatgrass: strong flavor of some green olive fruit
  • Woody: indicative of olive varietals with large pits
  • Not Good

  • Acetone: aroma of nail polish remover, associated with winey defect
  • Blue Cheese: aroma associated with muddy sediment defect
  • Brine: salty taste indicating that oil was made from brined olives
  • Bacon: smoky essence that may indicate oxidation
  • Burnt/Heated: caused by processing at too high a temperature
  • Cucumber: off flavor from prolonged storage, particularly in tin
  • Dirty: oils which have absorbed unpleasant odors and flavors of dirty waste water during milling
  • Dreggish: odor of warm lubricating oil caused by the poor execution of the decanting process
  • Esparto: refers to straw-like material in mats occasionally used in older mills that may create a hemp-like flavor in oil
  • Fiscolo: refers to coconut fibers in mats occasionally used in older mills that may create a hemp-like flavor in oil
  • Flat/Bland: oils which have no positive or negative aroma or flavor characteristic of olive oil; may indicate presence of refined olive oil
  • Frozen/Wet Wood: sweet, dry, and untypical aroma/flavor derived from olives which have been exposed to freezing temperatures
  • Fusty: anaerobic fermentation that occurs when olives are stored in piles too long before milling
  • Greasy: flavor of diesel or gasoline caused by equipment problems
  • Grubby: flavor imparted to oil by olive fly damage to olives
  • Hay-wood: flavor of dried olives
  • Muddy Sediment: barnyard-like aroma caused by olives’ prolonged contact with dirt before or after milling
  • Musty: moldy, humid flavor created by wet olives that have been stored too long before pressing
  • Metallic: oils that have had prolonged contact with reactive metal surfaces either during processing or storage
  • Rancid: the flavor of oxidation that occurs as the oil ages, often described as “stale nuts”
  • Rough: pasty, thick, greasy mouth feel
  • Sour Milk: aroma associated with muddy sediment defect
  • Stale Nuts: flavor of oxidized oils, rancidity
  • Unbalanced: oils with overwhelming flavors of bitterness and pungency
  • Vegetable Water: oils that have been stored in contact with the water content of the olive after processing
  • Winey: sour/vinegary flavor caused by aerobic fermentation of olives during processing (see vinegary)
  • Vinegary: sour/vinegary flavor caused by aerobic fermentation of olives during processing. (see winey)
  • Yeasty: aroma of bread dough; associated with winey defect