These terms are used by tasters and follow the guidelines of the International Olive Oil Council in Madrid. A tasting panel conducts blind evaluations of oils and makes a pass/fail determination based on the presence or absence of major defects.
Perception of Positive Olive Oil Attributes
• Fruity – ripe or green
• Bitter – transient in the middle palate due to some greenness
• Pungent – a biting sensation in the whole mouth and later the throat (often delayed), characteristic of olives picked early in the season
Perception of Defects
• Fusty – from olives stored in piles that have undergone fermentation
• Musty – from fungi and yeasts in olives stored in humid conditions
• Winey-Vinegary-Acid Sour – due to formation of excessive amounts of acetic acid, ethyl acetate and ethanol from fermentation in the olives
• Muddy Sediment – from prolonged contact with sediment in storage containers
• Metallic – from contact with metals during processing
• Rancid – from oxidation. This is the worst defect.