According to you, what are the conditions required to train as a professional tasting?
You can’t claim to know your stuff if you don’t taste a lot and regularly. Over my career, I tasted about fifty samples every weekday morning at 11.30am, surrounded by the tasting committee. We were always seated at exactly the same places in the same office.
It is effectively necessary to do it on a daily basis and in an unchanged context: same place, same people, same time. Tasting is all the more difficult where cognac is concerned, because unlike wine, the degree of alcohol dilutes one’ perception.
And above all, it is essential that someone be there to guide you at all times.
What is the role of this guide?
First and foremost, they teach you the practical side of things. It is a very quick passage: within a few months you know how much to take, when to take it and how to spit it out… But above all, they are the person who helps you to distinguish what is important, different, interesting… This is the most difficult thing to learn and requires a teacher.
What defines a good taster?
You can only be a good taster once you have educated your memory. It is a long and difficult process. I can only talk about what I know, but as far as Hennessy cognac is concerned, it takes ten years to build a memory. Ten years for someone with a lot of talent!
(Picture credit: Alfredo Piola.)