Box full of Mangos

Why You Should Stop and Smell the Mangos | Blog #2

This weeks blog is about every individuals unique palate and how it is honed. What makes your palate the way it is and what can you do to increase the range of flavors to develop your palates’ experience?

Stretching your palate and broadening your flavor profile will bring you a lot more pleasure as you delve ever deeper into the world of Whisky.

You’ve all heard the saying “Stop and Smell the Roses” and in fact some of you may own Ringo Star’s album… if you’re as long in the tooth as I am. This is a much broader and more important statement in terms of your life. If applied to whisky, it has a more immediate impact.

Some of you reading this blog will have sat through one of the many whisky classes that I have facilitated over the years (thanks by the way) and I have on many occasions talked about “Mango theory”. Smelling roses and eating Mango have a lot in common.

We all start life with a clean slate and through circumstances, upbringing and culture are honed into the individual that sits reading this today.

Where does the Mango come into it? Born and raised in Australia, I experienced Mango as a luscious ripe and full flavored fruit. Now living in Calgary for 12 years, my Mango experience has been lessened somewhat. Green, under-ripe, early picked expressions are shipped North to find their way to market shelves. Those born and raised in Calgary paying an eyebrow raising amount for these exotic palm sized versions would be wondering what all the fuss is about. If I were to pick a fresh Aussie Mango and wave it over the top of the latest batch to hit supermarket shelves, instilling just the barest essence of what it should deliver, I would have accomplished the same task.

Growing up in Calgary and never traveling you would have a very specific set of palate memory on what “Mango” constitutes in your library of flavors. It would be completely removed from mine.

Taste and smell are the two most important senses for building memory. The more you work at trying as many different flavors as you can, the more you will not only expand your range of enjoyable whiskies but you will also notice an appreciation for subtle flavors that you did not pick up on before.

Think of your palate like you would your body… work it out!

With continual exercise, working out, and challenges, your body will become fitter, more sharply honed and able to perform. Your palate is the same. Given the sugar orientated North American diet, most of us will have flabby, lazy palates used to only a tiny range of flavors and unable to comprehend much beyond those self inflicted borders.

So I challenge you, if you want to experience a wider range of flavors and enjoy the immense diversity that whisky/ey has to offer, step out of your comfort zone. Throw away those old foundational beliefs and absolutes and open yourself to possibilities that you have not yet imagined.

” Stop and Smell the Roses” and if you can’t get a tropical ripe Mango expand your palate in other ways. Don’t always order the same thing on the menu when on your weekly date night (another topic). Dare to be disappointed and take a risk.

The number one regret for those that are retired is that they did not take more risks.

Make a commitment as we continue on this journey, that you will pledge yourself to be a risk-taker, smell-er and taster of life.

What is your unique tasting experience, where you have discovered that all tastes are not created equal?

Have you had an “AHA” moment?

Share them below in the comments so that I can add them to my bucket list for new experiences to seek out.

Next week my blog is entitled “Water, Water Everywhere but not a Drop to Drink” – I delve  into whisky and water, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

“Huli Pau!” (Hawaiian for Cheers)

Jonathan Bray


  1. kinkminos says:

    having recently (less than a year) been stung by the whisky bee, my range of tastings has thus far been limited by time, and also cos out here the only way to try a new expression is to buy the whole 700ml (or larger) bottle. plus none of my friends are into tasting whisky — as opposed to knocking it back for its inebriating effect, trying not to actually taste the stuff. so i limit my purchases so as not to break the bank or overstock on bottles.

    i began the journey with single malt scotches and that has been my experience in the main — apart from a bottle of the basic amrut (delish), one of nikka from the barrel (excellent) and a couple of half-decent bourbons. oh, and a half-litre bottle of compass box GK street (not bad, though ultimately a tad bland).

    my cabinet currently holds half-empty (thus half-full, ha ha) bottles of highland park 12, glenfarclas 105, lagavulin 16 and jw green (still available here). all nice in their own sweet (or not) way. looking forward to trying amrut fusion/cask strength and aberlour a’bunadh among others.

    part of my journey has involved browsing the many fine whisky blogs, and trying to understand the whole nosing/tasting business. i must confess to having failed miserably at it. i think part of the problem is my, shall we say, highly compromised olfactory sense, which limits the depth and intensity of aromas i am able to pick up. as an example, the first time i opened a bottle of ardbeg (10yo) i remember getting a whiff of peatiness, nothing too powerful. my wife, on the other hand, walked in a minute later and was knocked over, demanding to know what foul concoction i intended to poison my system with.

    ah well, i still enjoy the hell out of a good whisky. i think i’ll leave the tasting-note process to you chaps who seem to pick up on the nuances.

    btw, on the subject of mangoes, we subcontinentals, both pakistanis and indians, are extremely chauvinistic about the delectable princess of fruits, believing that only mangoes from our neck of the woods are worth eating — other varieites being shameless upstarts at best… or, more often, just unadulterated crap 🙂

    • Jonathan Bray says:

      G’day Kinkminos,

      Great to hear about another bug bitten whisky drinker who is on the path. You will be amazed that over time the more diversity you try the bigger the range of flavors you will pick up. I will be posting notes on Amrut Fusion in the not to distant future.

      Interesting comment about your sense of smell and taste. When I was talking with the guys at the Amrut Distillery they did mention that due to the heavy spiciness of most Indian food that their pallets tended to be overwhelmed and unable to taste some of the subtleties found even in their own Single Malt. Do you think this is a factor for you?


      • kinkminos says:

        salam/namaste jonathon-ji.

        there might be an element of my diet in the equation: i used to eat very spicy food. have toned it down more recently — the aging digestive system is not as forgiving as it once was.

        but i think it’s more than that. i suspect that one or more of the wilder excesses of my youth may have "damaged" my sense of smell. on the bright side, that may be one reason i was able to take so readily to blue cheeses – the damn things weren’t, on initial exposure, as frighteningly pungent as friends had described 🙂

        looking forward to reading your notes on la fusion – and even more to acquiring a bottle for meself.

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