Effect of ethanol on flavor perception of Rum

Chelsea M. Ickes, Keith R. Cadwallader

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This is the first sensory study to evaluate the effects of ethanol concentration on flavor perception of distilled spirits. Dilution series of two rums (R1 and R2) were evaluated to gain insight into the effects of ethanol concentration on the flavor perception of distilled spirits. Rums were diluted 1:2 (v/v) either with pure water to a final alcohol by volume (ABV) of 20% (R1-W and R2-W) or with an aqueous 40% ABV solution (R1-E and R2-E). The later dilution accounted for the flavor dilution effect while keeping the ethanol concentration the same as the original liquors. Descriptive sensory analysis was conducted on both dilution series and the original rums. Twenty-three attributes were evaluated consisting of eight aroma, four aroma-by-mouth, four mouthfeel, two taste, and five aftertaste terms. Results revealed 18 significant attributes for the R1 series. With the exception of silky mouthfeel, all attributes were rated highest in R1 and lowest in R1-E. The R2 series contained sixteen significant attributes, all of which were rated higher in R2 compared with R2-E. The flavor profiles of the original rums and those diluted with water were very similar, with the diluted rums generally having slightly lower attribute intensities. In contrast, the rums diluted with 40% ABV had significantly different flavor profiles than the original rums. Results indicate that diluting spirits with water may reduce the odor suppression effects of ethanol or enhance flavor release which appears to counteract the flavor dilution effect.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)912-924
Number of pages13
JournalFood Science and Nutrition
Issue number4
StatePublished - Jun 2018


  • alcoholic beverage
  • descriptive analysis
  • ethanol
  • flavor
  • rum

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science


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