How We Taste and Smell

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Smell and taste are important senses in food and drink which can persuade us to consume a product or not. Together these senses can act as “gatekeepers” to allow us to recognise the good from harmful toxins entering our bodies.

Mechanism of Action

Orthonasal olfaction occurs through the inhalation through your nose, while retronasal olfaction is the perception of odours that are projected from the oral cavity. The latter perception allows us to distinguish one ingredient from another.

The gustatory system is responsible for our sensation of taste. The human tongue is made up of papillae which conceal around 10,000 taste buds containing taste receptor cells or also known as gustatory cells. When molecules are dissolved on our taste buds, we are able to distinguish six different taste concepts: sweet, sour, salty, bitter, umami and kokumi. Kokumi, a full body flavour is the most recent Japanese taste concept discovered.

Cross Modal Correspondence

Taste and smell are separate senses, yet they are linked through the human body’s chemosensation. This is the body’s chemical sensing system. Flavour is a combination of retronasal olfaction and taste. Without taste and smell working together, you would not be able to taste complex flavours. According to Live Science “80 percent of the flavours we taste come from what we smell.” These components combined with temperature and mouthfeel together create our perception of flavour, a combination of retronasal olfaction and taste. Taste can also vary based on genes, experiences and our age.

By combining taste and smell we are therefore able to fully taste complex flavours. This effect is called cross modal correspondence which is when two or more different sensory modalities interact with one another.

How We Can Help?

There is increasing pressure for beverage manufacturers to dramatically reduce calories and sugar. By exploiting the overlap in neurological processing, we can enhance the perception of sweetness with odour components. We are also able to enhance the flavour and mouthfeel with our 100% natural solutions, without adding any sugar, calories or colouring.

To find out how we can enhance your formulations by sensory investigation, please send us an email at