Organoleptic-characteristics

Organoleptic characteristics of olive oil

The organoleptic characteristics of an olive oil are divided into two categories as they derive from the general basic vocabulary of the IOC (IOC/T.20/Doc. No.15) and are incorporated in the European Economic Community (EEC) Regulation No.2568/91 and its amendments (Annex XII 1991/2568/2016 p.71).

The following figure (figure 3) shows the organoleptic characteristics of the two categories which refer to the positive and negative attributes of an olive oil.

Figure 3: Organoleptic characteristics of olive oil

Positive attributes

Fruity: It involves all olfactory sensations.

It derives from healthy, fresh olive fruits and it is the first thing we can directly perceive through the nose.

It is the most important attribute in the assessment process, because if it is not detected, an olive oil cannot be classified as extra virgin or virgin.

Bitter: Characteristic primary taste of olive oil obtained from green olives or olives turning colour.

It results from the action of phenolic substances (mainly oleuropein) and we can perceive it, depending on its intensity, through the entrapped tasting nipples on the V region of the tongue. It gradually disappears after
tasting and in no case can it be considered as a defect.

Spicy: Biting tactile sensation characteristic of early harvest olive oils
deriving from olives that are still unripe.

It results from the action of certain phenolic substances (mainly oleochantal), can be perceived in the entire oral cavity, starting with the pharynx, and gradually disappears after tasting.

Negative attributes

Fusty: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil derived from fruit stacked in piles or stockpiled in poor conditions and in an advanced stage of anaerobic fermentation.

Muddy: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil that has remained in contact with the sediment that precipitates in the tanks.

Musty-humid: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil derived from olive fruits which are infected by fungi or are stored for long in a humid environment.

Winey-vinegary: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil that reminds us of wine or vinegar.

Rancid: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil that has undergone an intense process of oxidation.

Metallic: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil that reminds us of metal, which comes from long-term contact of the olives with metal surfaces during the olive oil extraction or storage process.

Heated-burnt: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil derived from high temperature or prolonged heating during the malaxation process.

Vegetable water: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil resulting from fermentation due to its prolonged contact with the vegetable water of the mill.

Cucumber: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil which has remained hermetically sealed in containers.

Grubby: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil that comes from an olive fruit which has been badly affected by the grubs of the olive fly.

Salty: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil derived from an olive fruit which has been preserved in saline.

Greasy: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil that resembles petrol oil, lubricants or mineral oil and derives from the presence of residues of the above substances in the olive press machine.

Hay-wood: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil derived from dehydrated olive fruit.

Wet wood: Smell and taste characteristic of olive oil extracted from olives which have been injured by frost.