Our First Understanding Flavours Course – what went on

VWA’s inaugural Understanding Flavours course took place last week at Craven College, Skipton, North Yorkshire. ‘Understanding Flavours’ is aimed at giving an introduction to both savoury and sweet flavours, their composition and role to those involved in the development, manufacture and marketing of food as well as trainee flavourists.

At the helm were seasoned flavourists (sorry, couldn’t resist that one!) Dr David Baines and Richard Seal, tutors of our extremely popular ‘Creating Savoury Flavours’ course which regularly attracts professional flavourists from around the globe. Delegates for this course were from Germany, Ireland, New Zealand and the UK and included trainee flavourists and technicians from Pepsico, Silesia Aroma and from Lionel Hitchen (Essential Oils) – and Jodie, our most recent recruit to the VWA office, who was keen to find out about flavouring wizardry.

Here’s her report :

The course began with an introduction to taste and flavours from course tutors Dr David Baines and Richard Seal. The delegates then completed a series of practical exercises and lectures ranging from learning the basics of flavours to creating their own savoury snack seasoning.

Day One

Day One focused on how to build from the basic flavours and what flavour is all about, as well as looking at nature’s flavours. The delegates got to use their senses within the practicals, tasting flavoured soups to evaluate essential oils, oleoresins and other ingredients.  The main practical of the day was creating their own snack seasoning in teams (named Team Chicken and Team Beef!). Following a lecture on ‘The Flavour Pyramid’ (Basic tastes at the top, through sensations, textures, aromas, appearance and emotions at the base) the teams were tasked with creating their own chicken and herb flavouring or beef flavouring.  The knowledge they had gained from the lecture enabled them to identify the different stages when creating their own seasoning.

After a great day of creating understanding of what flavour is all about,  VWA organised a tour of a local brewery –  The Copper Dragon Brewery in Skipton.

Day Two

On Day Two the course covered cheese and dairy flavours and how these can be modified with enzymes to change the flavours. The delegates then tasted the different cheeses that had been modified with a range of enzyme profiles and discussed the different flavours created in comparison with the original cream cheese.

The delegates then discussed alternatives to MSG and new developments in flavour technology such as salt replacers, as there is no substitute for sodium chloride. The discussion then turned to alternative sweeteners.

In the afternoon of Day Two the delegates were given a lecture on top note flavours and flavouring substances. as they would be then creating their own top note fruit flavour which was raspberry. This was also done in teams. Within this lecture our chemical senses were examined: Gustation (sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami), Olfaction(complex interactions with thousands of volatile chemicals creating flavour) and Trigeminal effects (heat, Astringency, cooling and pungency.

After the lecture the delegates started creating their own raspberry top notes. Five different raspberry blends were required. The teams then had to select which one would be best used with a fizzy drink and a jelly. They were given a selection of 10 chemicals to create the best blends, which were then tasted in sugar water.


This course gave the delegates a great understanding of flavours through lectures and practical exercises where they could put their new knowledge into practice, discuss the industry with each other, question the tutors and relate it to their own work.

For more information about VWA’s forthcoming flavourings courses, including our 5-day Creating Savoury Flavours course.

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