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What's That Smell? Decoding The Aromas In Your Cannabis

You've got a choice, pot smokers: carelessly torch and inhale a bowl of whatever random schwag you're handed in the same amount of time it takes to scarf a Big Mac - or slow your roll and embrace a more tasteful, meditative smoking experience.

More people are getting turned on to the idea that you can savour weed the same way you would a fine wine. Some even suggest the following three-step tasting process: first of all, inhale, holding the smoke in your mouth for a few seconds before letting it go. Second: a longer puff, inhaling deeply, then a rapidly exhale through both the mouth and nose. Third: inhaling with moderate intensity and exhaling through the mouth, which they claim engenders a triple-whammy taste-activating experience.

Got it? Good. If you can actually remember all that, here are five tasting notes to which you should stay attuned.

1. Cheese

Love it or hate it, cannabis can contain dairy notes running the gamut from vanilla ice cream to stinky Danish Blue or Limburger. The terpenes responsible for the cheese factor "include octanoic acid, (methyl thio) butyrate, ethylmethyl acetic acid, hexanoic acid, isovaleric acid, and methyl mercapta," according to The Denver Consulting Group. Strains like Blueberry Cheesecake couple the stinky notes with sweet, indica flavour and effects.

2. Lavender

Cannabis, as many of us know, is a flower - and, like other flowers, its signature perfume can have a borderline-aromatherapeutic sweetness. When cannabis smells fresh and floral, like lavender, it's probably a strain with high concentrations of linalool - a minor terpene best known for its tranquilizing effects. The terpene, which some also recommend for those suffering from anxiety, depression, and even psychosis, is found in strains including Master Kush and OG Shark.

3. Pine

If your cannabis smells kinda like Christmas trees or rolling vistas of coniferous forest, it's likely high in pinene (or α-pinene), an aromatic compound also found in orange peels, turpentine, rosemary, basil, and parsley. Many hail pinene for its anti-inflammatory properties, and some claim it even helps counter the short-term memory loss some people experience with THC. Get it in the ever-popular Blue Dream.

4. Pepper

Sneeze-inducing, spicy-smelling strains contain beta-caryophyllene, which purportedly selectively activates the cannabinoid 2 receptors (CB2), making it potentially useful in treating depression, autoimmune disorders, and diabetes, among other conditions. New evidence suggests beta-caryophyllene may also "be effective for treating anxiety and depression," according to Leaf Science. Dig the peppery note in Hash Plant or Green Lantern.

5. Lemon

With a citrusy flavour and aroma, the terpene limonene is characterized by its correlation with sour lemon: some make some pretty bold claims about its ability to promote weight loss and help treat bronchitis. When it comes to high-limonene strain, you'd be hard-pressed to find a better example than the aptly-named Super Lemon Haze.

The main thing to remember with cannabis tasting? Your nose knows. Trust your individual perceptions. Don't be afraid to note what you're tasting, even if your friends disagree.

For extra weed-nerd bonus points, write down the main flavours and aromas that you've appreciated: later, you can do a second session and look for the undertones and aftertastes. You can even map out the primary and secondary flavours and aromas. You could be the Robert M. Parker Jr. of cannabis - you just don't know it yet.


There are so many strains of marijuana available it can be nearly impossible to figure out which one is right for you. And sure, a knowledgeable budtender could point you in the right direction, but we think we've figured out a better method for choosing a marijuana strain. Take our quiz below to find out which cannabis strain is your true soulmate.

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