Sensory Uniqueness in relation to Danish Honey

Sandra Stolzenbach, Derek V. Byrne & Wender L.P. Bredie
Department of Food Science, Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Copenhagen, Frederiksberg C, Denmark
To fully capitalise on the marketability of local foods, there is a need to understand and define how a food’s origin influences its sensory characteristics. It is of particular interest to study the influences of the raw materials and craftsmanship in relation to the sensory characterisation of the end product. The present study investigated the typicality of the sensory characteristics of 21 honeys representing a span in seasonal variation and geographical location across Denmark. Data on local flora (pollen) were also collected and related to the sensory descriptive profiles of the honeys.

The honeys differed in their sensory profiles and displayed uniqueness with respect to their origin within Denmark. Especially seasonal variation influenced the sensory characteristics of the honeys as a consequence of floral changes. The sensory characteristics changed from displaying the flavour of menthol, raisin and wax in the spring honeys, to more fruity notes herein elderflower, apricot and lemon in the summer honeys, to smoked, bitter, malt and fig in the late summer honeys.

Moreover, geographical location influenced the sensory characteristics of the honeys. Honey from different locations in Denmark displayed specific characteristics. In addition, there was evidence that honeys from similar geographical locations could also differ within its characteristics even though they were harvested within same time frame.

The sensory variation within the honeys due to the flora in the local habitat of the bees was mirrored by pollen analysis showing diversity of pollen grains. For example Brassica (rape) determined in the spring honeys was highly correlated to the sensory flavour characteristics menthol, raisin and wax.

Overall, the honeys had distinct and unique flavours which could be related to the location of production. This finding assists the local beekeeper in making fair claims as to the sensory uniqueness of their honey.