Mapping the Cannabis Palate: The Breeding and Production of Fine Cannabis by DJ Short

By DJ Short: Legendary Oregon cannabis breeder known for breeding incredible flavors and potent strains of cannabis.

Photo:  Kym Kemp

Photo: Kym Kemp

The breeding and production of fine cannabis is more art than science

A creative mind and sense of intuition are necessary to achieve success in this field. While some herb is strictly pleasing to the mental palate, taste can also be tantamount to the buzz for the cannabis connoisseur.

The range of flavors expressed by the genus cannabis is extraordinary. No other plant on the planet can equal the cacophony of smells and tastes available from cannabis. The spectrum of possible smells and tastes a human can experience is large and complex. To date, no one has created a fully usable olfaction chart, although Ann Noble of the wine world has developed a nifty “aroma wheel” for that industry, which inspired me to develop a similar map for cannabis. Like its counterpart, categories branch out from the general to the more specific. For instance, a category like “fruity” will subdivide into “berry” and “citrus;” citrus divides further into the more distinct flavors of “lemon,” “lime” and “orange.”


The range of aromas and flavors represented on the chart are all possible to achieve. Some of these are already well known and represented among widely available cannabis varieties, while others require some cross-breeding to achieve. Some of the most desirable bud bridges multiple categories, creating a complex sensory experience. Although the strength of smell and flavor may vary, many strains’ flavors were best expressed when they were grown outdoors in their region of origin. Note that aroma and flavor vary by growing method and also between various stages of the plant. The aroma of a live bud on the plant, a dried and cured bud, and the smoke on the inhale and exhale, may all be different from each other.

The physical palate of cannabis is a wondrous dimension, important in distinguishing the good from the superb in the weed world. Capable of being refined, one's palate is best educated through experience. The map that follows is meant to aid the discriminating stoner in charting the territory. Happy travels.

DJ Short’s “Cannabis Olfaction Chart”


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