It may sound like a bawdy joke, but sausage tasting is a genuine thing. As we found out when we met up with sausage judge Keith Fisher for British Sausage Week.
Keith started out as a “gut runner” as a lad (yep, there’s intestines involved), and has been judging gourmet sausages during British Sausage Week since it began 18 years ago. This year that’ll mean tasting 550 sausages in a couple of days.
Keith even made the headlines a few years back for insuring his sausage-tasting tongue for £1 million. The policy has since expired, but he was still more than a match for our sausage-fanatic reporter Luke Lythgoe.
So that should give you some idea of what (and what not) to talk about while taste-testing gourmet sausages. But you’ll need more than just some sausagey vocab if you want to be a pro sausage judge like Keith.
There’s a very thorough scoring regime. The sausages are judged both raw (although not to taste) and cooked. Five criteria are scored for each.
The scoring works a bit like a golf score, with a perfect sausage scoring zero. Points are then deducted (up to -10) in each of the 10 categories.
Keith emphasised that the system isn’t intended to pick faults, but rather to find the perfect sausage specimen.
And because sausage flavours and varieties are so different, they’re always being judged on how well they live up to their claims – if it’s “spicy” is there some heat, if they’ve promised “apple and ale” can you taste both of those?
Full story from Irish Examiner