The present study compares subjects with varying degrees of product expertise with regards to their ability to provide a sensory profile of beverages. Eight premium beers were evaluated by three different panels using a Napping®
test, followed by a descriptive task. Two panels were constituted of consumers, classified according to their self-assessed product expertise into “Novices” (N
= 14) and “Enthusiasts” (N
= 26). The sensory panel at a large brewery, and a group of master brewers constituted the third panel (“Experts”, N
= 15). The Napping®
data from the three panels were digitalized using a coordinate system, whereas attributes were entered separately and treated as frequency table crossing products and attributes. The position data were analyzed by Hierarchical Multiple Factor Analysis (HMFA). Partial Least Squares-Discriminant Analysis (PLS-DA) was used to test differences between the three panels with regards to the use of attributes. The HMFA results showed a separation of the samples into two distinct groups on the first dimension, whereas the second dimension highlighted the specificity of two of the samples. RV coefficients between partial configurations obtained from the three panels were all above 0.90, indicating high configurational similarity. In contrast, PLS-DA showed significant differences in the use of attributes, particularly between Experts and Novices, suggesting that product expertise is more associated with descriptive, rather than perceptual, ability.
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