Remember the tongue-taste map? The one that so cleverly sections out each part of your tongue and gives it credit for identifying four key flavors: sweet, salty, bitter and sour?
It turns out that map is probably bogus—because your brain is actually doing all of the work. Though the tongue takes notes on what you’re tasting (also important to note: all taste buds can taste all flavors), it’s your brain that processes the information, deciding which flavor along the spectrum it falls into.
The map is also woefully incomplete. Scientists have added umami—more commonly known as savory—to the list of flavors that your brain can compute, and there may be even more nuanced tastes to add to that list someday, including fat.
Anyone who’s had a cocktail or fine spirit before (or read the tasting notes section of Whisky Advocate) knows that flavor and taste reception is incredibly nuanced. Sure, the salt from a Margarita hits you first at the front of your tongue where it’s extra-sensitive, but it will then commingle with the sweet and sour notes of the liquid, evolving as you sip. The progression of taste is one of the great beauties of craft cocktails and spirits.
This piece originally appeared on Liquor.com.