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This is a ridiculously common trope in cop shows and movies. I've seen movies where either a cop or a druglord was able to rattle off purity statistics after just a taste. The good guys bust into a room and find a bunch of drug bricks. They stab a hole in one and then dab a bit of the white substance on their tongue declaring, "Oh, this is the good stuff! X% pure!"

Is this possible? Can any of the following attributes be discovered purely through taste?

  • Type of drug
  • Quality of drug (presumably this is a mixed bag of potency and mixture?)
  • Place of origin
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I can recall TV shows where they taste the drug to establish if it is likely cocaine, but I don't recall any where they have made a purity claim. Do you have any you can reference? (Another question: If it was highly pure cocaine, and they weren't regular users, would a pinch not get them more than a little bit high?) – Oddthinking Aug 25 '14 at 16:07
Another valid question: Do cops actually do this?… – Oddthinking Aug 25 '14 at 16:10
@Oddthinking: If I rephrase the question to ask, "type or quality of drugs" would that work better? (But yes, I have seen examples of people tasting for quality. I don't have the references handy but I'll try to look up specifics examples later.) – MrHen Aug 25 '14 at 16:17
I can't recall any instance of "X% pure!" however I do have a notion of characters making more subjective claims on the substance's quality after a taste. – Brian S Aug 25 '14 at 18:15
@ChrisW: I think it's a good and notable claim, as are many others here from fictional stories. See the relevant discussion on meta, and I know we have other questions asked about fictional-devices-posing-as-reality. The only other example I remember at the moment is the one I asked here. – Flimzy Aug 26 '14 at 8:35

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