Ethanol or ethyl alcohol is what chemists call alcohol. Ethanol is formed when yeast ferments sugars. As you can see at an atomic scale, ethanol looks like a chubby balloon dog pissing against the wall.
Ethanol is perfect for illustrating the three key factors in flavour compound detection. Our ability to smell a smell in beer is mainly dependent on three things: the substance’s concentration, its volatility and its flavour threshold. Despite being plentiful in beer (around 40,000 parts per million in a 4% ABV beer) ethanol is not easily detected until the beer gets above 5%. Methyl mercaptan (rotten cabbage flavour) on the other hand is easily detected at 0.00002 parts per million. The reason for this is that methyl mercaptan is much more volatile and has a far lower flavour threshold. The flavour threshold is the concentration of the smelly compound in the beer at which the average nose can detect it. It is likely that we will have evolved to be able to detect certain smells rather than others because they are poisonous and should be avoided. Hence alcohol can't be quite as bad for you as the Daily Mail suggests. Volatility refers to the ease at which an aroma compound escapes the beer and flies up your nose. Highly volatile substances fly off very easily, less volatile substances need to be shaken or swirled out of the drink.
Anyway, the best way to describe the aroma of ethanol is to say that it smells like vodka. On the palate alcohol has a warming effect. You can literally feel the strength of the drink in the mouth and the nose.