All Articles
All Articles
FOOD + DRINK

The Macallan and Roja Dove Sensory Experience

The master perfumer creates an olfactory experience as a unique educational tool for understanding the flavors of Scotch whisky

by Evan Orensten
on 01 November 2011
Macallan_Roja3.jpg

Whisky is a complex spirit with a range of flavors; often, people have an experience with one variety and dismiss the whole spirit. The Macallan recognizes that introducing whisky to some people requires a bit of eduction, and happened upon an idea that is really quite clever. Knowing that smell is such an important element in taste, they thought it would be an interesting experiment to teach people about the flavors of whisky. The Macallan's partnership with celebrated British perfumer Roja Dove created an olfactory experience to do just that, and the result is a Scottish take on the Japanese Kōdō ceremony, which celebrates the art and customs of incense.

Roja is a master perfumer who creates his own line of perfumes as well as creating bespoke fragrances for people and places (like shops and hotels). He also has a well known shop, Roja Dove Haute Perfumerie at Harrods in London, which sells a range of "Roja approved" scents. Ironically, Roja had an unpleasant teenage encounter with Scotch that prevented him from ever trying it again. In his first meeting with The Macallan, he had to confess to his whisky-making partners, "I absolutely hate whisky. I don't like it, I can't drink it. I don't like it whatsoever." Since the project was about creating an experience to introduce the unexperienced to whisky, they were actually encouraged by Dove's opposition to the spirit, relying on him to create an experience to make the characteristics of whisky more approachable.

Macallan_Roja5.jpg

The Macallan and Roja Dove Sensory Experience takes people through the spectrum of scent, educating the nose in common whisky notes. It's meant to help people approach the whisky palate without the immediate—and often overpowering—alcoholic sensation so that later on, tasting the whiskey may bring out characteristics that may otherwise have been missed. "Everybody so far has said that they are shocked that they are able to smell things in the whisky that they have never, ever noticed before," explains Dove. I was lucky enough to spend an hour going through the Experience with Dove and David Cox, director of The Macallan’s Fine and Rare whiskies and indeed learned to distinguish the various components that give whisky its flavor.

Macallan_Roja4.jpg

Dove selected 12 pure essences that he felt were representative of different whiskey traits. The first six introduce scent pairs that help distinguish between things like stillness versus volatility, fruitiness versus spiciness, and maturity versus immaturity. Dove's experience goes back and forth between scents in an opposite way from traditional whisky-tasting, bringing out base notes after the high notes and the sweet before the dry. The kit provides a certain education that a tasting alone cannot. The second set of six scents creates two aromatic blends that imitate whiskies from The Macallan range, which are later used in combination with the whisky during tasting. By the end, the nose has been properly trained and participants leave equipped with the vocabulary to go forward and taste whiskey on their own. It's perhaps not a surprise that through his own methods Dove has come to appreciate and enjoy whisky.

The "aroma station" comes in an exquisitely detailed oak box constructed by Scottish cabinet-maker Duke Christie with bottles arranged like a perfumer's desk—a set-up that Dove playfully likens to a church organ. The box contains scent strips for testing and glasses to combine the scents into a "bouquet," which mirrors the whiskey-tasting experience. Armed with this educational tool, The Macallan's brand ambassadors are set to spread the essence of their spirit through scent, hoping to convert non-believers to the fascinating world of scotch whisky and provide connoisseurs with an additional tool for appreciation. While the Ambassadors' are currently making the rounds with the press, they promise that small, intimate consumer events will follow. Until then, check out the video to hear Dove himself explain the unique process.

The CH25 is a showcase of creators and innovators from a broad range of disciplines who are currently working to drive the world forward.

Matt Kenyon

Fusing art and technology to disrupt concepts of corporate America

Read More
I want the work to live in the world and circulate, so it can generate more dialogue

Jonathan Sparks

Reinventing electronic music by inventing multi-disciplinary instruments

Read More
Recorded music is becoming so cheap, so the value of music is now in live performance

Tarren Wolfe

The next-generation appliance making kitchens greener—literally

Read More
Our goal is to provide food for everyone in the world, and the best place to start is in our very own community

Dan Barasch + James Ramsey

A quest to make the future brighter—underground

Read More
We both share a passion for groundbreaking technology and a shared love of New York

Pauline van Dongen

The Dutch designer blazing the wearable technology path

Read More
I’m fascinated by concepts of change, movement, energy and perception; since they are closely related to the way we experience the world

Sabine Seymour

A future where smart clothes are as ubiquitous as zippers

Read More
In the future you will not buy a piece of 'functional' clothing without SoftSpot

Meredith Perry

How searching the Internet helped a 22-year-old invent wireless electricity

Read More
It’s not about where the information is, it’s about how you use the tools

Eelke Plasmeijer

The locally driven restaurant that’s upending Balinese food culture

Read More
We really try to keep things simple and let the produce do the talking

Kegan Schouwenburg

Revolutionizing orthotics through 3D-printed insoles

Read More
What orthotics do is they effectively change the geometry of what your alignment is like

Lulu Mickelson

A civic leader bringing change to NYC through design

Read More
Human-centered design is one of the many tools that we can use to better engage the public

Leopoldine Huyghues Despointes

The young filmmaker and non-profit founder who just wants people to follow their dreams

Read More
I feel confident and ready to accomplish so much more, the movement is on

Kathleen Supové

The NYC performance artist who’s radically reinventing the piano recital

Read More
I like pieces that are virtuosic, that show off the piano and what it can do, and are awe-inspiring

Tal Danino

The bioengineer who’s programming DNA to fight cancer

Read More
[Manipulating genes] is very new, people are just learning how to program these organisms

LaToya Ruby Frazier

Documenting the slow, troubling change in Braddock, Pennsylvania

Read More
I am not a journalist, I am a conceptual documentary artist using my visual expression for building narratives that are unseen and unheard

Sarah Kunst

The entrepreneur single-handedly changing the landscape for women in tech

Read More
People who live on a planet that is half women but can never seem to find any when they need one, I have solved your problem

Corinne Joachim Sanon

The chocolatier bringing social change to Haiti and bean-to-bar chocolate to the world

Read More
Seeing the poverty surrounding me and the lack of jobs and opportunity bothered me

Alex Kalman

The tiny museum in Manhattan that’s redefining museums

Read More
The mission is to put this small simple and powerful tool into the hands of as many people as possible

Marcus Weller

Using technology to turn motorcycle helmet design on its head

Read More
I was taken aback both by the number of people that doubted it, and by the equally large number of people that got behind it

Joshua Harker

Pushing the boundaries of sculpture with intricate 3D printing

Read More
My intent was to explore and depict the architecture of the imagination, to interpret and share forms evident in the mind’s eye

Roxie Darling

From un-shampoo to transgender identity, the NYC colorist boldly defining the next chapter of hair

Read More
Hair color is as much a science as it is a craft

Douglas Riboud + Justin Guilbert

How a mission to create great coconut water led to a whole new way of doing business

Read More
We’ve made a conscious decision to be as transparent and honest as we can, and let people decide for themselves

Melissa Kushner

Addressing the needs of orphans and vulnerable children in Malawi through microenterprise

Read More
Poverty is complicated, there is an increasing temptation and pressure in the development space to oversimplify things

Vanessa Newman

Redesigning pregnancy for the post-gender generation with Butchbaby & Co.

Read More
I want my customers to feel comfortable and unchanged, in that becoming pregnant didn't take away from or compromise their identity

George Arriola and Monohm

An heirloom electronic for the post-smartphone era

Read More
We agonized during the design process as all hyper-obsessed craftspeople should

Cynthia Breazeal

How an emotional, empathetic robot named Jibo stands to revolutionize communication

Read More
The thing that's so provocative about social robots is that it's fundamentally a community technology
Loading More...