Perfumer Roja Dove and The Macallan single malt scotch have created something they call “The Macallan Aroma Box,” a kit containing 12 scents found in whisky. It’s designed to educate drinkers on some of the finer notes in a single malt and it first hit about a year ago. It’s been getting more attention lately, and the first I’ve heard of this exciting fragrance/spirits connection was just last week (via the comments—thanks, Memory of Scent).
The Aroma Box is also designed as a tool to help The Macallan reach people who, like Dove himself, didn’t think they liked whisky. In an interview posted on The Macallan website, he said,
I believed firmly that for most people whisky is so volatile it is hard to smell the nuances. With a breadth of flavor as diverse as The Macallan’s, I felt it essential that people could understand the basic characteristics available. I was shocked when I first met Bob Dalgarno, their Master of Spirit, and discovered that whisky can be rich and earthy, but also can be delicate and floral. I started creating this highly original tool, as I was determined that people would be able to understand the variety, diversity, and complexity which is The Macallan.
In that same interview, I was disappointed by Dove’s vague and elitist discussion of the commonalities between creating perfume and whisky. Instead of going into the history of distilling, or all of the other things that unite spirits and fragrances, Dove gives a marketing-speak response about how “only the best will do” in super expensive ingredients and long aging processes, an attitude that seems to ignore the majority of the fragrance and scotch market. After all, how many of us are really paying hundreds of dollars for scant milliliters of perfume oil worth more then their weight in gold? And while I’m not in the market for a 30-year Macallan, I’m an avid consumer of younger, more accessible single malts. Dove’s answer insults my intelligence and my budget.
Oh well—these are the perils of luxury marketing, and I’m used to it (see my review of By Kilian’s Taste of Heaven—Absinthe Verte).
All that aside, the Aroma Box is a fascinating concept, if not a new one. In addition to being an excellent marketing tool, it could be used to help focus drinkers, slow them down and convince them to concentrate on the first part of enjoying spirits: the nose. It’s an aspect wine drinkers (and sophisticated spirits drinkers) are accustomed to, but one that the general public isn’t always schooled in with regard to whisky, or tequila.
Which brings us to one of the Aroma Box’s predecessors, as mentioned in a write-up a year ago on notcot.com. Maestro Dobel tequila came out with a 50-vial set of scents back in 2008 to support their blend of three aged tequilas (that bottle, without the scent box, sells for about $50 today, but retailed for $75 when it came out). Are all of those 50 notes—orange blossom, gardenia, peach, chocolate, rosemary, cinnamon, sesame, etc.—in each whiff of Maestro Dobel tequila? That’s a good question. But with such a kit, you could smell each note alongside a glass of the tequila and see for yourself.
Below is a video produced by Macallan introducing its partnership with Roja Dove (whose name, I discovered, is not pronounced ‘Ro-ha,’ but ‘Rah-ja’). No word yet if the Aroma Box will be available at retail; it looks more like it will be a tool for tastings.
Incidentally, The Macallan will be pouring scotch at the Brooks Brothers store on Madison Avenue in NYC tonight for a celebration of all things Scottish with Harris Tweed at 6pm. And tomorrow, The Macallan and Harris Tweed will be hosted by Saks Fifth Avenue at 6pm for a similar event.