The seductive smell of fresh pencil shavings and the beguiling fragrance of peat bogs with more than a hint of malt, cognac and rum absolute are being offered by an Edinburgh perfumier.
Euan McCall’s Jorum Studio has launched a whisky cask perfume with notes akin to “sticking your head inside an empty whisky cask”.
Its wearers will find it hard not to come across – even from a distance – as rather barley-forward.
Spiritcask, the independent Scottish fragrance brand’s latest release, was inspired by a distillery tour as McCall explains:
“I was talking with a distiller about casks and was invited to stick my head into an empty cask and fell in love with the residual spirit aroma, the full profile of the cask and the resulting profile of them both mixed.
“Whisky is commonly used on perfume labels as an aroma or inspiration, but not many focus on the cask itself which plays a critical role in the finished dram.
“I have chemically analysed dozens of malts and blends over the years, and I’m fascinated by the entire whisky and spirit-making process; from the input of raw materials, how these are processed, and then distillation through to the barrel-aging process. Our sell-out Scottish O yssey Collection was inspired by sympathetic aromatics.”
Spiritcask’s Firewater and Arborist were inspired by the peat and maritime flavours found in Jura and Islay malts and by whiskies from the Highland region of Scotland.
“They were investigations of terroir – the elemental environment where these malts are produced. The parallels between my job as a perfumer and that of the spirits business has been intertwined.”
McCall is also founder of Neanderthal perfume and HerOwn immersive interior scents. As well as the gender-neutral and typically considered “Athenaum”.
“We have over 3,000 aromatic materials in our laboratory in Edinburgh and that enables us to recreate the smell of virtually anything we want.”
The new Spiritcask centres around Oakwood Extract (taken from used barrels), an ingredient called Whisky Lactone present in barrel aged whisky and in oak, Vanilla Absolute from Madagascar and as McCall explains:
“Flourishes of cruder aromatics such as Isoamyl Alcohol, which gives whisky its distinctive top note.”
The luxury niche fragrance house has its flagship store in Stephen Street, Edinburgh and McCall concludes by saying:
“Spiritcask is really a story of casks used in spirit making and maceration and less about whisky.”
Kevin Pilley is a former professional cricketer and chief staff writer of PUNCH magazine. His humour, travel, food and drink work appears worldwide and he has been published in over 800 titles.
Photograph courtesy of Jorum Studio