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Edinburgh-based fragrance brand launches Scotch whisky-inspired perfume

Jorum Studio, a fragrance brand based in the Scottish capital, has created a new scent designed to smell like “sticking your head inside an empty whisky cask”, perfumer Euan McCall tells db.

Edinburgh-based fragrance brand launches Scotch whisky-inspired perfume

The independent fragrance brand has just launched its latest fragrance, Spiritcask, which takes inspiration from the smell of the barrels used to house the iconic Scottish spirit.

McCall, the perfumer who founded Jorum Studio in 2019, took inspiration for the new scent from a visit to a distillery a few years ago. “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,” he told db.

‘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”, he added.

“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 ageing process.”

Edinburgh-based fragrance brand launches Scotch whisky-inspired perfume

Spiritcask is the third fragrance from Jorum Studio inspired by the process involved in making Scotch whisky. Its predecessors, Firewater and Arborist, are said to be inspired respectively by the peat and maritime flavours found in Jura and Islay malts and by whiskies from the Highland region of Scotland.

However, McCall describes the two forerunners as more an “investigation of terroir”, explaining that they capture “the elemental environment where these malts are produced over trying to capture just the smell of whisky”.

Spiritcask, on the other hand, “is like sticking your head into a once-full oak barrel.”

The Edinburgh-based perfumer looked at the way the spirit is made “from start to finish” in order to develop the fragrance. “The parallels between my job as a perfumer and that of the spirits business has been intertwined for me,” he said.

“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,” McCall explained.

In the case of Spiritcask, the perfume 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 “flourishes of cruder aromatics such as Isoamyl Alcohol, which gives whisky its distinctive top note”, McCall said.

Edinburgh-based fragrance brand launches Scotch whisky-inspired perfume

“We also take inspiration from the casks and their origin; are these virgin oak? ex-sherry fill? ex-bourbon?”

The scent may take inspiration from Scotch whisky, but McCall believes it can be enjoyed even by the whisky haters among us. “Spiritcask is really a story of casks used in spirit making and maceration and less about whisky,” he said.

But, of course, he is a whisky lover himself. So what’s his favourite serve?

“I’m a purist, straight up, rarely any water, although sometimes a dram demands loosening up with some water. I enjoy any whisky but prefer a peaty malt, one with a little maritime salinity or a really smooth and rich Highland malt that’s barley-forward.”

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