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In partnership with luxury perfume

The Macallan Interview - Roja Dove

The Macallan has worked in partnership with luxury perfumer Roja Dove, creating 'The Macallan Aroma Box' to help people better explore and understand the characteristics of The Macallan Sherry Oak and Fine Oak ranges. Here we find out what inspires the man behind the scents...

Tell us in your own words what you do.

I have spent my life trying to help people have a better understanding of scent – it being the most difficult of all the senses to articulate and the one we generally speak least about. This manifests in both my work as a creative perfumer or as one who helps the press.

Where do you draw your inspiration from when you create a new scent?

When I create a new scent I start with its name. My partner Peter and I sit in our garden drinking tea and think of names we like. I think scent should instil a profound emotional response in us – if it does not, the scent is bland or banal. The name helps me think how the scent needs to be. For example, Danger cannot be anything but rich and overtly sensual, whereas Unspoken suggests an effect that is the same as when you catch someone's eye. It is thrilling. Everything is understood without the need for a word to be exchanged.

How did you come to work with The Macallan?

I started talking to The Macallan about flavour and aromas and how, in my opinion, most whiskies are described in such a way that people are often not engaged. We spoke about me creating a series of 'fragrances' which would help people understand the basic concepts of volatility versus depth, immaturity vs maturity and cold vs warm, and then six blends which capture the intrinsic characteristics of The Sherry Oak and Fine Oak Macallan.
I love the fact that when people smell them they understand what they experience in the whiskies immediately and so become totally engaged and, I believe, gain an even greater appreciation of the whiskies themselves.

What are the similarities in whisky making and perfumery?

I would say the greatest similarities are the lengths we both go to obtain the best we can.

There is an inherent knowledge that only the best will do – for The Macallan that means having a barley which is uniquely their own, or spending enormous sums to have the best oak barrels to obtain specific effects which give them an inimitable signature. Whereas I use Jasmine from Grasse in the south of France which requires five million flowers picked before dawn to create a litre of oil, resulting in an oil which costs more than the price of gold bullion.

The other obvious similarity is that both The Macallan and I never hurry – a product is ready when it is ready. For The Macallan that might mean waiting thirty years, which is exactly how long the youngest sandalwood I would consider using will be.

Many newcomers to single malt whisky find the aroma and taste challenging. How do you feel the aroma oils you have blended for The Macallan will help people overcome this sensory challenge to appreciate The Macallan?
I believed firmly that for most people whisky is so volatile it is hard to smell the nuances. With a breadth of flavour 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.

Do you have a favourite scent?

I have always loved perfume and wear my Semi-Bespoke No. V. I love how smoky and sensual it is. Everyone I know, knows me for it – it smells like me.
Do you have a favourite expression of The Macallan?

I love the floral aspect of Blend No. 12 in the aroma box. Which is an expression of one aspect of The Macallan American Fine Oak – I love it as it is unexpected and I hate predictability.

To find out more about the collaboration between Roja Dove and The Macallan, watch our film Roja Dove and The Macallan

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