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Anatomy of a Scent: Spiritcask

Perfumer in white lab coat overlaid with abstract image of whisky glass

Welcome to Anatomy of a Scent, a series where in-house master perfumer Euan McCall dissects much-loved scents from our collection of unique Scottish fragrances to reveal their inner workings. This time we're looking at Spiritcask Extrait de Parfum, a unique whisky cask gourmand perfume with notes of ylang-ylang, chamomile, pear, coffee and maple.



New Make, Ylang-Ylang, Pear, Chamomile, Malt, Cognac, Jasmine, Rum Absolute.



Leather, Cocoa, Maple, Cedarwood, Whisky Lactone, Caramel, Labdanum, Guaiacwood, Coffee, Bourbon Vanilla Absolute, Oakwood Extract.


Oakwood + Whisky Lactone = Spirited Air

The central material in Spiritcask is an extract of Oakwood, a by-product of the cask industry. Oakwood has a deliciously deep gourmand character with a blonde wood finish – easily one of the most moreish materials around. Using supplementary materials allows us to contort the profile into the desired shape, pulling the sweetness and leathery characteristics forward to create a truly unique whisky perfume

Adding a tiny amount of so-called whisky lactone pushes our spirited woody character further towards whisky and provides an unusual wood-flesh sweetness and fibrous spiciness. Both materials are pretty unforgiving, you need to handle them in just the right way to get the best out of them, less is (generally) more and this allows for greater control over the architecture of the profile. 


Vanilla Absolute + Ylang-ylang + Cistus oil = Leathery Timber 

Empty used casks present a real aromatic rollercoaster – sweet and airy, deeply balsamic, stone fruit richness, white floral softness and a raw leathery finish with a hint of smoke (depending on how charred the cask is). To reconstitute this wild profile in a luxury perfume I leaned on one of the finest materials on the perfumers palette – Madagascan vanilla absolute – as a foundation material to help create the concept of empty casks, once filled with liquor.

Cistus oil provides a natural leather quality and as per any formulation using cistus, if it’s a well made formulation, it doesn’t stick out above the other notes and you can’t detect its presence, unless of course your intention is to use cistus as a focal point. With delicate use, cistus oil has the power to transform and elevate a formula, reinforcing weaker notes and elevating the finished profile. The soft boozy floral character of ylang-ylang provides a synergistic bridge and broadens the leathery cask profile adding a natural complexity around the gourmand facets whilst softening the leather qualities a touch. 



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