Short Olfactive Notes: The Scent of Spirits

When Kings County Distillery came to us they gave us wood chips! Not booze or spirits. But that trust and insight that we could break olfactive convention. Typically, booze inspired fragrances partake heavily (perhaps too much) into the heaviness of spices, dark musks, and smokey concoctions. They’re deep, dizzying, but also overpowering and cloying in a way that can turn your stomach and makes you nauseous.

Subversion sounds way too serious, but that’s kind of what we did when it came to exploring not-so typical ideas about spirits. Interestingly, smell and scent isn’t that far off from the way we consume one. Think about it. At the top of our nostrils, we have our olfactive receptors.These bodily receptors are what captures a “scent” for us. But we can also actually smell in two ways. One is through our nostrils, the orthonasal pathway. And other is through the retro-nasal, i.e. our mouths with taste.

And it’s this pathway that we ended up elevating in our own explorations with Kings. For example, lots of alcohols (like wine and hops) produce distinctive compounds and aromas. American Rye Whiskey has such a complex aromatic systems that there’s not one odorant or note that’s responsible for its characteristic aroma. Getting to explore this, on top of also thinking about the space in which these spirits are produced, is what brought us a candle that has top notes of strawberry, and juniper. Tobacco flower, but not tobacco leaf. A little bit of benzoin added to tickle the hairs in your nostrils to intimate that rich burn you get of whiskey coating your throat.

Or consider the warmth we feel in our bellies when we consume a bourbon. That slow drip as if the deep charred smoke from an aged barrel is sweeping through your body. Adding other notes that capitulate the process like incense, clove oil, and charred oak recreates the process of a barrel being casted for the distillery.