Last night That Boutique-y Gin Company launched their amazing new range of olfactory gins. To coincide with the launch, they had asked me to work on a special art project for them using my synaesthesia.
They wanted me to smell the aromas of the new olfactory range they’ve been working on with perfume expert Lizzie Ostram, aka Odette Toilette and then paint my responses to them so that they would have some visual abstract references and which they also then made into a gift box for the launch. I had been told that the best way to sample these gins was in a goblet shaped glass as it would release the aromas more efficiently, and as it is the actual aromas of these gins which is their main focus this was an important factor to bear in mind. To taste the gins as effectively and specifically as possible, I was to add a teaspoon of water, rather than any tonic…
Because I didn’t want to be in any way influenced, either consciously or subconsciously, by any of the gin names, I decided to number them myself and keep the name label hidden on the other side of the sample bottles…
The scents of these gins are really mind blowing…I’ve always loved the smell of gin to be honest; taking sneaky whiffs from my mum’s glass before I was old enough to drink it, and apart from an accidental Pimms encounter at a family friend’s garden party when I was about 11, I think a gin and tonic may well have been my first sophisticated drink, however my mum’s G and T’s never ever smelled like these!
Spending time consciously taking in the scent of a drink can so often be overlooked, which is why I love the fact that these Boutiquey Gins are actually encouraging people to connect not only to their senses, but also to those familiar, happy experiences in our memories, rather than just plain gin drinking.
Utilising my synaesthesia, I took time to smell each gin individually, and make intuitive sketches of my visual abstract responses, using water colours, acrylics, pastels and pencils.
The interesting thing for me was that there was a real continuity of lightness, almost like a certain pitch in music, which appeared to be the fundamental gin flavour itself, but which then became punctuated by colour, shape and texture with each individual gin aroma I experienced. The tastes of the gins were much more delicate than I’m used to and I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the tastes with just a tiny drop of water added; something I had never tried before.
But it is the aromas of these Boutiquey Gins which is unlike anything else I’ve experienced with gin…they are perfumed in such a beautiful and delicately complex way that they entice you to go on an exciting scented journey, spending more time smelling them than you ever usually would and they transport you to a very different and pleasant sensory state, even before the alcohol hits your palette. I would be seriously happy to have gin smelling sessions with these gins even if I didn’t drink!
Very occasionally I suddenly smell a scent from my past, for no particular reason, and often it’s like experiencing some sort of pleasant ghost; a ghost which says ‘Hey, remember how happy and carefree you were when you smelled this?’ or ‘Yes, you do still remember the perfume your Granny wore when she hugged you’. Last week I experienced just that with one of these gins. It wafted into my scent memory as I absentmindedly picked up a pile of post one morning; a sudden and wonderful reminder of how much I’d enjoyed the scent of Bottle No 1…I went back to it and treated myself to a furtive sniff before breakfast.
I won’t attempt to explain in words the aromas and tastes, because I much prefer to use paint to illustrate the experiences, so below are some of my sketches and some images of my process followed by a couple of pictures with some of the goodies from the That Boutique-y Gin Company launch event last night, included their amazing 10 ml gin rollers which came in the box made from my ‘Big Dipper’ painting. All the gins had this sort of shape ( above ) when hitting the back of my nose…
‘BEWARE OF THE WOODS’
‘FRESH RAIN’And here are some of the unique gin fragrance pens made especially for the launch along with my box!For more information about these olfactory gins visit the Boutique-y Gin Company website here You can also follow them on Instagram here @boutiqueygin as well as Odette Toilette at @odettetoilette