Queen of the Night smells like a broken tooth. Not to everyone but it does to me. Whenever I smell the scent of the flower, I discretely run my tongue over my teeth as I feel a mismatched sense of relief. Phew! It’s just the flower, nothing fell out this time. At the age of eight, I broke a tooth. I was running in my Grandmother’s garden near some pots of Queen of the Night one evening. I clearly remember the twilight, the smell of jasmine, tripping and falling, passing out and the taste of rust in my mouth. To this day, if I smell Queen of the Night I am unwillingly taken back to that specific memory.
Olfactory memory is a powerful thing. Theis clarity has a name: The Proustian Phenomenon. It is a tribute to the French writer, Marcel Proust, who described in his ‘À la recherche du temps perdu’ (In Search of Lost Time) that the smell of tea-dipped biscuits took him back to his aunt’s house. Even Science has seriously considered this phenomenon. According to English researchers, the vividness of memories brought by smells is caused by conformation of the brain. The part of the brain that processes odours is in the limbic system, linked to our emotions.
These emotions are so strong that they can lead lives, like that of British perfumer Roja Dove. “At some specific long-lost moment, a fragrant molecule entered my being and I was forever changed, my destiny was forged, its path galvanised. There was no other path to tread than that of perfumery, and along its colourful brick-road I have encountered the work of mighty geniuses who allow their creativity to become part of our core, our being, our ‘id’ – as it stops us dead in our tracks, brings tears to our eyes or smiles to our faces. How can anyone not love perfumery?”
It is undeniable that smell also plays a crucial role in the appreciation of whisky. It is through smell that we can perceive most of its sensory characteristics, that is, almost all of them. The rest is sweet-bitter-salty-sour-umami. It would therefore make perfect sense to invite a famous international perfumer – Roja, mentioned above – to assist in the process of creating a whisky. This is precisely what the prestigious The Macallan did with its Macallan Edition No. 3, which was recently launched in Brazil, and available in limited quantities.
In the words of The Macallan: “Roja brought his skill to the distillery, nosing a range of whisky samples and providing his thoughts and interpretation of the character and aromas he encountered. Roja’s articulation of aromas to select dominant notes to help shape the final character of Edition No.3.”
The variety of barrels used to produce Macallan Edition No. 3 shows the perfumer’s zeal. They are casks from the Spanish cooperage Hudosa, first-fill American oak barrels, European and American oak refill barrels, first-fill barrels made by Tevasa coopers; European oak barrels, first-fill American oak hogsheads that formerly contained bourbon and first-fill bourbon barrels. That is, without proper names, formats and sizes: first-fill and refill barrels made of European and American oak. Let’s keep it simple.
Thinking carefully about the sensory characteristics of each barrel, the impression is that the Macallan Edition No. 3 is a variation of our well-known Fine Oak. Sensorially, however, they are relatively different expressions. Starting with the perfume: Unsurprisingly, one of the highlights of Macallan Edition No. 3 is its aroma. For this Dog, it might even be one of the most interesting recent releases from The Macallan. To the nose, the whisky brings the traditional scent of sherry with more vanilla and caramel. Its flavour, in turn, is citric and floral with orange, more vanilla and caramel. The finish is long and sweet.
The numbered editions of The Macallan, known simply as “The Edition Series” are limited annual releases, which explore Macallan’s vision of whisky production and bring out details of its creation. Many of them rely on the participation of specialists from other industries, like Edition No. 2 and the brothers, and chefs, behind the world-famous restaurant El Celler de Can Roca. According to the distillery itself, “At the heart of The Edition Series is our desire to innovate; to push the boundaries and challenge expectations in the creation, experience and enjoyment of The Macallan.”
On its international website, The Macallan, writes, “Continuing the story of our oak casks and obsession with wood that is fundamental in the creation of all Macallan single malt, The Edition Series provides the freedom to look beyond the traditional cask styles used in other Macallan whiskies…Collaborating with partners from different fields of expertise, each release in the series is an individual – a true marriage of Macallan mastery and the unique influence from diverse backgrounds to the whisky making process.”
If you’re looking for an oily, vinous, but still extremely well-balanced whisky with a fantastic perfume, Macallan Edition No. 3 is quite a find. But hurry – according to Maurício Leme, brand manager in Brazil – only very few bottles are disembarking here. It would be a pity to miss out on trying it. After all, this is a single malt that will stay in your olfactory memory for a very, very long time.
THE MACALLAN EDITION NO. 3
Type: Single Malt (no age statement)
ABV: 48,3% (here is an Easter egg for you. Edition No. 1 contained 48,1%, the second 48,2%. What will happen to the 10th?)
Aroma: sherry, vanilla, caramel. A little coconut. The balance is incredible – you can easily fragment the aroma, just by paying attention to each one.
Flavour: Caramel, black pepper. Fortified wine. Vanilla. The finish is sweet and long with a certain spiciness.
Availability: Brazilian shops (average price R$ 600,00 – six hundred reais)