To me, blackcurrants (Ribes nigrum) have always been this peculiar, juicy yet funky berries, with sophisticated profile of very pungent odour that comes through the nose when eaten (or drank), a full-bodied aroma hiding behind it, yet contrasted again by a sharpness in the palate from their intense tangy taste - sour, if I'm allowed to use that word without offending anyone (I heard that vintners get particularly insulted if you use this to describe tart/tangy wines!).
Turns out there is an explanation to this unsavoury association: blackcurrants contains several sulphuric compounds called thiols. Namely, we're looking at p-mentha-8-thiol-3-one, 4-methoxy-2-methyl-2-butanethiol and last but not least: 4-thio-4-methylpentan-2-one, which is identical to the compound found in fragrant feline urine. In fact, it is also called Cat Ketone!
Although sulphur is one of the CHNOPS - the six elements that make up all compounds of organic chemistry (along with carbon, hydrogen, oxygen and nitrogen), sulphur-containing compounds are not very common in perfumery ingredients. You are definitely familiar with sulphur compounds from the culinary worlds - sulphur is found in many edible foodstuffs, from staples such as eggs, garlic and onions to less obvious grapefruit and asafoetida (the latter is used as a substitute for garlic and onions among Buddhist monks that are forbidden from eating these lustful substances).
In Europe, and especially Eastern Europe and Britain, cassis is a very popular flavour (and crop). In the USA - not so much (and there is a technical explanation for that which has to do with a ban due to white pine blister rust as well in the article sited before). Generally speaking, blackcurrant bushes are susceptible to too many diseases and pests, and this is a problem that is constantly being a challenge to agricultural plants breeders. Another possible explanation for its popularity in Britain in particular is that in WWII, cassis syrup from local was distributed free of charge as a source for vitamin C, to counteract disease and malnutrition whilst the island was isolated and deprived from its citrus supplies from the continent.
I've experienced it in teas, cordials, fruit juices (Ribena being a famous brand of those) and sodas, fruit wine (amazing!), liqueur (Créme de Cassis, Cassis Vodka and more) and cocktails (Kir Royale, anyone?), candy, and even as a flavour for pastilles of Bach's Rescue Remedy. Then there is the famous savoury condiment: Dijon grainy mustard with cassis (try them in a brie & pear sandwich!) I particularly enjoy blackcurrants as a flavouring for black tea, and also it works in teas and tisanes blended with elderflowers (which has some surprising berry qualities that echo those of cassis). It is also wonderful in desserts (of course!). One that left a life-long impression on me are Violet & Cassis macaron by Pierre Herme. I also love adding some Créme de Cassis liquor to upside-down cherry-chocolate cake, as well as to a blueberry-sour-cream tart. If I happen to have the berries I would also mix them along with the blueberries for interest (and also to mellow out the intensity of the blackcurrants). The fresh or frozen berries can be added to strudels, pies, tarts, crumble and coffeecakes. Jams, jellies and syrups are enjoyed in or on yoghurts, cheesecakes, puddings, custards such as the specialty Danish and North German desert Rødgrød. Try my recipe for Lavender-Violet-Cassis Cupcakes,
Lastly, their aromatic, slightly bitter and astringent, intensely tart qualities make blackcurrant a suitable companion to savoury dishes such as meat stews and roasts (lamb in particular), seafood and fish, and even in barbecue sauces. The leaves are used in Russia as a tisane, and to flavour pickles.
I must try them fresh in a salad with tomatoes and mint - this actually sounds divine. I am actually feeling inspired to try them in a (cooked) beet salad with onion, spearmint and balsamic vinegar.
In perfumery, we don't use the berries, but rather the unopened buds, which are solvent-extracted to create to create blackcurrant buds absolute. This sticky, highly viscous liquid has a very dark green colour and is difficult to work with not just because of its challenging consistent, but because of the aroma profile: Intense, warm, pungent, fruity, berry-like scent. This note is often perceived as unpleasant, almost urinal when undiluted. It is only in high dilution that its delicious fruity cassis aroma comes out in its most appealing manner.