Sandalwood Beer

beers by uberculture
beers, a photo by uberculture on Flickr.
The last push for the holiday season just ended last night, and I'm thrilled to have all of this chaos behind me.

Looking forward to tying some loose ends on the business front before the end of the year, re-organizing my studio space, and getting more creative again. 2013 was a bizarre year, and I seem to barely be able to catch my breath before something else unexpected shows up demanding my attention.

Three weeks ago I got intrigued by hops and decided to go back into a project I've began working on long ago (with very little reporting on it here). My previous work around the theme mostly relied on the guy's fondness of beer (not that there is anything original or unique about it). I noticed how many guys like posting pics of themselves with giant beer mugs in a sports bar (portraying, I presume, how much fun they are), rivaled only by similarly alluring depiction of the giant fish they caught. If it were possible to gulp beer from a giant mug while wrestling with a gigantic catfish - I'm sure they would have snapped pics of that too. Good luck with that!

Anyway, back to beer: it seemed to be a rather befitting theme for how much of a jerk that guy sounded like. So I began with something that smelled rather dirty and boozy - hops, cepes, cognac and African stone tincture - all in one breath! - paired with Egyptian jasmine, Seville lavender and cacao. All around a very peculiar combination. And after allowing it to mature way more than absolutely necessary, it's not what I would imagine to garner mass public appeal. It's edgy, but probably too dirty and naughty that I would feel comfortable describing on a PG rated blog.

 Fast forward to three weeks ago: I visit the barn. I see hops. I'm reminded of my long neglected project. Aside from hops, which are the foundation of any beer and what I've decided to be the key ingredient for this project, I'm thinking of sandalwood. Why? Because.

A few years ago, my sister in law gave me a sandalwood and beer soap. It was lovely. Strange combination, but lovely. There was very little beer to be smelled there, but the idea was filed away somewhere only to be pulled out at the appropriate time. Now.

I take some sandalwood from Australia (organic, by the way). I add generous amounts of cognac absolute, hops, marigold (also an ancient beer ingredient) and anything else that renders yeasty, effervescent and beer-like in my mind. And voila! A sandalwood beer cologne is born. Three weeks later - it has only gotten better: smooth, fruity, fresh, complex, piquant and intriguing. Just like an apircot craft beer.

Project VL - Part 2


Well Sometimes I Go Out, By Myself, And I Look Across The Water.

And I Think Of All The Things, What You're Doing, And In My Head I Paint A Picture.
(Amy Winehouse, "Valerie")

Project VL got me thinking about love that is not literally, but metaphorically blind. Love that lacks most of the seductive senses - smell, touch, taste and even hearing... Passion that exists in one's mind and its extensions (cellphones, laptops...) and hardly at all has any holdings in reality.

Yes, it's a totally bizarre yet intriguing project. Initially, I was perplexed by the fact that romantic relationships becoming so impersonal. I didn’t even want to do it, and I was even more ambivalent about sharing the process and this very personal story of a client on the blog (despite the fact that I not only had her permission, but was practically begged by her to share the story).

At the same time, I was intrigued by how much people need a sense of closeness, and will seek it at whatever price. And the more I thought about it, and the more I spoke to people my age going through similar experiences hoping to find love or something like it via optimized search engines – the more I realized how relevant the topic is.

Thinking about this project also brought up a lot of interesting thoughts about the role of our senses in interpersonal communication - and the sense of smell is definitely more powerful than most people give it credit... We know it subconsciously, but we are not fully aware of it until it is absent!

Project VL is all about the imagination and sensory compensation. When someone dear is far away, we compensate for their presence with photographs, locks of hair, love letters, and anything sensory that will elicit the feeling of closeness and intimacy with the absent person.

As I was filtering CocoaNymph’s trial batch of the upcoming signature perfume for her brand (hint: it has chocolate, but also many other secret ingredients that I’m not at the liberty to disclose just as yet!), it got me thinking about scented love letters… And so I ended up sealing the scent-soaked filters with some of my Valentine cards.

Letter writing is a dying art. In this day and age, where even emails seem old-fashioned and time consuming, love letters are becoming far and few. In Dr. Zhivago, most of the “love story” is, in fact, virtual – Yuri and Lara see each other in real life far less than they correspond with letters (which were delivered far slower in those days – by post carriages led by horses…). Today’s snail mail is far faster, but still, has the same effect – while it does not deliver the message in real time, it delivers intimate details such as the person’s mood and emotions via their handwriting and choice of stationary, not to mention other tactile qualities of the paper itself, and perhaps things that are added to it – little gifts, and scent – either by default (any personal artifacts take the on the scent of their home or surrounding); or on purpose (when the lovers take the effort to scent their paper).

All those things are painfully lacking in digital, virtual love affairs of modern day, which makes the task of creating the imagined smell of this lady’s lover all the more difficult and challenging… She had very little more information about the person than I did! Can you imagine a person’s smell as you would their face, physical appearance, voice and personality? Where to begin?!

Project VL

Dr Zhivago, originally uploaded by RobH3.

Strange project I've been mulling over for quite some time... Admittedly, at first the concept kinda weirded me out a bit and I almost turned it down. Than I got sucked into it, probably just in the same way that most virtual love affairs take their victims by surprise.

At one of my events, I'm approached by a young gal, probably in her 20's. She's uber enthusiastic about scents and the conversation, like at times happens with perfume lovers (who seem to often have a passionate personality), turns into love and relationships.

As it turns out, she is tortured by an unfulfilled love. She's had this virtual lover for 3 years now. They have never met in person. She wants to meet him, but he's very far away and she'd broken her heart enough times to know better than travel the globe for a fickle virtual love affair and the empty promises it might deliver. And of course, the few friends she confided in to tell her tormenting tale urge her to run for the hills and forget all about it.

But logic aside - she is also scared of ruining the fantasy. A fantasy that at first seemed very real, supported by whatever gestures of love made possible by emoticons and webcam conversations. And the fantasy only seemed to grow out of proportion the more vague and ambiguous his gestures are. Come to think of it, now he is acting all mysterious and only gives of himself about tenth of what she puts into this virtual relationship.

Like many modern lovers, they communicate through the internet. They have never spoken on the phone. She has never even heard his voice. But she can hear it in her head. Sometimes she'll wake up in the middle of a dream after she's heard him call her name...

In short - these two love birds have been communicating with webcam and texting (or - is it now called sexting?!) on and off for the past 3 years and she's equally tormented and pleasured by this distant intimacy, also giving her a semi-legitimate excuse to not date any "real" men in her vicinity.

So what does all this have to do with scent, than? The woman has never smelled her lover and that is the most painful thing for her about this mostly un-fulfilled love. When she asked him to send her a sweaty t-shirt of his he conveniently ignored her request and just kept going about his merry visual and text methods of communications.

So I promised this young lady to help her create a scent that will make her think of her virtual lover. He may not be generous enough to send her sweaty t-shirts, but that does not mean that she can't have a connection between him and a scent (besides that uber-erotic scent of a laptop keyboard, of course, and the exciting tone she assigned to his text messages, that always make her heart race).

On return for this olfactory favour, I will be telling the tales of this tremulous love story. A tale that many people might be able to relate to, but are too shy to talk about...

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