The Flavour Conductor
Craftsmanship meets contemporary flavour science
London, 2014:The latest neuro-scientific knowledge combined with the traditions of church organ-building in a pioneering multi-sensory project that reinvented whisky appreciation.
Sam Bompas and Harry Parr led a team of artists, designers, organ specialists, composers and experts in theatrical production to produce a one-of-a-kind musical instrument: a magnificent church organ built according to centuries of tradition and designed as part of a contemporary sound and light spectacular.
The organ – dubbed The Flavour Conductor – brought to life for the first time a vision only previously articulated in literature. Originally described in A Rebours, the 19th Century decadent novel by J. K. Huysmans, in which the flavour organ gives taste to the delights of music, through to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, novelists and scientists have dreamed of an instrument where notes and melodies correspond with smells, tastes and flavours.
The project was designed to help whisky drinkers – new and experienced – better appreciate the complex flavour profile of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, amplifying the taste profile of the whisky with a multi-sensory theatrical performance. With The Flavour Conductor at its centre, it demonstrated the power of multi-sensorial stimuli – music coupled with visual, aromatic and haptic cues – to reinforce the different aromatic and taste properties of the whisky.
The project saw Bompas & Parr leverage the latest flavour science from Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory to inform the creation of bespoke musical composition, visual effects and build specifications of a church organ from one of the country’s oldest organ specialists, Mander Organs.