Light is easy to think about. It's one orderly progression from short wavelength to long wavelength. Kind of like getting on a crowded Delta flight - everybody's got a number and has a place in the boarding queue.
You might be tempted to think that aroma and flavor are similarly easy to organize.
However, as Brooke Jarvis wrote in an epic NYT Magazine piece about the complicated impact of COVID-19 on our sense of smell, it's estimated that we have about 400 smell receptors that can detect up to a trillion different smells.
Consider the close association between those parts of our brain that handle olfaction, emotion, and memory as well as a universally underwhelming common vocabulary to describe aroma - and it makes sense that no one has successfully mapped human smell. If light is like a Delta boarding area, smell is like getting on the New Year's Eve BART train after midnight - everyone eventually gets where they're headed but it's impossible to see any order in the chaos.
Apart from promoting an important discussion about our innate chemical detectors, and about how post-COVID anosmia is a wake up call (I encourage you to read the article, it is exceptional), Jarvis also points out that the western world has thoroughly denigrated the olfactory sensory system (smell, taste, mouthfeel) for centuries while celebrating the visual one.
If you've picked up a bottle of our spirits, or if you've checked out our website, you might have seen our flavor projection graphics.
Instead of adding our own newfangled system to the growing pile of flavor wheels, we decided to orient our descriptors around the manufacture of the spirit itself.
This might sound esoteric, but bear with me here, it's relevant to you, too.
- Rather than saying that the "wet wood" aroma we find in Heritage is "brown" and should be categorized next to the "vanilla", and "cacao" aromas, we're saying they all share a common origin: the barrel aging process.
- Instead of telling you that the "cereal" and "menthol" notes we're getting on the nose and palate are in the "green" section of our map, we're telling you they came from the grains themselves.
- To let you know that wood influence is the dominant feature of Heritage's flavor profile, we've thickened up the blue stamped overprint indicator in the aging section of the projection.
- Since the major olfactory qualities of every spirit in the world can be attributed to an agricultural raw material, production processes like distillation, and aging, our system works as well for a vodka as it does for a rum, whiskey, or liqueur.
You'll find our visual system front and center on every bottle (actually, it's on the back label, too). You not only get a sense of the flavor profile before you purchase the bottle, you also get to learn more about your own flavor preferences - are you a cane-forward rum kind of person? Into ester-driven fruity whiskies? Do you want funk?
Whatever your thing is, it’s probably out there. Let us help you find it.