Beginning with our Whiskeria Spring 2024 issue, former cover star Katie Puckrik will be supplying us with her wonderfully witty tasting notes in her new column, Neat Takes. We're very excited to work with the famed writer of the 'Message in a Bottle' perfume column in The London Evening Standard and, to celebrate our newest contributor, we've explored the several ways in which the world of whisky and the world of perfume overlap.

Both industries are preoccupied with turning earth's greatest natural gifts into a sensory experience for the indulger. They utilise the ancient method of distillation to concentrate fragrance into a tantalising elixir. To respect this, there is degree of ritual that comes with sampling a new whisky or perfume, beginning with unlocking scents from a whisky by nosing it, and discovering the top notes of a perfume by taking an initial whiff.

You can also discern the quality of a given liquid from its appearance. Perfume connoisseurs determine the sillage of a perfume by paying close attention to how the perfume sits on the skin when first applied, ie. does it evaporate quickly, sink in to the small hairs on your arm or sit on top? The heaviness of a perfume will show how long the scent trail will be, and how long it will stay behind when the scent follows you around the room.

Similarly, whisky drinkers may observe the amount of beading that a whisky showcases. This reveals itself when swilled and rotated around the glass, as the liquid may leave a slight residue, or a thick one that takes a moment to subside. This is a clue to how oily the whisky is, with oiliness being favourable as it contributes to a smooth and silky mouthfeel.

In addition, a perfume can develop through its wear time, releasing underlying notes that were dominated by others on first application. As a result, the scents of a perfume are often split into a: 1. Top Note, 2. Heart Note, 3. Base Note. This is indeed true for whisky, with flavours being unearthed throughout. The tasting experience is split into: Nose, Palate, Finish.

As a luxury item, whisky nerds and perfume fans can sometimes become whisky snobs and perfume snobs - with the argument between single malts and blends echoing the perceived quality difference between eau de toilette and eau de parfum. As a result, each liquid can denote a particular status to an individual, and users of each may choose to have a bottle that they only bring out on special occasions to impress.

As well as this, preferences for a particular bottle is highly personal and based on your own palate. As much as brands attempt to paint a lifestyle and provenance to accompany the product, nothing can trump your own taste.

Here's what Katie had to say: 'I’m tickled by the kinship in slang: as connoisseurs of the brown stuff talk about “peat monsters”, “farmy” and “fake tan”, so do fumeheads discuss “beast mode”, “barnyard” and “panty dropper”. I’m looking forward to adding to the lexicon.'

Brands are anything but oblivious when it comes to the crossover between the two consumer bases, with both the perfume and whisky industry taking pages from each other's book. For example, the French crystal makers, famous for their historic work crafting gorgeous perfume bottles, Lalique, have provided bespoke decanters for distilleries, The Macallan and The Glenturret. Indeed, bottles across the industry have been looking more and more like super-sized perfume bottles of late, with the likes of Hibiki, Sassenach, House of Hazelwood and Lochlea taking notes from perfume.

Perfumers have also crafted several fragrances with whisky as a dominant note:

  • 'Malt' by Akro is described as 'the bite on your tongue, the warmth in your cheeks, the smoky aroma that releases when whisky falls over ice.'
  • Mugler released 'A* Men Pure Malt' in 2009, which holds heart notes of wood and malt, and a base note of peat.
  • The Queen of British perfume, Jo Malone, has a Whisky & Cedarwood Cologne which is an 'enigmatic blend of sweet woody notes that recreate the dignified impression of a fine whisky.'
  • Jorum Studio, from Edinburgh, released 'Spirit Cask' last year, which was designed to smell like 'sticking your head inside an empty whisky cask.'

Indeed, LVMH (Moet Hennessey Louis Vuitton) is one of the largest conglomerates in the luxury retail space that has fingers in the pies of both perfume and whisky. They own Glenmorangie and Ardbeg distillery, among other leading luxury spirits, as well as Givenchy and Dior - heavy hitters in the perfume world.

However, the clearest collaboration between the two worlds was in 2017, with Macallan Edition No 3. British perfumer Roja Dove and Macallan master whisky maker Bob Dalgarno put their noses together to make this one-of-a-kind single malt.

It's for these reasons, that its no wonder that Katie, having previously found a career in reviewing perfume, is joining Whiskeria as our newest reviewer. Of her new venture, she said: 'I am a sensory glutton, a thrill-seeker looking for kicks in beautiful sounds, colours, smells, tastes. They say that taste is 80% smell, so after nearly a quarter century of perfume commentary, it was natural for me to apply my enquiring palate to the world of whisky.'

Our newest issue will be released on Monday 26th February. You can pick up a copy in The Whisky Shop stores and in selected WH Smith.