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Spirit of the Glen – A Highland story – February 21, 2014

Photo - Wikimedia Commons - Ben Nevis, Scotland, by Blisco, July 2006

Scotch whiskey, single malt, is a favourite drink in our home, just an ounce in a glass, neat, no ice, with only a couple of drops of filtered water. I like to sniff it for a long minute or so before I tilt the glass to my lips because the aroma is intoxicating, and the sniffing extends my anticipation of the feeling of it on my lips and tongue, and the taste…the sweet vegetal bite of the velvety amber-gold liquid which is so deliciously relaxing and comforting after a long hard day in the world of work. It’s a treat like no other.

We like the Highland malts – The Glenlivet, Balvenie, The MaCallan, Glenfiddich – the Islay malts are way too smoky for my sensibilities. So when I read Esther’s bit in her post about the new HYLNDS fragrance range by D.S. & Durga exclusive to Barney’s in NYC, I made plans to get there and smell them, which I finally did a couple of weeks ago. Naturally I came home with a bottle of Spirit of the Glen, the scent that David Moltz, the “D” in D. S & Durga,  and the nose behind this excellent niche brand, developed in collaboration with The Glenlivet distillery in Speyside, Scotland. The Glenlivet is also known as The Spirit of the Glen.

Now I’m familiar with Scotland, and things Celtic, coming from a family of Scots, and having spent time with relatives, and travelling through the country from top to bottom. It’s awesomely beautiful, the emotional pull of the history, the myths, the Highland landscape is overwhelming, and leads one to outbursts of poetic meanderings accompanied by uncontrollable tears outside a country pub – at least, that was my experience, but maybe I’d had one too many single malts.

So I understand the feeling involved when David Moltz read William Butler Yeat’s Wanderings of Oisin, and got hooked on Celtic mythology, which lead him to the folks at The Glenlivet, because he knows a good story when he hears one, and his fragrances are all about stories. 1538 Rheims, Smoked Amber, and Mississippi Medicine are three of his scents stories that have captivated Gwen and me – they are listed in our Decant Store.

David Moltz visited Scotland, went to Speyside on the north-east coast and walked the hills and glens (valleys), worked and studied with The Glenlivet distillery, and the result is Spirit of the Glen. Read all about the distillery here, and watch this video with David Moltz – it conveys the magic he experienced in the Highland landscape. To my nose, this fragrance captures the smell of that land - the rocks, the flowers, the moss, the earth, the rain, the mist, -  and it’s wrapped inside the distinctive aroma of The Glenlivet single malt whiskey, because one is made from the other.

Opening notes of pear, grass, and pineapple weed, commonly known as wild chamomile, start Spirit of the Glen with a really unusual herbal green fruit accord that is almost sweet, but doesn’t quite get to sweet, it’s more grassy. It’s earthy and green, with hints of chamomile tea. The opening notes spin off into the air and the heart segues into hay and oak wood, deepening the vegetal effect, becoming richer and aromatic, yet keeping the soft velvety feel  – like the swirl of single malt on the tongue.

The dry-down into the base connects the dots to the golden liquid – barley malt, charred bourbon barrel, and sherry cask are the very descriptive listed notes, and boozy woodiness becomes dominant. A big sniff on my wrist, and I get that same feeling of anticipation as when I sniff the whiskey in the glass, so I keep sniffing, and detect bready notes, with almond, and dark dusty vanilla swirling with the smoked wood, and the grassy herbs – hints of warmed whiskey with a soft lingering finish that lasts for several hours. It’s not foody in the least, it’s sexy and sophisticated and borders on edgy, but is strangely comforting at the same time.

Spirit of the Glen was inspired by the legendary Glenlivet whiskey, and channels the same sense of heritage and quality, but it tells its own story of the Highlands – the smell of the mountains, the rivers, the damp earth, the heather, the woods, the misty air. A singular vision, pure ingredients, masterful craftsmanship, dedication to traditional methods, result in great single malt whiskey like The Glenlivet, as well as exceptional fragrances like this. If you wear Spirit of the Glen, you won’t reek of whiskey – but you might smell like you have a fascinating story to tell.

Spirit of the Glen is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.