Saturday 19 August 2017

Project Botanicals with Bombay Sapphire

My parents have always been in the hospitality industry, my Mum works with hotels, and my Dad worked for a liquor company so they taught me to appreciate good wine and spirits from a young age. The legal age of course. Dad always used to say to me that when you drink, do it with style and drink well.

I was thrilled when I was contacted by the agency looking after the next Project Botanicals in Melbourne as Bombay Sapphire has always been my gin of choice. I had attended the previous one and had been blown away not only by the experience but also by the amazing imagery of the 10 botanicals used in the gin. I have long loved the aromatic qualities of gin, but standing there drinking Bombay Sapphire, inhaling the aromas and staring at these images, it occurred to me that 9 out of those 10 botanicals were used in perfume. Always up for an excuse to combine my love of perfume and drinking, I determined that one day I would work with Bombay Sapphire.

As luck would have it, a lady named Hollie spotted me on The Bachelor and she contacted me when they started planning the next Project Botanicals. They wanted me to create a perfume based on the 10 botanicals in the gin, create a fragrance representing each of those botanicals and create an experience for the press day where journalists would make their own perfume using those botanicals. Of course, I immediately agreed. This was literally my dream job.

The first thing I need to do was smell all of the raw materials so I can start creating the eau de parfum and the scents for the 10 botanicals. And drink the gin obviously.

 I was invited to an immersion day where I met all the others involved in the campaign. The purpose of the day was to get to know each other and learn about the world of Bombay Sapphire so we could all go away and begin creating our part of Project Botanicals.

Back row Chef Matthew Fletcher from the Botanical, Shaun from  Bombay Sapphire, Ash Williams and me.           

Front row Andy and Matt from Yolanda be Cool and Chef Tony Twitchett from Taxi.

I started working with my perfumer creating the eau de parfum, and we came up with a few different 'mods' of the fragrance to present to my client. We wanted all of the 10 botanicals in the fragrance and the different mods highlighted different ones. One was heavy on the citrus, one was heavy on the juniper etc. We had to be careful that the fragrance appealed to everyone and that you didn't smell like you had tipped a bottle of gin on you!  Bombay Sapphire picked one, we made a few small adjustments and we had our final fragrance! It is rare that we nail a fragrance so quickly, but it is also rare that we work with such a succinct brief with exact notes. The final fragrance really showcased the beautiful botanicals and the client loved it.

Bombay Sapphire were working with Lost at E Minor on the campaign, and they sent a film crew to my studio for the day to film me talking about the fragrance and also my studio and favourite bar. I have never really considered myself particularly photogenic, but I am pretty comfortable on camera, having a crew film you while a photographer takes photos while trying not to lapse into resting bitch face is pretty hard.

Film crew in my studio            My favourite bar Eau de Vie.         Fail - Resting Bitch Face

You can watch the pretty cool video they created here.

Meanwhile I was also working on the 10 fragrances for the sensory experience at the event. I was able to find some that were exactly the same as the botanicals in Bombay Sapphire such as Lemon peel from Spain, Orris from Tuscany, others I had to work on a bit to get them right. It was important that I get the juniper berry just right, and I had to create the Grains of Paradise from scratch. These fragrances would be used in interactive display at the event, and also for the kit that the press would use to create their very own gin inspired perfume.

Kit for the press to make their own gin inspired perfume.       Perfume oils for the 10 botanicals in Bombay Sapphire

We had such fun at the press event. Sean, the Bombay Sapphire ambassador and I hosted about 50 press, him talking about the cocktails and me talking about the botanicals in the gin. Chef Tony would pop in to chat about the next delicious dish we were about to eat. We ate 10 courses and drank 10 cocktails over the course of the afternoon. Half way through was when every one had the chance to create their own perfume, and everyone was rather well lubricated by then so it was certainly fun!

The space looked fantastic, and artist Missy had built science labs to house all of the scrumptious little extras you could add to your food or cocktails to customise them a little. 

The day before the event launched, Bombay Sapphire hosted a friends and family trial run. It was great to see all of the elements come together. I particularly loved the displays that Missy had created for the 10 botanicals. You could crush juniper berries, touch lemon rinds and taste/smell liquorice root. Guests were given a little card to guide them around the displays, and when you liked a particular botanical, you could punch a hole in the card and use this as a guide when selecting your food and cocktails

I attended quite a few times over the next couple of weeks so I could have my favourite cocktails and dishes a coupe of times. I hope they keep doing this event, it is a truly wonderful experience so keep an eye out for announcements!