As part of the global launch of Chivas Regal Ultis (a new premium blended scotch whiskey), we designed a series of soundscapes for a unique multi-sensory tasting event.
Based on our research with Dr. Charles Spence (Head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford University) and drawing on inspiration from Chef Jozef Youssef (Founder of London based Kitchen Theory), we were tasked with developing a unique sonic expression of Chivas Regal Ultis as part of a crossmodal “Chivas Regal Ultis Sensory Tasting Experience.”
Just as Chivas Regal Ultis represents the ultimate blend of five signature malts, our sonic expression of the brand drew on five different soundscapes which are ultimately combined into one, grand auditory experience: the Ultis “Ultimate Opus.”
More than just ambient background music, these sonic expressions use sensory science to align sound with colours, tastes, and aromas that together form a distinct perception of the Chivas Regal Ultis brand. Blending art and science, five variations on a theme were created using a variety of sonic seasonings to match taste, color and smell.
To date, the soundscapes have been part of global launch events in New York, Vietnam, Thailand, Dubai and Turkey.
The Tormore Motif opens with a burst of citrus, represented in the sharp attack of horns that herald the beginning of our sonic journey. A combination of plucked and bowed strings carry the sharpness of these citrus notes, drawn together with a solitary cello which, in turn, is joined by a flute and an oboe. We sense a hint of sweetness in the melody that emerges, lifting us higher, propelling us upward as if to trace the swan neck shape of the whiskey stills. We reach the top, where once again we hear our opening horns, then gently drift downward, the instruments vanishing one by one into silence.
The Longmorn Motif draws us into a rich soundscape, wrapped in a blanket of sonic warmth. Our tonal palette is soft and smooth, punctuated by a hammered marimba and percussion that emulates the sound of a struck copper pot, an artifact from the Longmorn distillery. We are pulled into the beautiful ambience of the moment, supported by a cello beneath us, carried by a violin above us, ending with a whisper and a kiss of copper.
The Strathisla Motif conjures images of a playful stroll through a fruit orchard. The instrumentation is bright and lively, capturing an almost childlike sense of joy and wonder. The strings conjure the warmth of the sun as it ripens the fruit, while the point and counterpoint of the instruments add complexity and depth to the otherwise simple motif. Sounds of nature add to the illusion of being outdoors, surrounded by trees, with the smell of fresh peaches in the air and the taste of the fruit on our lips.
The Allt A’Bhainne Motif features sonic textures of warmth and spice, captured by the low drone of both a cello and bagpipes. We feel the tension of the bow drawn across the strings and the hammering of the dulcimer in the introduction. These layers of sound continue to blend in and out of each other until finally, a lone piano appears and the drone falls away, leaving only the sound of air and the ivories in the end.
Like a walk through a flower garden, the Braeval Motif is full of color, brightness, sweet smells and the promise of honey. There is a hint of heather in the air as we wrap up our journey through the Scottish countryside, ending our single malt soundscapes with a floral flourish.
Our final soundscape represents a blend of the previous five motifs, mirroring how Chivas Regal Ultis itself is a blend of five single malts. Designed to blend classical elements (representing the history, premium quality and sophistication of of the brand) with contemporary arrangements (adding a sense of fashion and contemporary lifestyle), the Ultimate Opus is performed in two “movements.”
The first movement represents the blended taste of Chivas Regal Ultis. It begins with the burst of citrus of Tormore, which is ultimately overtaken by Longmorn. The low drone of Longmorn carries the foundation for us while the descending Strathsitia motif adds heart and complexity to the mix. As it falls, the Allt A’Bhainne motif emerges, its oaky, gritty cello and bagpipes carrying us quickly into Bravel, where we are left with a bit of honey and heather for the finish.
There’s a slight reprise at the end of the first movement, which then dissolves slowly into the second movement. The second movement leads us back through a journey of the themes: beginning with Tormore followed by Longmore which is then overtaken by Strathisia. Allt A’Bhainne follows suit and finally, Braeval closes us out.