Bompas & Parr's Flavour Conductor enhances different whisky tastes

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The Flavour Conductor by Bompas & Parr enhances different flavours in whisky

Food design studio Bompas & Parr has made whisky tasting more theatrical by using a church organ to heighten the perception of different flavours while drinking.

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Photograph by Rob Lawson, as main image

Designed for scotch whisky brand Johnnie Walker Blue Label, The Flavour Conductor produces sounds and light effects during an immersive performance with the intention of stimulating six distinct tastes for audience members sipping the drink.

Bompas & Parr commissioned one of Britain's oldest organ specialists, Mander Organs, to create the bespoke church organ and worked with sensory research professor Charles Spence to "voice" the sounds emitted from the pipes.

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Photograph by Rob Lawson

Sounds are combined with imagery that covers the smooth sculptural body of the instrument using projection mapping to "correspond in a manner scientifically proven to influence the perception of taste".

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Photograph by Rob Lawson

"Developing The Flavour Conductor has been an epic undertaking, combining several centuries worth of technology, literature and science," said studio co-founder Harry Parr. "It's been hugely exciting bringing the talents of multiple disciplines of craftsmen and artists together."

Photograph by Getty Images
Photograph by Getty Images

As part of an event titled Symphony in Blue at London's Merchant Taylor's Hall last month, audience members sipping their glass of whisky were supposed to be able to distinguish between the flavours of peat, malt, fruit, wood and spices at different points in the performance.

Photograph by Getty Images
Photograph by Getty Images

"During a performance of Symphony in Blue, the effect on the audience is compelling, and it really does help you pick apart the rare depth and character of Johnnie Walker Blue Label," Parr said.

Photograph by Getty Images
Photograph by Getty Images

The Flavour Conductor has a series of chimneys that group together the pipes, rising to different heights and each with its top cut off at an angle. A small cabinet for storing whisky bottles and glasses is hidden in the side.

Photograph by Ann Charlott Ommedal
Photograph by Ann Charlott Ommedal

The idea was adapted from various literary references, including J K Huysmans' 19th century novel A Rebours, which describes a flavour organ that gives taste to music, and a similar concept outlined in Aldous Huxley's Brave New World.

Photograph by Ann Charlott Ommedal
Photograph by Ann Charlott Ommedal

The installation forms the centrepiece of an experience, which took place on 16 September in London and will travel around the world over the next year.

Photograph by Ann Charlott Ommedal
Photograph by Ann Charlott Ommedal

Bompas & Parr also combined food and music in a project for Heinz baked beans, for which they created a musical spoon that you listen to through your mouth and a set of handmade bowls to match the brand's five new flavours.

The designers have also developed glow-in-the-dark ice cream for eating in dark cinemas and jelly moulds of famous buildings.