Friday, September 4, 2015

Brand Overview: Alice & the Magician

Aaron Wisniewski is the "Magician" behind Alice & the Magician, a brand which creates edible fragrance. Aaron remembers loving the smell of freshly baked chocolate cake as a child, and the smell of a freshly peeled citrus fruit. As an adult, he has gained expertise in the world of cooking and mixology, furthuring his obsession with scent. The fact that smell directly affects taste was something that he found himself fascinated with. Aaron became enamored with specific sensory moments, and eventually gained a strong desire to replicate the wondrous smells of the world, and bottle them for extended enjoyment via spritz after spritz after spritz. He has traveled the world in an attempt to experience all kinds of scent in their most natural state.

"Aaron experienced the smell of tobacco smoke and slightly overripe fruit that lingered in the Cuban air while experiencing his first true mojito. He inhaled the cold Tuscan air at dusk: full with olive wood smoke and grilled meat. He remembers the smell of the markets in northern Thailand where his love affair with fresh kaffir lime leaves began. After such powerful experiences, he no longer wanted to merely experience these ethereal moments, he wanted to capture them and share them."

At this point, Aaron's creative venture focuses primarily on the cocktail industry, with a goal to transform and enhance the way people experience flavor. He works with his brother, Samuel Wisniewski, operating their flavor lab and aroma bar full-time in Burlington, Vermont. In addition to conducting his scent work, Aaron continues his worldly, scent-chasing travels. He also collaborates with fellow restaurant professionals and bartenders, and seeks out the quality ingredients that allow him to replicate the odors as we experience them naturally. The products are already used in bars, restaurants, and homes across the country (see here).

"We carefully source the finest & rarest ingredients on the planet and hand blend them to create more than just flavors, we create experiences. A unique technology allows us to capture the pure essence of nature at its aromatic peak without using heat, chemicals, or moisture that could damage the fragile aromatic compounds. This ensures pristine, true-to-nature aroma that is identical to fleeting flavor moments like slicing into a ripe citrus during the harvest in Grasse, inhaling sun-warmed herbs in Andalucia's garden, or pulling warm chocolate cake from the oven during a childhood birthday party."

You can read more about the Alice & the Magician story on their site, there's also a nice interview with Aaron that you can read on The Olfactive. As for the scents, I've had the pleasure of testing six of them, and I can tell you that they smell absolutely authentic and organic. I enjoy sniffing them, but it has me wishing I was more of a cocktail connoisseur. I can think of quite a few people who would love to play with these aromatic elixirs. Citrus Blossom Harvest was Aaron's very first creation, and the replication of the way a piece of citrus fruit smells as you're digging into it with your thumbs — the air suddenly atomized with citric aroma — is uncanny. If I was more brushed up on my cocktail game (I just drink them, people), perhaps I could name a few cocktails that it puts me in mind of. Just know that immediately upon smelling it, I was reminded of the aroma that briefly radiates from the glass of certain freshly-served, citrus spritzed cocktails that I've consumed.

Alice & the Magician currently have twelve scents available to purchase, which are as follows:
  • Andalucia's Garden: Andalucia had a garden of cilantro, tomatoes, and limes. In the middle of the day when the sun beat down upon it, the leaves and fruit would gently release their aroma in the freshest garden scent imaginable.
  • London Dry: The flavor components of gin but…Fresh, alive, and pure. Fresh juniper berry, bergamot, pine lemon, and fir.
  • Autumn Bonfire: There is a brief period in New England at the end of autumn before winter falls. Dried maple leaves litter the ground, firewood is stacked high, and the ground is just starting to freeze. You can walk down the street at dusk and smell these things mixed with the overwhelmingly sweet, smoky, woody, and comforting smell of people beginning to use their wood stoves and fireplaces.
  • Herbs De Provence: The fresh herbs of the traditional Provencal blend: lavender, rosemary, oregano, marjoram, savory, and thyme. This fragrance gives the impression of standing in a field of these beautiful herbs in the late afternoon.
  • Perfect Ginger: A bright, spicy, powerful, and invigorating burst of fresh ginger accented with galangal and undertones of warming citrus.
  • Citrus Blossom Harvest: The experience of peeling fresh citrus, directly from the tree during the harvest season in a sun-drenched citrus grove. The wild orange, three different grapefruits, neroli, and orange blossom in this fragrance are pure pleasure when inhaled.
  • Rosemary & Wild Honey: Hearty, green, and herbaceous rosemary is balanced and enriched with sweet, heady, and floral wild honey.
  • Sage & Exotic Citrus: The big, blond, round, and pungent aroma of fresh clary and white sage is elegantly accented with sparkles of citrus and the fresh, green note of yuzu.
  • Chocolate Birthday Cake: The sweet, gooey, unmistakable smell of a perfectly cooked chocolate birthday cake fresh from the oven during a childhood birthday party.
  • Charred Bourbon Barrel: The alluring and complex aromas of aged bourbon concentrated in the barrel staves: vanilla, smoke, clove, butterscotch, allspice, and clove to name a few.
  • Hiking the Long Trail: The Vermont outdoors captured. Green, fresh, forestry, earthy, oaky, mossy, and so much more. This fragrance lingers and changes more than any other.
  • Feast of Field & Forest: Savory, mouthwatering flavors of cultured butter, black pepper, truffle, mushroom, and wild herbs.
Clearly, the best way that you could understand how utterly authentic smelling these juices are, is by smelling them yourself. Sniffing Hiking the Long Trail reminds me exactly of the smells of camping. I'm dying to try Autumn Bonfire (if you haven't figured it out yet, fall is my favorite season) and Charred Bourbon Barrel. Rosemary & Wild Honey is a gorgeous combination of herbaceous rosemary and sweet honey, and Chocolate Birthday Cake is freshly baked cake that makes my mouth water (I love cake more than any normal person should). And okay, in case you were wondering: Yes, Alice & the Magician fragrances ARE wearable. They're not just for consuming. I will say that they don't seem to last especially long, or project with any force when sprayed onto skin, but do remember what the main intention of this product is; it is truly meant to be inhaled from the headspace of a cocktail, within the confines of a glass. Aaron doesn't claim to be a perfumer, his focus is primarily on the fascinating relationship between taste and smell, but his creations are super. He's done an amazing job at replicating scents which are intrinsic to nature and common experiences that all humans can relate to. ALSO, yes, I did taste Chocolate Birthday Cake…for science. How could I not? And no, it doesn't taste as delicious as a delightfully warm chocolate cake. When they say edible, it simply means, "you can ingest this without dying."

Alice & the Magician Edible Fragrance retails for $42.50 for a 50ml bottle, which will get you approximately 600 sprays, and $18 for a 10ml bottle, which will last approximately 100 sprays. If you have an interest in mixing cocktails, Alice & the Magician have a delightful list of recipes (here). What do you think? Are you curious?

Image from: Alice & the Magician

DISCLOSURE: product provided by A&M, scent descriptions and final two images are from A&M, I have not been compensated for this article, opinions are my own

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