Consider this a match made in collaboration heaven, at least as far as MOLD is concerned: preeminent food designers Bompas & Parr and distinguished experimental psychologist and head of the Crossmodal Research Laboratory at Oxford College Charles Spence recently joined forces on the Flavour Conductor, a whiskey organ inspired by the cocktail organ in Joris-Karl Huysman’s late 19th-century novel Ã rebours (Against Nature) that the protagonist used to create a sensual and luxurious mixed drinks.
According to Sam (Bompas) and Harry (Parr) in an interview with It’s Nice That, Spence “pulled together research which showed [them] how to use visuals and sounds to highlight the cardinal flavors found in a glass of whisky.” This information was then disseminated to a composer and organ builder to suss out.
We were first drawn to the design of the organ itself, which looks like a prop straight out of a Stanley Kubrick film (major kudos to Mander Organs, who built this beast). When played, it might be an overwhelming experience for syntesthetes—who’s rare “gift” for tasting sound or hearing color have inspired a slew of recent food design experiments—but for the average drinker, the organ will create a combination of sound and light that “shapes your sense of taste so you can unpick the key flavors found within a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label: malt, spice, fresh, fruit, wood and the signature peat flavor. Finally they all blend together for the seventh movement reflecting this is a blended whisky.” (You guessed it, only something this fantastical could be possible with the generous participation of a booze sponsor.)
But why not just enjoy a nice pour of Blue Label and call it a night, you ask? First, because where’s the fun in that? Second, because while you might think you’re a particularly astute tippler, your sense of hearing and sight are even more keen than your sense of taste. And when the music and visual projection change as the score is played, it actually shifts your focus to a different flavor note in your drink, which means your whiskey just got a whole lot more complex. Fortunately, all you have to do is prick your ears, open your eyes, and tip your glass back.