The Macallan partners Roja Dove, arguably the world’s finest nose, for Edition No.3

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Roja Dove wasn’t born in 1957 despite what his Wikipedia page says, much to his amusement. He was born in September of the previous year. The Brit also doesn’t remember claiming to detect 800 scents blindfolded, as is also written on the page, although he’s certain he can pick up hundreds.

However, it’s his own claim that he “hates whisky” – something that could have been rather concerning for his latest collaborator.

Although Dove is not a household name, those who occasionally flip through Vogue or wander through Fifth Avenue and Oxford Street might see his name linked to titles like ‘British master perfumer’ and ‘20-year Guerlain fragrance veteran’. Roja Parfums has been touted as the ‘best-selling perfume in Harold’s’.

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Now, having been in the fragrance industry for over 40 years, Dove is back with The Macallan for a second collaboration, admitting that previously he had only resumed partnerships with the Victoria & Albert Museum and Rolls-Royce. As such, his return to The Macallan is a surprise given his knack for circumventing collaborations and his clear distaste for whisky – an emotional scar he acquired after getting drunk on it at 15 years old.

“Of course, when you do something like that, you never blame yourself; you always blame the other thing,” Dove says with a smirk before explaining that it was Bob Dalgarno, The Macallan Master of Whisky, who inspired him to give the drink another chance.

“But how do we form opinions? Through experience. So, meeting Bob was maybe the greatest introduction I could have because I suddenly realised The Macallan made extraordinary flavours that I’d never imagine to be in a whisky.”

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Dove and Dalgarno have created The Macallan Edition No. 3, a postscript to a No. 1 that was quintessentially Dalgarno and a predecessor in partnership with the Roca Brothers, chef-founders of Michelin-starred El Celler de Can Roca. Crafted from a combination of European and American oak casks, the latest tipple blossoms with citrus, counters it with rich, rounded vanilla and toffee, and is cut with bitter orange rind.

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“Imagine puncturing the orange with your finger and lifting it up to your nose,” Dove says.

Soft spices taper on the edge, while the finish – best detected if you lick the top of your mouth – recalls a roomful of apples.

“Not crisp apples in your mouth, though, you know what I mean?” Dove is quick to explain, wrinkling his nose.

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Edition No. 3 has a notable ABV of 48.3 per cent, a level Dalgarno thought was necessary to bring out all the flavours – plus a playful 0.3 symbolic of its eponymous name. Naturally, Edition No. 2 had an ABV of 48.2 per cent.

“Having all of the 80 to 100 whiskies that Bob pulled out for me was just having a set of completely new raw materials to work with to make Edition No. 3,” Dove explains.

After eventually narrowing the selection down to six, he sent a brief that he imagines was the “most precise and challenging Bob has ever received”. Less than half a year later, however, the sample that arrived at Dove’s desk was spot on.

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“When you talk about the Master of Whisky, you don’t think about it,” he says.

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“It sounds very simple now, but what he actually did is select from the 250,000 barrels that are in his care, let me smell a few of what he knows to be my preferences throughout our decade-long friendship, and concoct a recipe that captures everything I want.”

Although The Macallan is a prized partner – Dove hints that more collaborations are in the pipeline for next year – he says the entire whisky-making process was founded on sans-research, sans-rehearsal spontaneity.

“In the end, I am the end consumer, so I wanted to come at the project with an honest view,” he admits.

“Edition No. 3 is The Macallan because it’s open-minded and pleasurable. If I followed a set of rules, it would be formulaic. That’s not The Macallan.”

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