Telling Stories of Scotland in Scent
Imogen Russon-Taylor has created the very first Scottish fragrance house – Kingdom Scotland - capturing the evocative landscapes of Scotland in a debut collection of utterly contemporary, unisex fragrances.
Inspired by a prolific career in the aromatic world of Scotch whisky, Imogen has created a fragrance house with a clear difference. Here she tells us about her personal journey in creating a new way of showcasing Scotland – in scent.
The Aromatic World of Whisky
“Kingdom Scotland was borne of my love for Scotland and the aromatic world of whisky. I have a strong love of the wild and majestic Scottish landscape, reinforced by studying Geography and Geology at Edinburgh University. And I have worked in the whisky industry for many years – this has been a huge inspiration and there are so many parallels between whisky and perfume. Both whisky and perfume are produced by traditional distillation methods, both evoke a complex sensory experience and both rely on the quality and innovative use of ingredients to stand out in a busy market. I wanted Kingdom Scotland perfumes to capture the stories, experiences and dramatic contrasts of Scotland.”
“Scotland deserves a fragrance house of serious quality and creative expression. Scent has that unique ability to transport you to a memory, a place, a moment in time. I want to create that ‘sense of place’ in my fragrances and transport you to some of the most inspiring, dramatic landscapes and historical stories in the world.”
And thus was born her vision to ‘bottle Scotland’ in scent – using perfume to share old narratives in new, creative ways, tapping into the rich stories associated with perfume and natural ingredients in Scotland.
Scotland’s perfumed past
Imogen has worked with Interface and St Andrew’s University History Department to delve into Scotland’s perfumed past. Together they have found perfumed ingredients, rituals and stories with Scottish heritage. They turned to the pioneering world of Scottish botanists and explorers and started working with the archivists at The Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh, the National Library and National Records to set out to tell these lesser-known stories of our nation in scent.
One fragrant result is Albaura Eau de Parfum – inspired by the Scottish Arctic explorer and botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchison.
Hutchison was born at Carlowrie castle – West Lothian in 1889. She challenged social norms of the time by first venturing on a 260 mile solo trek across Iceland, later she travelled north of the Artic circle into Greenland and Alaska where she collected botanical floral and grass samples for the Royal Botanical Gardens Edinburgh.
“Isobel was a woman ahead of her era. I believe the expanse of the Arctic environment inspired her with a deep sense of freedom and escape, a love of silence and space only an iced landscape can provide - and this fuelled her creativity to write poetry, paint the landscape and even produce early film footage of her travels.
I wanted to bring that to life with my perfume – Albaura. It is a bold, pure, fresh, and outdoor scent, and yet it holds complexity and memorable appeal.
Isobel collected samples of Arctic poppies and peonies, of grasses and herbs – her personal plant collections and sketches are carefully stored in the archives at the Botanical Gardens. This scent opens with the glacial freshness of snow and ice, blended with iced berries, juniper and botanicals, the heart reveals notes of arctic florals and the base is a sophisticated blend of ambergris, oakmoss and Atlas cedar absolute.”
Albaura is just one of a trilogy of debut fragrances and alongside sit the fragrances Metamorphic and Portal. These two fragrances share references of Imogen’s inspiration from the world of whisky.
Metamorphic Eau de Parfum reveals a nod to Islay single malt reflecting the metamorphic rock that is woven throughout the west coast of Scotland. Imogen is a geology enthusiast and has creatively brought the physicality of metamorphic rock into a scent concept, approaching scent as art. The fragrance opens with the spiciness of black pepper, and reveals a smouldering smokiness, a peated aspect with incense, leather, tobacco and mineralic notes – all softened by a dark rose absolute. This scent is rich and complex, and conjures up images of enjoying a fine malt by the fire on a leather chair.
Portal Eau de Parfum, meanwhile, is described as a ‘gateway to the ancient Caledonian forests of Scotland’. It is fresh and outdoor, and bursting with herbaceous botanicals and bergamot – notes chosen to evoke verdant florals, resting on a forest floor of vetiver and Scots pine. The top note combination took inspiration from a new-make spirit accord referencing classic Highland malts.
A Contemporary, Evocative, Scottish Fragrance House
Kingdom Scotland is a modern fragrance house – each scent is created to showcase Scotland in scent – not only through botanical references but through history, geology and culture. Each fragrance is unique and memorable and created to be shared – unisex – for men and women to enjoy.
Scotland is more popular than ever – with record visitors and the global appeal of film properties such as Outlander, The Outlaw King and Mary Queen of Scots. With a growing global fascination for Scotland - there is so much appetite for Kingdom Scotland – the first Scottish fragrance house. Imogen has daily requests to stock the collection internationally – and was recently invited to present the new fragrances to the stars and crew of the Mary Queen of Scots film premiere in Edinburgh. With new fragrances in the pipeline and support from Scottish Enterprise to take the business internationally – this certainly is a business to watch with interest.
“Edinburgh has been a great place to base Kingdom Scotland. I have discovered the entrepreneurial network to be such a support. I started my business journey on the RBS Entrepreneurial Accelerator meeting like-minded entrepreneurs and building a network of mentors and advisors.
The team at Harvey Nichols Edinburgh have also been fantastic. It is the ideal place to showcase Scotland’s first fragrance house in a modern luxury arena. Kingdom Scotland is a new Scottish luxury brand and this is just the start!”
Introducing the debut collection of perfumes from KINGDOM Scotland:
Scotland has some of the most complex geology in the world and this scent is inspired by metamorphic rock that is spectacularly woven into the landscape. Complex, rich, with an intense metamorphosis on the skin.
Top: Black Pepper & Tobacco
Heart: Incense, Minerals, Islay Malt & Dark Rose Absolute
Base: Amber Resin & Leather
A tribute to the Arctic Explorer and Scottish Botanist Isobel Wylie Hutchison and inspired by the Aura and ancient name of Scotland, Alba. The freshness of snow & ice blended with berries and botanicals. Independent of spirit, this is a bold and pure beauty.
Top: Iced Botanicals
Heart: Arctic Poppy
Base: Atlas Cedar, Rock Moss & Ambergris
A transporting herbaceous and woody scent - a gateway to the ancient Caledonian forests of Scotland. Invitingly fresh and outdoor - an escape to a sylvan wonderland.
Top – Herbaceous Botanicals & Bergamot
Heart – Verdant Flora
Base – Vetiver & Scots Pine
The debut collection of Kingdom Scotland scents, Albaura, Portal and Metamorphic 50ml EDPs are £110 each. The Discovery Set Trio of 7.5ml travel sized EDPs is priced at £60 and all are available exclusively at Harvey Nichols, starting in Edinburgh. For further information on Kingdom Scotland visit www.kingdomscotland.com or follow @kingdomscotland