University of St Andrews
Life and Chemical Sciences
Edinburgh & Lothians
KINGDOM Scotland is developing Scotland’s first creative luxury fragrance house by introducing rare and evocative scents. As a luxury brand, they source high quality ingredients and their perfume oils are the best grades available. KINGDOM Scotland will draw on the rich flavours and textures of Scotland’s cultural heritage – from landscape and mythology to whisky distilling and the history of perfume in Scotland – in order both to inspire its products and shape its brand. In doing so it hopes to ‘bottle Scotland’ and provide consumers with experiences which put them in touch with Scotland’s complex and fascinating past and present.
The director and founder of KINGDOM Scotland, Imogen Russon-Taylor, was initially inspired by her experience working with Scottish whisky brands. She was struck by the connection both between whisky and heritage and between whisky and perfume. Both are produced by traditional distillation methods; both evoke a complex sensory experience; and both rely upon the innovative use of ingredients or flavours to distinguish themselves from competitors. Imogen began to consider the potential for a new brand to ‘bottle Scotland’ and to use perfume to share old narratives in new ways as there were rich stories associated with perfume and natural ingredients in Scotland.
Imogen didn’t have the skills to access these stories through archives and national records so she approached Interface to help her find the necessary university expertise.
Imogen was put in touch with PhD student, Dawn Hollis, a historical researcher at the University of St Andrews, to help her look into the history of Scotland’s perfume and to look into sourcing ingredients that had a heritage in Scotland.
As Dawn focussed her research on the archives and Herbarium collections of the Royal Botanical Gardens, Edinburgh, Imogen became increasingly keen to incorporate the results of this research into a ‘Botanicals’ range, with a focus on ingredients either found within or with a strong connection to Scotland. Dawn suggested drawing upon the collections of famous or interesting Scottish botanists in order to add more exotic flavours to this range, focussing her research on the collections of George Forrest (1873-1932) and Isobel Wylie Hutchison (1889-1982). Profiles were drawn up for both a ‘Botanical Floral’ perfume (inspired by the collections of George Forrest and featuring scents of champacha, rhododendrons, and honeysuckle) and for an ‘Arctic Poppy’ perfume (now known as Albaura, inspired by Isobel Wylie Hutchison and drawing on ‘green’ Arctic scents).
The project was funded by a Scottish Funding Council Innovation Voucher.
This project will support the development of what is certainly the first Scottish luxury perfume house in many years, if not the first in Scottish history. It is underpinned by the considerable expertise of its founder, whose original inspiration for KINGDOM Scotland was drawn from her experience in the Scottish whisky industry.
Worldwide, Scottish whisky is worth £5billion, making it one of Scotland’s most considerable exports. The global perfume industry, however, is worth £22billion. By bringing both together, KINGDOM Scotland aims to tap into multiple markets, offering considerable benefits in terms of increased revenue and employment.
“Working with St Andrews was very just for this project. It’s the oldest university in Scotland and by delving into Scotland’s perfume past, it’s been the perfect partnership to bring this project to life”, said Imogen Russon-Taylor, KINGDOM Scotland Ltd.
“Carrying out research on behalf of KINGDOM Scotland was such an exciting and challenging venture – it was fantastic to collaborate with a new Scottish company and to ask new questions of the historical archives based on their needs and interests. It was also wonderful to see my research having a genuine impact on the development of KINGDOM Scotland’s new ranges – not many historians can say they can wear the results of their research as a luxury perfume.” said Dr Dawn Hollis, University of St Andrews.
Please note that Interface administers the Innovation Voucher Scheme on behalf of the Scottish Funding Council. All funding applications are reviewed on a case by case basis by the Scottish Funding Council, guidelines can be found here.