Bompass & Parr: Simphony in Blue

The latest neuro-scientific knowledge combines with the craft of church organ-building in a pioneering multi-sensory installation that reinvents whisky appreciation
Sam Bompas and Harry Parr curated a team of artists, designers, organ specialists, composers and experts in theatrical production, to produce a one-of-a-kind musical instrument: a magnificent church organ built according to centuries of tradition that combines with a contemporary sound and light spectacular.
The project will not only help whisky drinkers – new and experienced – better appreciate the complex flavour profile of Johnnie Walker Blue Label, but promises to reimagine the taste profile of the whisky in your glass in a multi-sensory theatrical performance through the strength of aural, visual, aromatic and haptic cues.
The organ – dubbed The Flavour Conductor – brings to life for the first time a vision only previously articulated in literature. Originally described in A Rebours, the 19th Century decadent novel by J. K. Huysmans, in which the flavour organ gives taste to the delights of music, through to Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, novelists and scientists have dreamed of an instrument where notes and melodies correspond with smells, tastes and flavours.
The project has seen Bompas & Parr exploit the latest flavour science to come out of Oxford University’s Crossmodal Research Laboratory to inform the creation of bespoke musical composition, visual effects and the commission of a church organ from one of the country’s oldest organ specialists, Mander Organs, a London company which built the organ gifted to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II by the City of London on her Jubilee.
The Flavour Conductor was unveiled globally at Symphony in Blue in September 2014, an immersive and theatrical experience by Johnnie Walker Blue Label, using the latest techniques in projection mapping, lending the instrument an ever-changing organic form, the images and sound correspond in a manner scientifically proven to influence the perception of taste.
For the audience, every member with a glass of Johnnie Walker Blue Label in hand, the flavour of the liquid in their mouths will change and evolve through six essential flavour characteristics as the sound and images in front of them change. The sounds of the pipes themselves have been ‘voiced’ following extensive sensory research with Professor Charles Spence.
From November, The Flavour Conductor embarks on an epic Grand Tour over the next year, taking its ground-breaking approach to whisky- tasting as far afield as Madrid, Berlin, Toronto, New York, Johannesburg, Lagos and Malaysia.