Follow Your Nose – A Fragrant Journey Through Cape Town with Guided Scent Tours & Perfumery Workshops
Scent wields a unique power, connecting us to cherished memories or transporting us across time with a single whiff. From the nostalgic scent of a childhood home to a loved one’s perfume, aromas are carriers of memories and emotions. When we visit a new place, we’re captivated by the sights and sounds, but often the most indelible connection is that of scent – the smell of the ocean, the whiff of freshly baked bread at the local café, or the scent of Jasmine on a warm summer’s eve. Follow Your Nose, the new pioneer for olfactory tourism in the Western Cape, is set to introduce a series of new sensory experiences and put Cape Town on the olfactory map.
Follow Your Nose
Founded by a local authority on foraging and fragrance, Justin Williams, this exciting new concept will entice both locals and visitors with its unique concept – getting to know the Cape through scent.
“Cape Town is a trove of fragrant plants and interesting scent materials, every one of them with a backstory. Tourism has, up until now, focused mostly on the senses of sight and taste, but nothing formal really exists to showcase our city through scent.” explains Williams.
“I want to share in the joy I receive from smelling the crushed leaves of Cape Wild Mint, for example, a plant that naturally occurs alongside streams. Cooling and refreshing, the leaves make for a wonderful tea when paired with African Verbena. Both are rich in cultural significance with histories of traditional use. “Crush those leaves together in your hand, and you’ll have the basis for the top notes of a perfume,” he explains. “Fortunately one can obtain the distilled essential oils of these plants, making them unique candidates for use in fragrances. This is what Follow Your Nose is all about, the intersection between plants and perfumery within a local context.”
Scent and Sensibility
There is a therapeutic benefit from getting a whiff of one of your favourite scents. Ancient cultures across Egypt, China and India recognised that certain aromatic materials are capable of producing calming physiological responses within ourselves. Research is revealing the nose-to-brain effect of aroma molecules like limonene, found in the aroma of citrus peels, and pinene, found in the smell of pine needles, to produce anti-anxiety effects.
“Our brains are constantly receiving signals derived from aroma molecules floating around our headspace. All the smells around us and how we perceive them, I find olfaction so interesting. Those signals are transmitted to the parts of our brain responsible for emotion and memory.” says Williams.
A Nose for It
Williams has been training his nose and slowly building his knowledge of perfumery, a complex craft that involves the creation of fine fragrance, much like the perfumes you would find at a luxury retailer.
“When I started paying more attention to the smells of the places in nature I visited and the different aromatic profiles of local plants obtained by crushing their leaves, I began to wonder, a few years ago, if it would be possible to bottle these scents, to be enjoyed at all times. That ultimately led me to begin learning perfumery”, he shares.
Soon he was mixing essential oils in carrier oils but the results just weren’t good enough – not the level of quality he was looking for. Those basic formulations lacked depth, tenacity and character, so he began learning basic chemistry and discovering more materials, and proper ways to formulate and trial fragrances. “Your palette of materials, ratios, dilutions, solvents, building accords, maceration and maturation are all important parts of the fragrance-making process,” he continues.
Book your Guided Scent Tour
Follow Your Nose will be offering two guided scent tours right before Christmas, both taking place in the scenic Constantia Valley. Guests will be treated to an educational and sensory experience. complete with a welcome snack and drink. In 2024, Williams will be introducing perfumery workshops where guests will be able to learn how to create their own fine fragrances.
Book your place on one of the upcoming scent tours or consider a perfume workshop – both options are unique and thoughtful Christmas gifts for a loved one!