The Twenty SS20 Issue

Olfactory Espionage

By Olivia Preston

Our noses are unique and clever parts of our bodies, with the ability to detect whatever smell is in front of us, they are able to sniff out all the beautiful smells that are all around us, from freshly baked bread and green mint in a garden to Costa Rican coffee and freshly cut grass. Whatever smell intrigues or attracts us the most, it is all thanks to our olfactory receptors who decipher what these smells are.

It’s strange to think that it only takes a few fragrance molecules to meet the smell receptors in our noses in order to tell our brains what smell we are currently experiencing. Those receptors have been trained to identify harmful odours, acting as our own microscopic spies, protecting us. James Bond may be the best known espionage hero, but it’s our noses who are the most prevalent biological fighters of all.

Artisan candle brand Jonathan Ward has released his newest candle, Assassin Belarus, which is inspired by George Koval, a lesser-known James Bond type. Jonathan Ward has meticulously chosen layers of complementary scents to create the fragrance for this candle, having chosen flowers as his weapon of choice.

The story of George Koval isn’t widely known but it is one of spying, science and subterfuge. Koval was born in Iowa, American in 1913 to a family of immigrants from Belarus (then part of the Russian Empire). He worked as a spy inside the American army, acting as an intelligence officer for the Soviet atomic bomb project. He gained insight into the inner-workings of the Manhattan Project and relayed information about the production of polonium, plutonium and uranium back to the USSR.

Assassin Belarus’s fragrance is layered with secrets and shadows, mirroring the actions of Koval throughout. Created by Jonathan Ward himself, the candle began it’s olfactory journey as a dark pleat-like base, with amber extreme, birch tar oil, patchouli from Indonesia and saffron leather notes. 

Depth is the key protagonist in the latest candle by the brand, the accord is deep and rich, exploring levels of floral scents in a new and intriguing way. The candle plays on the notion of subtlety – by using small quantities of ingredients overlayed on top of each other to create an overall fragrance that has individual smells remaining undetectable (which is similar to Koval and his espionage work that went undetectable).

The heart of the aroma was inspired by the idea of creating a covert accord, something that was flavoured with secrets. A hushed meeting of cedar-wood, nutmeg and birch tar. The top notes focus on organic black pepper – coming together to form a targeted and decisive scent. The ingredients come from all over the world, including Sri Lanka, America, Russia and Indonesia.

Organic is the name of the game for Jonathan Ward, who is based in the heart of East London. Each 240g candle is hand-poured in their studio, using a balanced blend of organic coconut oil, organic beeswax and organic vegetable wax (certified by the Soil Association).

Each part of the Jonathan Ward process is carried out by hand, utilising the expertise of British craftsmanship. The double cotton wick are applied to the candle using a ‘dipping’ method, without the use of glue, that makes sure that the candle burns safely, cleanly and evenly for 40-45 hours.

Not only is fragrance gorgeous, but the packaging is too. The candle are housed in beautiful fluted crystal whiskey tumblers from Italy, that can be recycled after use. This artisan candle has a great throw, its smell can reach all corners of a room, something only premium candles do.

The candle tells a story with the calculated fragrance, with layered smells that whispers a secret through your nose. The clever nose sensors can decipher these smells and tell our brain the story of George Koval – the Assassin Belarus.

Assassin Belarus