NZ Lifestyle Block

The magical nose of Kate Galloway

- Words Kate Coughlan

Kate Galloway has a highly developed olfactory capacity. Even as a child, she knew her nose wasn't like other people's. An unattracti­ve aroma wafting about could overshadow family outings, ruining them for her and her equallysen­sitive siblings.

“I could smell something burning far away that others couldn't.”

She thought a career in perfume would suit her until she realised that almost all perfumes gave her headaches. They still do.

Her chosen career as a winemaker did use her talent and introduced her to another fine ‘nez.' She met David among the barrels at Ngatarawa Wines in Hawke's Bay where she was working. He was in NZ to get overseas experience.

After separate world travels, they returned to NZ, created and sold two wine brands (Alluviale and DaDa), and had two children Gala, 14 and Saul, 12.

In 2015, they set off to smell a few other roses. Kate and David began gathering and cataloguin­g what they found wherever they went. A leaf of that, a frond of this, a piece of bark from there. Bay leaf, gentian, lime, pine, geranium, lavender, coriander, eucalyptus. When they discovered something of potential interest, it was carefully plucked and carried home to be studied and identified before a distillati­on captured its flavour.

Then came the serious work of describing each sample's unique flavour and mouthfeel. Over three years, the couple built an olfactive library, cataloguin­g hundreds of botanical samples into nine flavour families, including savoury/vegetal, sweet/spice, citrus, earth/root, anise, and pine.

Sometimes even they wondered if they were going a little too far. David once described something as smelling like a freshly washed pet bunny rabbit.

“I didn't know you had a pet rabbit,” said Kate. “I didn't,” he said. “But if I did, I'd expect it to smell like that – slightly musky and sweet.”

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