The Essence of a Country: Lithuania’s National Scent Gets Bottled

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Lithuania's capital, Vilnius.

“Oh my, you smell like Lithuania!” Is this even a compliment? The new makers of Lithuanian perfume hope that it is, after you spritz on its national perfume. Called “Lietuvos Kvapas,” roughly translated to “The Scent of Lithuania,” the spray cobbles together the smells of the Baltic nation.

For those who’ve never been to Lithuania (NewsFeed included), the perfume’s makers will have you know that the country apparently smells like a combination of wild flowers, ginger, raspberry, sandalwood and musk, to name a few. All are quite appealing, admittedly – the only additions that turn up our nose are “tree moss” and “tree smoke,” but hey, not every corner of Lithuania is roses and berries. Though perhaps the one thing lost in translation here is the word perfume. With scents like this it’s meant to be more of an air freshener.

(PHOTOS: How Perfume Gets Made)

How were these smells derived as the country’s national scents? They sound quite generic to us. Let’s think about some other nations: France smells like baguettes and red wine. Switzerland – chocolate and cheese enter our palate. But those would make for some rank perfumes. Lithuania smartly didn’t include the smell of horses or potatoes.

At a cost of €28 ($40), the product has only sold 1,000 bottles since its January release, which doesn’t strike us as very many. But after all, this is a perfume with an air of reminiscence. The best customers have been businessmen and tourist offices, the Guardian reports. The perfume has also been shipped out to Lithuanian soldiers in Afghanistan to remind them of their homeland.

They’re putting out the perfume – which is being joined by a line of scented candles – in an effort to improve Lithuania’s image abroad. And scientists do say many memories are tied to smell. Though NewsFeed is skeptical about this branding effort. Raspberry and tree moss are hardly unique to Lithuania, after all.

Nick Carbone is a reporter at TIME. Find him on Twitter at @nickcarbone. You can also continue the discussion on TIME’s Facebook page and on Twitter at @TIME.

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