aromatic family

Of course with my love of Eau de Colognes it’s obvious that I would gravitate to this family.  Some well-known family members are: coriander, lavender, immortelle, carrot seed and spearmint (can not wait to experiment with this one!)  Heeley parfums did two versions of this that totally inspired me at Pitti Fragranze: Esprit du Tigre (think Tiger Balm), and Menthe Fraiche.  Oddly enough Lavender is an aromatic not a floral and at first that classification stumped me but the more I deepened my exploration of this single note the more it made sense in this family.  It’s sharp, piercing, uplifting even herbal.

Because of the vibrant, pungent, even aquatic nature of the aromatic family you can guess that it’s much used in the creation of men’s fragrances, which I adore.

Coriander: love this note with it’s lemony, herbal, minty undertones.  I could pick up the smell of twigs, a dry, green scent and it felt light like a sunny day of lazing about; cicadas, a breezy, woody and camphoraceous.  After 1.5 hours I could pick out a spicy, anise-like smell.  After 6 hours the lemony aspect was faint and the herbal aspects were drier, thinner almost lifeless because the impression that defines coriander is gone.  Volatility: high

Clary Sage: herbaceous, light, green, slightly medicinal, minty, and strange, but after about 15 minutes I can smell lemons!  There are definitely aspects shared with lavender and the citruses.  The note remains whole throughout the dry down, not really decomposing just changing becoming deeper.  Volatility: medium

Lavender: fresh, clean, vibrant, pungent, exhilarating, exciting, but also pure, cold, crisp like snow, bracing like the shock of a fall wind hitting your face.  Lavender also has a very delicate side to it that makes it enduring.  I can pick out the linalol and geranium as chemical components – HURRAY! – yes, this is partly what success looks like during the learning phase of perfumery.  It dries to a woody, herbaceous, dry quality with most of the bite gone out of it.  Volatility: medium

Proprionate (Cis-3 Hexenyl Proprionate): this is a natural isolate which occurs naturally in  mango fruit.  I found it bitter, pungent, dry and celery-like.  Definitely it has a green aspect to it, sweet like peas, and it is powerful.  It dries down into the ghost of green smell, and it’s only here, now, that I get the fruitiness, that pear-like scent coming off it.  Volatility: high-mid.

Hexenal C6 Aldehyde: also a natural isolate which occurs naturally in artemisia, ginger root, guava and rose otto.  This note opens up green, leafy, crisp and my thoughts interrupt the process with “excuse me but, how is this an aromatic?!”; it’s like a green jungle.  Yes, it’s green but it’s a wet, mossier, damp green.  A few minutes after dipping I get a whiff of something sweet, almond, vanillin? a drier, leafier note that is a bit floral.  After 6 hours it’s still very green but more hollow and very present.  Volatility: mid-low.

Okay, done!  Moving on tomorrow to update you on the powder family.

Have a luscious day!


aromatic profile: lavender maillette

lavender maillette essential oil

Common name: Lavender Maillette (France)

Genus Name: Lavandula augustifolia “Maillette” a.k.a. English Lavender “Maillette”

Supplier: John Steele

Note: mid-top

Some interesting bits: This variety is used extensively in the production of perfumes and essential oils.  Considered one of the most precious types of lavender.

It is drought tolerant, resistant to deer and attractive to bees — in fact, we bought the most most amazingly fragrant lavender honey while in Croatia this year and anyone who tastes it can’t believe it wasn’t altered by the locals with lavender essential oil.

Has a shelf life of up to three years.

It is a French variety of lavender which also grows in England

Main Chemical Components: Linalool, linalyl acetate, 3-octanone, d-limonene, Trans-B-ocimene, Cis-B-ocimene, Camphor, Terpinen-4-ol, a-terpineol, Lavandulyl acetate.

Their nose: This essential oil has a soft, sweet, fruity, spicy, herbaceous bouquet with an green, woody undertone. (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: This is so light!  This is my first impression. Bright and uplifting like the first warm spring days, sweet.  Cool, luminous, pungent, even tart!  I can pick out the linalool in this.

After the 1st hour it smells more like dried twigs, has lost most of its zing which was probably due to the alcohol effect (not me, the dilution), sweeter, paler, beginning to exit.

After 3 hours strange, but, do I smell coconuts?! Dry, brittle, still faintly sweet, now beginning to fade into the paper, I can smell the smell of paper (is that even possible?!).

1 day later it is still noticeable but now only a whisper remains.



aromatic profile: lavender seville, absolute

lavender seville essential oil

Common name: Lavender Seville (Spain)

Genus Name: Lavandula luisieri

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: base-mid

Some interesting bits: the absolute is extracted by Hexane

The essential oil was only analysed for the first time in 1992!

A hybrid and sub-species of the L. stoechas, native to coastal and inland Portugal and neighbouring Spain.

According to the French, essential oil producer, Albert Vieille, “the properties of Seville Lavender essential oil and absolute have little in common with those associated with Lavandula officinalis or lavandin.  Their fragrances, in particular, are completely different.”  and, “The composition of Lavandula luisieri absolute is exceptional.  As with the essential oil, we find a series of irregular terpenoids with cyclopantanic structures that are rare, if not unique, in the vegetable kingdom.”

Main Chemical Components: Trans-alpha-necrodyle acetate 18%, Eucalyptole (1,8 cineol) 12%, Trans-alpha-necrodol 5%, Lavandulyle acetate 4%, T-muurolol 3%.

Their nose: The absolute is a viscous liquid at ambient temperatures, dark olive green in colour, with grassy, vegetal…notes, recalling liquorice and fig leaves.  The heart-note has a sugary character, amber, evoking dried fruit and jam.  The base-notes retain characteristics at once sugary, vegetal, hay-like, and acidulated. (

My nose: First impression straight out is that it’s much heavier than I expected; it’s thick and quite beautiful, like a woman with curves, dark, very woody, earthy, with a hint of camphor and only recalls the memory of Lavandula oficinalis.

After the 1st hour I gotta be honest, I wasn’t liking this too much, so I tried to practice what I’d read about an important aspect of scent evaluations and that is to try to keep your opinions detached from the exercise.  The note is much smoother now only more herbaceous.

After 3 hours this is still good into the dryout phase, dry and woody, warm, parched and more hushed. This is a stirring note, it moves the soul, touching deeply.  It is in no way as superficial as the lavender essential oil, but thoughtful and thought-provoking.

1 day later this note is still present, warm and parched and only now is beginning to fade.

Okay, evaluation over: I am enthralled by this note and wish one day to do it honour in a composition.


being there


Gordes, France. 35° C – sweltering. June, barely summer. Butterflies and bees busy with their day jobs and the smell of lavender that seemed to wrap you in a warm embrace as if to say … welcome! This is the famous Abbaye de Senanque.  This is Provence!

The Abbey, located in the valley just north of Gordes, is a medieval monastery built between 1148-1178 in the Romanesque style set among the famous lavender fields of Provence.  The aura is peaceful to point of lulling even the tourists into a quiet contemplation.

During the 13th and 14th century the Abbey owned four mills and large swathes of land as far as Arles and Marseilles.  The Abbot Francois was known as the “father of the poor” having cared for those afflicted by the plague — no small gesture at the time!  During the French Revolution it was sold to the state and in 1903 laws prohibiting the gathering of religious groups forced the monks to leave.  Six Cistercian monks returned in 1988 to reestablish the monastic life guided by the medieval way of prayer, silence, study and work.  Today, lavender and honey farming, donations, tourism and sales help sustain the monastery.  To this day the Abbey offers residential retreats to anyone interested in a time of quiet mediation.  Asking only a modest $30 a day one can stay for up to eight days.

Every budding perfumer should put in the time to research the plants of their raw materials, discover their ideal growing conditions, identify the various genus species and chemical composition so that when that wondrous moment arrives, when we remove the cap of our latest purchase and inhale deeply the history of, not only our personal experience but also that of the plant itself, these aspects come alive and combine with the scent to add depth, breadth and emotion which help to “fix” the notes more solidly in our minds by giving them context and weight.

Now when I think of composing a cologne based on lavender it will be with the goal of giving the wearer a brief respite, the one I longed for on that day, from such heat by seeming to shower them with a cool, clear, summer downpour.

In the end, in my very limited experience, we can sniff as many sample raw materials as we like, but nothing can ever take the place of being their, where the raw materials grow; the gift of tasting, feeling and smelling what has taken perhaps a season to mature and hundreds of kilos to distill into one 30ml bottle.