note evaluations: the citrus family


This has got to be the most used group in perfumery, the most versatile and the most instantly recognisable and since my interests and tastes veer towards either perfum extraits or colognes (rarely does my character take me down the middle of the road) these materials capture my attention driving me via an intense curiosity to figure out how to make them last longer.

As often happens when I am more in synch with my life, Life meets me exactly where I am to send me messages, gestures of support and inspiration and it didn’t miss a beat today.  While evaluating the citrus family LV picked a lemon from our lemon tree for me and of course it became the willing model for my photo session and the Lemon Lady images above are the result.  So…

Petitgrain bigrade: opens the conversation with a sharp, fresh, clean quality. Out of the right nostril I can barely get a sense of it after many waftings, but finally the fruity aspect, the dry quality comes through.  The softness comes and goes, lemony.  After 6 hours it is still quite dry, present, with a faint lemony dusting, weak impression. Volatility: high. (***as an aside, when I began this exercise in the morning I drank an espresso and it blocked my sense of smell for a bit!  Oh, the fool things I do! But I have to find out what my olfactive limits are with certain foods.  I figure it’s best to enter into it with a heavy dose of consciousness rather than blindly.)

Citral (extracted from Litsea Cubeba): a strong, lemon, fresh odour breaks the ice with this Nature Identical raw material. Reminds me of Pledge. It’s clean, lemon woody, summery.  6 hours into the dry down and this is still strong, lemony, but softer. Volatility: Medium.

Mandarin, red: begins fresh and light, zingy, zesty, “zaftig”, fruity, bright and green. This note is tempting playful and cajoling.  After 6 hours it’s still there, smells like mandarin, not as fresh, a bit stale.  Volatility: medium.

Bergamot: I love this note!  Earl Grey tea has always been a favourite tea and when years ago I found out that Bergamot is what gives it its odour the attraction was complete.  This note opens with facets of lavender, sharp and citrusy, it’s happy and sunny and if it were a colour it would be yellow. Reminds me of linen, fresh, light, lime.  I notice I have to slow down my breathing to get a full impression of this note and I am once again thankful for my years of yoga classes.  After 6 hours this is soft, almost spicy warm, still citrusy, definitely noticeable.  Volatility: medium

Grapefruit: in the beginning it has a very light grapefruit impression, airy, free and citrusy of course.  I get a very light impression of citrus, it doesn’t knock me over, more lemony than grapefruit, soft citrus. This note I have to approach gently, quietly, it’s another I have to slow right down to perceive.  Volatility: very high.

Lemon: this note is a punctuation mark, it’s penetrating, uplifting, clean and goes straight for my gut.  Does my nose actually perceive commonalities with Cardamom or is it another layer of my consciousness telling me that they could be a very good pair??? Light, sunny, bright colours, summer-liscious, a balm, clears my thoughts.  After 6 hours I can barely smell lemon, just a faint citrus odour. Volatility: very high.