a journey of the senses by FLACONNEUR
Agar wood – From the Aquilaria tree, and also called Oud or Aloes wood. The tree, when attacked by a common fungus, produces an aromatic resin that has long been used in the Middle East as a source of incense and perfume, now considered endangered in the wild due to over-harvesting.
Aldehydes – An organic compounds present in many natural materials that also can be synthesized artificially. In perfumery, this usually refers to plant compounds (such as labdanum) or synthetics which have an ambergris-like scent. In general, it’s a heavy, full-bodied, powdery, warm fragrance note.
Ambrette – Oil obtained from these seeds has a musk-like odor and is frequently used as a substitute for true musk.
Amyris – A white-flowering bush or tree found in Haiti and South America. Often used as a less-expensive substitute for sandalwood.
Anise – An annual herb of the parsley family, grown for its fruits (aniseed), which have a strong, licorice-like flavor.
Baies Rose – Pink peppercorns, from the tree schinus molle, also known as the Peruvian or California pepper tree. These are actually dried berries and not “true” peppercorns.
Bay Laurel – An aromatic evergreen tree or large shrub with green, glossy leaves, native to the Mediterranean region. It is one of the plants typically used for cooking. It is also known as sweet bay, bay tree, true laurel, Grecian laurel, laurel tree or just laurel. The smell is described as similar to the scent of eucalyptus, menthol, lemon, balsam, mint or rosemary.
Benzoin – A balsamic resin from the Styrax tree. it can sometime be referred to as smelling like vanilla. However, benzoin can have more of a medicinal quality rather than sweet vanilla.
Bergamot – The tangy oil expressed from the non-edible bergamot orange, grown mainly in Italy.
Bigarade – The zest of the bitter orange.
Birch Tar – A substance derived from the dry distillation of the bark of the birch tree, also known as birch pitch. It is compounded of phenols such as guaiacol, cresol, xylenol and creosol. Birch tar was used widely as an adhesive as early as the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic era. It has also been used as a disinfectant, in leather dressing, and in medicine. The scent is reminiscent of tar, charred wood and smoke. Many have compared it to the scent of a campfire.
Black Currnat – A sweet and sharp tasting berry native to central and northern Europe and northern Asia.
Calone – An aroma chemical that adds a “sea breeze” or marine note to fragrances.
Cedar – An aromatic wood with a camphoraceous top note with a woodsy, balsamic undertone. Red cedar is sharper, like a freshly sharpened pencil.
Champaca – A flowering tree of the magnolia family, originally found in India, also called the “Joy Perfume tree” as it was one of the main floral ingredients in that perfume. Traditionally used in Indian incense as well.
Carambole – Star fruit.
Cashmeran – A synthetic aldehyde with a spicy, ambery, musky, floral odor. Used to invoke the velvety smell or “feel” of cashmere.
Castoreum – An animalistic secretion from the Castor beaver, used to impart a leathery aroma to a fragrance. Often reproduced synthetically.
Citron – The zest of this tree’s fruit is used to create citrus fragrance notes.
Civet – Musk produced by a gland at the base of the African civet cat’s tail. Pure civet is said to have a strong, disagreeable odor, but in small quantities is often used to add depth and warmth to a fragrance. In addition, civet acts as an excellent fixative. Most modern fragrances use synthetic substitutes.
Clary sage – The oil of this herb smells sweet to bittersweet, with nuances of amber, hay and tobacco.
Coumarin – A compound that smells like vanilla. Usually derived from the Tonka bean, but also found in lavender, sweet grass and other plants. Coumarin is banned as a food additive in the United States due to toxicity issues, but is used to produce anti-coagulant medicines, rat poison, and as a valuable component of incense and perfumes.
Frangipani – A fragrant tropical flower, also known as West Indian jasmine.
Frankincense – A gum resin from a tree found in Arabia and Eastern Africa. Also called Olibanum.
Galbanum – A gum resin that imparts a green smell.
Geranium – A genus of over 400 flowering plants commonly known as cransbills. Their scent can range from orange, apple, rose and mint-scented.
Guaiac Wood – The oil is steam distilled from a South American tree that produces the hardest, densest wood known.
Hedione – Synthetic said to have a “diffusive jasmine” scent.
Heliotrope – Botanically speaking, this refers to more than one type of flower, but in perfumery, it refers to flowers of the family heliotropium, which are said to have a strong, sweet vanilla-like fragrance with undertones of almond.
Immortelle – This plant grows amongst the scrub, on the Mediterranean Island of Corsica. There are almost 500 varieties of this everlasting flower including the Helichrysum Italicum, part of the daisy family. This yellow flower possesses a special relationship with time; it is called “the immortal” because it never fades, even after being picked.
Indole – A chemical compound which smells floral at low concentrations, fecal at high concentrations. Used widely in perfumery.
Iso E Super – An aroma chemical, described as a smooth, woody, amber note with a velvet-like sensation. Used to impart fullness to fragrances.
Jasmine – A flower employed widely in perfumery.
Labdanum – An aromatic gum from the rockrose bush. The sweet woody odor is said to mimic ambergris (see above), and can also be used to impart a leather note.
Lavender Oil – It possesses a dry-fresh, herbaceous odor. It is used in many perfumes, especially in masculine notes.
Licorice – A shrub native to Europe and Asia. The roots are used for candy and flavoring, and are said to be 50 times sweeter than sugar.
Linden – Also called lime-blossom, but this is from the flower of the Linden (Tilia) tree, not the citrus tree that produces limes. French name is Tilleul.
Monoi – Gardenia (tiare) petals macerated in coconut oil. Sometimes called Monoi de Tahiti.
Muguet – French for Lily of the Valley. One of the three most used florals in perfumery. Unlike jasmine and rose, usually synthetically reproduced.
Musk – It is a secretion of the musk deer. The material extracted from musk-sacs has a strong animal-smell. They give perfumes a warm, erotic note and have outstanding fixing characteristics. Perfumes that are based on musk notes are especially subject to fashionable trends.
Myrrh – A gum resin produced from a bush found in Arabia and Eastern Africa.
Nag Champa – The name of perfume oil originally made in the Hindu and Buddhist monasteries of India and Nepal and used to perfume incense. Traditionally made from a sandalwood base, to which are added a variety of flower oils, including that from the flower of the Champaca tree.
Narcissus – The white flowers of this tree are used extensively in French perfume production.
Neroli – A citrus oil distilled from the blossoms of either the sweet or bitter orange tree. The Italian term for neroli is zagara.
Oak Moss – Derived from a lichen that grows on oak trees. Prized for its aroma, which is heavy and oriental at first, becoming refined and earthy when dried, reminiscent of bark, seashore and foliage.
Olibanum – see Frankincense.
Opopanax – A herb that grows in the Middle East, North Africa and the Mediterranean, also known as sweet myrrh. The resin produces a scent similar to balsam or lavender.
Orris – Derived from the iris plant. Has a flowery, heavy and woody aroma.
Osmanthus – A flowering tree native to China, valued for its delicate fruity apricot aroma.
Oud (Oudh, Auod, Agarwood) – Refers to wood from the Agar tree, found mostly in Southeast Asia. The fragrant resin is treasured by perfumers and can be incredibly varied in scent, largely due to the varied types and qualities of oud oil available. Oud can smell; sweet, sour, medicinal, spicy, rich, animalic, barnyard-like, earthy, woody, honeyed, fecal and floral.
Ozone – A modern, synthetic note meant to mimic the smell of fresh air right after a thunderstorm.
Patchouli – A bushy shrub originally from Malaysia and India. Has a musty-sweet, spicy aroma. Often used as a base note.
Pikaki – It’s a form of jasmine (jasminum sambac) grown in Hawaii and used for making leis. Also known as Arabian jasmine, and widely used to make jasmine tea.
Rose – One of the main flower notes used in perfumery.
Rose de Mai – Rose absolute made from the centifolia rose.
Rose Oxide – Rose oxide is an organic compound found in roses and rose oil. The scent can be the typical rose (floral green) fragrance. It can also contributes to the flavor of some fruits such as lychee and Gewürztraminer.
Sandalwood – An oil from the Indian sandal tree. One of the oldest known perfumery ingredients, commonly used as a base note.
Saffron – Saffron come from the dried flower of the saffron plant, which has a mixture of sweetness and peppery qualities.
Styrax – A dry, smoky, spicy note, with a distinctive leather and incense facet.
Tonka Bean – It is derived from a plant native to Brazil. Has an aroma of vanilla with strong hints of cinnamon, cloves and almonds. Used as a less-expensive alternative to vanilla.
Tuberose – A plant with highly-perfumed white flowers, resembling those of a lily.
Vanilla – Vanilla is derived from the seed pod of the vanilla orchid, a flowering vine which is native to Mexico (although most of the vanilla available today comes from Madagascar). The vanilla orchid flower itself is scentless. True vanilla requires extensive hand-processing, and is therefore expensive.
Vetiver – A grass with heavy, fibrous roots, which are used to distill an oil that smells of moist earth with woody, earthy, leather and smoky undertones.
Ylang Ylang – An Asian evergreen tree with fragrant flowers.
Yuzu – A citrus fruit grown in Japan. It looks like a small grapefruit; the flavor has been described as a cross between grapefruit and mandarin orange.