I spent a lot of final 12 months touring and researching the way in which spices and different aromatics are grown. My pursuit took me to the clove gardens in Indonesia, cumin fields in India, and the cassia cinnamon groves in Vietnam. The phrase ‘spice’ incorporates the identical root because the phrase ’particular,’ and I needed to find how these distinctive aromatic vegetation are remodeled into essences and utilized in perfumery.
The journey was filled with revelations. I discovered, as an illustration, that processing clove essence includes not the buds of the tree, the acquainted cloves of mulled wine and gingerbread, however slightly the stems and leaves. All elements of the clove tree comprise important oil with various scent profiles. The leaves launch sweet-smelling essence, however the one derived from the stems has a smoky, woody accent.
Considered one of my favourite examples of using clove is Frédéric Malle’s Noir Epices. The composition is predicated on a heat citrus accord, however clove, together with cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper, provides it a wealthy character. Perfumer Michel Roudnitska resisted the temptation to sweeten the mix, permitting the dry woody nuances of the spices to face unvarnished. The result’s luminous and multifaceted.
Cumin is a spice strongly related to the cooking of the Indian subcontinent, and it’s broadly grown for each culinary and beauty makes use of. Uncooked cumin smells animalic and musky, however as anybody who has toasted cumin seeds is aware of, when warmed over hearth, the spice’s scent modifications dramatically. It turns into caramelized and nutty. Just lately, toasted cumin essence has grow to be a part of the perfumer’s palette, and in Hermès’s Epice Marine it provides a savory twist to the earthy vetiver and citrus cologne. The lemony cardamom, one other favourite Indian spice, provides its shimmering prime be aware, whereas the mellow cedarwood serves as a refined backdrop. Within the meantime, the darkish be aware of cumin glows seductively.
Touring alongside the spice route, I saved coming throughout cassia cinnamon. It’s a unique botanical from the “true” Ceylon cinnamon, and whereas cassia’s scent is sweeter and fewer complicated, it performs an essential position in perfumery. It provides a vivid explosion of fiery sweetness to any mix, even in small quantities. I significantly like the way in which cassia cinnamon inflects Dior’s Spice Mix, a perfume impressed by Bay Rum lotion. A number of spices are woven via this elegant composition, akin to ginger, black pepper, and vanilla, however it’s the kiss of cinnamon that offers it a scrumptious, acquainted contact. Spice Mix invitations one to take a deep inhale and consider all issues heat and comforting.
What are your favourite spices and spice perfumes?
Images by Bois de Jasmin