Scent Notes

Citrus Smells

Most often by citrus in perfumery we describe the whole spectrum of hesperidic fruits (Hesperidia), named after the Hesperides, nymphs from Greek mythology. These are fruits or citrus-smelling raw materials (notably verbena and lemongrass) and a few are among the most ancient ingredients in perfumery alongside resins. The more modern variations, such as pomelo, grapefruit, yuzu and hassaku, are relatively recent developments in the area of perfume extraction.

The citrus essences are expressed or cold-expressed in most cases to preserve their inherent freshness. Petitgrain is an exception, as it comes from the steam distillation of the twigs and leaves of the bitter orange tree.

Citruses provide a refreshing and effarvescent quality to fragrances, accounting for the top note which tickles our noses with pleasure. They’re helpful for clearing one’s mind and feel sunny and optimistic, lending an air of easy elegance and cleanness. Bergamot especially is an integral part of the classic Eau de Cologne formula. Citruses are a classic companion to more tenacious floral and resinous notes in oriental fragrances and they also provide a good companion to other fruity notes, cutting the sugar and injecting tartness.

Examples of perfumes: Armani Code Sport, Calvin Klein CK One, Rochas Eau de Rochas, Lancome O de Lancome, Armani Pour Homme, Dior Eau Sauvage, Azzaro Chrome.

Notes: Chinotto, Finger Lime, Limetta, Methyl Pamplemousse, Bergamot, Bitter Orange, Blood Orange, Citron, Citruses, Clementine, Grapefruit, Hassaku, Kumquat, Lemon, Lemon Verbena, Lemongrass, Lime, Litsea Cubeba, Mandarin Orange, Orange, Petitgrain, Pomelo, Tangerine, Yuzu, Hatkora lemon, Lemon Zest, Neroli, Lemon Balm, Lemon tree.

Fruits, Vegetables and Nuts

Fruity notes beyond citrus (which form a class of its own) have become so popular in recent years that they deserve a category of their own. Vegetable notes are more unusual, sometimes rendered through illusion: an example would be the turnip note that iris rhizome sometimes produces.

As a rule, fruits and vegetables are resistant to distillation and extraction processes due to the very high percentage of water in their natural state, and they remain a reconstructed note in fragrances. Their effect ranges from the refreshing to the succulent, all the way to the musty and mysterious.

Fruits and vegetables provide a nuanced texture and a refreshing feel in fragrances. Fruits especially have been extremely popular in the floral fruity category in the 2000s, while peach and plum have been major components in classical perfumers’ “”bases”” (such as the famous Persicol) which produced many of the iconic fragrances of the first half of the 20th century.

Nuts in perfumes usually include the very popular almond (sometimes confused with the cherry-pie tree, which is a heliotrope and most often replicated through the same materials used for heliotrope and mimosa reconstructions), peanuts (as in Bois Farine), hazelnuts (as in Praline de Santal and Mechant Loup). They are all recreated notes. Nutty notes can be beautiful anchors to more ethereal or earthy materials, such as vetiver, as evidenced in Vetiver Tonka in the Hermessences.

Examples of Perfumes: Guerlain Mitsouko, Dior Miss Dior Cherie, Armani Acqua di Gio, Cacharel Amor Amor, Carolina Herrera 212, Clinique Happy, Armani Emporio Remix for Her, Cacharel Noa Perle, Cartier Delices, Dior J’Adore, Escada Pacific Paradise, Juicy Couture, Vera Wang Princess, Guerlain Insolence, Nina Ricci Nina.

Notes: Apple sherbet, Beetroot, Cherimoya, Dried Apple Crisp, Frosted Berries, Jobs tears (Yi Yi Ren), Sea Buckthorn, Black Currant Blossom, Osmanthus, Passion Flower, Almond, Apple, Apricot, Banana, Bearberry, Black Currant, Blackberry, Blueberry, Brazil nut, Carambola (Star Fruit), Carrot, Cassowary fruit, Cepes, Cherry, Coconut, Cranberry, Cucumber, Cupuacu, Cupuassu, Copoasu, Cyperus scariosus, Dried Fruits, Fig, Forest fruits, Fruity Notes, Gooseberry, Grapes, Guarana, Guava, Hazelnut, Jackfruit, Japanese Loquat, Kiwi, Litchi, Malt, Mandioca, Mango, Mangosteen, Melon, Mirabelle, Mulberry, Nectarine, Olive, Papaya, Passionfruit, Peach, Peanut, Pear, Persimmon, Pineapple, Pistachio, Pitahaya, Plum, Pomegranate, Pumpkin, Quince, Raspberry, Red Apple, Red Berries, Red Currant, Sour Cherry, Soybean, Star apple, Strawberry, Tayberry, Tomato, Tropical Fruits, Walnut, Watermelon, White Currant, Wild Strawberry, Winterberry, Wolfberry, Yellow Cherry, Corn Silk, Currant leaf and bud, Fig Leaf, Rhubarb, Acai berry, Acerola, Blackthorn, Boysenberry, Cactus Harrisia, Chayote, Chestnut, Cloudberry, Dewberry, Goji Berries, Ground Cherry, Jabuticaba, Kumbaru, Macadamia, Maninka, Pea, Pinot Noir grapes, Pitanga, Red Fruits, Sapodilla, Snowberry, Umbu-Cajá | Taperebá, Water Fruit, Yumberry.


A self-evident category of fragrance notes, directly smelling of fragrant blossoms, often rich in nuance: from the banana top note of ylang-ylang, the wine nuances in fresh roses and the powdery, almond-like character of heliotrope, to the camphorous side of freshly-picked tuberose, all the way through the apricot scent of osmanthus, the lemony touches of magnolia and the caramelic facets of lavender, flowers can present surprising sides which never cease to fascinate not just insects, but humans as well.

Many of the flowers are rendered through natural sources: Rose and jasmine are notoriously prized for their incomparable essences, rendered through many different techniques (solvent extraction, enfleurage, distillates). The other natural flower extracts include broom, tuberose, lavender, osmanthus, immortelle, ylang ylang and marigold.

Other flowers refuse to yield their core aroma, or the yield is so minute that replicating the scent in the lab is the way to go. Violet, lotus and water lily do produce an absolute, but it’s very expensive and the yield is so small that only niche and artisanal/all-natural brands can afford to use them.

The following flowers are typically reconstructed in the lab via several synthetic molecules: freesia, peony, lily of the valley, mimosa, heliotrope, violet (most of the time), jonquil, narcissus, hyacinth.

Floral scents add a romantic and often feminine touch to a composition, augmenting the feel of natural beauty derived from smelling a composition, fanning the fleeting top notes onto a tapestry where everything has its place and alleviating some of the heaviness of more tenacious materials, such as resins and balsams. Natural flower extracts also work with the psyche, as with aromatherapy, in ameliorating the contact with the natural world and providing spiritual uplift.

Flowers play an important role in the floral fragrance family, obviously, but they manage to enter almost all perfume compositions in one form or another, from the lightest eau de cologne to the most lush oriental, even in some masculine colognes. They notably play an intriguing part in “”floral orientals”” (florientals), where they shine clearest amidst the opulence of materials of Eastern origin.

Examples of Perfumes: Badgley Mischka, Clinique Aromatics Elixir, Donna Karan DKNY Be Delicious, Estee Lauder White Linen, Aramis New West for Her, Davidoff Cool Water Woman, Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey for Women, Davidoff Cool Water Game Woman, Escada Into the Blue, Calvin Klein Eternity for Women, Nina Ricci L’Air du Temps, Lancome Miracle, Ralph Lauren Lauren, Estee Lauder Beautiful, Burberry London, Ferragamo F, Dior Pure Poison, Jean Patou Joy, Cacharel Anais Anais, Estee Lauder Pleasures for Women, Armani Code for Her, Givenchy Amarige, Lancome Tresor, Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Britney Spears In Control Curious, Dolce & Gabbana The One, Gaultier Jean-Paul Gaultier, Guerlain L’Heure Bleue, Calvin Klein Euphoria, Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, Givenchy Ange ou Demon, Guerlain L’Instant de Guerlain, Tom Ford Black Orchid, Van Cleef & Arpels First Love, Kenzo Flower by Kenzo, Stella McCartney Stella In Two Amber.

Notes: Ashoka Flower, Blackberry Blossom, Bread Flower, Butomus umbellatus, Buttercup, Cannonball Flower, Chinotto blossom, Clematis, Cosmos Flower, Flamingo flower (Anthurium), Green Tea Flower, Honeybush or Cyclopia, Honeydew Blossom, Lady Slipper Orchid, Lamduan Flower, Lamprocapnos, Mayflower, Meadowsweet, Monarda, Orange Cassia Tree, Orchid Cactus, Phlox, Rangoon creeper, Wrightia, Zinnia, Acacia, Acerola blossom, Alumroot, Alyssum, Bergamot, Blossom, Blue Lilies, Buddleia, Cactus Harrisia, Carambola blossom, Celosia, China Rose, Crinum lily, Daphne, Dianthus,
Field scabious, Goldenrod, Guava blossom, Hoary Stock, Holly Flower, Hollyhock, Jacaranda, Jade Flower, Kadam, Lady of the Night Flower, Lantana, Leatherwood, Lupin, Malva, Mimusops elengi, Nectarine blossom, Night Blooming Jasmine, Paramela, Pataqueira, Periwinkle, Petunia, Pineapple blossom, Reseda, Rosa rubiginosa, Rosebay Willowherb, Sainfoins, Santolina, Solomon`s seal, Spiraea, Tamarisk, Thistle, White Ginger Lily, Kanuka, Aglaia, Almond Blossom, Amarillys, Anemone, Angel’s Trumpet, Apple Blossom, Apricot Blossom, Barberry, Belladona, Bellflower, Black Elder, Blue Poppy, Bougainvillea, Bromelia, Calycanthus, Camellia, Carnation, Chamomile, Champaca, Cherry Blossom, Chimonanthus or Wintersweet, Chocolate Flower, Christmas Tree or Flame Tree, Chrysanthemum, Clover, Coffee blossom, Cornflower, Sultan seeds, Costus, Cotton Flower, Cyclamen, Dahlia, Daisy, Dandelion, Desert Rose, Dove tree, Dyer’s Greenweed, Edelweiss, Encian, English marigold, Flax, Floral Notes, Forget me not, Fragonia, Freesia, Fuchsia, Geranium, Gerbera, Gladiolus, Gorse, Hawthorn, Heather, Heliotrope, Hellabore Flower, Hemlock, Hibiscus, Hortensia, Hoya carnosa, Wax plant, Hyacinth, Impatiens, Iris, Kiwi blossom, Kudzu, Laburnum, Lavender, Liatris, Lilac, Lily-of-the-Valley, Lime (Linden) Blossom, Lotus, Lydia Broom, Magnolia, Mango blossom, Mignonette, Mimosa, Mirabilis, Myrtle, Narcissus, Nasturcia, Nerium Oleander, Olive flower, Opium, Orchid, Pansy, Papaya blossom, Peach Blossom, Pear Blossom, Pelargonium,
Peony, Pittosporum, Plum blossom, Poinsettia, Pomegranate Blossom, Poppy, Primrose, Princess Tree (Paulownia), Privet, Prunella, Raspberry blossom, Rhododendron, Rose, Rose Hip, Rose Japanese (Hamanasu), Rose Mallow, Safflower, Silk Tree Blossom, Snowdrops, Sour Cherry Blossom, Spanish Broom, St. John’s Wort, Strelitzia, Sunflower, Sweet Pea, Taif Rose, Tobacco blossom, Tulip, Violet, Violet Woodsorrel, Wallflower, Water Hyacinth, Water Lily, Wildflowers, Wisteria, Ylang-Ylang, Hyssop, Melilotus, Orris Root, Monoi Oil, Green Nard.

White Flowers

This is a subgroup within the Flowers group, but it merits its own entry due to the fact that “”white flowers”” are the basis for a whole fragrance sub-category: the “”white florals””. By white flowers, we refer to orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, tuberose, frangipani. Even though honeysuckle can actually be yellow-colored in nature, its scent profile is not that of yellow flowers (such as mimosa, and it’s typified by the sweet, nectarous headiness of white flowers.

Lily of the valley, although white in color, is classified as a “”green floral”” as it lacks some of the characteristics of the other white florals and shares facets with other members of the “”green floral”” groups (according to Edmond Roudnitska’s classification): hyacinth and narcissus.

White flowers have the most narcotic scent of all flowers; lush, opulent and truly intoxicating, almost a code for intense femininity in any fragrance they star in.

Examples of Perfumes: Calvin Klein Eternity for Men, Davidoff Cool Water, Liz Claiborne Curve for Men, Clinique Happy for Men, Estee Lauder Pleasures for Men, Tommy Hilfiger T.

Notes: Mock Orange, Arum Lily, Black Locust, Boronia, Carissa, Datura, Frangipani, Gardenia, Grapefruit blossom, Honeysuckle, Jasmine, Karo-Karounde, Lemon Blossom, Lily, Mandarin orange blossom, Melati, Night Blooming Cereus, Orange Blossom, Stephanotis, Syringa, Tangerine blossom, Tiare Flower, Tuberose, White Flowers, White Tobacco.

Greens, Herbs and Fougères

By the term “”green”” we refer to notes of snapped leaves and freshly-cut grasses, which exude a piquant quality. In this classification we find some of the classic pungent essences, such as galbanum, which is actually a resin from a tall type of grass with a bracing, piercingly bitter green odor profile. This is the decidedly spring-like top note of vintage Vent Vert by Balmain where it was first put to use in a starring role.

Fig leaf is a unique note rendered through synthetics which gives the modern “”fig”” fragrances their bitter-green-allied-to-coconut-sweet scent. Another peculiar leaf note that has a special character is tomato leaf, featured in Eau de Campagne by Sisley, Folavril by A.Goutal and Liberte Acidulee by Les Belles de Nina Ricci.

Violet leaf is a modern green “”leaves”” note which is very popular. It gives an aqueous feel reminiscent of freshly-cut cucumber to many compositions, especially masculine ones. A subcategory apart are tea leaves notes which infuse blends with their unique aromatic profile, according to which variety the perfumer picks (green, red, white, black, Oolong, etc).

Herbs are referred to as “”aromatic notes”” by perfumers. These include herbs which we know from cooking, such as rosemary, thyme, mint, tarragon, marjoram, fennel, basil (which is considered a spicy note thanks to its eugenol content), sage, anise. Others, such as artemisia, calamus, angelica and spikenard (jatamansi) have an intensely herbaceous quality that is so distinctive as to immediately characterize the compositions in which they enter.

Fern is the anglification of the fragrance term fougère (fern in French), which is not exactly derived from nature (ferns have minimal scent themselves) but from an historical “”accord”” between lavender-oakmoss-coumarin which was devised to produce the mysterious note of a green, damp forest. The archetype of this type of fragrance is Fougère Royale by Houbigant, created by Paul Parquet in 1882. The effect was an interplay between sweet and bitter with a woody, damp and cool character, establishing fougères as the quintessential masculine fragrances.

Ferny fragrances recreate the earthy, damp and dark scents of a forest and largely rely on fantasy notes, even though extraction with volatile solvents of the Aspidium fern is possible, though hardly satisfactory in quantity. The subcategory of aromatic fougères, adding spices and herbal notes to the classic structure, is perhaps the most populated masculine colognes category thanks to its pliability.

Examples of Perfumes: Armani Emporio Remix for Him, Dolce & Gabbana Classique, Guy Laroche Drakkar Noir, Loewe Escenia Loewe, Azzaro Pour Homme, Faberge Brut Original, Hugo Boss BOSS Selection, Lucky Brand 6 for Men, Aramis New West for Men, Hugo Boss Hugo, Ralph Lauren Polo Sport, Calvin Klein Escape for Men, Kenneth Cole Reaction, Gaultier Le Male, Joop Homme, Hugo Boss Boss in Motion, Prada Pour Homme.

Notes: Algae, Ammophila (beach grass), Apple Mint, Chive, Creosote Bush, Crithmum, Davana, Dried Fallen Leaves, Green Sap, Guao or Maiden Plum, Laminaria, Mahonia, Oat, Rose Thorn, Rue, Rye, Spinach, Tansy, Ti Leaf (Cordilyne), Skunk Cabbage, Immortelle, Marigold, Pandanus, Avocado, Celery, Juniper Berries, Aloe Vera, Angelica, Arnica, Artemisia, Banana Leaf, Basil, Bulrush, Cactus, Calamus, Calycanthus, Cannabis, Clary Sage, Fern, Ginseng, Grass, Green Notes, Green Pepper, Hay, Ivy, Jatamansi or Spikenard, Lantana leaf, Limnophila aromatica, Marjoram, Mate, Mint, Mistletoe, Nettle, Olive Leaf, Palm leaf, Palmarosa, Pear Leaf, Reed, Rice, Rooibos Red Tea, Rosemary, Sage, Satureja, Seaweed, Shiso, Sideritis, Mountain tea, Silk Vine or Milk Broom, Strawberry Leaf, Tarragon, Tea, Thyme, Tobacco, Tomato Leaf, Tulsi, Vine, Violet Leaf, Wheat, Wormwood, Yunnan Red Tea, Borneol, Galbanum, Celery Seeds, Oregano, Agave, Asparagus, Barley, Bay essence, Black currant leaf, Blackberry leaf, Borage, Bran, Buchu or Agathosma, Carnation leaves, Centella Asiatica, Fo Ti (Ho Shou Wu), Ginkgo, Grape leaves, Gromwell, Henna, Hops, Katrafay, Katsura leaf, Khella, Linaloe berry, Melilot or Sweet Clover, Oolong tea, Parsley, Portulaca or Pigweed, Red Algae, Rumex, Saw palmetto, Thistle, Valerian, Woodfuff or Galium odoratum, Yarrow, Juniper, Earl Grey Tea, Genmaicha.


The Spices group is a familiar category of perfume notes, thanks mainly to their long-standing inclusion in food. Some of them have a usual place in any self-respecting kitchen spice cabinet, such as cinnamon, pepper, cloves, coriander, ginger. Others are more unusual, from the precious hand-picked saffron, to tamarind and caraway and the very gentle, rose-hued pink pepper. True spices are always dried, but there are some herbs which have a spicy tang to them, such as oregano. These can be used both fresh or dry.

Spices are classified as “”hot/short”” (intense and burning for a short duration) such as cinnamon, and “”cold/long”” (gentler, giving a cooling sensation rather than burning, with a prolonged aftertaste) such as coriander, caraway and cardamom. This helps the perfumer give the desired effect when handling spices according to his or her concept of a fragrance. They can be coupled with similar materials to reinforce their message, or they can provide a juxtaposing element.

Examples of Perfumes: Sonia Rykiel Belle en Rykiel, Estee Lauder Youth Dew, Yves Saint Laurent Opium, Armani Code, Cartier Must for men, Hugo Boss Hugo Dark Blue, Burberry London for Men, Hugo Boss Boss Soul, Yves Saint Laurent Body Kouros, Armani Mania, Cacharel Amor Pour Homme, Gucci Rush for Men, Bulgari Blv Pour Homme, Christian Lacroix Tumulte Pour Homme, Guerlain L’Instant de Guerlain Pour Homme, Hermes Terre d’Hermes, Old Spice Original, Ralph Lauren Polo Double Black.

Notes: Cinnamon Leaf, Clove Leaf, Mustard Seed, Nigella, Safraleine, Toscanol, Peppertree, Anise, Fennel, Oriental notes, Allspice, Asafoetida, Bay Leaf, Cacao Pod, Caraway, Cardamom, Cassia, Chutney, Cinnamon, Cloves, Coffee, Coriander, Cumin, Curcuma (Turmeric), Dill, Fenugreek, Galanga, Ginger, Indian Spices, Licorice, Mace, Nutmeg, Pepper, Pimento, Pink Pepper, Saffron, Sesame, Sichuan Pepper, Spicy Notes, Star Anise, Tamarind, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Wasabi, West Indian Bay, Curry tree, Cubeb or Tailed pepper, Japanese pepper, Oily Notes, Priprioca, Sumac, Wasabi, Water pepper.

Sweets and Gourmand smells

This succulent group of scent notes has really established itself and multiplied henceforth with the advent of “”gourmand”” fragrances, a sub-division of the Oriental fragrance group, in the 1990s and 2000s. These fragrances, largely built on vanilla, are reminiscent of foody smells, specifically sweets and desserts; ranging from the simpler chocolate, fresh cream and caramel smells to complex or more exotic recipes such as macaroons, crème brulée, the ever popular cupcakes and chewy nougat.

The first successful “”gourmand”” fragrance was Angel, launching in 1992, which produced a caramel and chocolate effect through the use of ethyl maltol (the scent of cotton candy/sugar caramel), natural patchouli (which has a cocoa facet) alongside industry standard ethyl vanillin. From then on, given Angel’s commercial success, dessert smells flourished and this group of notes is among the most important in contemporary perfumery. Although some natural materials do present facets that are sweet or foody, the vast majority of these notes are reproduced via clever intermingling of naturals and synthetics.

Although mostly used in feminine fragrances, which can more easily encompass sweeter notes, gourmand notes are not excluded from masculine or shared scents.

These edible notes produce a feeling of euphoria and playfulness, resulting in a tingling of the taste buds and nostrils, thus confirming the fact that flavor is a combination of taste and smell.

Examples of Perfumes: Armani Emporio She, Guerlain Shalimar, Lolita Lempicka “L”, Ralph Lauren Ralph Hot, Calvin Klein Obsession, Dior Hypnotic Poison, Lancome Miracle Forever, Thierry Mugler Angel.

Notes: Acetyl Furan, Agave nectar, Brioche, Bubble Gum, Butterscotch, Halva, Hazelnut cocoa spread, Pear Ice Cream, Tiramisu, Honey, Dates, Horchata, Biscuit, Candied Orange, Canelé, Dulce de leche, French pastries, Frosting [Glacé], Ice cream, Icing pink, Kulfi, Loukhoum, Maraschino Cherry, Molasses, Profiterole, Rainbow Sorbet, Sorbet, Brown sugar, Candies, Caramel, Cotton Candy, Cream, Crème brûlée, Croissant, Cupcake, Custard, Dark Chocolate, Gingerbread, Macarons, Maple syrup, Marmalade, Marron glacé, Marshmallow, Marzipan, Meringues, Milk Mousse, Nougat, Panna cotta, Popcorn, Praline, Spun sugar, Sugar, Toffee, White Chocolate, Bread, Butter.

Woods and Mosses

Woody notes are dependable and pliable, a sort of a Jack in the deck of a skilled perfumer, providing the bottom of a composition and reinforcing the other elements according to their olfactory profile. Precious, few of the woody notes can serve as a top note or middle note, namely rosewood.

The scent profile of woods ranges wildly across the different trees. Some of them can be tarry and phenolic smelling, like guiacwood. Others are austere and reminiscent as a case of new pencils; resembling cedarwood. Others still are creamy, milky, nuzzling and deeply soft, like sandalwood. And there are those woody notes which are so individual that they can characterise the whole composition: Agarwood/Oud, rather the byproduct of the Aquillaria tree’s fighting of a fungus disease, is so rich and complex that it encompasses nutty, woody, musty, even camphoraceous scents. Or think how pine or fir reminds us of specific seasons, thanks to their associations.

Though some woody notes are produced via natural means, such as maceration and distillation of the actual wood chips, several other notes, as well as some of the ones that could be produced via the natural product, are produced via lab synthesis. The reasons include sustainability, cost efficiency and safety.

Vetiver and patchouli are interesting exceptions in the group of woody notes, in that vetiver is actually a grass with an intricate root system and patchouli is the leaf of an Eastern bush, but their scent profile is woody, hence the classification. Woody notes are per excellence the domain of masculine fragrances, thanks mostly to the robust association the trees bring to mind and less due to their scent, but their pliability makes them an essential component in feminine and shared fragrances are well. Indeed there are very few fragrances not boasting at least one woody note in their making.

Mosses comprise a sub-group, as they consist of parasitical lichen organisms growing on trees, such as oakmoss (Evernia prunastri) and tree moss (Evernia furfuracea). The scent profile of mosses is irreplaceable, though major efforts are made in the fragrance industry to produce scent-identical molecules now that these raw materials have fallen under rationing from the International Fragrance Association (IFRA).

Mosses are inky-bitter in scent, with a deep, disturbing murkiness, darkly green, replicating the forest floor during autumn. For this reason they’re notoriously used as the backbone of the chypre and fougère fragrance families; indeed, oakmoss is one foot of the triad of the accords which comprise the skeleton of these two categories. Their properties are grounding, pensive, introspective and darkly sensual, giving retro fragrances a distinctive quality.

Examples of Perfumes: Bulgari Eau Parfumee au The Rouge, Lancome Hypnose, Thierry Mugler Alien, Guerlain Samsar, Molinard Habanita, Balenciaga Cristobal for Men, Calvin Klein Contradiction for Men, Cerruti 1991 Black, Davidoff Silver Shadow, Burberry Brit for Men, Calvin Klein Obsession for Men, Guerlain Habit Rouge, Thierry Mugler A*Men, Viktor & Rolf Antidote, Azzaro Pure Vetiver, Cerruti 1881 Pour Homme, Kenneth Cole Black for Him, Lacoste Pour Homme, Calvin Klein Euphoria Men, Guerlain Vetiver, Lalique Encre Noire, Yves Saint Laurent Jazz, Ralph Lauren Safari for Men, Aramis, Ralph Lauren Polo.

Notes: Alder, Buddha Wood, Clearwood, Ho Wood, Incienso, Indian woods, Pua keni keni (Pua-lulu), Saman, White Willow, Turnera diffusa (Damiana), Araucaria, Arbutus (Madrona, Bearberry tree), Aspen, Baobab, Bark, Beech, Belambra tree, Cabreuva, Cambodian Oud, Cottonwood (Poplar), Enoby Wood, Indian Oud, Kowhai, Laotian Oud, Lichen, Moepel accord, Palo Santo, Pepperwood or Hercules Club, Ravensara, Thailand Oud, Thyine wood, White Oud, Woody Zion, Yohimbe, Amyris, Papyrus, Akigalawood, Cork, Canadian Balsam, Agarwood (Oud), Almond tree, Apple Tree, Bamboo, Birch, Black hemlock or Tsuga, Black Spruce, Blackwood, Brazilian Rosewood, Buxus, Carob tree, Cashmir wood, Cedar, Cocobolo, Cypress, Cypriol Oil or Nagarmotha, Driftwood, Ebony tree, Eucalyptus, Fig tree, Fir, Guaiac Wood, Hinoki Wood, Larch, Mahogany, Manuka, Maple, Massoia, Muhuhu, Neem, Oak, Oakmoss, Olive Tree, Palisander Rosewood, Paperbark, Patchouli, Pear Tree, Pine Tree, Plum Tree, Sandalwood, Satinwood, Sequoia, Siam, Spruce, Sycamore, Teak Wood, Thuja, Vetiver, Woody Notes, Amaranth.

Resins and Balsams

The raw materials falling under the umbrella of resins and balsams are among the most ancient components of perfumes, often the basis of the Oriental family of scents. They are classified into different olfactory profiles according to their aromatic properties.

Soft balsamic-smelling ingredients include vanilla, benzoin, Peru balsam, Tolu balsam (close to Peru but a little sweeter and fresher). They have a gentle tone, while at the same time they’re softly enveloping and have a pronounced character. They fix flowers into lasting longer, and thanks to their properties when used in large quantities, they produce the semi-Orientals or the florientals (in conjunction with rich floral essences).

Resinous balsamic ingredients include opoponax, frankincense/olibanum, myrrh, birch tar, elemi and styrax. These materials are deeper, with a lingering trail which adds originality and projection to a composition. Since they themselves come from the bark of trees in the form of crystalised resin “”tears,”” they pair very well with woody scents.

Notes: Birch Tar, Bushman Candle, Cade oil, Choya Nakh, Choya Ral, Dragon Blood Resin, Myrica, Tea Tree Oil, Poplar (Populus) buds, Benzoin, Choya Loban, Copahu Balm, Copal, Elemi, Gurjun balsam, Incense, Labdanum, Mastic or Lentisque, Myrrh, Olibanum (Frankincense), Opoponax, Peru Balsam, Resins, Styrax, Amberwood, Breu-Branco, Copaiba balm, Mopane, Surf wax, Balsamic Vinegar.

Musk, Amber, Animalic smells

The term “”animalic”” refers to both raw aroma materials and “”fantasy”” notes (derived from synthesis in the lab) which directly evoke a scent reminiscent of animals—either real ones, or more metaphorically, the libidinous nature of our own human animal instincts—and their primal force.

In perfumery, animal notes were traditionally rendered through deer musk, castoreum, ambergris and civet cats, but nowadays, ethical concerns as these animals’ welfare have rendered their use obsolete and the substitution with synthetic variants a rule. (Only ambergris is by its nature cruelty-free, being naturally expelled by the sperm whale itself in the ocean, but it’s a very rare and expensive ingredient for most commercial use, so synthetics replicating its aroma are the standard practice).

Musk especially has been synthesized in the lab in hundreds of variants, resulting in slightly different odor profiles for each (Galaxolide, Habanolide, Ethyl Brassylate, Allyl Amyl Glycolate, etc).

Amber notes are different from ambergris in that the former is a mix of resins producing a warm, sweetish and very deep scent (most often in the “”Oriental”” family), while the latter is a rather salty, subtly skin-like deep note with no great sweetness to it.

A few cases of animals indirectly used for animalic notes—with absolutely no harm rendered to the animal in question—are hyrax (the petrified excrement of which is used), goat hair tincture, roasted sea shells and beeswax from beehives. Some plants, such as Angelica and Ambrette Seeds, also produce animalic-smelling compounds that replicate musk.

Last but not least, perfumery makes use of “”fantasy notes,”” rendered through creative mixing of various ingredients or single synthetic reconstitution, that recall the ambience of some scents with animal inferences, such as milk, caviar, starfish, skunk cabbage, bacon, bbq cuts, leather or suede hide.

Examples of Perfumes: Aramis Always for Her, Calvin Klein CK Be, Jette Joop Jette, Lanvin Rumeur, Bulgari Blv, Donna Karan Gold, Kenzo Kenzo Amour, Lucky Brand Number 6 for Women, Sarah Jessica Parker Lovely, Stella McCartney Stella in Two Peony, Armani Emporio He, Bulgari Pour Homme Soir, Carolina Herrera 212 Men, Burberry Touch for Men, Dior Homme, Dior Fahrenheit, Paul Smith for Men, Yves Saint Laurent L’Homme.

Notes: Ambertonic™ (IFF), Ambrocenide (Symrise), Daim, Skin, Amber, Ambergris, Bacon, BBQ, Beeswax, Castoreum, Caviar, Civet, Genet, Goat hair, Hyrax, Leather, Meat, Milk, Musk, Sea shells, Starfish, Suede, Ambretone, Kephalis, Tuber, Ambrette (Musk Mallow), Ambrarome, Cetalox, Tolu Balsam, Carrot Seeds, Aspic, Animal notes, Cheese, Coral Reef, Oysters.


Fragrances often recreate the scent of popular beverages in some part of their formula, from the festive fizz of Champagne and the caramelized toasty flavor of Coca Cola, to the tropical delights of Piña Colada or the creaminess of a good cup of cappuccino. These recreations are made possible by:

* utilization of ingredients that make up part of the recipe for a given drink (Coca Cola, for instance, in which lime juice, vanilla extract, cinnamon, neroli, orange, coriander and nutmeg feature prominently)

* the association of some raw materials with scents we know from beverages (i.e. the wine-like note in some rose essences, or the gin-like scent of juniper berries, because the latter are actually used to aromatize the former, etc.)

* synthetic molecules which have been engineered to produce the desired effect.

Beverage notes in fragrances provide a succulent, appetizing effect, often combined in fruity floral blends or “”gourmand”” fragrances which seduce the taste buds and the nostrils.

Notes: Baileys Irish Cream, Amaretto, Bellini, Campari, Cappuccino, Champagne, Coca-Cola, Cognac, Cream Soda, Curacao, Gin, Grenadine, Lemonade, Limoncello, Martini, Mojito, Piña Colada, Red Wine, Rum, Tequila, Vodka, Whiskey, White wine, Absinthe, Blue Margarita, Caipirinha, Chinotto, Cosmopolitan cocktail, Daiquiri, Eau de vie, Hi-Fi, Jasmine Tea, Kir Royal, Liquor, Madeira, Mai Tai Cocktail, Punch, Raki, Sake, Sangria, Tokaji wine, Tonic Water, Vermouth, Masala Chai.

Natural and Synthetic, Popular and Weird

In this group we place descriptive notes such as powdery, earthy, and some unusual smells which could be found in perfume compositions.

Examples of Perfumes: Armani Acqua Di Gio for Men, Davidoff Cool Water Game, Bulgari AQVA Pour Homme, Kenzo for Men, Aramis Always for Him, Issey Miyake L’Eau d’Issey for Men, Donna Karan Red Delicious Men.

Notes: Aldambre, Amber Xtreme, Ambrettolide, Boisiris, Brick, Coranol, Cork, Cosmone, Dodecanal, Ethyl Maltol, Eugenol, Floralozone, Galaxolide, Gasoline, Graphite, Helvetolide, Ice, Instant film accord, Isobutyl Quinoline, Javanol, Lava, Linen, Lipstick, Mineral notes, Mushroom, Mystikal, Nebulone, Para-Cresyl Phenyl Acetate, Pollen, Pomarose, Snow, Sylkolide, Tulle accord, Wool, Aldehydes, Amyl Salicylate, Burnt Match, Calone, Cashmeran, Coumarin, Iso E Super, Vinyl, Smoke, Indole, Lorenox, Cascalone, CO2 Extracts, Hedione, Jeans, NaturalCalm™, Neoprene, Petalia, Sodium Silicate, Varnish accord, Ash, Dew Drop, Earthy Notes, Ember, Flint, Hot iron, Mountain Air, Ozonic notes, Paper, Rain Notes, Solar notes, Velvet, Wet plaster, Aluminum, Ambroxan, Asphalt, Brown Scotch Tape, Clay, Coal, Earth tincture, Geosmin, Gunpowder, Industrial Glue, Ink, Metallic notes, Peat, Pebbles, Powdery notes, Salt, Sand, Satin, Sea Water, Slate, Tennis ball, Water, Camphor, Molasses, Caoutchouc, Hina, Mitti Attar, Head Space Waterfall.