I spent a lot of final yr touring and researching the best way 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’ comprises the identical root because the phrase ’particular,’ and I needed to find how these distinctive aromatic crops are remodeled into essences and utilized in perfumery.
The journey was stuffed with revelations. I discovered, as an example, that processing clove essence includes not the buds of the tree, the acquainted cloves of mulled wine and gingerbread, however reasonably the stems and leaves. All elements of the clove tree include important oil with various scent profiles. The leaves launch sweet-smelling essence, however the one derived from the stems has a smoky, woody accent.
One in every of my favourite examples of the usage of clove is Frédéric Malle’s Noir Epices. The composition relies on a heat citrus accord, however clove, together with cinnamon, nutmeg, and black pepper, offers 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 extensively 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 fireplace, the spice’s scent adjustments dramatically. It turns into caramelized and nutty. Lately, toasted cumin essence has turn out 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 stored coming throughout cassia cinnamon. It’s a special botanical from the “true” Ceylon cinnamon, and whereas cassia’s scent is sweeter and fewer complicated, it performs an necessary function in perfumery. It provides a vivid explosion of fiery sweetness to any mix, even in small quantities. I notably like the best way cassia cinnamon inflects Dior’s Spice Mix, a perfume impressed by Bay Rum lotion. A number of spices are woven by means of this elegant composition, equivalent to ginger, black pepper, and vanilla, nevertheless 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