The tonka bean, considered one of my favourite substances appears unprepossessing—a shriveled black pod coated with suspicious white bloom. Nevertheless, its scent of toasted almonds, amarena cherries, solar warmed hay and vanilla custard is among the luscious in a perfumer’s palette. What’s extra, the tonka bean was accountable for a revolution in trendy perfumery.
Tonka beans, the seeds of the Dipteryx Odorata tree native to South America, comprise a part referred to as coumarin. It’s current in lots of herbs and crops, together with lavender, figs, and cherry leaves, however tonka beans are so wealthy on this fragrant that it crystallizes to the floor of their pores and skin. Certainly, the very identify coumarin comes from a French phrase for the tonka bean, coumarou. Coumarin was first remoted from tonka beans within the 1820s, and in 1882 it grew to become the primary artificial materials for use in a fragrance. To create a fantasy accord impressed by ferns, perfumer Paul Parquet added coumarin to the classical eau de cologne mix of citrus, lavender and geranium. Notes of amber, musk and oakmoss stuffed in the remainder of the composition and Houbigant’s Fougère Royale was born. Together with it, got here a brand new household of fragrances referred to as fougère, which in French meant “fern.”
Fougère Royale continues to be round, albeit in a modernized model, and the fougère household stays one of the vital in style. But, the tonka bean with its advanced sweetness can lend an attention-grabbing nuance to a variety of fragrances, not simply the herbal-citrusy ones. As an illustration, the baroque plushness of Cacharel Loulou, Caron Pour Un Homme and Chanel Coco is inconceivable with out the standard black beans and their opulent aroma. When Chanel launched a brand new variation on the classical Coco, Coco Noir, the home aimed for a extra clear however wealthy fragrance. They’ve added a fruity accord, a heat backdrop of patchouli, and swapped white musk for the heavier animalic selection. Nonetheless, the caramelized cherries of the tonka bean remained, enjoying up the brightness of grapefruit within the high notes.
A perfume that explores the luminous aspects of tonka beans is Guerlain Vétiver. Vetiver incorporates a touch of recent hazelnuts, and this nutty nuance blends harmoniously with the almond accents in tonka beans. Guerlain’s Vétiver makes use of the distinction between heat and funky to create a hanging character. The drydown is enveloping and velvety, and but the composition retains a radiant and shimmering impact reminiscent the play of daylight on water.
The pure tendency of tonka beans to evoke darkish, burnished spices was used to a bonus by Ormonde Jayne’s Tolu. The scent of tolu balsam is baroque sufficient to match the tonka bean. It smells of vanilla, cinnamon and smoked almonds. Ormonde Jayne’s fragrance, nevertheless, is predicated on the distinction between the freshness of clary sage and thyme and the heat of cinnamon and amber. The tonka bean and tolu, becoming a member of collectively to create an impression of classic leather-based and praline almonds, add a seductive twist. It’s so scrumptious that it invitations a kiss.
Images by Bois de Jasmin