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’ accommodates the identical root because the phrase ’particular,’ and I wished to find how these distinctive aromatic vegetation are remodeled into essences and utilized in perfumery.
The journey was stuffed with revelations. I realized, as an example, that processing clove essence entails not the buds of the tree, the acquainted cloves of mulled wine and gingerbread, however fairly 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.
Considered one of my favourite examples of using 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 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. Not too long ago, 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 notice, whereas the mellow cedarwood serves as a refined backdrop. Within the meantime, the darkish notice 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 advanced, it performs an essential function 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 by 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?
Pictures by Bois de Jasmin