Cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and other berries have seduced our palates since ancient times. Thanks to their olfactory and healing properties, spices have been used since Antiquity to treat and spice up many dishes. However, they have gradually gained ground and wined our nose over. Today, they are highly prized raw materials by perfumers and are used in many compositions. Shy until a few years ago, spicy notes now charm all noses! Whether you are simply curious or an enthusiast, discover the secrets of these bewitching notes with a thousand facets.
Spicy notes: a good pinch of character
To this day, spicy notes do not represent an olfactory family in their own right. They are considered to be olfactory facets that are found in many sub-families. They are associated with oriental and woody fragrances, or with ferns accords. Yet spices are among the oldest natural raw materials used in perfumery. We understand why when we know that the spice trade between the East and Europe developed as early as 2000 BC., allowing the export of new mysterious scents. As soon as distillation was developed, perfumers began to extract spicy essential oils to enhance their compositions. Although spices were at first timidly showed in formulas in the early 1900s, they finally managed to make their way into the most traditional ingredients. Today, they have become indispensable in the perfumer’s palette, bringing strength and character to a fragrance.
Cold or hot, spices are everywhere
To classify spicy notes, it is customary to distinguish between two categories: hot and cold spices. This classification has its origins in Ancient Greece and traditional Chinese medicine, which used to say that plants are sources of heat or coolness. Depending on their category, plants were used to regulate body temperature and to treat various ailments. Plants and herbs with a sour, bitter or tart taste are then cold spices, while woody and sweet flavors are associated with hot spices. Among the warm spices most commonly used in perfumery, there are cinnamon, nutmeg, pepper and cloves. This category of ingredients gives off strong and powerful scents and lasts well over time. These will develop into the middle and base notes of a perfume.
On the side of cold spices, we find aromatic and more vegetal notes, which evaporate more quickly. They therefore take their place at the top of the olfactory pyramid of a fragrance. We think about cardamom, ginger, coriander or juniper berries.
The scent of spicy notes
It is impossible to sum up the smell of spicy notes in a single scent, as the ingredients are so varied. Ginger will give off a rosy perfume with soapy facets, while nutmeg will have a drier, camphorated side. To add a spicy touch, the nose will have several options. First of all, perfumer can use essential oil, extracted directly from the plant through steam distillation or extraction with volatile solvents. This fragrant product will then be dosed carefully as it is generally very powerful.
The perfumer can also resort to synthesis, using molecules with spicy facets. This is notably the case with eugenol, a material whose smell is easily identifiable. It is the main constituent of cloves and its smell is very similar to that of cloves: spicy, woody, smoky. It is also naturally present in cinnamon essential oil. In perfumery, it is often used synthetically to recreate the carnation accord and give a hint of character.
La Baigneuse’s favorite spices
At Carrément Belle, we have always been inspired by travel, festive kitchen fragrances or olfactory memories that have left their mark on us. This is why spices play an important role in our fragrances, revealing their sensual and warm notes or their fresh and aromatic facets.
Pepper, cinnamon & clove: the spicy cocktail of 555
We would need about 555 words to define this eau de parfum that is both tender and virile. In its mysterious formula, you will find several warm spicy notes. Cinnamon bark reveals warm, sweet and woody nuances. Clove accentuates this warmth and adds a camphor accent. Finally, pepper settles in a dry, almost herbaceous note to give the perfume a sparkling side. This cocktail of warm spices contrasts with a citrusy top note and the femininity of an iridescent touch. A fragrance to discover absolutely!
Coriander and amber, the sensual blend of SO
It is impossible to feel indifferent about coriander, just like the fragrance SO, with its deliberately sensual scent. In its formula, coriander takes its place between a citrusy top note and a warm and ambery base note. The spicy notes of coriander give off a rather aromatic scent that brings a touch of acidic freshness. Thanks to this spice, SO is a fragrance full of contrasts, which will tickle your nostrils!
Shivering pink berries in alõ
Pink pepper is a small berry that comes from South America and is now used in perfumery. In the festive cocktail of alõ, it provides a real olfactory boost and harmonizes with the shivering notes of citrus fruits. These small berries have a great odorous power and a bright facet with aromatic and peppery tonality. They combine with the freshness of marine notes and blossom in the warmth of a soothing vetiver.
Kilim: the warmth of the clove
Spicy notes are often found at the heart of oriental accords, as is the case in kilim. Behind this fragrance lies a real olfactory journey that will take you to the fiery lands of the Orient. You will smell the essence of clove leaves from Indonesia, with a camphorated, warm and almost medicinal scent. This spicy ingredient will transport you directly to the colorful stalls of an oriental market, among fragrant flowers, fruits and woods.
Now that you know more about these characterful notes, what spices do you like to find in your fragrances?