Monday, March 1, 2010

Nose notes: Exercising with accords

Today I did an extremely fatiguing exercise by investigating accords created by combining blood orange with different aroma chemicals. The exercise is simple - one drop of blood orange essential oil on a scent strip with one drop of aroma chemical. This is a very effective way of training your nose to recognition and picking out the changes in quality when you create an accord. Let's say you decide to compare blood orange with 10 different aroma chemicals and you line them up and go through one by one, while taking short breaks in between and after you've complete all 10 and hopefully written down your olfactory notes, you repeat the exercise again, but this time using clementine essential oil, followed by tangerine, mandarin, pink grapefruit, bergamot ... ... ... and you will realise why there arn't many perfumers in the world, and why only a handful are good at what they do.

Fortunately we are blessed with the ability of deductive reasoning which means as we become familiar with the scent of certain molecules, we are able to assume the resulting scent if we combine that with another molecule we are familiar with.

eg. d-limonene smells sweet, citrus, fresh and orange
     vanillin smells sweet, creamy, phenolic, vanilla
     therefore, d-limonene + vanillin should smell sweet, orange, creamy,
     therefore, d-limonene + vanillin smells like orange ice-cream

This of course is not true all the time, as I discovered once again today when putting blood orange and heliotropin together. Heliotropin's odour description is cherry, vanilla, coconut and creamy with cinnamic nuances. Using deduction, it should smell like some orange based dessert but I was wrong and who would have guessed? Warm white pepper vegetable broth.

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