Citrus Scent Selection
What is your favorite citrus note? There's about a dozen hesperidic ingredients used in perfumery and here's our citrus scent selection.
The bergamot orange is a remarkably fragrant Italian citrus fruit cultivated for the properties of its essential oil. Its light fresh fragrance is uplifting and relaxing, used in aromatherapy and commonly to flavor Earl Grey tea. In perfume it is very versatile hence very popular used in quite a few perfumes as an opening top note. It is one of the key and defining notes of a chypre.
First originating in Barbados 300 years ago as the accidental hybrid of a sweet orange and pomelo , the grapefruit is a citrus that has a spectrum of scent and taste ranging from very bitter to sweet and tart. Grapefruit essential oil as with other citrus accords is obtained through cold expression. Alone however, grapefruit essential oil is too bitter and so is blended and sweetened with other citrus materials to prevent it from appearing too sour whilst still retaining its trademark zesty flavour. It is because of the difficulty in truly capturing the scent of the grapefruit that, often grapefruit appears as a synthetic note such as methyl pamplemousse.
Along with orange, lemon is arguably the oldest and most ubiquitous citrus note. Famously cultivated in Calabria, it is handpicked and used to create limoncello and of course perfume. The fragrant oil which is abundant in the citrus rind can only be obtained through cold expression. This is the only method which could be used for citrus (before CO2 extraction was discovered) as the heat from steam distillation destroys their subtle aroma. Lemon adds a bright, punchy and quenching quality to fragrances and for centuries has been used as the main component of eau de cologne.
Originating in India and Malaysia, the lime came to prominence when it was used by British sailors to ward off scurvy. Despite containing less vitamin C than lemons, lime was more readily available. The term 'limey' was coined after the British navy's predilection for limes. Different varieties of lime yield different scents, sweet lime are a variety that contain very little citric acid whilst key lime has a distinctive tart and bitter taste. Often used in cooking (famously in Key Lime pie) and Asian cuisine lime works well with ginger and provides a lively, effervescent quality to fragrances.
Sweet Orange (Citrus Sinensis) is the most popular variety of citrus and is second only to bananas for being the world’s most widely cultivated fruit. Distinct from bitter orange, sweet orange is as its name suggests, sweeter. Its scent is reminiscent of fresh cut oranges.
Did you know that that neroli, petitgrain and bitter orange perfume ingredients all come from the same plant: bitter orange tree (Citrus Aurantium Amara or Bigaradia)? Neroli is distilled from flowers, petitgrain from the bark and bitter orange oil is obtained from the fruit rind. Neroli is obtained by using steam distillation to extract the white flowers of the bitter orange tree giving a heady floral and romantic scent, one that is traditional associated with brides and is even reported to be one of the secret ingredients found in Coca Cola. Shortly after the neroli flowers are picked they begin to lose their oil, this is why it is crucial to use freshly picked flowers. Neroli is one of the most expensive essential oils as it requires a large amount of neroli crop to yield a small amount of oil. The water left behind during steam distillation, contains a small amount of the neroli scent, which can be used as orange blossom water.
Verbena or lemon verbena is a flowering shrub famous for its beautifully fragrant leaves which, when rubbed, give off the scent of lemon despite not being a citrus. Verbena has traditionally been used for medicinal and culinary purposes, although its aromatic quality lends particularly well to fragrance.
Yuzu is a small hardy Japanese green citrus fruit that turns yellow upon ripening and is famous for the longevity of its tart bitter aroma. In addition to its use in Japanese and Asian cuisine , the yuzu fruit has a ritualistic place in Japanese society with yuzu baths being taken during the Winter solstice. Known as Yuzuyu the fruit is added to the water and is designed to ward off colds and illness during the winter months. Yuzu's aroma is comparable to grapefruit and lemon with a sweet sharpness.