Fruit Accords in Natural Perfumery June 29 2018

Fruit Accords in Natural Perfumery

                Creating a fruit accord for perfume using natural botanical extracts (essential oils, absolutes, concretes, CO2 extracts, resinoids, floral waxes, isolates ect) is more challenging than creating a fruity aroma with synthetic materials.  This is because while we have many citrus oils to choose from, as natural perfumers we are very limited when it comes to pure , concentrated aromatic extracts of plants such as watermelon, strawberry, kiwi, grape, apple, ect.  For this reason we have to be creative with our fruity oils and create “accords”: combinations of oils that smell like specific fruits.

When I am contemplating adding a fruity note to a perfume these are the basic essential oils I consider:

Lemon Balm Essential Oil (EO), Lemon Verbena EO , Litsea cubeba EO, Blue Tansy EO, Roman Chamomile EO, Tagetes , Black Poplar Oil, Western Red Cedar EO, Fir Absolute, Pine Absolute, Clary Sage Essential Oil, Clary Sage Absolute, Aglaia Absolute, Jasmine absolute, Davana, Cognac, Frankincense, Peru Balsam, Gurjan Balsam, Ambrette, “Buena Vista” Lavender EO, “Hidcote Pink” Lavender EO, Bitter Almond, Black Current Bud Absolute,  Lemon, Lime, Grapefruit (Pink or White), Blood Orange, Wild Orange, Tangerine, Yuzu and Rose (Otto/EO and Absolutes)

For a crisp fruit accord I use very fresh citrus oils ( their fragrance dampens rapidly with ageing) sharpened by small amounts of frankincense, congnac, Black Current, or rose otto/EO.  For a more ripe, wine-like scent I lean on jasmine, clary sage ( EO and absolute), and the sweet, rich tree balsams of poplar, gurgan, and peru.  For a lofty, expansive sillage I like to add a trace of lemon balm or myrr.  If I want a heavier, sweeter fruit note I consider blood orange, pine and fir absolutes, various tree balsams, and davana.  Fruity floral notes are easy to obtain with a good Jasmine sambac,  Agalia absolute, Roman Chamomile, Mimosa, or  “Buena Vista”, “Hidcote Pink”, and “Mellissa”  Lavender EOs.

Mimosa, when extracted well, is an incredibly delicate, complex, light floral that can be used very creatively.  Acts as a bridge between tea notes and fresh fruit notes.  It can be carefully supported with violet leaf absolute and traces of Genet/Broom absolute.

Jasmine sambac
is fruity, expansive, sweet, tangy, powerfully floral, and endowed with the fresh green smell of delicate foliage and the submerged power of indole (smelling lustily of everything ripe for the picking.)

The Aglaia tends to have more of a heavy, mossy green note paired with that of dried fruit (raisins, cherries, pears.)  Aglaia can be “lifted” and sharpened with black current, cognac, black pepper, or cistus, or it can be enriched and deepened with conifer absolutes, sandalwood, and ambrette. 

Ambrette can impart both a natural musk and a ripe fruit note.  It is a rich, heavy animalic fragrance that can develop beautiful clear fruit tones upon slight aging.  Dose it lightly as it is expensive and “grows” in the bottle.

The conifer Absolutes (fir and pine) add a jammy, sun-warmed, honey-thick sweetness at very low doses.

Western Red Cedar at less than .5% creates body, masks boggy, organic off-notes, and rounds off rough edges.

Sparkling tea notes may be obtained by judicious blending of cognac, champaca leaf, cistus, rosewood leaf, and rosemary.

A green aspect can be employed in your fruit accord if you add traces of Black Current Absolute,  Galbanum, Parsley seed, Violet Leaf, Rhododendron Leaf, or Cognac.

Roman Chamomile is indispensable.  It has radical odor intensity and aromatic bouyancy, making it a great addition to most fruity compositions.  Not as unpredictable as the fruity artemesias (Wormwood, Blue Tansy, and Davana)

Black Current Absolute
is fascinating, conjuring the sharpness of unripe fruit, deep animalic notes, the tang of blood, and the strange, sour, sillage of cat piss.  It is unreplicatable though it bears resemblance to elemi, juniper, and spruce.

Both Blue Tansy and Davana
can deliver powerful, unusual fruit notes to a perfume, but if you dose them wrong they will screw everything up, making your perfume a nauseating mess of expensive wasted ingredients.  So it goes with cognac as well – too much and it will just smell like champagne vomit.

Galbanum is another tricky fellow to work with – less than one drop per ounce can impart green, subtly bitter aspects to a perfume as it ages and “grows”, adding backbone, complexity, tenacity, and forest-light glow.  Too much galbanum blows a delicate floral or fruity perfume out of balance. So go slowly with these intensifiers/exalters….1/4 drop at a time if you have to….but don’t be afraid to experiment with them. 

Lending fixative value/tenacity to a delicate fruit accord can be difficult.  If your base notes/fixatives are dosed too heavily you will end up with a perfume that smell like Jaegermeister or cough syrup.  Base notes I consider to be the hammock for fruity accords are usually those that are supportive but will not override the delicate aspects of the fruity top and heart notes: Peru Balsam, Fir Absolute, Pine Absolute, Cedarwood absolute, Cognac, Galbanum, Angelica Root, Black Poplar Oil, Sandalwood, Agarwood, Lavender Concrete, Jasmine Concrete, Orris, Gurjan Balsam, Vanilla, and Clary Sage Absolute are all possibilities.  Coumarin type bases can also create lovely olfactory replications of dry herbs and grass (try immortelle absolute, tonka, sweet grass tincture, sweet woodruff tincture, bitter almond, ect) that may pair well with your fruit accords if balanced within the perfume by other very dry notes to offset any resultant cloying/oversweetening ( Frankincense, Virginia Cedarwood, Amber (crude fossil distillate), Mango Tumeric, Copal, ect)

Tinctures and folded tinctures of freeze dried fruit ( strawberry, raspberry, ect), maca root powder, orris root powder, and fruit and flower hydrosols ( raspberry, quince, rose) are also possible additions to an unusual fruit perfume.  I would not go past 7% with your total hydrosol content or you will start getting some clouding from the aqueous addition.

Here are some different accord ideas to play with:

Raspberry Accord:
Freeze dried Raspberrry tincture, Raspberry Hydrosol, Maca Root Powder Tincture, Rose Otto, Boronia, Tagetes, Raspberry fruit alcohol extract.

Peach Accord:

I have found that clary sage eo, davana, “Buena Vista” lavender eO, Ylang EO, and and rose otto in the right proportions make a suitable twin for a ripe peach.

Grape Accord:
Blue Tansy, Jasmine sambac, Rose Otto, Lemon Verbena, and cold pressed lime EO.

Pineapple Accord:
Peru Balsam, Ylang, Lemon Balm, Pink Grapefruit, Litsea, Frankincense, Lemon, Lime, Buena Vista Lavender EO, and Quince Hydrosol.

Green Apple Accord:
Roman Chamomile, Blue Tansy, Lime, Litsea, Lemon, Lemon Balm, Lemon Verbena, Aglaia, Quince Hydrosol.

Strawberry Accord:
Jasmine sambac,  Neroli H20 Absolute, Davana, Freeze Dried Strawberry Tincture, Nigella damascena tincture, Cucumber Hydrosol, Paw Paw Hydrosol, Strawberry Hydrosol, Quince Hydrosol, Rose Otto.

Melon Accord:
“Buena Vista” Lavender has the remarkable ability to create a watermelon note in fruity accords. 

Blackberry Accord:

Litsea, Black Poplar Oil, Fir absolute and a trace of Western Red Cedar Oil (Thuja plicata) can be used to create a blackberry fragrance.
Raspberry Accord:
Freeze dried Raspberrry tincture, Raspberry Hydrosol, Maca Root Powder Tincture, Rose Otto, Boronia, Tagetes, Raspberry fruit alcohol extract.
To link to more detailed examples of tincture-based perfumes and samples: