Jasmime: the smell under the surgeon knife

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Image: Jasmine in a "Tropical paradise" on Texel (Dutch island) by AmromaX

At this moment I am in love with white florals again. But what are the white florals? Jasmine, Ylang, Gardenia, Tuberose, Muguet, Lily, but also white Rose petals, white Lilac together with Hyacinth, Cyclamen and so on… So many different flowers with completely different smells can be called white florals. To understand them better I decided to take them one by one. Let’s Jasmine to be the reference flower as it’s the most used fragrance in perfumery.

How someone can describe the smell of Jasmine? If I try to analyse it with my nose I can define the following basic constituents. The first one is the fine white euphoric note – this note I can smell almost in all white flowers and it’s the finest in the smell of lilies. And an octave higher I can smell it in Hyacinth. Of course, it’s a bit different in each flower, so, let’s call this one a jasmine type fine white petal note.

Another very strong note is a sweet fruitiness. It’s difficult to determine what fruit it could come from as it’s very specific to jasmine and some other flowers like lilac. It comes from benzyl acetate – the main constituent of jasmine absolute and the jasmine smell.

There is also another euphoric note, a dark one. Indole might be the closest smell to describe it. It’s a deep narcotic note with a slightly dirty animal undertone – very prominent in jasmine absolute. Let’s call it a dark narcotic note of indolic type. I think I can also smell a similar dark narcotic note in tuberose and gardenia, but than it’s not indolic, but rather heavy tropical fruitiness with a rotten undertone.

Those three notes are the most characteristic to jasmine as my nose smells it. But there are also some minor notes like a creamy one. This one is much more characteristic for Gardenia and Tuberose, but I can also recognize it as a part of jasmine fragrance. Green notes are difficult for me to find behind the overwhelming narcotic and fruity notes. Books say that green notes are distinguishing for Sambac type of Jasmine – one of the two main jasmine species used in perfumery. But so far I couldn’t compare those two types to smell the difference and catch those green notes.

So, what could be a reference jasmine? Of course the live flower is The One. But it’s not always available when you need it. And jasmine absolute smells different from the live blossom. So far I decided A la Nuit by Serge Lutens to be my reference jasmine and inspiration.

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