Updated: Apr 11, 2022
Explore the material that gives Viridescent its refreshing grapefruit character. See fragrance from the perfumers perspective as she describes her formulation process and the integration of art and chemistry!
New to the Perfume Subscription Box? Click Here.
Welcome to the LabHouse Perfume blog post. Here you will find detailed write-ups on the subscription box of this month. Without further ado, lets dive right into the fresh details of Box #0002. As a quick reminder, each box contains 2 perfumes and an evaluation sample of this month's featured raw material. The (-) perfume is formulated without said material and the (+) perfume features it. Now would be a good time to dip a small amount of the evaluation sample onto your blotter, have a sniff, and follow along!
The raw material for this month is Amarocit, also known as Methyl Pamplemousse. This material, while extremely common and inexpensive, has magical effects in many different types of fragrances. I would describe the odor as grapefruit peel, a bit bitter and a bit soapy. Some might also note that it has a vetiver, violet, and rhubarb character. This material is generally considered a top and middle note, meaning that it does not last into the dry-down of a fragrance so sniff it up quickly!
The beauty of this aromachemical is its ability to harmonize with other notes, even when used at higher levels. As a matter of fact, It is used in Viridescent at 6.5%! Relatively on the higher end here because Viridescent is primarily a grapefruit fragrance. When comparing the (+) and (-) fragrance, I would not expect to find them worlds apart. You will likely find that the difference is subtle and you will have to look closely. I find that the (+) fragrance containing Amarocit is a shade more fresh and vibrant and a bit more bitter. Metaphorically, Amarocit is the fizz in a soda; it adds a refreshing sparkle! Of course, this is my opinion, what is yours? Do you like the (+) or (-) more?
Amarocit might be considered a more linear material, as it’s character does not branch off into different facets, it is not very complex, and does not change significantly as it dries down. This is in part, because it is a synthetic material and is only composed of one type of molecular structure. Whereas an absolute, essential oil or CO2 extraction would contain many different types of molecules, each with their own aromatic character. Amarocit is a uniquely versatile "tool" in the perfumers palette; it can be leveraged in a fresh citrus fragrance, like Terre d’Hermes (to make it even fresher) or it can be used in a rich sweet gourmand fragrance, like Polo Red Intense, to add a tart red shade.
While I was formulating Viridescent, I thought of Amarocit as one shade of grapefruit, as if I was painting a picture. I used this material to achieve that fresh, biting zesty quality that you can experience when you dig your nails into the rind of the grapefruit. Then you cut it open! To capture the inner pulp aroma, I had to incorporate some juicy, watery qualities. Amarocit by itself does not make a whole grapefruit accord, It must be layered with other materials like Magnolan for the floral shade and tenacity, styrallyl acetate for the tangy rhubarb shade, ethyl-2-methyl butyrate for the tropical juicy quality, orange oil for dimension…etc.
Synthetics are extremely useful for creating a clean and precise fragrance in this way. If I were to simply use grapefruit oil, I would have to accept whatever balance of sweetness to bitterness is found in the oil. I would not be able to control the diffusivity or the texture of my grapefruit. Interestingly, grapefruit essential oil smells more like oranges, as all of the sparkling top notes are lost during distillation. It's the perfumer's job to add back the "sparkle!"
If you have ever smelled Terre d’Hermes, you may notice a striking similarity to Viridescent. Well, I don’t want to steal any credit from the perfumer , Jean-Claude Ellena, so I’ll admit that Viridescent was more than just inspired by this work of art. I love Terre d’Hermes so much I actually went out of my way to get the GCMS data for it so that I could learn its secrets!
What is a GCMS?....
Yay! I get to talk about analytical chemistry…. Don’t worry, I won’t get too nerdy here. “GC” meaning gas chromatography and “MS” meaning mass spectroscopy are a combination of analytical instruments used to first separate a sample into its component parts and then use the mass of the different parts to determine what they are. This instrument is prohibitively expensive and difficult to operate and maintain especially for a small company like LabHouse, which means I had to pay a third party lab to obtain this data for me at a fraction of the price so that I could use it to write a formula.
It is important to understand that GCMS data does not = a fragrance formula. No! Interpreting GCMS data into a fragrance formula is much more complicated and having a trained nose is key! The tricky bit with GC/MS analyses is that the spectrum will show you ALL the molecules found in the perfume, HOWEVER, it will not tell you the source. For example, if the spectrum identifies linalyl acetate, the perfumer must do detective work to determine if it was added as a synthetic compound, or if this molecule was introduced into the formula as part of a natural, such as an essential oil/absolute.
For example: Linalyl acetate can be found in lavender, bergamot, neroli, bitter orange, etc, etc! But linalyl acetate is also used as a single ingredient in the perfumer's palette. Often I find that it is more efficient to use my nose to determine which naturals are in the formula. Even though I had GCMS data to work off of there are differences between my fragrance formula and Jean-Claude Elellena’s. Olfactively, however, they are very similar.
Both Viridescent and Terre d’Hermes feature bright fresh grapefruit, orange, geranium, black pepper and pink pepper in the top as well as a vegetal grassiness that blends with the earthy mineral quality of ambroxan and vetiver. I would however make the distinction between the two in their woody notes. Where Terre d’Hermes is dominated by cedarwood I would say that viridescent is dominated by vetiver and oakmoss. Both finish with some benzoin, a sweet resin a bit reminiscent of vanilla/root beer, yum!
So now that you have trained your nose to identify Amarocit and its effect(s) in perfumery, what do you think?
Feel free to share any questions or comments you have on Box#0002, I would love to hear your thoughts! As always, thank you for subscribing. I work very hard to make this subscription as fun, engaging, and educational as possible, but I am always seeking suggestions for improvement.
If you like what this raw material has to offer, I do suggest sniffing the perfumes listed below:
Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, Ralph Lauren Big Pony, Mugler Cologne Fly Away, Burberry Brit Red, Polo Red Extreme, Blue de Chanel, Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune by Guerlain, Pomelo Paradis by Atelier Cologne