Cassis Bud Is Catty...
I bet you think this material smells like red berry....This beautiful red and black jeweled berry plant is commonly featured in fine fragrance, but did you know that it smells like cat pee? Learn what makes cassis a unique and powerful note in perfumery.
If you wish you were smelling materials like this while reading, check out my subscription box!
What is it?
When we say something smells like cassis in perfumery we are usually referring to a small berry plant native to parts of central and northern Europe and northern Asia. Cassis, also known as Black Currant, is edible and has a variety of delicious applications ranging from jams and juices to fine fragrance.
While the berry is the delicious part of the plant, it is actually the bud that is used most often in fine fragrance and this is where it gets catty!
Black currant bud absolute, also known as bourgeons de cassis in French, has a very interesting unexpected odor. While you might expect this material to smell like red berries from the way "cassis" is advertised in perfume, it is actually quite animalic. Specifically, it smells like cat pee.
This peculiar odor is due to a certain kind of molecule called a thiol produced by the plant. Propanethiol, found in the gas you burn (propane), is a good example of a thiol we all have smelled. The cassis plant's glandular trichomes carry the thiol, 4-methoxy-2-methylbutan-2-thiol. It is the sulfur component of this type of molecule that makes it so stinky, like an old egg. Sounds gross, but this ammoniac note makes the material unique and useful in creating the rich funk of a tropical fruit in many perfumes.
Use in Perfume
I find that bourgeons de cassis blends beautifully in a rose accord with materials like rose oxide and rose crystals to create a lychee impression. Unfortunately, bourgeons de cassis is as delightful as it is expensive! In other words, this material is very expensive making it generally impractical to use in anything other than fine fragrance. Fortunately, The synthetic substitutes, such as Ribes Mercaptan and Sauvignone work quite well for replacing this note.
Cassis is a catty smelling berry plant that produces a great stinky fragrance material. This material is expensive but there are plenty of synthetic materials that mimic it's sulfurous funk. I love me some cassis in my lychee!
I hope you liked my quick blerb on cassis, for more material like this follow me on my socials.