Burst of Spring and Gardenia Thoughts

It is over 90 degrees with a little spring hot spell and I’m spoiled with armloads of roses, a few sprigs of pink jasmine, and the first sweet peas. The jasmine scent is taking over all else but it’s a treat. I’m getting a new jasmine sambac absolute that’s really lovely and look forward to using it — I’ve tried it in the new gardenia and like it.

Because natural gardenia oils are not available (except for a new one in very small quantities at very high prices), perfumers use combinations of other floral notes to create gardenia. They usually use jasmine and tuberose as major floral notes, plus some orange blossom and touches of ylang, lily of the valley, lilac, rose, magnolia, and/or violet. To complete the gardenia impression, they add green notes, earthy and mushroom notes, lactonic notes (like methyl laitone, jasmine lactones, aldehyde C-14, and aldehyde C-18), creamy sweet notes (like heliotrope, anise aldehyde, tonka, and vanilla), woods, salicylates, benzoates, spices, and musks.

If you look in books or journals for gardenia formulas, you’ll see various combinations of the types of components I just mentioned, with some leaning more toward jasmine and some more toward tuberose. Some formulas use styralyl acetate as a classic gardenia ingredient, but it’s not a very long lasting note and feels harsh to me so I wanted to build my gardenia floral accord around other things. Many gardenia formulas are also heavier on the heliotrope than I want to go. I’ve never found a pre-made formula that I wanted to follow for anything (many of the formulas in books are a bit dated because newer ingredients are available), but it is instructive to look and see what types of ingredients have been used in classic formulas for basic floral accords, and then the fun part is making your own formula that pleases your own nose.

When I sniff gardenia flowers, the jasmine character is more dominant to me than tuberose, so I’m making mine in the jasmine direction, and I smell an earthiness that sets gardenia flowers apart from jasmine. I love EL Tuberose Gardenia, but it seems stronger on tuberose than the real flower. Chanel Gardenia is very jasmine-rich but a bit sweet for me and doesn’t smell like gardenia to me. I’m not trying to create an exact gardenia scent, but I’d like the floral notes to combine to be gardenia-ish and be set against some soft woods and musk in the base, and I’d like it to be creamy but not too sweet or vanillic. The scent I’m creating is like gardenia but a bit softer and less heady; I like it quite a bit and am just adjusting things to keep improving it. I’ve actually been influenced by my mandevilla vine too, and my scent has some things in common with the fragrant white mandevilla blossoms, which smell somewhat similar to gardenia but less indolic and lighter (I posted about mandevilla previously, including a picture, here).


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