What the * is Patchouli
Countless notes are used as perfume ingredients. From roses to lavender, cinnamon to vanilla, and so on and so forth. Fragrance notes such as these are familiar to most: you know what scent family the ingredient belongs to (flowers, spices, etc.) and what it smells like. In addition to these familiar notes, many perfume ingredients are less obvious. You have heard of them, but what they smell like is a mystery. The name doesn't tell you much, and you don't know 1, 2, 3 where the note comes from. Think ozonic, musk, benzoin... In the series 'Obscure perfume ingredients', we highlight one obscure perfume ingredient at a time.
What is patchouli?
Patchouli is a spice with downy green leaves and white flowers with a purple tinge. Patchouli belongs to the mint family, which is why the leaves are very fragrant. The leaves are therefore used to extract oil from the Patchouli plant. This oil is the basis for the famous perfume ingredient patchouli. The shrub grows best in tropical climates and originates from Indonesia. In the 1960s and 1970s, Patchouli became extremely popular in perfumes. Nowadays, Patchouli is normally found in woody and exotic perfumes. This ingredient gives fragrances a luxurious feel with a deep sensuality.
How is patchouli converted into a perfume ingredient?
Patchouli oil is obtained by drying the fragrant patchouli leaves and distilling them with steam. The ingredient in Patchouli that largely determines the specific fragrance is patchoulol. Perfumers use this fraction of Patchouli in perfumes. Patchouli oil can be aged just like wine to determine its fragrance. After a long maturation, the oil has a much deeper, fruitier and darker aroma. Young Patchouli oil is greener and less complex.
What does patchouli smell like?
It's reminiscent of green leaves and wet earth., you may also experience sweet and leathery notes. It also has a dark, deep and sensual character. This perfume ingredient reacts strongly with other ingredients too. When combined with vanilla, for example, the perfume quickly takes on a warm and exotic character. It's a basic ingredient in many successful gourmand perfumes, such as Angel by Thierry Mugler.