What the * is Tuberose?
Countless notes are used as perfume ingredients. From roses to lavender, from 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 this series of 'vague perfume ingredients', we highlight one vague perfume ingredient at a time.
What is Tuberose?
Tuberose is a beautiful flower that smells incredibly strong and specific. The intoxicating, elegant and feminine white flower is loved by many for its powerful floral properties. The fragrance is a real 'love or hate' ingredient, like Marmite, but for fragrances. Yet Tuberose is one of the world's most coveted perfume ingredients. Tuberose, which is not related to the rose, originated in India and Mexico. In the 17th century, the flower was imported from India to Europe. The mistress of the Sun King (Louis XIV) at the French Court, Madame de la Vallière, was a great admirer. At the time, Tuberose was introduced as a perfume ingredient, and today, the white flower is still an integral part of the modern perfume industry.
How is Tuberose turned into a perfume ingredient?
Tuberose blooms in the night. It is only in the dark that it opens its sparkling white leaves. This is why it is picked by hand before the sun rises when the dewdrops are still hanging from its leaves. As soon as the Tuberose is picked, it is preferably processed immediately. The oil is obtained by extraction. Tuberose is a very precious perfume ingredient. For 100 grams of Tuberose absolute, you need no less than 600 kilograms of buds.
What does Tuberose smell like?
In nature, you often see that white flowers smell stronger than coloured ones. Because they cannot attract bees with their colour, the flowers are extra fragrant. The same applies to Tuberose. Tuberose smells voluptuous and heavily floral. The flower has an exotic, gardenia-like edge and a lush, full and green character. It can be reminiscent of a luxurious cream or honey. Some people even find it to have an animalistic touch, which may be due to the high concentration of indol (a strongly scented substance present in the flower). Perfumes with Tuberose smell very seductive, elegant and a bit theatrical.