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  1. #1

    Default to the untrained nose...

    I have a problem with scents. I can instantly smell if I like something or not, but I have problems distinguishing one scent from another. I mean I smell that there's a difference, but afterwords I can't say how they're different. And I have no chance at distinguishing the different ingredients in a scent.
    It's like trying to describe a symphony without knowing the difference between any instruments.

    I think the problem is that maybe my nose isn't "fine-tuned" enough, maybe that I don't know enough scents on their own, does anyone have any good tips on how to improve this? Some exercises maybe? Both to effectively broaden my, for lack of a better word, "nose-vocabulary" (I know this sounds ridiculous, but I don't know what else to call it) and also give it more finesse to more accurately distinguish sublte nuances.

    Thanks in advance.

  2. #2

    Default Re: to the untrained nose...

    Hey there,

    Welcome to the board. I am likely not the best person to comment on the aforementioned simply this day, nearly a year into my passion.. I have trouble distinguishing various notes. The more obvious ones, I can pinpoint. (ie, vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, fruit notes, patchouli) but when it comes to distinguishing different florals and spices I am certainly not as good. I think a lot of it comes with experience. To elaborate, after sampling or owning many fragrances you start to notice similarities. For example, when sniffing Azzaro Visit and Gucci PH it becomes pretty evident that there are some strong commonalities between the two. Upon researching their note pyramids, you can see which notes are similar, and which combos create comparible "smells". Also, keep in mind that one cologne's take on a note like "veviter" could be quite different than another's. Additionally, a rose scent comes in very many forms... and so on.

    I suppose one way to familiarize yourself with notes would be to sniff oils or extracts of the various ingredients seperately in order to get a better guage on it. Other than that, I can't really see what one can do proactively, other that indulge your passion for fragrances through samples, decants and bottle purchasing. Wine testing skills are developed over time, as is a fine-tuned nose. That being said, the ability to isolate and recognize fragrance notes will come more naturally to some than others. We all have different sensory levels. Some people have better vision, weaker hearing.. etc.. etc.. anyway, you get the point.

    I think it's exciting that you are so interested in exploring the world of fragrances and I wish you best of luck in training your nose to detect the subtle nuances of fragrance.

    Let us know what you discover.


  3. #3

    Default Re: to the untrained nose...

    Hi, don't feel bad about this. I've been drinking wine seriously for ten years and it took about five before I could distinguish Syrah from Cabernet and I still get it wrong half the time when tasting blind .
    One thing is that as you experience more and more fragrances you develop a relational network of comparative impressions that will help you categorize and identify new scent impressions. And since you'll be an avid BN reader you will relate those fragrances to scent pyramids. You will start to get a feel for the obvious stuff first: sandalwood, patchouli, musk notes, tonka, bergamot, neroli etc. and more will soon be recognizable.
    At some point I wanted to smell the unadulterated oil, so I just bought some little flasks of Vetiver, juniper, Sandalwood etc. etc. to get a feel for these ingredients. Of course, the fact that many perfumes are highly synthetic can make clear identifications more difficult (starched shirt note?), just like you can't tell a California "tech" wine gone through all kinds of manipulations from its Chilean or Australian counterpart . But you'll recognize Iso-E-Super pretty fast I bet, at least in certain frag contexts (jmust try Tumulte by Lacroix)
    Finally, all of this is of secondary importance, i.e. it should be subservient to the main purpose of simply enjoying perfume - and of course some knowledge about scents can deepen this pleasure. But don't worry too much over it and give it some time.

    And welcome to Basenotes
    Currently wearing: Mellis by Annette Neuffer

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