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  1. #1

    Default "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    So I've sniffed Guerlain Vetiver and Vetiver extreme, ElizabethW Vetiver, Creed Original Vetiver, and several other fragrances that have vetiver as either a primary or an important note..

    But it was only yesterday, after spraying Hermessence Vetiver Tonka and sniffing it a few times that I was able to say, "Oh! _That's_ what vetiver smells like!" It took me that long to "get" the note and distinguish it from the others.

    So did this come from the five major and probably ten or twenty minor data points, or is Vetiver Tonka a perfect fragrance to 'reveal' the note? As another example, if I were going with the second theory, I'd say that Chanel No. 19 would be a perfect fragrance to reveal galbanum.

    So what do you think? How long did it take for you to "get" a note or, alternatively, what fragrances do you think of as being especially successful at revealing a note?

    (I'm thinking of notes that are generally smelled only in perfumery - most people, I assume can get things like lemon, vanilla, tobacco, etc., just from life experience. But vetiver, galbanum, iris root, and many others, I think of as "perfume notes.")

    Crayfish

  2. #2
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    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    For me, I can occasionally get something from a single fragrance, it it's a very distinctive note and it's super-obvious, but usually it takes at least 2 fragrances for me to tweak out a note. I got guaiac wood in 2 fragrances (Tokyo by Kenzo and Bulgari Pour Homme), and when I smelled the real thing as a pure component, it turned out I was right.

    I think that Vétiver Tonka was a perfect frag to reveal vetiver, because Jean-Claude Ellena keeps his compositions simple, although I'm not sure how simple VT actually is.

    All the recent iris scents, especially the Pradas, make iris easy. Creed EDTs are excellent for getting their various main natural components. Violet frags are easy, too. You may just need one, but two will do it for sure. Jasmine is pretty straightforward. Rose too.
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    ECaruthers's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    In principle I think buying a single note from The Perfumer's Apprentice is the best way to learn that note. For some flowers, fruits, woods, etc. there are essential oils from Aura Cacia or Nature's Alchemy. I don't know Hermessence Vetiver Tonka, but most serious perfumes/colognes have multiple other notes. Guerlain's Vetiver certainly has other notes in it. So the "A ha!" smell you pick up might be a citrusey vetiver or a woodsey vetiver, or an oriental vetiver. This is especially a danger since (as you noted) there are many "perfume notes" that we aren't familiar with from daily experience. So a particular fragrance might include vetiver, but also galbanum, iris root, and many others.

  4. #4
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    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    I can identify vetiver easily. I had some unnamed samples from floris and I liked just one. Using guerlain vetiver as a reference, I accurately picked out floris's vetiver to be the one. I can also identify iris, leather, lavender, szechuan pepper, tomato leaf, patchouli and ofcourse vanilla. I have trouble figuring out amber, sandalwood, bergamot and a million others. But I can confidently pick out vetiver and patchouli in most frags.
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    ECaruthers's Avatar
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    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    Dear Critic,
    Did you use any particular process when learning to recognize scents? working from guerlain Vetiver seems close to my suggestion of using single notes as training aids. What about the others on your list of identifiables?

    Thanks.

  6. #6
    Hillaire
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    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    i have bought a lot of essential oils, absolutes and even aroma chemicals. There is a nice place called perfumer's apprentice.

  7. #7

    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    Good to know, I'm off to discover that website because I have ever so much trouble with identification! Thanks all!

  8. #8

    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    The hardest for me was not a note, but a family: chypre.

    Three reasons for this:
    1) Modern chypres have nothing in common with older chypres.
    2) A while ago, many people used to equate chypre and Fougere.
    3) The original chypre is now discontinued.

    It also helps to understand that chypre is more like a structure than a note you get right away. I struggled for a while (perhaps a year), until Night (Miss her here) sent me a sample of the original. then it all became more clear.
    Shameless Plug: Sales thread with Roses Musk, Rose Poivree, and others.
    Looking for lot of samples of female fragrances.

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    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    Irish, some good facts you pointed out. I wasnt educated in that matter, so thanks
    Last edited by MFJ; 30th May 2009 at 01:31 AM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: "Getting" a note - enough data points, or the right fragrance?

    Vetiver Extraordinaire from Frederic Malle for me is a decent reference for real vetiver oil, and if my olfactive memory is working well today, the vetiver to Iso E Super (an ambery, cedary "solvent" used in perfumery) ratio is lower compared to Vetiver Tonka or Encre Noir, etc. Kenzo Air and Encre Noir are great secondary references to the effect of vetiver (real + synthetic), along with the recent soli-vetiver release of Chanel.
    Last edited by scentophile; 26th May 2009 at 12:50 PM.

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