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  1. #1

    Default Noses

    I really admire some of the reviewers on here, the way they can identify the individual notes amongst many in some complex fragrances (2 that spring to mind that I enjoy reading are Off-Scenter and DULLAH). My question is this - Does the ability to do this come naturally or does it require extensive 'training' by smelling samples of individual notes? Or a combination of both? Heck some people can identify differences between very similar synthetics and different e.g sandalwoods. Amazing.

    Can these noses also do the same with wines? Does the skill also extend to identifying flavours in wines (or spirits)?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Noses

    I think you have to "wire up" your mind, and that it takes months, if you are studious and do a lot of sampling. Before this, I did a lot of cooking, including experimental stuff. I worked with a lot of herbs and spices, and tried oddball combinations. However, this didn't seem to help all that much with frags, probably because they are so blended, with a few exceptions. Also, I didn't know what a lot of notes smelled like, so perhaps if you already know the notes it would come more quickly.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Noses

    That would be awesome if they had a kit of like 100 of the most common ingredients to frags on plastic or something that wouldn't lose scent for a very long time.

    I was thinking that the other day when my daughter's strawberry shortcake toy has this great smelling plastic hair that has smelled great for like 2 years straight now.

    Somebody make a kit !!!
    “Perfume is like cocktails without the hangover, like chocolate without the calories, like an affair without tears, like a vacation from which you never have to come back.”

  4. #4
    Off-Scenter
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    Default Re: Noses

    Both. And yes, the skill is somewhat transferable. I can do it with food (recreating recipes by taste with a fair degree of accuracy, assuming some basic familiarity with the cuisine in question,) and whiskey. Oddly enough, I'm not much of a oenophile. Maybe that's because it's harder to get fat on wine than on food and hard liquor.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Noses

    ^Yes, me and my father both get the same look in our eyes when we do this with recipes.

    I don't drink alcohol, so I can't do it with wine, but I can tell for instance which grape juice has more proanthocyanadins in it with a tiny sip....
    Quote Originally Posted by dnc View Post
    I really admire some of the reviewers on here, the way they can identify the individual notes amongst many in some complex fragrances (2 that spring to mind that I enjoy reading are Off-Scenter and DULLAH)
    I feel like I absolutely don't deserve your praise, as I really have not turned in as many reviews as i should, given how many fragrances I've tried. I will, however, use this as motivation to post many more reviews, to make up for lost time, and to make up for my earlier, crumbier reviews, made before I gained so much useful knowledge.

    As for the nose, I think it's as simple as smelling a raw material once or twice, or smelling a natural ingredient, it just makes an imprint and the memory is there. Then, the brain pulls the file as needed. Human biology is sooooo awesome. *Hamd U Li' llah !!!*

  6. #6

    Default Re: Noses

    OK not so many reviews DULLAH, but you have plenty of posts describing various fragrances and their breakdown. More reviews would be good........

    Me? I was chuffed when I could just about discern the Lavender in Mouchoir de Monsieur LOL. For me it has to be enough that I can judge a fragrance as nice or not nice by my own criteria.

  7. #7
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    Default Re: Noses

    Quote Originally Posted by Quiptos View Post
    That would be awesome if they had a kit of like 100 of the most common ingredients to frags on plastic or something that wouldn't lose scent for a very long time. ... Somebody make a kit !!!
    They already did! There are kits at the synthetic component level (single molecule), naturals (mixed molecules), and at notes/accords (many molecules of mixed notes).

    Go to Perfumer's Apprentice and buy both of their two kits to get a BIG selection of major exemplary synthetics. Then buy single vials of other synthetics, oils, and synthetic reconstitutions that you are interested in.

    Go to Eden Botanicals to get individual sample vials of natural absolutes, essential oils, and extracts. You want to know the difference between Bulgarian and Morocco rose, or between a normal and a CO2 absolute, this is the place.

    Go to www.osmoz.com to get "Les coulisses du parfum" - collections of various exemplary notes and accords. If you want to smell a chypre, they have one. Aromatic, woody, spicy, musk, etc. A little expensive, but very nice. I've sniffed set 1 now. The woody accord is actually better than a lot of fragrances on the counter at fancy stores.

    Yes, this will cost you about as much as several frags. But then you'll actually be able to read what our most refined local noses and reviewers say, and it will make sense. You'll know what your nose gets and what it doesn't get, and adjust accordingly. I can't always follow these guys right away, but with a bit of patience and mental/nasal crunching, I can figure out what they're smelling.

    I also recommend comparative sniffing as a great way to isolate and identify notes. Some people never even need to sniff individual components to become proficient at identifying notes, but it does help, and beginning perfumers all do it. It's a nice hack that speeds up the process. But you really need to test yourself against mixtures. In fact, like mrclmind says, testing yourself all the time is pretty much a necessity.

    Perfumery ain't for wimps. That's why I'm still just an observer!

    Quote Originally Posted by DULLAH View Post
    Human biology is sooooo awesome. *Hamd U Li' llah !!!*
    Agreed!
    * * * *

  8. #8
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    Default Re: Noses

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    They already did! There are kits at the synthetic component level (single molecule), naturals (mixed molecules), and at notes/accords (many molecules of mixed notes).

    Go to Perfumer's Apprentice and buy both of their two kits to get a BIG selection of major exemplary synthetics. Then buy single vials of other synthetics, oils, and synthetic reconstitutions that you are interested in.

    Go to Eden Botanicals to get individual sample vials of natural absolutes, essential oils, and extracts. You want to know the difference between Bulgarian and Morocco rose, or between a normal and a CO2 absolute, this is the place.

    Go to www.osmoz.com to get "Les coulisses du parfum" - collections of various exemplary notes and accords. If you want to smell a chypre, they have one. Aromatic, woody, spicy, musk, etc. A little expensive, but very nice. I've sniffed set 1 now. The woody accord is actually better than a lot of fragrances on the counter at fancy stores.

    Yes, this will cost you about as much as several frags. But then you'll actually be able to read what our most refined local noses and reviewers say, and it will make sense. You'll know what your nose gets and what it doesn't get, and adjust accordingly. I can't always follow these guys right away, but with a bit of patience and mental/nasal crunching, I can figure out what they're smelling.

    I also recommend comparative sniffing as a great way to isolate and identify notes. Some people never even need to sniff individual components to become proficient at identifying notes, but it does help, and beginning perfumers all do it. It's a nice hack that speeds up the process. But you really need to test yourself against mixtures. In fact, like mrclmind says, testing yourself all the time is pretty much a necessity.
    Was absolutely gonna recommend Perfumer's Apprentice, and I use a shop called Nanda Oils for EOs. It's not only good training as far as what notes are what, but you suddenly find yourself with nearly all the necessary ingredients to try making your own fragrances. One cool thing with essential oils and aromachemicals is they're quite handy at replacing preconceived notions of what something smells like with the real thing. My mental image of what vetiver was by itself for example, was nothing like the real oil. I was thinking just bitter grass, but the real stuff has an amazing smoky herbal quality that rarely comes out in a composition because you have to be rather judicious with the stuff.

    You can get quite the collection and all the stuff to mix your own frags for less than $200. Diana and I use 5mL vials to make small batches, and 0.5mL insulin syringes scored at every 0.05mL, which is the typical "drop". It makes for easy math, every drop is a percentage point of the final product. 4 drops lime, 3 drops geranium, 2 drops cedar and 2 drops rosewood is 11 drops total, and an 11% concentration when you fill the 5mL vial the rest of the way with Everclear.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Noses

    Quote Originally Posted by bluesoul View Post
    You can get quite the collection and all the stuff to mix your own frags for less than $200. Diana and I use 5mL vials to make small batches, and 0.5mL insulin syringes scored at every 0.05mL, which is the typical "drop". It makes for easy math, every drop is a percentage point of the final product. 4 drops lime, 3 drops geranium, 2 drops cedar and 2 drops rosewood is 11 drops total, and an 11% concentration when you fill the 5mL vial the rest of the way with Everclear.
    OMG - you two are a total hoot! You get two fragrance junkies together on the run, and the syringes and Everclear come out.

    It has all of the weird and edgy coolness of William S. Burroughs' life, but none of the bad stuff.
    * * * *

  10. #10

    Default Re: Noses

    It took me years to be able to tell certain aroma chemicals and essential oils. I was lucky enough to apprentice with someone who tested me over and over on it. It is like practicing an instrument. You have to do it every day to be any good at it.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Noses

    Would be nice to develop my nose such as some people here at basenotes! =)

  12. #12

    Default Re: Noses

    It obviously takes skill to be able to detect single notes but it also needs a certain amount of prior exposure to those ingredients in raw and other non-perfume spices and to you Americans "exotic" ingredients.

    Just yesterday my mother was showing me spices that she was proud to have managed to get a hold off because they tend to only be available in rural villages in Pakistan/India. The 3 spices looked almost like fennel but each tasted different.
    Being exposed to such a variety of spices really develops the olfactory and taste sensors.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Noses

    Quote Originally Posted by CorruptedSanity View Post
    It obviously takes skill to be able to detect single notes but it also needs a certain amount of prior exposure to those ingredients in raw and other non-perfume spices and to you Americans "exotic" ingredients.

    Just yesterday my mother was showing me spices that she was proud to have managed to get a hold off because they tend to only be available in rural villages in Pakistan/India. The 3 spices looked almost like fennel but each tasted different.
    Being exposed to such a variety of spices really develops the olfactory and taste sensors.
    I really didn't appreciate the contributions of the Indus region to the whole idea of fragrance until I read Jitterbug Perfume and followed up on some of the things in the book (and also Anya McCoy's fragrance based on the character Kudra). Very well-researched fiction, and a great read, too. Highly recommended.
    * * * *

  14. #14

    Default Re: Noses

    Quote Originally Posted by Redneck Perfumisto View Post
    I really didn't appreciate the contributions of the Indus region to the whole idea of fragrance until I read Jitterbug Perfume and followed up on some of the things in the book (and also Anya McCoy's fragrance based on the character Kudra). Very well-researched fiction, and a great read, too. Highly recommended.
    It amazes me when I meet a perfumer or fragrance enthusiast who hasn't read this book. It's very well done, and quite funny too.

  15. #15
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    Default Re: Noses

    Quote Originally Posted by mrclmind View Post
    It amazes me when I meet a perfumer or fragrance enthusiast who hasn't read this book. It's very well done, and quite funny too.
    I put it off way too long. I should have read it when I started this journey. And you're right, there are some lines and scenes that had me howling and/or drooling with laughter. Just plain one of the best books I ever read. I thought that Anya's fragrance - beyond really showing her care for the character of Kudra and doing justice to its origin - also had a spiciness which can best be described as the ingredient "TPT". I just had to smile about that.
    * * * *

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Noses

    Heh. Well, to be fair, dad's a diabetic so the syringes were something available and worked surprisingly well on thinner EOs. On thicker stuff like vetiver oils and oleoresins you have to pry the actual needle of the syringe off and then it works. They're sterile, they're pre-marked at handy intervals, who needs pipettes?
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    Default Re: Noses

    Quote Originally Posted by bluesoul View Post
    Heh. Well, to be fair, dad's a diabetic so the syringes were something available and worked surprisingly well on thinner EOs. On thicker stuff like vetiver oils and oleoresins you have to pry the actual needle of the syringe off and then it works. They're sterile, they're pre-marked at handy intervals, who needs pipettes?
    Yeah, it makes sense. Pipettes are a pain in the ass, frankly. The markings on the plastic ones are dubious, they're inconsistent just by nature, and they're far less precise than a syringe. They don't even stop evaporation or leakage when you set them down between usages. They're not much better than medicine droppers, really.
    * * * *

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