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  1. #1
    Basenotes Junkie painted_klown's Avatar
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    Default Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like?

    Hello everybody,

    I have been sniffing away at fragrances in the past few weeks, but I have no idea of what notes I am smelling. I would love to join in on more in depth discussions of various fragrances, but feel a bit intimidated, as I have no idea of what I am talking about. I know this thread idea runs contrary to what most are seeking (complex fragrances with nice blends, so that everything rests where it should), but I don't know how I am going to learn what "musk" jasmine" "white floral" "vetiver" and so on all smell like unless I can smell them isolated some way.

    Are there fragrances that rely on a single, or just very few notes, that allow you to learn how to recognize what you are smelling?

    I am guessing such fragrances do not exits or aren't very popular if they do. Tossing that aside, what would be the best way to go about learning what individual notes smell like? Perhaps fragrances that rely heavily on a specific note?

    Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated.

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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Quote Originally Posted by painted_klown View Post
    Are there fragrances that rely on a single, or just very few notes, that allow you to learn how to recognize what you are smelling?
    Sure - Original Aoud by Montale. Only oud and nothing else.
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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    As you suggest, perfumes that smell predominantly of something are a good way to start-always easiest if one smells a few of them to isolate the particular material. Otherwise, wholefoods or the like may have essential oils to smell of a few materials (jasmine is usually one of them, as is ylang ylang and a few others)-but not very many. Aromachemical companies sell sets of aromachemicals, but they are expensive.

    As for some examples you make:
    -vetiver usually sticks out, so most perfumes called "vetiver" will give you a good sense of this fresh, green, rooty material (eg guerlain, tom ford, malle, cdg vetiveru etc etc)
    -jasmine is tougher because it is now restricted in perfumery. but as said essential oils are easy to find
    -white floral is a broad term and possibly include many flowers. Jasmine is sometimes often referred to as such, as are tuberose and gardenia. But in modern perfumery white floral typical refers to squeaky clean florals. Examples would be Florabotanica, Miu Miu, and many others on the female shelves.
    -musk: similarly a very broad category, ranging from white musks (clean, think opening your washing machine or the drier, laundry detergents typically have white musks) to dirty ones (smelly animals)

  4. #4

    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Painted-Klown, I'm not sure how much money you'd be willing to spend to do this, but you could buy a bunch of samples of various essential oils and absolutes from any of a number of online merchants, for usually $2 or $3 apiece. That way, you could really explore a wide variety of notes, not just in a single sniff from a bottle somewhere but on paper blotters or test strips, repeatedly, over time and at your leisure at home. I know that this has helped me immensely in learning some of the more common (and some less common) notes.

    Of course, it must be said that many if not most perfumes and colognes nowadays (and for many decades) are not primarily composed of natural essential oils or absolutes. However, many of the synthetic aroma chemicals used today are based on or modeled after those natural notes, so the experience would still be quite valid and useful. And I am sure that many members here would be willing to suggest which essential oils and/or absolutes might be the most relevant for you to sample.

    (I don't know if any of the suppliers of aroma chemicals offer similar small samples for testing, but it might be worth looking into. That would be far outside my knowledge base, though.)

  5. #5

    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Quote Originally Posted by akguy View Post
    Painted-Klown, I'm not sure how much money you'd be willing to spend to do this, but you could buy a bunch of samples of various essential oils and absolutes from any of a number of online merchants, for usually $2 or $3 apiece. That way, you could really explore a wide variety of notes, not just in a single sniff from a bottle somewhere but on paper blotters or test strips, repeatedly, over time and at your leisure at home. I know that this has helped me immensely in learning some of the more common (and some less common) notes.
    Good idea. I think everyone asks this question at the beginning of his/her perfume journey, OP. One piece of advice I have always remembered is to exercise my olfactory sense everyday for everything. Sniff all spices, fruits, oils, veggies, leathers, etc., that cross your path. It will help to develop your ability to identify notes.

    I once read somewhere that J-P Guerlain's sense of smell is so highly developed that he is able to distinguish several thousand different notes. I do not know if this is true or not, but I am sure his sense of smell must ee very highly developed compared to most of us. As in so many areas of life, practise makes perfect, so happy sniffing.
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  6. #6

    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Grocery stores : herb and spice section; jazz your cooking up at the same time ! Fruit and veg section too.
    Parks/botanical gardens for florals, and often a culinary and medicinal herb and spice garden.
    Wholefood stores and herbalist stores sell essential oils and (again) herbs and spices; sometimes incenses too.

    Have fun exploring.
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  7. #7
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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    You could also go to decanting sites and buy a bunch of fragrance samples that share a particular note. That way you could learn to spot similarities/differences in its treatment within various compositions.

    I wouldn’t worry too much if I can’t identify a specific component note by nose though. More often than not enthusiasts are unduly influenced by official/unofficial lists of notes they read online pertaining to the fragrance when in reality these notes are barely perceptible. The brain can indeed be primed to ‘see’ something it believes exists. In any case you don’t need to scrutinize every pigment /shade of color in order to appreciate a painting.

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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Sniffing candles at local shops can also help as many are isolated to a few key notes... This is of course on top of all the other suggestions... Definitely don't have to spend money to start building your olfactory repertoire.

    Happy hunting!

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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Essential oils and extracts are a good choice.

    There are fragrance out there if you take the time to look that have one maybe two notes. For example a rose note: La Rose Jacqueminot Coty
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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Essentric Molecules. Give you an idea of

    Molecule 01 - iso e super,
    Molecule 02 - ambroxan
    Molecule 03 - vetiver
    Molecule 04 - sandalwood
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  11. #11
    Super Member the blood on 530 27's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    I hear you buddy, I have same problem. To study large amount of individual notes, The closest solution I get is this website:
    perfumer’s apprentice.
    https://shop.perfumersapprentice.com

    You can spend a few bucks to buy 4ml of certain note, say labdanum or vetiver, to get a taste of it. In most time it’s a rough sketch of said note, but enough to let you have an initial impression of it.

    Except perfume accord(note), they sell aroma chemicals too (e.g. Hedione, Ambroxan, Iso E super etc. etc.) in small batch, like 4ml or 15ml. They also offer more expensive natural essential oil and the like, but for that you can find more options online.

    Speaking of essential oils, personally I feel they smell quite different in perfumes, maybe it’s due to the concentration? You may wanna buy perfumer’s alcohol to dilute them, if the oils are not too expensive to tamper with.
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  12. #12
    Super Member the blood on 530 27's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    As for learning notes from perfumes, yes that’s another approach, just more expensive. There’re plenty of soliflore perfumes (a perfume center around one or two notes) out there, in fact, it’s becoming a trend.

    So, first identify the note you wanna know, say, vetiver. Then ask around, get recommendations of perfumes that’s dominated by such notes.

    Vetiver really is a easy one, the uber super hyper popular Terre D’Hermes features vetiver. But some other notes are not so easy, for example, musk. I still don’t know what count as musk, for there is whole spectrum of different musk.

    Next, either try them at stores, or you can order decant (sample size perfumes, sold by ml) of said perfumes online before buying big bottles. The decant sites I use are the Perfumed Court, or Surrender to Chance, and Lucky Scent. They’re generally reliable, but from time to time you’ll get old, expired juices, or wrong samples. C’est la vie.

    I’m under the impression that all three of them kind of focus on niche brands. I don’t really know reliable decant site for more commercial brands. But I think you can easily try commercial lines in your local Sephora and department stores.
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  13. #13
    Basenotes Junkie painted_klown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Thank you all for your posts and suggestions.

    I didn't intentionally abandon this thread. I created it, and then discovered a YouTube fragrance series that took me over a week to watch through. I appreciate all the help.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Can you post the youtube series? Sounds interesting.

  15. #15
    Basenotes Junkie painted_klown's Avatar
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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    Quote Originally Posted by annenena View Post
    Can you post the youtube series? Sounds interesting.
    It was a Youtube tag series titled "10 Fragrances for Life". There are two different versions of it, designer and niche. I watched through all of the designer ones and created a thread on the forum. http://www.basenotes.net/threads/461...rent-reviewers

  16. #16

    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    I think there are several different subjects when scent recognition is being talked about.
    1st is the ability to recognize the scent as unique and recall its name.
    2nd is the ability to recognize it from the scent next door.
    Example: orange scent. Clementine, orange, citrus, tangerine smell similar, but yet they are all different. Likewise, as people above mentioned, many of today’s perfumes have synthetics in them, so there can be 10 different types of lemon synthetics. While they are similar, they are still different.

    3rd ability to recall the scent, put a name kind of, when a mix of scents are combined.
    Many perfumes come with a mix of others. While some notes are dominant, a few others in lower concentration make that subtle difference from the plain fragrance. They make the perfume more colorful.


    I have tried several times to find a perfumers’ kit, there are kits online, but I think they have few scents to start with, so I have been hesitant to buy them. I do like the idea of starting the training with spices. Learn the simple spices, then go to next level, recreate the spice mixes. They are cheaper then perfumes, and when you are done testing, you can reward yourself with a good meal.

    I would be interested in knowing your progress. I sometimes find it intriguing when people describe perfumes. IN some cases they mention 5 -6 or even more ingredients.
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  17. #17

    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    I am in the same boat as you bud, new to the finer nuances of fragrances beyond "that smells nice, i'll have a bottle of that please". What i am going to do starting is describe a scene and setting, this way i can articulate what i smell into words a little better. An example would be along the lines of...

    You are sat in a back buttoned old cracked leather chair, a waitress walks past with a gin and tonic for the table next to you. A sweet shop is close by with it's door open. Another person in soiled clothes from working in a garden all day sits on the table one further away from the g&t table.

    That is the best i can do in order to be close to concise currently. Good luck learning about this bud, it is a lot more interesting than i ever really imagined it would be. Being a research and production chemist though, this does feel like something i should appreciate to.

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    Default Re: Single note or fragrances with very few notes? Or, How to learn what individual notes smell like

    You can always raid your spices for a selection of aromas. Might not be as pure, or fresh. You might also get a group of like minded people, and each spends $X on EOs and absolutes. Then everyone makes samples to send to everyone. I like $X rather than a certain number, that way you can get some more expensive Aromas.




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