Raw Materials Black Currant in Nature and Perfumes

Black Currant in Nature and Perfumes

03/24/12 17:35:43 (41 comments)

by: Olga Ikebanova, Elena Vosnaki

 


This holy temple's door —
The spring sun flings it open wide
And streams upon the floor.
                    — Gusai


BLACK CURRANT in NATURE


As soon as I started this article about black currant (which is actually a big part of my childhood), I noticed that something was missing on my desk. I went to the kitchen, opened my tea cabinet and my magic cabinet. In the tea compartment I found black currant leaves harvested in St. Petersburg's suburbs and I made a cup of tea.
 

Sipping...and magically at the other place, I found black currant jam. This is such a unique flavor. Now I can write the article!

It's impossible to mix up black currant with anything else! It's not like jasmine or honeysuckle, both of which envelop you as soon as you enter their space. Black currant is very shy and awaits your appearance. When you touch and greet the plant, it greets you back with an awesome aroma! All the parts of black currant are aromatic—leaves, stems, buds, berries...


The leaves are used for making tea and for spicing up pickles. The buds are for making liquors and the absolute is for perfumes. The berries have a variety of uses including juices, jams, liquors, ciders, wines, candies, eating raw and dried as well.

This shrub is native to Europe and Asia and is also very popular for its medicinal properties. The berries and leaves have a high vitamin C content, carotene, good levels of potassium, phosphorus, iron and vitamin B, calcium, essential oils and a broad range of other essential nutrients.
 

Black currant seed oil is also rich in many nutrients, especially in vitamin E, and is a natural source of both omega-3 essential fatty acid (alpha linolenic acid or ALA) and omega-6 gamma linoleic acid (GLA). Both promote cardiovascular health.  All parts of the plant can be used in tinctures and have high anti-inflammatory properties. It's good for helping fight colds, bronchitis, headache, stomachache, etc.

Black currant tea


This is my recipe for black currant tea: Take 3 tablespoons of the leaves, 1 tablespoon of hibiscus flowers (karkadé),  put in the teapot, pour just-boiled water and steep for 5-10 minutes. Enjoy!
 


BLACK CURRANT in PERFUMERY:
Production and Odor Profile

Black currant bud absolute is known as bourgeons de cassis in French, coming from Ribes nigrum and differentiated from the synthetic "cassis" bases that can be cloying and which were so very popular in the 1980s and early 1990s perfumery, notably in Tiffany for Tiffany (by Jacques Polge) in 1987 and Poeme for Lancome (by Jacques Cavallier) in 1995. Compared to the artificial berry bases defined as "cassis," the natural black currant bud absolute comes off as greener and lighter with a characteristic touch of cat.

The characteristic odor of the black currant berries and flower buds of the black currant plant is due to glandular trichomes that carry thioles, especially 4-methoxy-2-methylbutan-2-thiol, an ingredients which brings on a cat-urine note atop the fruity facet of the plant. Three hydroxy nitriles also contribute a significant element into the odor profile of black currants, attesting to the acquired taste that black currant is as a note in perfumes. But other plants share some of the particular note, though they're less used in perfumes, such as the leaves of the South African buchu, with which it pairs when the desired effect is to reinforce the feline.


Black currant absolute comes from the bud (as per Biolandes, who produce it in France in Le Sen and Valréas regions) but also from the distilled leaves of the plant (as per perfumer Aurelien Guichard) and is extracted into a yellowish green to dark green paste that projects as a spicy-fruity-woody note retaining a fresh, yet tangy nuance, slightly phenolic.

Its most celebrated use has been in being introduced in Guerlain's classic 1969 perfume Chamade, composed by Jean Paul Guerlain. Van Cleef & Arpels, however, have done much to promote their own pioneering use of black currant buds in First, coming out in 1976, composed by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena.
 

Due to concerns with irritant hazards to eyes, the respiratory system and skin sensitization, black currant bud absolute is used no more than at a rate of 1.0000% in the fragrance compound and only 20,0000 ppm in flavoring usage.

In fragrances, black currant bud absolute blends particularly well with allyl amyl glycolate (a modern "pineapple"-like metallic musky note), ambrettolide (light, vegetal smelling musk), benzoin (a sweet resin), benzyl acetate (fruity floral with hints of jasmine), buch leaf oil (for reinforcing its catty profile), orange and citruses, cyclamen aldehyde, beta-damascone (rosy-fruity), beta-ionone (violet), ethyl maltol (the scent of cotton candy), heliotropin, galbanum (bitter green resin), oakmoss (tree lichen with bitter inky profile), jasmine absolutes and various rasperry ketones.

Fragrances that feature black currant buds notes:

Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond Prince
Black Orchid
by Tom Ford
Champs Elysees by Guerlain
Gucci Rush II by Gucci
Amethyst by Lalique
Escape by Clavin Klein
Chamade by Guerlain
First by Van Cleef & Arpel
Beautiful by E.Lauder
In Love Again by YSL
Fan di Fendi by Fendi
Rock & Rose by Valentino


 

Black currant in Nature

Olga Ikebanova Biologist, aromatherapist, photographer, floral designer and passionate believer in Power of Nature.

 


Black currant in Perfumes

Elena Vosnaki is a historian & perfume writer from Greece, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests. Her writing was recognised at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009.

 



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johngreenink
johngreenink

GREAT, great article, and agreed, it is a wonderful scent. I am fortunate to have met many Easterners in my life who have shared with me the great love of black currant. It is such a complex smell, at once sweet and juicy, and at another turn quite dark and almost animalic (as Olga says 'tangy nuance') - it is a bit like rhubarb in that it is both juicy and dark at the same time. I think we are only at the beginning of its life in perfumery, as we've seen with some of the newer CO2 extracted black currant elements which are so interesting. It also strikes me as an incredibly unisex note, not truly falling into either gender too far.

Thanks for the great, well-researched piece and the references to all the perfumes, it was a great adventure for me.

Dec
11
2013
HAL9000
HAL9000

Add Enchanted Forest by The Vagabond a Prince in with these black current scents. It's a really good one. Made using two different absolutes and leaves extracted without solvents, using carbon dioxide instead . Interesting indeed. Sweet, but mellows over time.

Dec
10
2013
yvashche
yvashche

I love blackcurrant from childhood, to smell and taste. Tea and jam are great and now we have the perfect blackcurrant perfume: Enchanted Forest.

Dec
10
2013
Migotka
Migotka

Lalique Amethyst is the most beautiful berry scent, glad it got mentioned!

Dec
10
2013
gryx
gryx

@jeca - you mean "smorodina", right? In Poland we're making "smorodinówka", an alkohol based on black currants and vodka :)

Dec
10
2013
Chickenboo
Chickenboo

Wonderful article to re-read! Black currant is also beautifully presented in The Vagabond Prince's Enchanted Forest.

Dec
10
2013
nikoleta1
nikoleta1

I love this berry, so delicious, too bad cant find it in us. The best current i smelled in enchanted forest perfume, a masterpiece.

Dec
10
2013
Ferril
Ferril

Nice article! I really enjoy the taste and smell of black currants, anyone who hasn't ever tasted them, you don't know what you are missing!

Dec
10
2013
jenika
jenika

Great article! Bravo!

Dec
10
2013
ĽUBOR
ĽUBOR

A taktiež ich nájdeme v parfume Yves Saint Laurent pour Homme.

(in Slovak)

Dec
09
2013
pansylady
pansylady

Beautifully done!

Made me miss the wonderful johannesbeersaft (black currant drink) from Germany...

Oct
29
2012
Paloma Lette
Paloma Lette

A lovely read, being Russian myself I relate to black currents as almost every Russian would! A pleasant childhood memory, this article inspired me to make some black current jam that I loved growing up. I love black current in fragrances, I am a lover of dark/red berries, pink peppers and sweet fruit notes, I found delight in your selection of perfumes listed at the end, I am eager now to retrace these by nose! Olga and Elena, you brought a wonderful scent to life in this writing, spasiba!

Oct
29
2012
jeca
jeca

I am absolutely in love with this ingredient, it's in my blood. Black currant was everywhere in my childhood since I remember myself, - jam, juice, tea. It grew in every garden in Russia, we ate blackcurrant jam in winter, - most often the only one kind of jam in the house, but it was in every house ;o) I even got tired of it, so common it was.

In Russian we use a quite old word for black currant, in means "smelly". :-)) so ungrateful. I love it controversial and complex character, the smell and taste are so close, you can describe its smell through taste, very sensual.

Oct
29
2012
sherapop
sherapop

I'm glad that this article was bumped. Coincidentally, I've noticed of late that I seem to be developing an addiction to black currant!

Van Cleef & Arpels FEERIE edt (not edp) is a good one

so is

Bond no 9 SCENT OF PEACE

Lalique AMETHYST may be my favorite of them all...

(-;

Oct
28
2012
susana75
susana75

I love blackcurrant in food, desserts and perfumes, this nice creature has wonderful sweet scent, thakx for your lovely article.

Oct
28
2012
iranperfumer
iranperfumer

باید بدانم خاطرات این رایحه میوه خوش عطر را تجربه کرده ام

Oct
28
2012
aymansoo7
aymansoo7

I love all black currant parts

Oct
28
2012
ikebanova
ikebanova

thank you thank you thank you all!

Apr
16
2012
Αλεξάνδρα
Αλεξάνδρα

Blackcurrant is one of my all time favourite notes, and I trully enjoy it in my L'Ombre Dans L'Eau together with Bulgarian roses! If I ever create a private garden, I will make sure I plant those two together!
And of course, thank you both for the lovely review!

Apr
05
2012
phia143
phia143

wow i have Escape by Clavin Klein but i didnt know it has black currant buds. Now im really happy w/my perume. Its been one of my faves for years!!

Apr
04
2012
rearviewmirror
rearviewmirror

GREAT article! Well laid out, plenty of background info without becoming dull, and lots of useful info about one of my favorite smells.

Mar
28
2012
ElenaLondon
ElenaLondon

Brilliant article ! Thank you xxx I love blackcurrant and it is a smell and taste of my childhood as jeca's xxx

Mar
27
2012
knit_at_nite
knit_at_nite

Wonderful job on the article and beautiful, appetizing photos. One of my favorite notes in the perfumers pantheon of choices.

Mar
27
2012
Elena Vosnaki
Elena Vosnaki

Thanks everyone for the nice words on the work and sharing your experiences.
Thanks to Olga for kickstarting it. And thanks to the graphics team for the beautiful layout!

Ida, I think many perfumistas love things that other people find challenging. It might have to be that there needs to be a more open mind in order to become a perfumista in the first place?

Nebraska, it is a risky note to use and needs a deft hand, otherwise it can become too much easily.

Naheed, how very interesting! Thanks for sharing. I had no idea that this was even possible. I am only familiar with the spraying action to mark territory (very effective against pests)

And Elen, yes, LOmbre dans l'Eau is a good example, beautifully woven with rosier/floral notes.

Mar
27
2012
Camila_1712
Camila_1712

and Amor Amor by Cacharel?

Mar
26
2012
mylove
mylove

Again very very nice for the brief article which is too good for my liking.
Thanks & will be waiting for more.

Regards
Loverboy.

Mar
26
2012
Chickenboo
Chickenboo

Thank you for your wonderful, very imformative article, Olga and Elena!

Three additional black currant fragrances:

Yves Saint Laurent's Baby Doll,

Houbigant's Quelques Fleurs Royale, and

Victoria's Secret Strawberries and Champagne.

Mar
26
2012
Elen70
Elen70

Thank you for your article, it is very good nad informative. Only one of my favourite fragrances had been missed: the Diptyque's L'Ombre dans L'Eau.

Mar
26
2012
felinecatz
felinecatz

Fab article with lovely photographs, thanks so much!

Mar
25
2012
ikebanova
ikebanova

thanks so much everybody. happy spring!

Mar
25
2012
ANGELICA07
ANGELICA07

Thanks for your well-done article !
I like fruits in fragrances, especially berries notes and blackcurrant is one of them.

Mar
25
2012
lollipopsneeze
lollipopsneeze

Thank you for such a lovely and un-biased article about Black Currant! I appreciate reading informative and well-written articles so much! You ladies rock!!!

Mar
25
2012
Miss_J
Miss_J

Thank you for the interesting article.I loovve the notes of currants & berries..but somehow they turn sour on my skin..oh well, I still love them as a jam in my bread & flavour in my tea :)

Mar
25
2012
chayaruchama
chayaruchama

Love you gals- and your terrific article !!!
[I think we all love the black currant ;-)]

Mar
25
2012
dianthus
dianthus

In Poland blackcurrant berries grow in every Grandma's garden so it is childchood smell also for me :D. It is also typical for wet areas of forests here, where water lasts almost all year in deppressions of the ground. To imagine place where it live in nature you can think about dark green fairy forests with lots of fern and moss. I always thought that 'cassis' in perfumes comes from berries (which are little sweet, extremely sour but very aromatic). Now I know it is marginal source. Thank you for very informative article and tempting recipe :) have to try it this year!

Mar
25
2012
cshekhar
cshekhar

lovely article, nice read !

Thankyou

Mar
24
2012
naheed
naheed

Thank you Olga and Elena! How amazing is our mother nature that we have the smells of animals and also there are plants that smell akin to them.

Talking of cat pee, I would like to share an incident of my cat. Last year he got into fight with another male cat and was attacked so badly that my cat urinated in fear. I hope it may not sound weird, because there was dust particles on the staircase so together with the smell of dust and my cat's urine the air in that particular part smelled warm, earthy and sweet. It was a learning experience for me that when cats urinate in fear the smell of pee is not pungent but it's warm and fresh. Strange but true, from my experience.:))

Mar
24
2012
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

I see this note in so many of my "likes" and "loves," and in looking at some of them, I realize I can't detect it individually as a note. I think black currant takes requires a skillful hand for maximum effectiveness. When I smelled the raw ingredient, black currant absolute, at the IFF booth at Elements Showcase, it smelled beautiful and familiar, but also had more of the "cat pee" aroma than I notice in the perfumes where it is most effectively used.

Lovely and informative article, Olga and Elena! Thank you!

Mar
24
2012
Lumiere
Lumiere

Me too! Especially when u pick the berries in summer, u can so much pick up all subtleties of this splendid nature scent!

Mar
24
2012
PerfumedPrincess
PerfumedPrincess

Another thanks for this article, black currant is one of my top 3 raw ingredients for perfume.

Mar
24
2012
jeca
jeca

Thank you, girls, for this wonderful article! I love blackcurrant, it's a smell and taste from my childhood too ;o)))

Mar
24
2012

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