Black Currant

lat. Ribes nigrum

Group: FRUITS, VEGETABLES AND NUTS

Black Currant Ribes nigrum
Black Currant Ribes nigrum
Black Currant Ribes nigrum
Odor profile: tangy fruit with a very characteristic ammoniac "cat piss" note, commonly known as bourgeons de cassis in French industry speak

 


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


BLACKCURRANT 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.

Blackcurrant tea


This is my recipe for blackcurrant 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!
 


BLACKCURRANT in PERFUMERY:
Production & Odour Profile

Blackcurrant bud absolute is known as "bourgeons de cassis" in French, coming from Ribes nigrum and differentiated from the synthetic "cassis" bases that can by cloying which were so very popular in 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 blackcurrant bud absolute comes off as greener and lighter with a characteristic touch of cat.

The characteristic odor of the blackcurrant berries and flower buds of the blackcurrant 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 odour profile of blackcurrants, attesting to the acquired taste that blackcurrant 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.


Blackcurrant 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 bring 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 blackcurrant buds in First, coming out in 1976, composed by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena.
 

Due to concerns with irritant hazards to eyes, respiratory system and skin sensitisation blackcurrant bud absolute is used no more than at a rate of 1,0000% in the fragrance compound and only 20,0000ppm in flavoring usage.

In fragrances, blackcurrant 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 blackcurrant buds notes:

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


 

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