Raw Materials Craving Caramel: Swirls of Delectable Sweetness

Craving Caramel: Swirls of Delectable Sweetness

04/25/13 11:53:07 (25 comments)

by: Elena Vosnaki

Caramel is a scent fans seek with a fervor analogous to the PMS cravings that tug as from the sleeve to dive into that jar of toffee.

There is no way to resist its sensual and rich, creamy buttery impression that hovers between candy and condensed milk.

Beyond just burnt sugar and vanilla and maybe cotton candy, salted butter caramel, dulce de leche and toffee notes in fragrances provide a depth of flavor that keeps them interesting.

Brands have been quick to capitalize on this need for a quick non-calorific fix: Victoria's Secret has a Vanille Caramel in the Essences de Voyage line, Fancy by Jessica Simpson is a cult mass-market phenomenon (and other celebrities, such as Naomi Campell's emponymous fragrance haven't been immune), while Demeter even has a simple, plain Caramel scent in their Library of Fragrances. Tobacco Caramel from Fresh is an adult combination that references the naturally caramelic notes in pipe tobacco, as is the honey and burnt sugar note in Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford's Private Blend line. Vanille Aoud by M.Micallef is another niche take on this more complex tapestry of butterscotch notes dripping off the spoon. Ligne de St.Barth takes on the exotic approach and proposes Fleur de Canne à Sucre, reminiscent of sugar cane. Lea by St.Barth is another cult favorite, with an almondy nuance that adds to the gourmand delight.

Perhaps the introduction of pure caramel and swirled sugar notes can be traced to the launch of Vanilia by L'Artisan Parfumeur in as early as the late 1970s. The simple trick of cotton-candy-smelling ethyl maltol molecule gives the impression of an ice cream cone to the vanilla. Of course ethyl maltol became a household name since the introduction (and the relentless cloning) of Angel by Thierry Mugler in 1992. The trendsetter of caramel and patchouli orientals—with a nod to childhood—blows you away with its potent spun sugar fluffy fun note! Wish by Chopard follows closely. Ethyl maltol is the ethyl analog of natural occurring maltol, of course, but this time the molecule is synthesized in the lab and is not to be found in nature: hence the boosted effect which means it's almost 500% more powerful than simple maltol! Thierry Mugler pushed things to their logical extreme with their Angel Taste of Fragrance where a butterscotch accord is detectable within the context of a rich amber.

With Cyclotene we enter a more complex section of notes: Although fenugreek solid extract is used to render a maple syrup note (indeed it was the only extract source of caramel-maple notes till the discovery of these other ingredients), actual maple syrups are further aromatized with Cyclotene; thus creating the vivid association of the molecule's odor with our perception of how maple syrup smells! Is it maple that smells of Cyclotene or Cyclotene that smells of maple? Naturally occuring in fenugreek seeds, it's also very common today in roasted sugary products such as coffee desserts, licorice sweets, desserts with roasted almonds and, apart from fenugreek seeds, it also occurs in cocoa and coffee.


The hint of licorice is crucial to achieving a fulfilling sweet caramel sometimes, a fact that Lolita Lempicka exploited in her own version of the gourmand patchouli, Lolita Lempicka eau de parfum. Candy by Prada is also rich in caramelic tonalities, underscored with the resinous heft of benzoin which pairs exceptionally well with the vanilla sweetness.
 

On the other hand Sotolon, a molecule 1000 times more powerful than Cyclotene, is the key ingredient in roasted fenugreek seed and brown sugar itself, which is as yummy a combination as any (hence its reference as caramel furanone). When it's really concentrated, it takes on curry-like tonalities while in lower concentrations it can stay within the "caramelized sugar on the pan" range of odor. But Sotolon also possesses notes that match boozy tonalities, as it occurs in sake, rice wine, and botrytized wine. Remember the niche fragrance Botrytis by Ginestet, meant to reproduce the "noble rot" of a fungus on the Sauternes grapes? It's got Sotolon in it, blending the pain d'épices, candied fruits and honey notes into one seamless blend.


Clearly, in an age where we look out for our waistline as much as we are discerning in our buying habits, investing in a sweet caramel fragrance is both satisfying an increasing need for flavorful scents, a calorie-free indulgence and a regression to an age when everything was easily soothed with a piece of delectable English toffee.
 

Elena Vosnaki

Elena Vosnaki is a historian and perfume writer from Greece and a Writer for Fragrantica. She is the founder and editor of Perfume Shrine, one of the most respected independent online publications on perfume containing fragrance reviews, industry interviews, essays on raw materials and perfume history, a winner in Fragrantica Blog Awards and a finalist in numerous blog awards contests.

Her writing was recognized at the Fifi Awards for Editorial Excellence in 2009 and she contributes to publications around the world.

 



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LunaPearl
LunaPearl

Damnit...where did I hide that bag of toffees?!

Jul
14
2013
tanpa nama
tanpa nama

Yum yum yum...like this review!

Apr
30
2013
kwietok25
kwietok25

I need caramel in my life right now!!! :) And would like to add Something about Sofia by Benefit...

Apr
29
2013
DarkViolet
DarkViolet

Yes, pictures are indecently yummy :D

I'd like to second the suggestion of Omnia Profumo Madera as a wonderful and very realistic representation of caramel. The One Desire by D&G is pretty nice too.

Apr
29
2013
Edelweiss Wisher
Edelweiss Wisher

I love this article!!! Just love the mouthwatering pictures P:

Apr
28
2013
thomasrainy
thomasrainy

PG 10 is my fav :)

Apr
27
2013
catherine82
catherine82

Charlie gold...

Apr
27
2013
Jahzara
Jahzara

Yum! tnx for the tip!

Apr
26
2013
Bebette
Bebette

@Cheekydevil the original Angel does have caramel and so does the Taste of Fragrance Angel.

Apr
26
2013
aspirina
aspirina

I want caramel!!!! great article but these images are making me crave a big piece of candy :)

Apr
26
2013
cheekydevil
cheekydevil

Its Alien the taste of frangrance that smells of salted caramel, not Angel. That one smells of chocolate.

Greeting from the Netherlands :)

Apr
26
2013
salt88
salt88

Lubin's Korrigan is a caramel oud fragrance.

Apr
26
2013
Nicole1978
Nicole1978

Don't forget the lovely Omnia Profumo Madera! Love the article!!!

Apr
26
2013
Hrisi
Hrisi

It's just wonderful and delicious article ;)
Thank you!

Apr
25
2013
Dittnergirl
Dittnergirl

Thank you for the token gourmand article! Yea!

Apr
25
2013
Lee79
Lee79

Great Article!!!

Apr
25
2013
Night Work
Night Work

There goes my diet! lol

I'm hungry for Caramel now

Apr
25
2013
LeisaSch
LeisaSch

Surprised you didn't mention Alien Taste of Fragrance!

Apr
25
2013
NebraskaLovesScent
NebraskaLovesScent

Very difficult article to read as I contemplate the boring lettuce salad I was planning for my dinner, LOL! Caramel is definitely a favorite flavor and aroma for me. Thanks, Elena!

Apr
25
2013
shannonl68
shannonl68

Great article, anything Caramel is good in my book!

Apr
25
2013
smelling_gr8
smelling_gr8

Ooooooooooooohhhhhh....I swoon just looking at the pictures of all those yummy caramel beauties....
Excellent article by the way, makes me want to dig out my Lempicka pure parfum, just to get a dose of that delicious caramel.

Apr
25
2013
lilou
lilou

I love caramel fragrances ! such a good article, thanks.

Apr
25
2013
greydove
greydove

Don't forget Showy Toffee by Alice and Peter. Loving it!

Apr
25
2013
bluepistachio
bluepistachio

wonderful article!

Apr
25
2013
jeca
jeca

Thank you Elena! This is impossible to read ;o)) especially when you are on a diet without all these delights...

Apr
25
2013

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