My Favorite Books IV

Dr. Jellinek leads us into a description of 14 aroma chemicals. Some are less important than others—they are familiar compounds and have been much written about—but I did find a couple of interesting comments.

One entry is about l-citronellol. Citronellol is a classic ingredient in rose perfumes, but many perfumers don’t recognize the importance of l-citronellol versus d-citronellol. (These two are mirror images of each other; the first one rotates light to the left, the other, to the right.) Our doctor recommends using “cheap d-citronellol” to make soaps and for other utilitarian uses, but, l-citronellol, he considers “one of the most important components of natural rose perfumes.” For those who have worked with rhodinol, he insists that rhodinol isn’t a compound unto itself, but rather a combination of geraniol and l-citronellol.

Methyl anthranilate is a chemical that smells to me exactly like Concord grapes, the kind used to make Welch’s grape juice. I sometimes use it in floral blends when I want a fruity note, but Jellinek mentions something new. He insists that methyl anthranilate, along with alcohols (which end in –ol) and esters (which end in –ate, -ite, or ‘-ide), is narcotic. But this is the line that caught my eye: “…a high indole content is always accompanied by a high content of methyl anthranilate.” So, of course, I had to try it out on Black Iris, which contains indole.

First, I added too much, not realizing how strong it was, and the perfume smelled tutti frutti. When I backed off a bit, I noticed the methyl anthranilate brought out the floral aspects of the perfume and gave them a slightly orange blossom quality; it seemed to make them more diffusive. I’m not including it, though, because I want to bring out the rooty aspects of Black Iris rather than the floral ones.

It’s something to think about. In a day or two, I’m talking about An Introduction to Perfumery by Tony Curtis and David Williams—truly one of my very favorites.