Fragrance Notes – Creating a Harmonious Scent

top notes in cologneJust as there are multiple tasting descriptors for fine wine, so fine colognes have fragrance notes that are carefully blended to create a complex, harmonious scent that gradually unfolds over time.

While many people consider the blending of notes an art form, it is actually more of a scientific process and each note is meticulously selected to complement the other notes in the perfume. While fragrance note categories have evolved over time, there are six primary families that most perfumers use when creating their scents. 

men's lime cologneCitrus Notes in Cologne

Citrus notes are some of the oldest notes used in perfumes. Their use dates all the way back to the ancient Greeks. Citrus scents are fresh, aromatic and rejuvenating. Some of the most popular notes include:

  • Blood Orange – A warm, fruity and uplifting aroma. Blends well with lavender, geranium, frankincense and spicy notes.
  • Lemongrass – A strong and fresh aroma that is a mixture of grassy and lemony. Blends well with other citrus notes, rose and palmarosa.
  • Bergamot – A sweet and fruity scent with a hint of spice. Used primarily as a top note in both male and female perfumes.
  • Lemon – A vibrant and uplifting scent with just a hint of sweet and sour.

Fruity Notes in Cologne

Fruity notes are also commonly used in modern perfumes and add a sweet but refreshing aroma to the fragrance. They tend to blend well with nutty notes, like almond or hazelnut. Some popular fruity notes include:

  • Peach – A popular note that’s both sweet and fruity. Peach blends perfectly with vanilla, clove and exotic floral notes.
  • Passion Flower – A tropical and exotic scent derived from the passion fruit.
  • Guava – A sour lemony scent often used in tropical fragrances.
  • Apple – Fruity, fresh and sweet.

Floral Notes in Cologne

Floral notes are, by far, the most popular. Unlike other categories, floral notes are often derived from natural sources. Flowers almost always make their way into a fragrance in one way or another. Although there are a myriad of different floral notes, some of the most common are:

  • Hyacinth – Often referred to as “intoxicating” and compared to the scent of a spring morning. Hyacinth is a romantic floral that blends beautifully with jasmine, violet, lily of the valley and neroli.
  • Lavender – Known for its soothing aroma. A clean note that is both rich and green. Blends well with citruses, woody notes and herbs.
  • Peony – This tends to be used in feminine fragrances, but Dzongkha is for men and worth trying. Peony is incredibly fresh and often paired with rose.

Spicy Notes in Cologne

masculine cologne

Spicy notes are popular in men’s fragrances and used to add substance to a cologne and help to create a “familiar” aroma. Victor and Rolf’s ‘Spicebomb’, featured in the photo at the left, is a prime example of a masculine, spicy Eau de Toilette.

Frequently used spicy notes include:

  • Cinnamon – A sweet and bitter lasting scent.
  • Pepper – Well known for adding ‘umph’ and grabbing attention
  • Cloves – The rich and slightly sharp bouquet projects an exotic air
  • Star Anise – Star Anise’s aroma is reminiscent of licorice. It’s both sweet, spicy and pleasantly soothing.
  • Vanilla – A popular note that is comforting and sweet with a hint of musk.

Other note categories include: Woody, Resins and Balsams, Musks, Water and Synthetic fragrances.

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