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Gentian note is rare in a perfume, but as the mountain is beautiful, the bottles are magnificent
Gentian: The Enchanting Blue Flower of the Mountains
Gentian is a term used to describe a large family of wildflowers found on French peaks. These trumpet-shaped flowers are predominantly blue, with some variants being red or yellow. The blue gentian is well-known, although the great yellow gentian has long been utilized in alcohol production, such as Suze or Picon, through the maceration or distillation of its roots.
Besides being used for alcohol, the roots are also processed into a medicinal essential oil to treat stomach aches and other gastric issues. Gentian essential oil is valued by perfumers for its floral aroma combined with anise and a touch of bitterness, offering musky or honeyed nuances.
Gentian Note in Perfumery: A Rare and Distinctive Ingredient
Although gentian is infrequently used in perfumes, it imparts a sense of originality and multifaceted character to the fragrances it graces. Gentian can be found in feminine, masculine, or unisex perfumes. Feminine fragrances with a gentian note are typically floral, like Aqua Allegoria Gentiana by Guerlain or Eau de Gentiane Blanche by Hermès. For Hermès, the tribute to the charming gentian flower showcases its diverse scented facets, blending freshness, bitterness, musks, and floral notes. In Guerlain's fragrance, gentian is used as a heart note, combined with pear and bitter orange, to reveal the fresh and mountainous aspect of gentian.
In masculine or unisex fragrances featuring the gentian note, the typical olfactory family is wood-based. For instance, the delectable Light My Fire by By Kilian introduces a gentian note that contrasts the davana and coconut heart notes, creating a complex blend around tobacco and smoked woods. In contrast, Issey Miyaké's Nuit d'Issey Austral Expedition 2015 uses the gentian note to evoke the icy mountain realm, painting an olfactory picture of frozen lakes.
While gentian offers a wide range of olfactory possibilities, it appears that, apart from Shiseido's Zen chypre, many aspects of this captivating wildflower remain to be discovered and explored by perfumers, including its chypre facet.
Fun Facts About Gentian
- There are over 400 species of gentian worldwide, thriving in diverse habitats such as alpine meadows, forests, and grasslands.
- Gentian has been used in traditional medicine for centuries, particularly in Europe and Asia, for treating digestive problems, fever, and wounds.
- In addition to its use in perfumery and alcohol production, gentian is also an ingredient in some bitter aperitifs and digestifs, as well as herbal teas.
- The striking blue color of gentian flowers is due to a group of pigments called anthocyanins, which also possess antioxidant properties.