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As a versatile ingredient, sesame not only opens the doors to our stomachs through its culinary uses but also to our senses with its remarkable nutty aroma. It comes as no surprise that perfumers, seeking original and exotic raw materials, have taken an interest in the scent of sesame.
The journey of sesame and its seeds of immortality through history
The humble sesame plant, a member of the herbaceous family, is native to India, which remains one of the largest sesame producers worldwide. The cultivation and production of sesame seeds have ancient roots, as sesame is believed to be the first plant from which oil was extracted. Both Chinese and Indian medicine attribute numerous therapeutic properties to sesame, including its laxative effects and potential impact on various cardiovascular diseases.
In Europe, sesame seeds are commonly recognized for their blonde color, whereas in Asia, they can also be found in black or brown varieties. When roasted, the delightful nutty aroma of sesame seeds fills the air, captivating our senses. Sesame's widespread use in Asian and North African cuisine has inevitably attracted gourmands and perfumers alike. Unable to incorporate sesame oil directly into their compositions, perfumers have instead focused on reproducing the sesame note to capture its delectable essence.
The sesame note in perfumery
The sesame note in perfumery primarily evokes the Middle East and Asia with its slightly spicy, exotic facet, and its gourmand touch reminiscent of caramelized hazelnuts. As a result, the sesame note is frequently featured in both masculine and feminine oriental fragrances.
Vanilla oriental Ambre Narguilé, part of the Hermessence collection from Hermès, showcases the sesame note in its top accord, accompanied by rum, cinnamon, and caramel to create a deliciously oriental and gourmand olfactory experience. Oriental-woody fragrances such as "Very Irresistible for Men" and "ONDE Extase" utilize the sesame note in various ways, either in the heart or the base, to create mysterious and alluring notes. In "Onde extase," inspired by the art of geishas, the sesame note is combined with cedarwood and white musks to produce a deep, exotic trail. Meanwhile, in "Very Irresistible for Men," the sesame note is blended with mocha for a sumptuous and vibrant heart.
Although the sesame note is primarily associated with the oriental fragrance family, some perfumers have experimented with the versatile seed to create original compositions. For example, the floral-fruity scent "La Fin du Monde" from Etat Libre d'Orange utilizes the sesame note to create a powerful and unique base note through its pairing with sandalwood. Similarly, Diptyque's "Florabellio" features sesame as a profound yet characteristic and caramelized trail.