How do you distinguish between top-middle-base notes?

Perfumers explain their fragrance with the image of a pyramid with the most volatile smells as “top” notes to the least volatile ones as the “base” notes (often also called the “dry-down”). Usually the main theme of the fragrance will be described as the middle note, or what is also called the “heart” of the fragrance. Let’s take for instance Lili Bermuda’s fragrance Coral. The top notes are composed of clementine and ginger as well as a lovely ozonic and dewy impression of the wind. The heart is composed with wild freesia and Bermuda roses, with a nuance of summer jasmine and green grass. In the base notes we will discovery some lovely musks and a dash of incenses.

Perfumers use the same terminology to describe their perfumes as a musicians would describe his compositions. For instance, we will work by building “accords” or different notes when we build each top, middle and base notes. So the unique smell of each note will lose its character as it blends with another note and create a whole new scent. As a fun formula try to smell together an accord of lime, cinnamon and vanilla by putting on individual blotter a drop of each oil. Then, put them together and fan them under your nose. Suddenly, you will not smell lime, cinnamon and vanilla anymore, but you will smell a glass of Coca-Cola….Perfumers are trained to decompose fragrances in their different smells, or notes as we call them.

The Art of Perfumery

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