The Real Zing
Native to China and Southeast Asia, citrus trees were first brought to Southern Europe by the Arabs around the first millennium AD. The oils extracted from their fruits, via distillation or cold-pressing, became a popular perfume ingredient, notably in the 18th century with the creation of Aqua Admirabilis and its successor, Eau de Cologne. Also known as hesperidic, a reference to the Greek myth about the Hesperides (daughters of the God of Evening), citrus oils feature in many perfumes, usually as uplifting head notes. With similar chemical compositions, most citrus oils blend harmoniously together and pair well with many other ingredients including white flowers, vetiver, spices, patchouli, musk and woody notes.
The inedible fruit of the Citrus aurantium var. bergamia tree is named after the Italian city of Bergamo where it has been cultivated for centuries purely for its essential oil. It is now also grown in the Ivory Coast, Argentina and Brazil. The extracted essential oil has a subtle and complex scent – bitter, fresh, fruity and floral with a mild spicy tone akin to lavender. It is widely used as the head note in floral, chypre, amber and even woody fragrances, and blended with ingredients ranging from apple to vetiver. You can find Bergamot in the House of Creed’s Aventus For Her and Viking Cologne.
Native to Asia, the largest citrus fruit, the grapefruit (Citrus x paradisi) was first grown commercially in the late 18th century in Barbados and then brought to Florida; the USA is now the world’s main producer. The semisweet yet bitter fruit is a cross between a pomelo and sweet orange, and its oil is extracted from the peel. Common as a sparkling, aromatic head note in summer scents and colognes, it can also serve as a heart or a base note. Perfumers often pair it with other citruses such as bergamot, or with vetiver, lavender, cedarwood or ylang-ylang. You can find grapefruit in The House of Creed’s Néroli Sauvage and Royal Princess Oud.
Hailing originally from China, where it’s seen as a symbol of good fortune, the mandarin comes from Rutaceae family and has a very different scent profile from other citruses, offering mild floral notes in addition to its green, sweet zestiness. Grown in southern Europe, USA and South America, its essential oil is impregnated in the fruit’s peel, making it easy to extract. Often used as a sunny yet sensual head note, mandarin works well with other citrus fruits, florals and spices such as nutmeg and cinnamon. You can find mandarin in The House of Creed’s Original Santal and Aventus Cologne.
Grown mainly in Mexico, as well as South Asia, Florida and Italy, Citrus aurantiifolia’s fruit, the lime, produces an essential oil that has a scent that’s more intense, sharper and juicier than its citrus sibling, the lemon. A zingy and energising head note that adds clarity and sparkle, lime blends well with other citrus oils, as well as vetiver and exotic woods, and adds a breath of freshness to sweet florals such as rose and lily and exotic blooms like ylang-ylang and frangipani. You can find lime in The House of Creed’s Virgin Island Water and Erolfa.
The oil from fruit of the Citrus limon – a tree cultivated mainly in Sicily, California, Guinea, Brazil and Israel – is one of perfume’s favourite citruses. Initially, its zesty essence featured mostly as head notes in colognes and eaux fraiches. However, lemon isn’t just lemony; it can be sour, sweet, even aromatic depending on the oil’s source – peel, leaves or bark. Nowadays, it’s often blended with floral notes of neroli and petitgrain, as well vetiver and patchouli in woody and chypre scents. You can find lemon in The House of Creed’s Spring Flower, Aventus and Les Royales Exclusives White Flowers.
This article is an extract from the Fourth Edition Creed Book.