Alcohols play a rather considerable role as flavor and fragrance ingredients, including some of the most important constituents in the industry. The alcoholic function is seen in simple aliphatic molecules, in acyclic and cyclic terpenes and in molecules containing benzene rings.
The role of ethers is relatively less significant; however, many are key ingredients in the creation of fragrances and flavors. (Note: Thio alcohols and thio ethers are not reviewed in this article.)
Aliphatic alcohols consist of simple or branched chains, containing double or triple bonds, or those hanging on a ring. The simple saturated alcohols n-amyl alcohol and n-heptanol are presented here as examples (see F-1). n-Amyl alcohol occurs in fruits and baked, dairy, meat, alcoholic and roasted food flavors. The material has a soft, mild fresh ethereal, somewhat yeasty and moldlike odor and flavor. In high dilutions it has an intense fusel, fermented, bready and cereal character. n-Heptanol, on the other hand, occurs in foods and beverages such as fruits, dairy products, beef, alcohol, and tea, and has a mild, oily, slightly caprylic fatty flavor.