Words Versus Odours How Perfumers Communicate

Contact Author Dr. Wladyslaw S. Brud
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A few years ago while working on a simple system of classification and files of new aroma chemicals and specialties which appeared in our laboratory as offers from around the world, I invented simple odour profiles which allowed us to describe and compare odours of various products. Many of them, offered under trade names with different descriptions and prices, after careful study appeared to be the same or very similar chemical. Odour profiles as an easy method of odour comparison, based on mean results of odour evaluation by a team of perfumers, was the best way of classification of the products.

The main problem in creation of the profile was selection of proper words for odour description (see figure 1). Usually manufacturers for marketing and promotion purposes use very elegant and convincing descriptions of their new products. Although the odours may be really outstanding, the descriptions are usually misleading and ambiguous. However certain words are used regularly by most companies and perfumers.

As the basis of my work on simple odour profile I reviewed circa 200 leaflets and notices on new aroma chemicals and specialities and selected words which were most often used as odour descriptions. From this group I made a second selection of these words which had general meanings and which described a group of similar odours. For example “rosy” and “civette-like” are single odours and using them one has in mind single fragrant material. Using words “floral” or “animal” one thinks of groups of odours of similar type. “Rosy” and “civette” belong to these two groups respectively, as do “jasmine” and “castoreum.” This way, after some discussions with several perfumers, our Odour Profile was established and appeared in a series of articles covering a number of new products supplied by leading manufacturers.