The popular concept of a perfumer is that of an artist working from a palette of aroma materials to create, somewhat mystically, a range of fragrances for a multiplicity of products. Perhaps not so evident is the need for good judgment throughout the perfumer’s efforts. The role judgment plays in fragrance creation and selection, what kinds of assessments are needed and when the judgment of the single perfumer should be supplemented are discussed.
Consider the possible origin of a perfume. Often it is in response to a request for a fragrance for a new consumer product or for an improved version of an old. The usual practice is to present to the perfumer a concept of the product as it will appear on the market, with a request for a fragrance to support that concept.
For the perfumer this is when the first judgment is made. How and what approach should be pursued? Is the product, for example, in the skin care category? A soothing lotion? For example, Vaseline intensive Care. What fragrance best conveys the concept of mildness? Should a conventional approach be used, as a muguet touched with benzaldehyde or blended almond note? Or should it be more strictly floral as an apple blossom modified with ylang and a light, green touch of an artificial violet leaf? The possibilities in the multifloral field are numerous. If the concept is one of freshening there are many versions of citrus, especially when blended with a jasmin note. These may be as simple or as sophisticated as the perfumer wishes. The chemist has introduced new stable citrus notes as methyl octyl acetaldehyde and agrumenaldehyde. The jasmin feature is equally capable of variation using chemicals such as dihydrojasmone, hexenyl esters and the jasmonates. Luxury? Will the often-used complex of methyl nonyl acetaldehyde and undecalactone added lightly to a mossy ylang base fit the requirement?