Peru Balsam: Getting to the Source, El Salvador

Peru balsam is a well-known, dark brown-colored, resinous, viscous, oleoresin exudate that possess a warm, rich, slightly spicy, sweet aroma and a bitter taste. Isolates of Peru balsam are readily used in perfumery and flavoring in order to deliver long-lasting, balsamic, sweet, rich, almost oriental notes. It can be found in great classic perfume creations such as Vol de Nuit from Guerlain and Youth Dew from Estée Lauder.

Because El Salvador is the only country in the world in which large tracts of resin-producing Peru balsam trees exist, the raw material is limited and needs to be protected. Within this article the author will review where the material grows, how it is harvested, and how it is used in perfumery and flavoring, in addition to ways in which its sourcing could be made sustainable.

Limited Geography

Peru balsam comes from El Salvador, a small tropical country in Central America. The material’s name is a reference to its historic transport route during colonial times. Everything originating from Central America had to stop first in the port of Callao in Peru and would therefore arrive in Europe with the stamp of the viceroyalty of Peru.

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