Rose Ketones: Celebrating 30 Years of Success

Can you remember life before the rose ketones? Can you remember what rose reconstitutions used to smell like before the rose ketones were available? Probably not. And if you can, you probably weren’t too impressed with them.

Let me remind you. Firmenich’s “Rosessence 17.600” was the first of a long series of Bulgarian rose essence reconstitutions containing rose ketones. In this particular case, the formula contained 200 ppm of damascenone. We asked ourselves, “Does this low dosage really have any effect?” To test this hypothesis, we created a damascenonefree “Rosessence 17.600” and submitted the two to a traditional triangular smelling test amongst 10 perfumers. We even carrot note to the blend. Faced with such a clearly important molecule for perfumery it can only be right to trace its life story… starting with its discovery.


At the beginning of the 1960s, the partnership between Firmenich, Professor Ruzicka and his newly appointed head of the terpenes group, Dr. Kovats (ETH Zürich), was given a new task: discover the signature chemical responsible for the characteristic smell of Bulgarian rose oil.

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