Scent Diary : Bitterness

Bitterness is usually to be avoided. We take easily to sweet flavors and scents, but it takes time to get used to the bitter ones. Yet, I find them most intriguing. One of the first things I planted in my garden was a black currant bush. I love the pungent tartness of black currants, but even more so the verdant bitterness of its leaves and buds. Its stems also have a wonderful scent that lingers on fingers. It’s the fragrance of summer at its most indolent.

Do you like bitter notes?

Scent Diary is a place to write your observations about the scents around you. Whether you write down 1 recollection or 10 matters less than simply reminding yourself to smell. You can add as many comments as you wish. You can comment today or over the course of the week; this thread will always be open. Of course, do share what perfume you’re wearing or what particularly good scented products you’ve discovered.

While looking through my articles, I found this article that I wrote a few years ago but that still remains popular and often-read: A to Z Tips for Enjoyable, Affordable and Rewarding Perfume Hobby. If you have any tips to add, I’d love to hear them.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin



  • Emily: I do love bitter greens balanced with an unctuous vinaigrette: arugula, dandelion, endive, all delicious.

    Hadn’t thought about it until reading your entry here, but there is something particularly refreshing about bitter flavors when the weather gets muggy. Just now looked up an NIH study claiming that “as temperature rises, perceptions of sweetness and bitterness tend to intensify, and perceptions of sourness and saltiness tend to remain the same… If all else is equal, at hot temperatures bitter and sweet tastes should dominate salty and sour ones.“

    Fascinating! All the more reason to bring out the Campari cocktails this month. August 14, 2023 at 9:34am Reply

    • Victoria: Fascinating, isn’t it? I noticed that it was the case, but it’s interesting to see this effect confirmed. August 28, 2023 at 5:46am Reply

  • José Saraiva: Hello Victoria
    Good afternoon.
    I really like the smell of the 2 Bases and one absolute that I have, Cassis Bases 345-B and 345-F of Firmenich and Cassis Absolute.
    It really has a bit of acidity but they are very pleasant, almost a perfume in itself.
    I’m only a curious, I don’t have much knowledge of Perfumery, but I imagine a perfumer with this Bases the perfumes he can make.
    I got to this hobby late – very expensive, by the way – but at least I get to know the smell of some products used in Perfumery.
    I always read your interesting posts and follow Victoria on YouTube.
    Thank you very much for your availability and kindness in bringing us these very informative articles.
    Best wishes for health and peace.
    Thank you very much
    Best regards.
    José Saraiva August 14, 2023 at 9:40am Reply

    • Victoria: Good luck, José! I know that it’s a complicated hobby, but it’s so rewarding. August 28, 2023 at 5:46am Reply

  • ewan: Pilsner Prazdroj has a wonderful bitterness – one on a hot evening suh as this is very refreshing. It’s also a good digestif. August 14, 2023 at 10:00am Reply

    • Victoria: I’ll have to try it. August 28, 2023 at 5:47am Reply

  • Aurora: Thank you so much for highlighting blackcurrant. The jelly is very popular in the UK, my favorite is by the originally French Bonne-Maman, made by Andros, a giant of the fruit business.

    I love blackcurrant in perfume, and its sweet acidity, three favorites containing this note are Cacharel, Noa l’Eau, Liz Earle Essence No 9 which just got discontinued unfortunately and YSL In Love again. August 14, 2023 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like this brand as well, especially for their apricot jam. I will have to try their cassis jelly. August 28, 2023 at 5:49am Reply

  • Aurora: Oh, and I would add for perfume hobby the tip Use your Kitchen Cabinet to study your perfumes, I learned it from the classes I took with you😀 August 14, 2023 at 12:29pm Reply

  • Klaas: I love bitter greens! On my plate and in my perfume bottles! And in my tea cup…..nothing beats a cup of strong black tea on a hot summer day.

    The most satisfyingly bitter perfumes I’ve come across so far are Corsica Furioso en Eau de Campagne. But coincidentally I’m testing Yusu Fou by Parfum d’Empire today and it has a nice bitter bite to it as well…. August 14, 2023 at 1:52pm Reply

    • Victoria: Corsica Furioso is a fantastic green and bitter scent. One of my favorites too. August 28, 2023 at 5:50am Reply

  • Alityke: We have just finished harvesting the last of our blackcurrants. Year after year the one bush crops heavily. 12+kilos this year. Neighbours have started running away when the see DH or me approaching bearing blackcurrant gifts.
    This year I made blackcurrant ice cream, bitter, sweet/sour & creamy. So delicious!
    I do enjoy cassis/blackcurrant in fragrance it can be sulphurous to many.
    I’m looking forward to Eau de Boujee releasing their EdP range, including Verdant which will be a full on green.
    In Love Again, is the happiest fragrance & it’s the perfectly balanced bitter/tart/sour/sweet opening that inspires the glee August 14, 2023 at 2:47pm Reply

    • Bregje: Where do you live? Lol 😂. I love cassis sorbet icecream and cassis jams. So i wouldn’t mind having a neighbour bringing black current gifts.
      My cousin is having the same problem with her raspberries 😉 August 14, 2023 at 6:19pm Reply

    • Victoria: I would love to be your neighbor! 🙂 August 28, 2023 at 5:52am Reply

  • ROBIN WRIGHT: I love black currant preserves and black currant liqueur!

    In perfumes it can be a wonderful addition; my favorite black currant fragrance is L’Artisan Parfumeur Mure et Musc Extreme, which I have been wearing for 20 years. August 14, 2023 at 3:15pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s still such a classic! August 28, 2023 at 5:52am Reply

  • la_ninon: I love dark green chypres with bitter notes, especially galbanum, oakmoss, and artemisia. August 14, 2023 at 3:25pm Reply

    • Klaas: Pleeeeease, tell me what you favorite bitter greens are! I can’t shake the feeling that there is a green miracle out there just waiting for me……

      I recently discovered Trudon II and I find it quite spectacular! Wonderfully green, coniferous, moist/mossy and with a dry, woody bite in the drydown. Give it a try if you see it somewhere, you might like it, too…. August 26, 2023 at 3:34pm Reply

      • Victoria: Yes, Trudon II is wonderfully green, with a bitter edge. August 28, 2023 at 6:50am Reply

    • Victoria: My favorites too. August 28, 2023 at 5:52am Reply

  • Marty Marshman: Bitterness is very hard to talk about as a scent. Most people when talking about this will immediately think of a flavour. I love bitterness as a flavour. Campari and Amaro’s are spectacular examples of this that i really like. In food parlance bitterness is used as an entree in many occassions as it wakes up the tastebuds for the meal to come. It is the aperitif of flavours. I wonder if this is how it works in scent? Is it part of the opening of a fragrance to presage what is to come?,
    Marty M August 14, 2023 at 6:18pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s part of the opening or perhaps a contrast inherent in an accord. Bitter notes are used with a light hand, but they do such amazing things in complex accords. August 28, 2023 at 5:55am Reply

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