Bergamot: 6 posts

Bergamot : Perfume Note and Ingredient

The first time anyone smells fresh bergamot, they usually have one comment, “Earl Grey!” We associate its peppery scent so much with the flavored black tea that it’s hard to picture bergamot as anything else. In reality, it’s a small citrus of the Citrus bergamia variety, and its fragrant essence that ends up in our tea and perfume is cold-pressed from the peel of unripe fruit.  The best bergamot oil comes from the province of Reggio Calabria in Italy, and for this reason perfume companies gladly flaunt the provenance by mentioning “Calabrian bergamot” in the note descriptions. The growing conditions on the plantations along the Ionian Sea coast are so ideally suited to this unique citrus that the region generates 90% of the world’s production.

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I call bergamot unique not because of an enthusiastic overstatement; it’s unlike other citrus used in perfumery. Bergamot is zesty and sparkling, but not pungently acidic. For the perfume geeks among you, the main constituents of its oil are the floral-crisp linalool and linalyl acetate (in contrast to lemon, orange or mandarin, which are dominated by the icy sharp limonene). Linalool also gives lavender and coriander seeds their distinctive note, so in some aspects bergamot has more in common with aromatic herbs than tart citrus. Then imagine a note reminiscent of freshly ground black pepper draped over the floral freshness, and you have bergamot.

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