Behind the Scenes, Indigo Perfumery, Perfumes

CINNAMON in Perfumery

 

Ceylon cinnamon

Ceylon cinnamon

 

 

Cinnamon in a perfume? Customers are often surprised when I answer their question “What am I smelling? I can’t put my finger on it.”

Too often cinnamon is associated with that all too potent potpourri smell of the holiday season- you know, the smell that clings to your clothes for days? Thankfully the perfumers of our four perfumes have fine noses and know when enough is perfect.

 

 

The true cinnamon, C. Verum or zeylanicum is from Sri Lanka (formerly known as Ceylon). It is an evergreen, aromatic tree that must be grown for at least two years before its bark can be cut. After harvesting, the stems must be immediately processed while its inner bark is still wet. The outer bark is first scraped off, the stem is beaten to loosen the inner bark, which then allows the inner bark to be pried off in long rolls which are cut to exactly 4.2 inches long.

 

In America, Cinnamomum cassia or Cinnamomum aromaticum are used because they are sweeter and more aromatic, although they are inferior to the Ceylonese cinnamon. You can tell the difference by smell as well as looks: Ceyonese cinnamon sticks (also known as quills) use only the inner bark and have numerous thin layers with a subtle and aromatic flavor and smell, whereas the C. cassia sticks, using all layers of the bark, are much harder, harsher and stronger in taste and smell.

 

Cinnamon is a well known medicinal spice high in antioxidants, and noted for its boost to mood and memory, for lowering blood sugar and “bad” cholesterol (LDL), for stopping the growth of bacteria in food, for alleviating sinus headaches or migraines and for preventing the onset of cold or flu.

Cinnamon quills can be stored for periods of years as long as they are not a powder.

In perfumery, only Ceylonese cinnamon is used. According to Mandy Aftel, in her must read book, Fragrant, “Cinnamon opens with warm, sweet, candy-like notes, and finishes with a powdery, dry wood.”

 

Cinnamon most often is used as a heart note, imparting a warmth and lightness to other notes.

It takes a very small amount before it overtakes the perfume, so a very light touch is advised.

 

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