Balsam of Peru

Balsams basically trickle out of trees, flower pods or bushy twigs:  ‘balsam’ means a resin that’s rich in essential oil. Peru balsam – which is initially dark and thick – comes from pods which grow out of the branches and trunk of the Myroloxon balsamamum tree , a name that means ‘fragrant wood’, in Greek.  Strips of bark are removed from trees, and the wood underneath secretes the balsam into rags which have been wrapped round the tree, and are then boiled in water;  because it’s heavier, the balsam sinks to the bottom of the pan.  Today, balsam of Peru actually mostly comes from El Salvador. (Ironically, the tree doesn’t even originate from Peru:  it was introduced there and became seriously invasive.)  The scent is similar to vanilla, with hints of cinnamon and just a touch of earthiness, or even bitterness.  Balsamic ingredients have a warmth that perfumers just love, for a soft, sensual, cocooning feel – and they help perfumers to ‘fix’ flower notes in a perfume, making them longer-lasting.

Smell balsam of Peru in:

Guerlain Shalimar
Guy Laroche Fidji


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