Bergamot orange is the fragrant citrus fruit of the Citrus bergamia, a small evergreen tree which blossoms during the winter. The fruit is the size of an orange, with a yellow-green colour similar to a lemon. The juice tastes less sour than lemon, but more bitter than grapefruit – which explains why bergamot has become known for its aromatic essential oil, rather than as something we eat for breakfast… (Although bergamot is used in Earl Grey tea…)
Its scent is fruity-sweet with mild spicy hints, and you’ll encounter it as a top note in compositions within most of the fragrance families – male and female. In fact, it’s used in different proportions in almost all modern perfumes – particularly within chypre and fougère fragrance categories, giving an initial fresh, airy, uplifting quality. (No surprise that in aromatherapy, bergamot is actually used to treat depression…) For perfumers, it’s invaluable for helping to blend notes into a single bouquet, and fix them there…
Its use goes back for centuries: bergamot was famously known to be a component of the original Eau de Cologne, developed in Germany by J.M. Farina in the 17th Century. For centuries, the essential oil of bergamot has had a close link to perfumery and scent, even used to scent small papier-mâché boxes for keeping small precious mementos – like locks of hair and ‘love letters.
The word bergamot derives from bergomotta in Italian and from Bergamum, a town in Italy. But references also exist, indicating the name comes from the Turkish word beg-armudi – which translates as ‘prince’s pear’ or ‘prince of pears’…
Bergamot is commercially grown in southern Calabria in southern Italy, where more than 80% of the essential oil is produced – by zesting the rind. It’s also grown in southern France and in Côte d’Ivoire for the essential oil (and in in southern Turkey for its marmalade…)
Smell bergamot in:
Jo Malone London Oud and Bergamot
Miller Harris Terre de Bois