Perfumers use notes from two stages of blackcurrant’s life: the blossom, and the fruit itself, both from the Ribes nigrum plant. Gardeners cultivate these widely, albeit most successfully inside fruit cages – because birds, as well as humans, just love the perfectly-ripened fruit… The distilled absolute of the blackcurrant buds and leaves is known as bourgeons de cassis (say it ‘boor-shon da cassee’): a light, fruity, woody note with a slightly animalic edge. (Blackcurrant leaves can smell a little ‘catty’ when you rub them between your finger – though in a fragrance, that won’t be apparent.) With its tart/sweetness, meanwhile, the blackcurrant berry is a popular ingredient in today’s fruity-florals. The most celebrated use of bourgeons de cassis has been in Guerlain’s 1969 perfume, Chamade.
Says ‘nose’ Julie Massé: ‘I use cassis to give a delicious, moreish touch. It can “lift” white flowers, but also – in partnership with woods or amber – can create roundness and depth.’
Smell blackcurrant in:
Van Cleef & Arpels First