Philosophical Perfumery

How steam distillation gets the best from some of perfumery’s raw materials.

In the 10th Century AD a philosopher named Ibn Sina, or Avicenna as he is more commonly known, was born. He was one of the most brilliant minds of the Islamic Golden Age. When he was 10-years-old he had memorised the works of Persian poets and could engage in lengthy discussions with his father’s peers. He was a qualified and highly esteemed medical practitioner by 18 and made many notable contributions to the field of astronomy, science and physics. He is also the man we must thank for the invention of steam distillation. This is the process by which essential oils are extracted from raw materials. Aside from Bergamot, the opening notes of Fragrance No. 02 are all oils derived by this method.

A Bold Introduction

Bulgarian Rose, Ginger from China and Cardamom from Guatemala make a bold and spicy introduction to the second fragrance from STORIES by Eliza Grace, accentuated by fresh, lively Bergamot.

The Damask Rose is known as ‘The Queen of the Flowers’ and it thrives in Bulgaria’s favourable weather conditions. The buds are picked first thing in the morning before the sun rises; this ensures that the oil intensity is at its peak. Its method of harvest is labour intensive. It would take an experienced picker 24 hours to harvest enough blooms to make 30 ml of oil. The rose oil is floral with a peppery undertone, making it a perfect partner for the spicy top notes of Ginger and Cardamom.

Steam Distillation Explained

Ginger root and cardamom seeds are steam distilled to produce fresh, powerful oils. The raw materials are placed on a grille suspended inside the still. As the water bubbles beneath them the steam rises, opens the cells of the materials until the oil becomes suspended in the steam. When it condenses, the oil and water separate leaving essential oil and fragrant water.

Cardamom adds warmth and a slight aniseed sweetness to Fragrance No. 02 while Ginger packs a spicy, pungent punch. When combined with the cool floral facet of Rose, the result is a delicate opening that makes a bold connection with the heart and base notes of this composition.  

Next week’s Journal will look at the heart of Fragrance No. 02.



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