An ingredient that circulates many misconceptions, with its most prominent reputation and connotations as the scent of the 60’s; as the sweet hippie aroma that was worn to mask over a cloud of cannabis. Nevertheless, ironically it is exactly its olfactory similarities to cannabis that actually attracted users to Patchouli in the first place.
Pungent, slightly sweet, herbaceous, with a deep, rich, dark, and musky-earthy profile, vastly reminiscent of wet soil. As the most powerful of any plant-derived essences, Patchouli is surely a favourite of perfumers, as they grasp any chance of integrating it into their famous compositions, where it is used as a fixative and base note due to its heavy profile.
Patchouli Absolu by Tom Ford, Coco Mademoiselle by Chanel, La vie est Belle, by Lancome; the spicy, smoky scent of Patchouli can be found in almost all our favourite oriental, chypre and even powdery modern fragrances!
Deriving from old Tamil, translating as “patchai”, meaning “green”, and “ellai”, meaning “leaf”; the name mirrors the appearance of the plant. An upright bushy, evergreen perennial herb, that reaches two to three feet in height, and whose grass is scattered with delicate, white, pink, and violet marked flowers and intoxicatingly fragrant leaves.
Part of the mint family, it belongs to the genus Pogostemon, and originates from the tropical regions of Asia, specifically Indonesia, where it grows wild on both the islands of Sumatra and Java at high elevations. Patchouli equally grows well in other warm, tropical climates, including West Africa and South America.
Native to the tropical Southeast Asian countries, the cultivation of Patchouli has been widespread and dates back thousands of years. From the rituals of King Tutankhamen of Egypt who arranged ten gallons of Patchouli oil in his tomb for his burying, to the Romans who used the oil as an appetite stimulant; for Europe, however, Patchouli was brought slightly later.
The famous conqueror, Napoleon, brought cashmere shawls, perfumed with patchouli oil from Egypt into France. The scent on the shawls was successful in repelling insects, as well as creating protection from mites; and yet the origin of the mysterious Patchouli scent remained a secret. The mesmerising patterns of the oriental fabrics were soon quickly reproduced; however, European manufacturers were forced to import the fragrant oil from the East, in the attempt to not reveal the wonders of the oriental aroma.
In 1837, the secret was finally revealed to the West by Francisco Manuel Blanco who recognised the scent as Mentha Cablin, or Patchouli, as we know it. From then onwards, early European traders were vastly fond of the ingredient and gladly traded one pound of Patchouli for one pound of gold.
Still considered an expensive and luxurious raw material, Patchouli oil is not only capitalised within the perfume industry. With the regions of the Middle East and Asia truly believing in its aphrodisiac properties; patchouli is similarly used in spiritual and aromatherapeutic practices, due to its relaxing and calming properties.
Moreover, it is also employed commonly for its health benefits, as Patchouli essential oil is used as an anti-inflammatory, for the treatment of scars, headaches, bacterial and viral infections, anxiety, and depression, as well as even being used to reduce the appearance of wrinkles! Additionally, modern scented industrial products, including paper towels, laundry detergents, and air fresheners also fondly use the oil within their products.
The olfactory profile and quality of the oil varies and depends vastly on the time of the harvest, the cultivation and distillation techniques, as well as the process of drying. With the highest quality, mature oil to be found in the top three to four pairs of leaves, as they have the highest concentration of fragrant pure oil, they are hand-harvested and left to dry. During this process, the cut stems and leaves are placed onto a dry surface and frequently turned over to prevent rapid fermentation.
Following on, the leaves are stripped from the stems and placed into woven baskets, allowing for the process of fermentation to commence, as they release their elaborative, distinctive aroma. Although the leaves can be C02 extracted, most commonly, and ideally the oil is extracted by steam distillation.
And yet, the final drop to add the quality-touch, solely lies on the skills of the grower, that who controls the level of fermentation merely through the use of his own nose. In fact, there are only a few distilleries to specialize in the production of highly refined, perfume-suited Patchouli oil, thus amplifying its uniqueness and rarity.
An ingredient that is for the bold and daring…. add it to your custom fragrance mix and be prepared for a trail wherever you go!
Our first recommended mix is for our ladies. A fragrance of empowerment, something that will simply boost and enhance your strong, bold, fierce personalities… our PATCHOULI POWER scent along with the TUBEROSE TRIBUTE perfume. Magnetic, intoxicating, yet feminine, fresh yet suave and silk-like; swirled into a mix of hypnotic spice. The white floralcy adds a soft touch to the green patchouli making it a perfect everyday wear!
Our next recommendation is quite truly the elixir of the new coco mademoiselle: PATCHOULI POWER with our RASPBERRY REDEMPTION perfume. The light, sweet invigorating burst of red berries, complimented with the oriental and warm notes of Patchouli, creates a trendy yet daring composition for our ladies once again!
With Patchouli often used in fragrances inclusive of warm and exotic notes, we couldn’t resist sharing this parfum pour soir: PATCHOULI POWER and the scent of AMBER AFFAIR.
Oud - Tuberose | Woody Floral
Rose - Sandalwood | Floral Woody
Vanilla - Raspberry | Oriental Fruity
Ocean - Sage | Aromatic Marine