Sugar is a familiar gourmand note that perfumers add to their fragrances with the intent to sweeten them up.
While it often sits on the lists of notes that fragrance houses like to communicate out for their scents, the sugar that you and I use as a flavoring agent isn’t actually added to perfumes.
Instead, its spectrum of scents—and the sensations that they create in our imagination—are synthesized in the form of sugar fragrance oil, aromatic chemical compositions that sweeten and delight perfume formulations.
Throughout time, perfumers have concocted a plethora of other substances that trigger the sensatory alchemy of sugar in our minds.
Two of the most common sources of the sensation of sugar are the organic compounds maltol, a malty crystalline substance found in the bark of the larch tree, pine needles, and ethyl maltol, a boozy white solid with the sticky smell of caramelized sugar and cooked fruit.
Glance at enough perfumes, and you’ll quickly notice a recurring pattern…
Though there are the occasional exceptions to the rule, three types of sugar notes tend to make it to the top, heart, and base notes:
White Sugar Notes
White sugar, the clean and quintessential sugar scent that can best be described as the tooth-aching and boozy feeling you get from your first bite of syrup-sweetened baklava.
White sugar is honest and truthful; it smells genuinely and purely sweet. It does not pretend to be anything else.
Brown Sugar Notes
Brown sugar for the toffee scent of golden-brown cane sugar or the dark caramel taste of coconut sugar, obtained from the sap of the flower bud stem of the coconut palm.
Brown sugar is plain yet, at the same time, sophisticated. In the same way that a cup of Italian cappuccino blends equal parts espresso and milk froth to deliver a depth of flavor greater than the sum of its parts.
Pink Sugar Notes
Pink sugar is the colorful, overtly feminine scent that catches you when you walk into an Istanbul confectionary store and get a whiff of the Turkish delights, intentionally left out in a decorative basket with the goal to lure you in.
Pink sugar is youthful, careless, and playful. It’s the crisp and candied sensation you get from biting into freshly harvested forest fruits like strawberries, raspberries, dewberries, blueberries, blackberries.