Honey creates a buzz

Alongside our twice yearly Trends Report, we monitor fragrance ingredients which are not just fashionable for a season but enduringly popular. The first in this series looks at the evolving use of honey, its diverse appeal and how it has inspired a number of distinctive concepts.

Honey has come a long way since its humble beginnings as a simple food ingredient.  And it’s not hard to understand why. Its strong association with nature, distinctive aroma and numerous health benefits make it a strong proposition; fuelling a transition from gastronomy to perfumery, skincare, haircare and even household products over recent years.

So what gives this ingredient such universal appeal and longevity? As with many enduring notes, it offers many different characteristics.  Distinguished by its soft and balsamic sweet accords, honey notes can be used to emphasise floral nuance, introduce a gourmand direction or add a rich and warm backdrop to other ingredients. It should also be recognised that, as with the taste of honey, the scent can differ according to the variety; it can be predominantly woody, floral, herbal or even tobacco based.  Of course, it’s the role of the creative perfumer to bring out the required notes in every complex composition.

With this in mind, we have translated this popular ingredient into a number of commercially viable concepts which explore its role in evoking a strong sense of time, place and emotion – but each with our own unique creative take:

  • Orange Blossom Honey: perfectly epitomises the natural setting for these accords.  The sweetness of honey trickles through top notes of sweet orange, red mandarin and caramelised peach, before hitting the heart of the fresh floral neroli scent and giving way to a hint of cedar wood.
  • Chestnut Honey & Pear: creates a richer autumnal mood through a blend of woody accents and sweet fruit accords. This scent begins with notes of chestnuts and juicy white pears, blended with accents of mimosa flowers which then subtly change to woody accents of cedar, patchouli and vetivert, all brought together by benzoin and amber.
  • Saffron Honey: transports you to the scene of a Moroccan souq stall where a spoonful of golden honey is added to sweeten the aromatic blend of spicy ginger and saffron tea which is interspersed with the aromas of rich balsams and delicate rose petals.
  • Honey & Tobacco: strongly atmospheric and demonstrating a more masculine direction, this concept evokes a suave jazz lounge in the heart of old Havana. Here the deep red leather couches hold the scent of dark rum matured in oak barrels infused with smooth honey and nutmeg, while the smoky aromas of Cuban cigars drift into the twilight.

With so much potential to add depth and direction to fragrance compositions it seems honey is here to stay.  Add to this growing consumer awareness of its health giving properties and its popularity only looks set to grow.  A powerful example of an ingredient which really does seem to have it all – so let’s hear it for those hardworking bees.

The full version of this article was first published in the October issue of Soap, Perfumery and Cosmetics and can be found online here.