Some fragrances are undeniably bold, with intoxicating notes of warmth or peppery zing that pack an olfactory punch. Known for their intense opening and sensual, sophisticated nature, spicy notes have long dominated the world of fragrance. But what does spicy mean in perfume, exactly?
The origin of spicy notes in perfumery
The truth is, there are a wealth of spicy notes that can be found in perfumes around the world — and they go far beyond the spices you might find in your kitchen pantry.
Let’s get to the root of where spicy perfumes originate by going all the way back to the spice trade, an ancient enterprise between the Eastern and Western worlds that developed as early as 1000 BC. Spices like cinnamon and black pepper made their way from Indonesia and India to Egypt, and by 1 CE a widespread trading network had taken form. Spices like cardamom, nutmeg, and clove began to flow freely from the East, and went on to be traded and distributed across the globe.
Of course, ancient civilizations were no strangers to using perfumes and incense to add aromatic allure to their daily lives. From Ancient Greece to Egypt to China, spices and herbs were distilled into essential oils to produce stimulating fragrances for the purposes of embalming rituals, cleansing, and even prayer.
What makes a perfume smell spicy?
Spicy notes can be broken down into two distinct categories: warm spices, which mainly act as heart and base notes in perfume, and fresh spices, which primarily act as top notes.
Warm spices are known for bringing the heat with their lively, stimulating aromas: like cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, peppercorn, and saffron. These strong, vibrant spices awaken the nose with their woody, smoky profiles. Complex and long-lasting, these tend to be the heart and base notes of perfumes.
Fresh spices, on the other hand, sit atop the olfactory pyramid with their earthy and herbaceous scents. Cardamom, coriander, juniper berries, pink pepper, and ginger are among the most popular perfume top notes that bring the spice. Dry and deep, they give lift to a fragrance with their distinct vegetal acidity.
Warm up to our signature spicy fragrances
When it comes to our Dossier perfumes with spicy notes, it’s clear that there is a world of nuance within the scent family.
Take Spicy Orchid, our version of Tom Ford’s Black Orchid: it opens up with alluring waves of cinnamon and pink pepper, which balance out with ylang-ylang, sandalwood, & vanilla for instant warmth. Or shift your focus to Spicy Mimosa, inspired by Jo Malone’s Mimosa & Cardamom. Its unexpected combination of delicate mimosa, creamy tonka bean, & spicy cardamom evokes a feeling of inner sensuality.
Fragrances with spicy notes are bold and sophisticated in their own right — but they also play well with others. Try Ambery Saffron for a bright and decadent blend of saffron, jasmine, cedarwood, & amber that’s luxurious and downright addictive. Looking for something more masculine? Give Aromatic Star Anise a whiff: its blend of strong pepper, nutmeg, bergamot, & patchouli lends a citrusy air that makes this fragrance feel outdoorsy and fresh.
There’s a spicy perfume for every vibe, from warm and cozy to bright and daring. Above all, spicy fragrances are sharp, versatile, and memorable — so no matter what you choose, you really can’t go wrong.