What Is Patchouli?
Patchouli is one of the most frequently used raw materials in perfumery. Often considered a “generational scent”, patchouli originated in India and was traditionally used as insect repellent. The oil actually comes from a leafy-green herb that is part of the mint family. It has a strong, sweet, pungent scent that blends well with sweet accords.
Patchouli is a shrub-like plant with white and purple flowers and large green leaves. When patchouli is fresh, it is hardly scented, but the aromatics shine through once the plant is dried. Patchouli essence is derived through steam distillation of the dried leaves. It takes 250kg of dried patchouli leaves to produce 1kg of patchouli essence.
Patchouli is native to Southeast Asian countries and is most prominent in India. Europe imported patchouli leaves through the Silk Road and France used the leaves to cover silk fabrics traveling by boat. The patchouli essence scent from the dry leaves transferred to the clothing and fabrics, thus patchouli being introduced as a raw material in perfumery. Patchouli rose in popularity during the 60s and 70s for both men and women, and is still referred to as a “hippy scent” in the fragrance world.
Due to the strong scent of patchouli, it is typically used as a base note in perfume development. Patchouli can add depth to a fragrance and is known to be grounding.
Patchouli oil is a botanical raw material in perfumery. Patchouli oil is also being synthetically engineered through yeast by biotech companies to further commercialize the ingredient and allow for consistency in aroma.
What Does Patchouli Smell Like?
Patchouli has a woody and earthy scent profile. It has a strong, sweet, pungent scent that blends well with sweet accords.
What Fragrance Family is Patchouli in?
Patchouli belongs under the main Woody fragrance family of perfumery.