What is patchouli?

The name patchouli derives from the Tamil language: ‘patch’ means green and ‘ilai’ means leaf. Its Latin name is Pogostemon Cablin.

patchouli in perfumesSome will recall the scent of patchouli from the sixties and seventies, the era of ‘flower power’. Patchouli oil was then frequently used. For others the smell of patchouli will only vaguely ring a bell, as the scent of pure patchouli is not that well known nowadays. So, strong varying personal associations and preferences, happy freedom, velvety luxury or negative memories.
patchouli drawing
Patchouli originally comes from Indonesia en was brought to Europe during the 19th century by the English traveling the Silk Trail. Nowadays, patchouli is also widely cultivated e.g. in China and India. The patchouli shrub, related to the mint family, can grow 1 meter high and has a preference for volcanic soil.

The fluffy leaves are the source of the patchouli oil. It is obtained by steam destination of the dried leaves. Due to new innovative technologies, also defined fractions can be separated, for their specific odor profile, for example fractions very rich in patchoulol. Patchoulol adds a tool for modern sensual tones to the palette of perfumers.

How does patchouli smell like?

Patchouli smells earthy, woody, herbal, slightly campheruous, as wet soil and wet green leaves. Also leathery tones can be perceived, just as some warm sweetness. With its dark character it adds depth and sensuality to fragrances. Bovenal geeft patchouli een parfum een weldadig en luxe touch.Just as with wines, patchouli-oil matures over time, getting more deep, darker and slightly fruity. Young fresh oil smells more green and less complex.
Patchouli strongly reacts to other perfume ingredients, which leads to interesting successful combinations. Combining with vanilla brings out the warm oriental character. In combination with rose the creation gets elegance and intrigue. Whereas the nowadays popular combination of patchouli, vanilla and (ethyl)maltol was the start of the commercial successful ‘gourmand’ perfumes as Angel (Thierry Mugler) and La Vie est Belle (Lancome).

How is patchouli used?
Annually, over 1000 tons of patchouli-oil is being produced. The majority finds its way in shampoos, bodylotions and laundry products. A much smaller part of the more refined oils are used in fine fragrances. Patchouli is mostly found in chypre, woody, oriental and gourmand perfumes.

Below you can discover a small selection of fragrances where the patchouli note is clearly noticeable. In our more elaborate collection you will find many more patchouli containing fragrances.