3 Raspberry Ketone

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The perfumery materials I use, and why I use them

AKA Hydroxyphenyl butanone, frambinone 

What's the point of being a perfumer if you can't make things smell the way you want, creating scents which remind you of the things you love? That's why I started anyway. Then I got distracted by making things that smell of other people's favourites, but that's a story you can read elsewhere.

 One hot summer, our family spent a holiday afternoon in a Scottish wood where we found the biggest wild raspberry patch in the universe - probably - and ate the delicious pink fruits one by one until we had to go home. My favourite food, free. Only a stream of liquid chocolate would have improved that afternoon. 

 So to the scent of raspberries. If you buy the fragrance oil from cosmetics suppliers, it won't have come from raspberries. In my early years I used a bottle of that stuff for dabbling and experiments, but before I felt I deserved to call myself a perfumer, I really needed to know exactly what I was using in my formulas. It's not just for the regulations (although that's important too) but more of an intellectual pursuit, the satisfaction that I'd got to the bottom of the issue, identified what was really going on, and in. I put on my metaphorical Sherlock deerstalker and set off on the trail of raspberry scent.

I'm going to write about raspberry leaf absolute later, by the way. That's a natural material that smells of raspberry jam. Gorgeous, expensive and difficult to work with, so very rarely found in commercial perfumes.

Perfumer, illustrator, writer and wondergeek Pia Long, told me that she thinks of raspberry ketone as the scent of the dried berries. For me it's the smell you get when you snap open a bar of Divine's dark chocolate with raspberry crunchy bits.

You can buy natural raspberry ketone, extracted from raspberries, but it costs a blooming fortune, so I buy the synthetic stuff. If you are a dedicated natural perfumer and insist on using (as close as you can get to) 100% natural materials, it's there for you. But to be honest, by the time it reaches a usable form, you can't really claim that it's natural. Some like to call these things "derived from nature" but what isn't? It's a powder, refined from the original fruits using chemistry techniques.

For me, only using natural perfumery materials is cutting off your nose to spite your face and you really need your nose in this business. More of this later.

So I often use raspberry ketone side by side with raspberry leaf absolute so get the deep jammy note and the lighter dry one; they hold hands and support each other. And I get to smell like summer pudding.

You can smell my simple raspberry accord in Urura's Tokyo Cafe, created with both materials, not to the point where the finished scent smells overwhelmingly fruity, but it has this deliciously tasty, jammy background to the gentle flowers, flightly citrus fruits and dark balsams.

 I use it in The Great Randello too, with its strawberry equivalent.

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