40 Days & 40 Nights of Fragrance Notes: Clove
A Little Spice is Nice
By Melanie Parker
Clove buds look like a regal little crown on a perch, and it is one of my favorite spicy, natural fragrances. Every time I smell pomanders made from oranges or lemons studded with cloves around the holidays, it makes me feel warm and happy.
The clove, or clou de girofle in French, can be strong. Clove notes in a fragrance are pungent, so clove is a scent best paired with other spices and citrus notes. I’d say its best friends are orange, vanilla, nutmeg, and cinnamon. This scent is warm and stimulating, and it is thought to be an aphrodisiac.
Clove essential oil is used for medicinal purposes as an antiseptic and anesthetic and you will frequently find it in toothpastes and other astringent products, so you don’t want to be heavy handed with a clove fragrance or you might end up smelling like aftershave. When clove is used in a fragrance correctly, for example, Donna Karan Black Cashmere, it is sensual and revitalizing.
To me, the faint smell of clove is delightful in the Fall and winter. It evokes memories of my grandmother’s house. She was fond of clove gum, which was a little less sweet and sugary than the Big Red cinnamon gum that I liked. But most of all the smell reminds me of family dinners at her house. It was my job to stud the ham with clove buds after she scored the top of the meat in a diamond pattern with a carving knife on Sunday mornings before we went to church when I was visiting. I’d sniff the buds, and occasionally, I’d even pop one in my mouth and chew on it while preparing the ham. It tasted woody, like I imagine tree bark would taste, so I lean toward describing some heavy clove scents as “woody” even though it is actually a spice. That’s just because it triggers a “bark” memory for me. The mind plays tricks on the nose like that.
Clove cigarettes were outlawed in the USA in 2009, but some smokers opted for clove cigarettes for the spicy scent and taste. As such, some scents like Ava Luxe’s Kretek are popular because they are reminiscent of the clove cigarettes without the stale stench of the smoke.
Aveda has a Clove shampoo and conditioner. In addition to the great scent, they deposit brown hair color.
Cloves are harvested from trees. The clove tree is an evergreen with bright green leaves. Clove has been cultivated as a spice for more than 2000 years. The clove tree grows to 30 feet tall, but it is the tiny buds that hold the value. The flower buds are at first of a pale color and turn a bright red when they are ready for harvest. As such, you may see “red clove” as a note to indicate the essential oil was extracted from a ready bud.
Until recent times, cloves were a rare spice. In the 17th and 18th centuries, cloves were literally worth their weight in gold in Britain due to the high price of importing them.
Some clove scents worth trying are:
Washington Tremlett Clove Absolute
Artemisia Perfumes Lavender and Clove
Ava Luxe’s Queen Bess
Comme des Garcons Carnation
Estee Lauder Cinnabar
Estee Lauder Sensuous
Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant
Serge Lutens Féminité du Bois
Yves Saint Laurent Opium
Thierry Mugler Ice*Men
Calvin Klein Obsession
Van Cleef & Arpels Van Cleef
Kathy Padecky : http://www.ipsbmassagetherapy.com/wordpress/wp-content/uploads/2010/12/Essential-Oil-Clove.pdf
Image: Elizabeth Blackwell, “The Clove, Carophyllus aromaticus.” Plate 338 from volume 2 of Blackwell’s A Curious Herbal, Containing Five Hundred Cuts, of the Most Useful Plants, Which Are Now Used in the Practice of Physic: . . . To Which Is Added a Short Description of Ye Plants; and Their Common Uses in Physic (London, 1739). [Rare Books Division]
Review: Melanie Parker
Graphic Credit: Melanie Parker
Disclosure: All items featured in this review were purchased or sniffed by the reviewer