How Fragrance Tells a Story: Understanding the Notes

Image Source – ESmag

It is 2019 and advancements in technology have quickly transformed all elements of our society, whether that be how we socialise, how we work and significantly, how we buy. Online shopping provides us with the ease and convenience to trawl through vast amounts of consumable content to make comparisons, assess reviews and select the perfect product to be delivered straight to our door. At Czech & Speake we have embraced the digital world and are proud of our up-to-date ecommerce service, but we cannot deny that shopping for aromatic products online can be rather challenging.

In light of this we thought we would provide you with a guide to better understand the complexities of a perfumes notes and layers, enlightening you to the story telling power of scent. Hopefully then you will be well equip with the perfumery lingo to confidently purchase through a screen.

Top, middle and base notes

When you look at the descriptions of a fragrance on our site or through other perfumers, you will see its components listed in the form of top, middle and base notes. These determine the complex way in which the fragrance sets off and reveals itself to you once released from the bottle and when in contact with your skin.

The top notes, which tend to be fresh, citrusy and herbaceous, are the lightest and the very first notes that you smell. It is in this sense that perfumery can be compared to narrative, as the top notes set the tone or ‘scene’ for that scent, giving you an indication of whether you will enjoy the full aromatic experience. There’s a sort of romance associated with the top note, as it quickly fades, giving you just a tantalising taste for you to savour and relish.

As the top notes evaporate, you are guided into the middle notes, sometimes known as the heart notes, which are as the name suggests, the heart of the fragrance. These are fuller in body and therefore longer lasting with a strong influence on the later appearing base notes, which you can relate to the core structure of a story. It is typical for these notes to be floral or fruity; scents that are pleasing and well-rounded.

As you reach the end of the sensual journey, the base notes unfold. These notes correspond and intermingle with the middle notes to provide the fragrances full body, which is considered to reveal the scent in its truest form – perhaps you could call it the ‘grand finale’. This stage of the perfumes transformation is known as the ‘dry-down period’, with the purpose to ensure that the scent leaves a lasting impression. Heavier notes are used to achieve this such as woods, musks and spices

As with narratives, it won’t always be so straight forward and linear as that, for example sometimes the base notes can make their way from the base to the top to provide a sense of instant gratification. With any luck, from this guide you can now recognise the prominence of your favourite perfume notes.


If you feel more confident shop online for fragrance, discover our niche  full fragrance range. If you would like further information on which fragrance families our colognes belong to, click here.

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