Chemistry 101: Gamma-Undecalactone / Persicol

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Gamma-undecalactone, Periscol, Peach Aldehyde, C14

“Jacques Guerlain built Mitsouko by breaking the power of the oak moss with a natural jasmine and, more significantly, a new synthetic molecule that had recently appeared. Jukov and Schestakow might have patented aldehyde C-14 (actually not an aldehyde but a lactone; it’s real name is gamma-undecalactone) in 1908, but Michael Edwards reports that it had been available from other suppliers, and it was probably Firmenich that introduced Jacques Guerlain to the molecule in the form of a base it called Persicol, which it had put on the market in 1908. C-14 was a marvel, a fruity, aromatic, delicious scent that gave ripe peach skin. Guerlain plugged C-14 into the equation perfectly (the rumor is, actually, similar to Chanel 5, that he in fact accidentally overdosed the stuff; who knows), and Mitsouko became a thing of subtle opulence, strength and balance and silken twilight.”  Chandler Burr

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The Story of Scent with Thierry Wasser at Selfridges

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12th June 2014 012

Last Thursday, 12th June, I had the pleasure as a member of The Perfume Society to attend a Q&A with Guerlain’s Head Perfumer, Thierry Wasser.  I have transcribed my audio recording of the Q&A for you to read below, but I am afraid it just does not do justice to what a privilege it was to hear Mr Wasser answer Jo Fairley’s questions with not only humor and wit that kept the audience engaged and laughing throughout the duration of the Q&A session, but also with real insight garnered from his experiences attained through his position at Guerlain.  I was really surprised at the lengths he goes to to expertly fulfill his role, and what I really loved was his pragmatic, common sense approach to it.

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