Bergamot is one of the most prolific notes within perfumery. Don’t believe me? Just take a look at the list of notes for any one of your favourite fragrances and you’re more likely than not to find Bergamot amongst them. But what is it, where does it come from and why is it so popular? Well, the bergamot, or bergamot orange is a small greenish/yellowish fruit that is unsurprisingly, rather fragrant! It is most prolific in Italy, specifically in the Reggio di Calabria province, which is why you will have undoubtedly heard of Calabrian Bergamot at one time or another.
Bergamot essential oil is derived from the peel of the fruit. It has an expansive odour profile that can be described as; sweet, sour, sharp, tangy, fuzzy, sparkly, zesty, aromatic, sherbet, floral, citrus, lemon and Earl Grey tea. The note has been used in all types of perfumery for lift and shimmer, but it has famously been a key staple within the Eau de Cologne family, which is why bergamot is so often associated with cleanliness and freshness. In truth, bergamot is a wildly versatile note that lends lightness, texture and dewy sweetness to many varying compositions. In this piece, we’re celebrating just three of the thousands of fragrances that boast the beauty of bergamot.
Bergamot as the Main Event
Being Italian, it’s no surprise that Acqua di Parma hit the bergamot nail on the head with their Bergamotto di Calabria. To me, this scent encapsulates all of the wonderful facets of the note, including the fresh zestiness and the darker, aromatic tones. This scent is a classic Eau de Cologne with the bergamot dials turned right up. Straight away it has that glistening, sherbet-like sweet sheen of bergamot peel, but as it settles it takes on a more solid foundation of woods, ginger and musk in the base. If you’ve ever wondered what to wear on a trip to the Amalfi coast, then look no further because this bergamot scent has you covered.
Bergamot as a Supporting Act
It’s impossible to talk bergamot and not talk Shalimar, much in the same way that it’s not possible to talk Shalimar and not talk about bergamot. Shalimar is many things; a voluptuous oriental, an essay of the use of vanillin and a regal feline of a scent, oh and not to mention a timeless classic. But in addition to all these things, Shalimar displays a wonderful use of bergamot as a supporting act rather than the main event. Reportedly making up 30% of Shalimar’s composition, bergamot provides a sparkling radiance in the top notes that lures one into the smoke, silk and sensuality that lies underneath. Bergamot is the glitter that gives Shalimar its lustrous sheen and it’s as integral to the composition as vanilla is, if not more so. In fact, when I first sniffed pure bergamot oil there was one thought that crossed my mind: Shalimar.
Bergamot as a Modern Blend
Staying on the Guerlain theme we must also talk about the brand new Bergamote Calabria – this year’s addition to Guerlain’s Aqua Allegoria collection. This collection has always presented simple, accessible and unfussy fragrances that aim to recreate nature with unending lightness. Bergamote Calabria is no different and it manages to present a very classic bergamot note in an entirely modern style. The use of bergamot in this Aqua Allegoria is sweeter and more transparent than usual, focusing on the citrus and dew facets of the material. Underneath this, there is a silky blend of laundry musks, green notes and petit grain, which provides a lovely floral vibe. Out of the three bergamots in the list, Bergamote Calabria is the most easy-going and definitely the most modern, making it the perfect option for someone who is just starting to explore the beauty of bergamot.