Can you identify 250 different aromas?
If your dream is to become a professional perfumer one day, you’d best start training your nose to identify different aromas. That is the advice of Master Perfumer Thierry Wasser who has been composing award-winning fragrances for more than three decades. He’s renowned for his ability to discern the tiniest nuances in floral essential oils and raw materials. Combined with an encyclopedia-worthy knowledge of the history of perfumery, his scents are layered, sophisticated and long-lasting.
“My advice to anyone starting out to become a perfumer is to start training your nose by smelling fresh herbs and flowers at a market. Start with an herb such as basil. Close your eyes and inhale its scent. What words would you use to describe it? What kind of texture does the aroma have? Is it a strong or subtle aroma? Write down your thoughts and impressions.” He says to then repeat this practice with thyme, rosemary and mint. “You can develop your sense of smell with regular practice,” he says.
This refined sense of smell will come in handy if you plan to be designated as a full-fledged perfumer in France, the home of modern perfumery. You must take what is called an ‘induction’ test where you are required to identify 250 different aromas and smells. Only after you pass this test can you be called a professional perfumer.
“Did you know that there are more astronauts in the world than professional perfumers,” adds Wasser. “It’s a very competitive and rare career choice. But I say if this is your passion, then you must pursue it.”