Cultivar: Femminello, Castagnaro and Fantastico
Geographical origin: Calabria
Raw Bergamot Oil (cold pressed):
Green-yellow mobile oil.
At first it strikes you with a fresh zesty (lemony), green, aromatic topnote. It then evolves in a soft, sweet, velvety odour.
There is some sort of elegant coherence in the evolution that surprises me: a sparkling agrestic ouverture, which soon gives way to a soft, bright, fruity body. Then, it slowly settles down into a perfectly balanced leafy, fruity, powdery, almost silky-leathery base. A beautiful contrast of lights and shadows. A sulfury, sweet-harsh, radish-like, veiled animalic accent perfectly counterpoints the fresh sweetness of the body. An interesting note that is extremely natural and very characteristic of this oil.
Due to its furocoumarines content this product is limited to 0,4% in the finished product (leave-on products) by IFRA standards. You can download here the standard specific to this oil.
Furocoumarine-free – decolorized Bergamot Oil:
Colourless mobile oil.
Very similar to the raw quality. Less green-aromatic, less interesting and subdued topnotes. More vertical and fruitier (linalyl acetate-like) and rounder, but some linalool-rosewood-like notes tend to stand out. Some soapy, floral, octanol-like details… Less citrusy (less D-limonene-like). The body is very nice and almost as good as the raw oil. It may lack some sparkle and the rounded sweet-leafy cushion in the base is more delicate.
I would say that this one is the standard quality for bergamot oil used in perfumery. The one I have smelled more often.
Still a good choice (in particular when a colourless product is wanted) and without phototoxic issues.
To sum up: the main differences between the raw quality and the FCF-decolorized one are the zesty topnote, the citrusy-green body, and some soft, animal, sulfury basenote in the former; the neat, pleasant fruity, linalyl acetate-like note that brightens up and rounds the body in the latter.
You might be interested in the supplier’s website (Simone Gatto), where you can find interesting information about citrus oils, varieties and extraction methods.
A note about old and oxidized oils.
Citrus oils are very fragile and exposure to oxygen and heat can damage their olfactory properties.
It is suggested to store them in the cold (5-10° C) and prevent oxidation by limiting exposure to air as much as possible.
Once you have smelled fresh expressed oils, you will understand how delicate the fine details of these products are and can suffer from poor storage.
On comparing some old oils (>24 months and improperly stored) with a fresh one, you can still be able to smell the citrusy character. However, the aromatic, fresh-lemony topnotes are almost vanished and the sparkling greeness is now replaced by some sort of sweet, lime-like, piney, varnish-like effect in the drydown. Still quite pleasant (if you were expecting to smell awful rotting notes, you’ll be reassured). But definitely the beautiful ephemeral topnotes are gone, replaced by a dull sweet-citrusy scent, and the sweet, leathery base overwhelmed by resinous off-notes.
I warmly suggest to buy only fresh expressed oils and to store them properly.