Jasmin 231 by Firmenich

I just got my order of Jasmin 231 today and I thought I would tell you all about it as it is virtually never written or spoken about online despite the fact that it is was once a very important Jasmine base. NOTE: formula is now included at the bottom of this post.

Leopold-RuzickacreditETH-Bibliothek-Zurich-Image-archive-

This is pretty much the only information on it online: “In 1933, the Ruzicka [pictured] team [of Firmenich – then Chuit, Naef & Cie] developed a production of Jasmone, molecule that was first discovered in nature. Maurice Chevron creates “Jasmin 231,” a base of benzyl acetate and some other components that didn’t exist in the real jasmine. This jasmine base with narcissus nuances became very popular. “Jasmin 231″ was used in Canoe by Dana and Joy by Jean Patou, unforgettable Cabochard de Gres and in Charlie by Revlon.” [Source]

Maurice Chevron was the director of Firmenich from 1920. He started work in the perfume business at age 14 and worked for the last 32 years of his life at Firmenich. He spoke many languages and was truly a master perfumer.

I didn’t know what the base was going to be like but because of my interest in vintage bases I bought a kg anyway. It arrived today and all I can say is wow! This is a really special base that everyone here needs to try.

Narcissus-IceFollies_2123rf

On opening the bottle you are hit by a definitely jasmine note of benzyl acetate – then the fun begins. It is absolutely loaded with cresylic notes (the narcissus nuance – pictured). It is so potent that my guess is that it’s a blend of phenyl cresyl acetate and phenyl cresyl phenyl acetate (rather than just the latter on its own). The benzyl acetate is fairly strong but I suspect there is also quite a bit of hydroxycitronellal and a few other chemicals that modify the BA and make it less dominant. Most likely there is linalool etc.

It has incredible longevity – hours on the skin – I applied it around 10am this morning just by dipping my finger into the bottle cap and the scent is still noticeable on my hand at 8:30pm. Most of what’s left is animal and cresols.

African-Civet-7

In addition to the cresylic notes and BA it has a HUGE amount of indole (the fecal note found in white flowers and poop) and an equally huge amount of civet (pictured) which is a glandular secretion from the civet cat from Ethiopia – it smells very fecal and urinous but very floral in small doses. They become very apparent within the first 10 minutes of the dry down and they remain as the dominant notes thereafter. It is almost like the benzyl acetate is a top note modifier of cresols, indole, and civet. Once it fades you have a wild animal on your hands.

This is so beautifully put together that you can’t stop sniffing. I have gone back to the bottle numerous times today just to have another smell. It is truly amazing.

image

It was in the original joy – probably at around 25% if we are to believe Louis Appell who uses it in his formula. I have a vintage bottle of joy and those incredibly strong cresylic notes are definitely in there. They work wonders with the large quantities of natural rose and jasmine by opening them up and letting them blossom (an approach I definitely recommend to anyone wanting a vintage method of adding space to a fragrance that is too heavy). It was – I believe – also used as the jasmine base of First for Van Cleef and Arpels by Jean Claude Ellena before he renounced traditional perfumery for his minimalist approach.

Vigon stocks this base and provide samples. The base itself is $583 a kilo – fairly pricey but not insanely so.

The only downside is that the indole and civet are clearly synthetic or, at the very least, are supported by synthetics. Consequently I am going to spend some time tomorrow seeing if I can create my own version of this base using the largely natural ingredients that I am sure would have been used to begin with. I will rely on synthetics as necessary but outside of the PCA and PCPA I suspect most of it can be recreated with natural extractions. If I manage to make a fairly decent reconstruction I’ll post the formula here.

This is the link to the product on vigon for those interested in buying some or getting a sample.

My perfumery interests lie especially in vintage fragrances and reconstructions or creations of fragrances using old school methods and ingredients (which is not to say I won’t use synthetics – they definitely have a very important place in perfumery – vintage included) so this base is going to be of great use in my current work.

The Formula

I have spent the last three days working on this accord to see if I can get a duplicate formula and I think I have come pretty close! So, if you want to make your own version of Jasmine 231 this formula below should help.

Quantity Ingredient Comments
300 Benzyl Acetate Basic jasmine chemical
200 Lyral Like hydroxycitronellal but more tenacious
100 Phenyl Ethyl Alcohol Important rose chemical
100 Cinnamic Alcohol Soft sweet cinnamon odor
100 Benzyl Salicylate UV protecting and oily/balsamic
50 Amyl Cinnamic Aldehyde Oily jasmine note
50 Ylang Ylang Naturalness and floralcy
40 Geranyl Acetate Adds lift and brightness
18 Dipropylene Glycol Dilutent – can use IPM
10 Neroli For floralcy – could use petitgrain
10 Civet Synthetic Animalic
10 Heliotropin Contributes anise note in dry down
5 Methyl Anthranilate Orange flower odor
5 Para Cresyl Phenyl Acetate Narcissus/urine note – lasts through dry down
4 Para Cresyl Acetate Mostly urine/hay – supports PCPA
3 Pimento Leaf Allspice – very noticeable in 231
1000

The most important part of the accord above (in terms of creating Jasmine 231) is the para cresyl phenyl acetate, para cresyl acetate, and pimento. If you were to remove those you would still have a pretty nice standard jasmine accord, but it is the cresylic notes that add the very intense narcissus flavor that made Jasmine 231 so famous and popular. The pimento lends a subtle richness and rounding off of the cresylic notes in the opening moments of the accord.

I also want to note that aside from the cresyls and lyral, natural versions of all of the rest of the ingredients are available. If you create this with all the naturals available it is 77.22% natural. If you substitute hydroxycitronellal for lyral you can get a mostly natural version of that. That would take the natural total to 97.2%. Having said that, I did spend a lot of time experimenting with hydroxycitronellal in this accord and I do think lyral is better due to its tenacity.

This formula is most likely not IFRA compliant due to the high amount of lyral and maybe even the cinnamic alcohol. Obviously that doesn’t concern me but I figured I ought to mention it.

  • I.D.Adam

    Thanks for the write up on the Jasmine base. Can’t wait to try it. Will be following your blog and looking forward to your new blends.

  • jfrater

    No problem 🙂 I plan to update fairly often so keep checking back.

  • grayspoole

    Great post and best wishes on the launch of your blog! I am a vintage perfume collector who has enjoyed quietly reading and learning about perfume ingredients and composition from you and the other mad scientists on the Basenotes DIY thread. I know my vintage Joy parfum smells unlike anything on the market today, but I also like to understand why this is so. Looking forward to hearing about your discoveries and (I hope) experiencing one of your perfumes some day.

    • jfrater

      I am actually working on a fragrance based on the concept of the original joy – mostly naturals. I will probably make it available at some point – though that’s probably six months away as the high quantity of naturals needs lots of resting. Part of my reason for working on a replacement for Jasmin 231 is to use it in that. I want my base to be primarily naturals whereas I am pretty sure the current version from Firmenich is not.

  • I doing the formula without pcpa ( i use pure pca) and pimento( i replaced mixed isoeugenyl acetate, methyl diantillis and juniper EO :D). Smell very beautifull yellow narcissus in my garden with fresh laundry/soapy and fruity backnotes 😀

    • jfrater

      You could certainly do it with only PCA but if you get some PCPA I recommend using it as it adds a floral note that PCA doesn’t give you. PCA on its own will of course give you the effect though. In fact sometimes when mixing samples I use PCA as I have it in liquid – and I only switch to PCPA when I am getting close to a final result (it’s in crystal form).

      Your pimento replacer sounds good – particularly with juniper added.

  • I am experiencing an issue accessing RSS feed. Not sure why I’m not able to subscribe. Is there anyone getting an identical issue? Anybody who is aware of this kindly comment.

  • Thankfulness to my father who shared with me on the topic
    of this website, this website is in fact remarkable.

  • Very nice article. I definitely love this website. Thanks!

  • Alkharraz

    Hi I want the Oud formula