Smart Odor Classification. ABC's system from Perfumersworld.

photo by @perfumeworld

Following a success of my previous article about a scent description "Tell the scent. Use your brain to describe a fragrance" (, I'd like to share the most innovative, creative and versatile approach in the scent classification/education I've ever seen:

Fragrance, beautiful and exquisit world, has a constant growth, evolution and expansion. Hundreds and thousands of new perfumes appear every year, dozens of new perfume brands come up, unstoppable sales promotions, novelties and concepts of "Fragrance Wardrobe" inevitably motivate people to have more than just one perfume, albeit how skillful and educated we are nowadays in describing the scent. In spite of a vast usage the smell is still the least understood human sence and the most complex human sense at the same time. We are not tought about the Smell in school, neither in any other education institute, nor professional environment (unless your profession is direcly connected to the scent itself). There is no unified Language of the smell as well, however we have multiples ways and approcahes to bring, more or less, proper description and classification.

One the most famous and widely used is a classification of a perfume by Olfactive Families and "The Fragrance Wheel" by Michael Edwards in particular.

However, there is a classification of an Odor, or Olfactive Facet, which is more spesific description of the Odor dimentions. Such dimentions as shape, color, feeling, character, texture, sound are applied to give the most accurate definition to the most complex Odors (which may consist of 400&above components, e.g. Rose Oil).

The most developed and versative apprroach I found in Perfumersworld (, company that specifies on Essential Oils supply and Fragrance Education. They have successfully adopted the system which calls "ABC's of Perfumery". All details of the system you can find in the article:

"Training the ABC's of Perfumery

© Stephen V. Dowthwaite

This is paper was published in modified form in Perfumer & Flavorist, Allured Publications, USA. 1999"

The main idea is to assign an odor Description and Raw Materials to an alphabet where each letter tells about common odor quality or character: F - fruit, G - Green, J - Jasmine. Seems pretty easy albeit what can you say about: A - Alifatic, B - Iceberg, X - Musk. The Classification is given describes general properties of the odor, while Description is responsible for characteristics. Key Raw Materials that belong to the Classification and Description are given as well.

You can find the full Classification here:

photo by @perfumeworld

Of course, each Raw Material may have properties of two and more Classifications:

Photo by @perfumerworld

"ABC's of Perfumery" is much more complex and innovative approach however I'd like to focus only on the basic Classification here. Explanation of the most complete classification will be written in another article.