A fragrance wheel, variously called an aroma wheel, a fragrance circle, a perfume wheel or a smell wheel, is a round diagram showing the inferred relationships among olfactory groups based upon similarities and differences in their odor. The groups bordering one another are implied to share common olfactory characteristics. Fragrance wheels are frequently used as a classification tool in oenology and perfumery.
The first example of a fragrance wheel was conceived by Austrian perfumer Paul Jellinek and titled the Odor Effects Diagram, published in the original German edition of his book The Practice of Modern Perfumery (1949). Other notable versions include the Fragrance Circle, developed in 1979 by U. Harder at Haarman & Reimer, the Wine Aroma Wheel, from 1984 by sensory chemist Ann C. Noble, and the Fragrance Wheel, created in 1992 by perfumery taxonomist Michael Edwards.
This article only describes one highly specialized aspect of its associated subject.(April 2017)
Since its creation, Michael Edwards' Fragrance Wheel and the developed fragrance classification scheme has been modified several times through the addition of different groups to encompass different fragrance types.
The four standard families are Floral, Oriental, Woody and Fresh. These are in turn divided into three sub-groups (e.g. in the Floral Family: Floral, Soft Floral, Floral Oriental) and arranged in a circle, each group being related to the next. Each of the subclasses were in turn divided into Fresh, Crisp, Classical, and Rich compositions. Prior to 2010 Fougère family was placed at the center of this wheel since they are a large family of scents that usually contain fragrance elements from each of the other four families; citrus from the fresh family, oak moss and woods from the woody family, coumarin and incense from the Oriental family, and lavender from the floral family.
In this classification scheme, Chanel No.5, which is traditionally classified as a "Floral Aldehyde" would be located under Soft Floral sub-group, and "Amber" scents would be placed within the Oriental group. As a class, Chypres are more difficult to place since they would be located under parts of the Oriental and Woody families. For instance, Guerlain Mitsouko, which is classically identified as a chypre will be placed under Mossy Woods, but Hermès Rouge, a chypre with more floral character, would be placed under Floral Oriental. Originally they are:
With the publication of Fragrances of the World 2008, two new sub-groups: Fruity and Woods, have been added to the wheel.
The sub-groups of the fragrance wheel are:
- Floral (Floral + Fresh Notes). Main notes include fresh-cut flowers.
- Soft Floral (Floral Notes). Main notes include aldehydes and powdery notes.
- Floral Oriental (Floral + Oriental Notes). Main notes include orange blossom and sweet spices.
- Soft Oriental (Oriental + Floral Notes). Main notes include incense and amber.
- Oriental (Oriental Notes). Main notes include oriental resins such as frankincense, and vanilla.
- Woody Oriental (Oriental + Woody Notes). Main notes include sandalwood and patchouli.
- Woods Main notes include aromatic woods and vetiver.
- Mossy Woods (Woody + Oriental Notes). Main notes include oakmoss and amber.
- Dry Woods (Woody Notes). Main notes include dry woods and leather.
- Aromatic Fougère (Fresh Notes). Main notes include lavender and aromatic herbs. This universal fragrance family includes elements from different families: the freshness from the Citrus family, floral notes of lavender, the spicy-sweetness of a Floral Oriental, the ambery depth of an Oriental and the Mossy Woods warmth of sandalwood and oakmoss.
- Citrus (Woody + Fresh Notes). Main notes include bergamot and other citrus oils.
- Fruity (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include berries and other non-citrus fruits.
- Green (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include galbanum and green notes.
- Water (Fresh + Floral Notes). Main notes include marine and aquatic notes, generally from the chemical calone.
- Jellinek, P. (1949) Praktikum des Modernen Parfümeurs, Vienna
- Harder, U. (1979). Der H&R duftkreis. Haarmann & Reimer, Contact, 23, 18-27.
- Noble, A.C., Arnold, R.A., Masuda, S.D., Pecore, J.O. Schmidt, and P.M. Stern, “Progress towards a standardized system of wine aroma terminology.” American Journal of Enology and Viticulture, 35 (1984), pp. 107-109
- Edwards, Michael. Fragrances of the World. Sydney, N.S.W.: Fragrances of the World, 1992. Print.
- Boberick, Mark David (2010-03-30), "Sniffapalooza Magazine Exclusive interview with Michael Edwards Fragrance Expert and Author of "Fragrances Of The World"", Sniffapalooza Magazine
- Edwards, Michael (2008), Fragrances of the world 2008, Michael Edwards & Co, ISBN 978-0-9756097-3-6
- Zarzo, Manuel; Stanton, David T. (2009), "Understanding the underlying dimensions in perfumers' odor perception space as a basis for developing meaningful odor maps", Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics, 71 (2): 225–247
- Donna, Laura (December 2009), "Fragrance Perception: Is Everything Relative?", Perfumer and Flavourist, 34: 26–35
- Edwards, Michael (2011), Fragrances of the world 2011, Michael Edwards & Co
- The Fragrance Wheel
- Interview with Michael Edwards
- Perfume classification: The Fragrance Wheel
- The Wine Aroma Wheel