What is Jasmine Sambac and how does it smell


Jasmine Sambac

For the past twenty-five years, jasmine absolute has been a favorite in my perfumery “toolbox,” both professionally and in my own business. Perfumers and formulators alike know how precious (ie: expensive) this ingredient is and how regulations limit its use rate in finished products. What that means for anyone buying a product with ‘jasmine’ as a featured ingredient is that they are most likely able to detect jasmine-like ingredients rather than actual pure jasmine. From a perfumer’s perspective, jasmine is a dream to work with due to its ability to fit in with a multitude of perfume compositions.  Jasmine grows wild in some places, but the most commercially available varieties come from France, Morocco, Egypt, and India.

Star jasmine

star jasmine

Jasminium grandiflorum, the variety used most in fragrance houses and most familiar to those in the industry, naturally goes well in just about any floral-dominant fragrance. It either takes center stage with its heady bloom or fortifies lighter florals like muguet or honeysuckle with its rich, velvety texture. In a chypre, jasmine can add excitement to this complex mixture of woods, moss and citrus which typically features rose as the prominent floral component. I’ve even used it in heavier, woody fragrances to lend an invisible animalic appeal. In these instances, one might not even pick up on the jasmine, with its animalic and “cresolic” nuances being pushed, true to its chameleon-like nature.

California nursery

photo of a nearby nursery

Being an independent perfumer, I get to choose the exact variety, grade, and even crop that I use in my formulations. And instead of evaluating candidates for my next fragrance in a laboratory surrounded by bottles I sit in my “garden oasis”, as I like to call it, immersed in nature. My garden is the perfect place for me to appreciate scent in every form. Just as I spend countless hours reviewing fragrance materials seeking the perfect perfume ingredients, I also spend countless hours visiting nurseries as I seek the perfect plants for the perfect place in my oasis. That’s how, when I ended up at a random nursery in the desert a few months ago, my morning routine was forever changed. Unlike the half dozen or so nurseries that I frequent in Los Angeles, which are already quite sizable, this one was massive!! I learned that it was a big distributor of plants, trees, and landscaping for Las Vegas hotels. As I strolled along the seemingly endless rows of plants I stopped in my tracks when a familiar—yet unexpected—scent hit my nose.

“Wait, what IS that?” I asked myself out loud.

A nearby employee answered, “Oh that’s jasmine sambac.”

Pink jasmin grows wild in California

Pink jasmine grows wild in California

At that moment, I felt as though I entered an alternate universe where my perfume and plant worlds were colliding. In Los Angeles, jasmine grows wild. Star jasmine and pink jasmine fill the air, cover walls, and adorn trellises. It’s not uncommon to see pink jasmine bushes in full bloom in the spring, and star jasmine cascading over walls, brilliantly climbing trellises, and stylishly adorning concrete walls. They smell and look amazing!

Jasmin sambac in perfumes

Sherri’s Jasminium Sambac

But Jasminium sambac? What struck me most was that I’d only ever smelled it from a bottle and never from a live plant. So, in my mind, I almost disassociated it from an actual plant.  Seeing and smelling this plant—live and in person—was like meeting a long-lost pen pal.  Of course, I left the nursery with my coveted Jasminium sambacJasminium sambac has a much more pronounced scent than my other jasmine plants. The leaves are fuller, the flowers slightly larger, and as I’ve learned it takes a gentle touch to keep it blooming.

Even on mornings when there are only a few flowers, this simple ritual of drinking my coffee next to my jasmine sambac reminds me of the boundless inspiration found in nature and how simple routines can become transformative when scent is involved.

Sherri Sebastian, Contributing Editor, all photos by Sherri Sebastian©

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No. 35 Gift Set by Sherri sebastian sebastian signs features jasmine sambac

No. 35 Gift Set by Sherri Sebastian features jasmine sambac

Thanks to Provision Scents and perfumer Sherri Sebastian there is a draw for  one USA registered CaFleureBon reader in the USA for a gift set of Heritage #35 that features Jasmie Sambac  (if you are not sure if you are registered click here (you must register on our site or your entry will be invalid). To be eligible please leave a comment with what you enjoyed or learned from Sherri’s Stop and Smell The Sambac article.  Have you evr smelled a flower and was stopped by its scent? Draw closes 9/18/2021

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Sherri Sebastian is an independent perfumer and founder of luxury wellness brand, Provision. She’s based in Los Angeles and is the Vice President of the American Society of Perfumers

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