What Is A Fragrance Wheel?

Olfactive families aren’t a method for categorising ingredients but the notes, which are descriptors of scents. In essence, it was a way to break down and class how a perfume smells rather than what it contains.

As techniques for synthesising compounds became more elaborate in the late 19th Century, so did methods for categorising them. The first traditional classification of fragrances emerged around 1900 with 7 families.

However, by 1945 it became apparent that this model was far too primitive with the technological advances in compound design.

In 1949, Austrian perfumer Paul Jellinek devised the first fragrance wheel. A fragrance wheel works for the most part by illustrating the relationship between olfactory groups based on similarity or differences. It serves as a visual aid not only for identifying perfumes but also in developing new compounds.

In 1983, legendary perfume taxonomist Michael Edwards then rebuilt the fragrance wheel from the ground up. The Michael Edwards Fragrance Wheel was wildly successful and since went on to be an industry standard. Oenologists or professional wine tasters have even been known to use the fragrance wheel when identifying aromatic compounds in wine.

Edwards has modified and honed his fragrance wheel a number of trimes to become more streamlined. The latest 2010 revision comprises four standard families (Floral, Oriental, Woody and Fresh), which are divided into three or four subgroups.

The Aromatic Family

The Chypre Family

The Citrus Family

The Floral Family

The Fougère Family

The Leather Family

The Oriental Family

The Woody Family