Description and usage notes:
Benzaldehyde appears in several flower GC results and occurs fairly widely in nature. It was also one of the earliest perfumery materials to be produced industrially having been prepared from toluene as early as 1866. The smallest of the aromatic aldehydes, benzaldehyde is a top note material that requires careful blending because its high vapour pressure and low detection threshold mean it can easily dominate the opening stages of a fragrance in which it is used.
Arctander says it has a: “Powerful sweet odor, reminiscent of freshly crushed bitter Almonds.” and that it is “used in perfumery for special topnote effects, and as a trace component in certain floral compositions (Lilac, Sweet Pea, etc.).”
Jean Claude Elena, in his book Diary of a Nose, suggests this material for one of his ‘Summary Smells’ (highly simplified odour pictures): Cherry. He says “I like cherries picked straight from the tree, perhaps because they are a symbol of spring, but mainly because they are crisp, acidic and sugary. The taste we remember is mostly the flavor in, say, yoghurts, and this condemns us to the same bland olfactory reference.
You can read more about the differences between natural and synthetic bitter almond oil, production methods and uses in this post on the Pell Wall blog.
Benzaldehyde was included in the original list of 100 Essential Aroma Chemicals compiled on Basenotes, although it is not included in our 100 Aroma Essential Aroma Materials Kits because, in the view of this perfumer, its limited application and difficulty of use meant it didn’t quite merit a place; however others would disagree and you might like to add this material to that collection.