Bergamot Study Guide

Presented in connection with the Blog on

The Study of Natural Essences-Exploring the World of Natural Aromatics

From Perfume and Flavor Material of Natural Origin by Steffen Arctander
Bergamot Oil is produced by cold expression
from the peel of the nearly ripe fruit. The tree
grows almost exclusively in a narrow coastal strip
in the southern part of Calabria, Italy. Cultivation
of bergamot trees in other areas have failed to
produce bergamot oils of comparable value to
that of the Calabrian oil. There is one exception,
however: experimental plantations in Guinea
(former French West Africa) since 1937, and more
recently in Morocco have now attained some
importance on the world Bergamot Oil market.
Bergamot trees are grafted on stubs of bitter
orange trees. The fruits are of the size of big
oranges and almost lemon-shaped. The annual
world production (over 90% of which is Calab-
rian) fluctuates between 150 and 250 tons.
Bergamot Oil is a green or olive green, mobile
liquid of extremely rich, sweet-fruity initial odor.
Although the characteristics of this topnote
remain perceptible in good oils, it is followed by
a still more characteristic oily-herbaceous and
somewhat balsamic body and dryout. The sweet-
ness yields to a more tobaccolike and rich note,
somewhat reminiscent of sage clary and neryl-
acetate. The freshness in the topnote is mainly due
to terpenes and small amounts of citral and
aliphatic aldehydes. Absence of the "oily" note
is one of the most revealing features in poor or
adulterated bergamot oils. The color of bergamot
oil fades on ageing, particularly when the oil is
exposed to daylight. The oil turns yellow or pale
olive-brown. The color is also dependent upon
the maturity of the fruit at the moment of expres-
sing. Like all other citrus oils, Bergamot Oil is
produced in the immediate vicinity of the plant-
The oil is used extensively in perfumery for its
sweet freshness, particularly in citrus colognes,
chypres, fougeres, modern fantasy bases, etc.
Part of the sweetness and rich bodynote is due to
the presence of large amounts of linalylacetate
combined with linalool and traces of methyl-
anthranilate. It is interesting to find the presence
of methylanthranilate together with aliphatic
aldehydes, citral etc. in several citrus oils. In
perfume creation, it is generally considered some-
what hazardous to include substantial amounts
of aldehydes when anthranilates are present. The
formation of "Scruff's bases" produce a very
intense color which may be visible in the perfumed
cosmetic product or in a soap. Other perfumers
will deliberately utilize this simple chemical phen-
omenon to produce an increased sweetness in
orange-flower or neroli types of fragrance, etc.
Unlike most other citrus oils, Bergamot Oil
has a certain fixative effect when used in fairly
high concentrations. The odor of the oil is well
balanced from nature through the presence of
certain coumarin derivatives, some of which are
odorless and non-volatile. The quantity and com-
position of the evaporation residue is another
important criterion in the analysis of bergamot oil.

Interesting Links regarding Bergamot

Bergamotto di Reggio Calabria

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