Saturday, September 7, 2013

The Jean Carles Method: Olfactory Training Charts Revealed

In May 2007 "Exposing the Perfumer" was published in Perfumer and Flavorist. The article contained olfactory training charts created by perfumer Jean Carles of Givaudan. It was the first and only time olfactory training charts used to train professional perfumers were made available to the public by a trade publication. Perfumer & Flavorist has allowed the author, Michelle Krell Kydd, to share the article for educational purposes at no charge, effective September 5, 2013. The Jean Carles Method is explained on page 41. The charts are on pages 42 and 43. Fragrance houses have custom made aroma kits for use with the Jean Carles Method; one such kit is featured in the photograph above.

The brilliance of the Jean Carles Method is its two-step approach. A perfumer first smells individual raw materials by similarity to get acquainted with themes and nuances. The perfumer then smells ingredients by contrast which expands their capacity to memorize aromas while revealing unexpected complements. This process of evaluation allows perfumers to study the relationship between aromas and increases olfactory vocabulary. There are two charts; one for natural materials and one for aroma molecules. The method is practiced regularly by perfumers across flavor and fragrance companies, and is used by artisan perfumers outside the industry who craft their own perfumes.

The Jean Carles Method and associated olfactory training charts provide an indispensable tool for those with an interest in the sense of smell, gastronomy and/or mixology. Steffen Arctander's Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin supports the Jean Carles Method, providing detailed information on ingredients. Glass Petal Smoke hopes that universities will consider using the Jean Carles Method for transdisciplinary, arts-infused curriculum as the possibilities are limitless. Perfumery is an art and a science, and thus has a place in STEM initiatives from K-12. The sense of smell is memory's handmaiden. To deny students the opportunity to explore olfaction from a creative perspective would be more than shortsighted; it would truly stink.

Notes and Resources:
Thanks go out to Jeb Gleason-Allured (Perfumer and Flavorist) for allowing Glass Petal Smoke to share "Exposing the Perfumer" and associated Jean Carles Method olfactory training charts.

Thanks are also extended to Kate Greene (Givaudan) who said "yes" when I asked for permission to liberate the Jean Carles Method and associated olfactory training charts so that a curious public would have access to a hidden art and science. I know this was not easy and that perfumer Jean Guichard, Director of Givaudan's Perfumery School, helped. Your collaborative "yes" now has the potential to influence olfactory curriculum and the art of perfumery in ways that truly engage the senses.

Caveat: The Jean Carles Method olfactory training charts are modified whenever regulation by the International Fragrance Association (IFRA) indicates a necessity to do so. This affects the percentage at which a raw material is diluted in alcohol and/or its outright use, depending on the outcome of scientific studies.

Jean Carles was interviewed in "The Absolute in Grasse," by Donald William Dresden. The article was published in the October 8, 1955 edition of the New Yorker (pp. 161-177). Retrieving the article is a bit clunky when it comes to functionality, but worth the effort and expense.

Anyone wishing to buy essential oils so they can learn the Jean Carles Method for natural materials has several options when it comes to suppliers. Glass Petal Smoke recommends Eden BotanicalsEnfleurage, and Liberty Natural Products.

The photo of the Jean Carles olfactory training kit is the editor's "naturals" kit. It was used to study perfumery with Jean Guichard at Givaudan.

The photo of a smiling gentleman with a tie is that of perfumer extraordinaire Jean Carles.

IFRA's name was changed to Fragrance Creators in May 2018. References to this organization remain IFRA in the body of this 2013 article as this respects the time in which it was written. Links are directed to the organization's rebranded website.

If you would like to use this blog post for educational purposes you are free to do so. Posting the article titled "Exposing the Perfumer" on other sites, for non-educational purposes, is not permitted. Please respect these terms and conditions as Perfumer and Flavorist has been most gracious in allowing Glass Petal Smoke to share this article with readers.