The Altruist is a fragrance by Berlin-based niche fragrance house, J.F. Schwarzlose, which won in this year’s independent perfumery category at the Art and Olfaction awards. When I visited Florence in 2015, I had the opportunity to preview The Altruist at Pitti Fragranze ahead of the fragrance’s official launch. J.F. Schwarzlose’s co-founder, Lutz Herrmann, and perfumer Véronique Nyberg gave a presentation on their new fragrance with artist Paul DeFlorian, who was involved in the collaboration. DeFlorian’s art, in particular his painting titled “my mobile is on vibrate but he never calls me back,” was used as a reference.
Following the initial success of The Altruist (eau de toilette), J.F. Schwarzlose released an eau de parfum earlier this year. The notes are the same but the higher concentration offers a slightly different experience. The woody notes are more grounding and the fragrance has more weight despite the citrus notes maintaining their airy effervescence. Both the eau de toilette and eau de parfum feature exceptional ingredients. Not only is Véronique Nyberg the perfumer for J.F. Schwarzlose, she is also the V.P. of Fine Fragrance Creation at MANE, a global leader in the fragrance industry, which produces natural and manmade fragrance ingredients. At Pitti Fragranze the trio broke The Ultruist down into its composite parts, and the audience was able to smell some of the key ingredients in isolation during Nyberg’s talk, including two new “captive” molecules, which are available exclusively to MANE perfumers.
Although the scented blotters I took away from the presentation no longer have an odour, I still have my notes, which talk to the way the fragrance was composed.
Top notes (bright and clean freshness):
Bergamot rectified essential oil, furocoumarin-free
MANE obtains the oil from cold expression of the bergamot peel using fruit from Southern Calabria.
Scent impressions: citrusy, bitter, sour, fruity, fresh-floral, lavender.
Lemon rectified essential oil, citral-free
The oil is obtained from cold expression of the peel using fruit primarily produced in Argentina, Sicily, Brazil, California and Spain. This luminous ingredient is often used as a sparkling top note.
Scent impressions: Fruity, zesty, acidic, green and tonic.
Ginger pure Jungle Essence
The essence is extracted from the roots and is a 100% natural ingredient.
Scent impressions: Fresh, spicy and fusing note, more vibrant than the classic essence.
Black pepper pure Jungle Essence
The essence is extracted from the peppercorns and is a 100% natural ingredient.
Scent impressions: Fresh, spicy and peppery note, woodier than the classic essence.
(MANE’s Jungle Essences use breakthrough, environmentally friendly extraction processes. Extraction takes place at low temperatures using supercritical fluids. These essences are truer aromatic renditions of the raw material compared to traditional methods of extraction)
Heart notes (sensual and imaginary bouquet):
A new captive molecule developed by MANE that is an aldehydic note, also airy or ozonic.
Scent impressions: Floral freshness, aqueous and clean.
Nutmeg rectified essential oil, safrol-free
The oil comes from the steam distillation of nuts mainly produced in Indonesia, Sri Lanka and the West Indies.
Scent impressions: Spicy, aromatic and sweet.
Orange flower absolute
The bitter orange blossom is a delicate and ephemeral flower that is harvested in May. The main producers are Tunisia, Morocco, Italy, Egypt and the South of France.
Scent impressions: Marshmallow, honey, green, jasmine, animalic.
Rose France Superessence
The Centifolia rose is only picked for three weeks in May. The Superessence is exclusive technology from MANE, which involves volatile solvent extraction followed by hydro distillation to produce a scent of fresh rose that is crisp and very natural.
Scent impressions: Delicate and green freshness of the Centifolia rose.
Base notes (dry and humid density):
Cedar wood rectified essential oil
Cedar is often used as a base note that can hold and support the mid notes. Most of the essential oil is in the heartwood, which is cut, shaved and steam distilled.
Scent impressions: Woody, dry, lead pencil.
Vetiver Bourbon rectified essential oil
The Bourbon variety comes from the Reunion Islands, the Comoros and Madagascar. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation of the washed, cut in pieces, sun-dried rhizomes.
Scent impressions: Woody, smoky, fresh and bitter.
Patchouli rectified essential oil
The essential oil is obtained through steam distillation of the dried and fermented leaves.
Scent impressions: Woody, camphor, green, earthy.
A new captive molecule developed by MANE that is a long lasting woody amber note.
Scent impressions: Dry and earthy tones somewhere between cedar and ambergris (not to be confused with the more animalic, labdanum derived Ambrarome).
Something I like about the composition of The Altruist is the contrast that plays out between the wet, zesty top notes and the dry woody base. The Altruist opens with a wonderfully tart lemon note. Flecks of bergamot make the fragrance’s opening glisten and sparkle. Ginger adds to this vibrancy and Aqual aerates the entire fragrance with a sense of clean laundry hung out to dry under the summer sun. Nutmeg and black pepper continues ginger’s spicy effect in the heart notes. The floral notes, although described as Rose Superessence and orange blossom absolute read more like an abstract floral; it’s light, fresh and has a spring flower quality. No doubt Aqual’s ozonic effect also has an impact on how these floral notes read in the fragrance. Gradually the woody notes begin to amplify. Dry cedar wood and vetiver become present. Patchouli is often recognised as adding a feeling of humidity to fragrances but here, with cedar, it feels arid and slightly dusty. In the dry down, The Altruist settles and becomes a clean skin-scent backed by a contrast of dry woods.
Olfactive direction: Lutz Herrmann, Tamas Tagscherer
Perfumer: Véronique Nyberg
Release Date: 2017
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woods
Notes: Aqual, ginger, lemon, bergamot, rose, nutmeg, orange blossom, black pepper, Ambramone, vetiver, patchouli, cedarwood