If you love a fresh scented perfume, then you have probably encountered bergamot, perhaps without even knowing it. This uplifting citrus note is widely used as a top note in fragrance, but what on earth is it and what does bergamot smell like? Let’s find out!
What is bergamot?
Even if you have heard of bergamot, you wouldn’t be alone if you weren’t sure what it was.
The bergamot orange is a type of citrus fruit that is about the same size as a regular orange. However, its color is similar to that of a lime. Many would call this a hybrid fruit and its unique aroma makes it highly sought after in the fragrance industry.
While bergamot may smell delicious, unlike many of its citrus cousins, the fruit is not edible and is incredibly bitter.
What is bergamot used for?
While you cannot eat bergamot, owing to its very sour flavor, the fruit and its essential oil can be used for a wide variety of other applications.
Take the world-famous Twinings Tea company, for example, that prides itself on using bergamot as the main flavoring ingredient in its delicious Earl Grey tea. Moreover, you’ll often find this highly fragrant fruit boiled down and made into a jam or marmalade.
Due to its diverse and unisex scent, bergamot oil is widely used in cosmetic products for both men and women. You’ll likely find bergamot oil in things like perfumes, body lotions, and skincare products. For the latter, bergamot has a special ability to calm inflammatory skin conditions like acne, which is why there are so many facial skincare products containing this ingredient.
In the world of haircare, bergamot has a reputation for managing unruly curls, while those who enjoy using aromatherapy enjoy a wealth of benefits when using bergamot essential oil.
Primarily, the essential oil of the bergamot orange is known for its stress-relieving purposes. Just a tiny dab on a handkerchief can invoke a relaxed reaction. Moreover, bergamot has a range of physical health benefits such as lower cholesterol and easing symptoms of food poisoning when taken orally in capsule form.
Where does bergamot come from?
Since bergamot is so well-loved for various purposes, one would imagine that the demand for the fruit is significant; but where does bergamot come from?
Bergamot oranges were originally grown in the south-eastern parts of Asia, where a highly tropical climate can be found. The fruit comes from a tree called the Citrus Bergamia.
Nowadays, with the call for bergamot being so high, the fruit is farmed all over the world. While much of the world’s supply comes from the Ivory Coast and the South of France, around 80% of all bergamot is now grown in the south of Italy. It is produced in the Calabria region and has given the area a reputation as a bergamot producer.
How to pronounce bergamot?
There is much dispute online about the correct pronunciation of bergamot.
Many people believe that the word follows the French rule for not pronouncing the last consonant (or few consonants in some cases), but this is not correct. The word bergamot is pronounced exactly as it is written ber – ga – mot. You can find an audio pronunciation, according to Cambridge, here.
What does bergamot smell like?
While you may have seen bergamot as one of the main fragrance notes in many perfumes, unless you know what you’re looking for, it may be tricky to identify its smell.
Bergamot is an undeniable citrus scent. It is refreshing and zesty but has a deeper and more spicy accord than things like lemon and orange. There is a tartness to bergamot that makes it a very bright and uplifting note.
Some great perfumes with bergamot
Bergamot is a hugely diverse scent that can be very easily blended with a multitude of others. That is one of the reasons that it is so highly sought after in the perfume industry. Whether you want something that is unabashedly bergamot or something a little more subtle, you’ll likely find a perfume to suit your taste.
1. Le Labo Bergamote 22
Launched in 2006, Bergamote 22 is a woody aromatic fragrance for women and men bursting with fresh bergamot alongside a diverse array of other notes. Warming cedar and vetiver give the fragrance its woodiness, while amber brings a slightly Oriental feel to the perfume.
Bergamote 22 is a delicate fragrance by Le Labo that is perfect for use in the warmer months. As the composition dries down with the body heat, you’ll get a noticeable yet not overpowering citrus hit of bergamot and grapefruit.
While the fragrance is unisex, there is a daring masculine edge that would ideally suit someone looking for a more androgynous fragrance.
2. Jo Malone Oud And Bergamot
Perfumes that are inspired by the Middle East are mysterious, rich, and luxurious; Oud and Bergamot by Jo Malone is no exception. This decadent perfume immaculately blends the fresh, light citrus scents of bergamot, Amalfi lemon, and orange with woody oud and cedar.
While many Jo Malone fragrances are strong, Oud and Bergamot is much more subdued and subtle. That’s not to say it will go unnoticed, quite the opposite. The fragrance will deliver a gentle breeze of aroma through the day without being offensive. That makes it ideal for everyday use, especially in the fall months when you need a fragrance with a little extra warmth.
3. Byredo Pulp
Bergamot is a heavily citrus scent but that doesn’t mean it cannot be enjoyed by those with a preference for floral fragrances. Pulp by Byredo is a perfect blend of fruity and floral, resulting in a crisp, uplifting and incredibly chic-feeling fragrance.
The freshness of bergamot is juxtaposed with sweet black currant at the head. Moving through the heart, the fragrance releases notes of Tiare flower, red apple, and fig. At the base, peach blossom blends with cedar and praline for something utterly unique. If you are searching for a bergamot-inspired signature that will be unmistakably you, this could be a real contender.
4. Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria
Inspired by the place where bergamot is so widely grown, Blue Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria is one of the most well-loved bergamot perfumes. The perfect fragrance for women and men on a hot summer’s day, picnicking in a meadow or sipping cocktails by the sea. The perfume is diverse and incredibly uplifting.
Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria has heavy bergamot and citrus notes at the head that move through a heart of ginger, cedar, and flowers. The base is sweet and warm with benzoin, musk and vetiver which leaves an intoxicating yet subtle trail wherever you go.
5. oja Dove Parfums Chypre Extraordinaire
If you are looking for a high-end, luxurious fragrance that screams bergamot on the first spray, then Chypre Extraordinaire is something you will fall in love with.
The bergamot top notes move down through complex middle notes, including several florals and peach. The base is just as detailed and yet somehow not overwhelming. Leather, civet, cumin, Tonka bean, and amber meet vanilla clove and sandalwood for something unmistakable and highly indulgent.
Chypre Extraordinaire is an intense fragrance that isn’t for the lighthearted. Just a couple of spritzes will allow your bold, confident personality to shine through.
6. The Different Company Bergamote
One of the great things about bergamot is that it can be so freely used for unisex fragrances. In Bergamote by The Different Company, we see the citrus fruit being brought together with ginger, orange blossom, musk, and rhubarb. The green notes make this a fresh and vibrant perfume that is perfect for summertime.
With such a unique aroma, Bergamote would very much suit a special occasion or a first date, where you want to stand out and make a statement. But that isn’t to say that the fragrance will be overly intense. It provides a subtle yet noticeable and very chic sillage that is ideal for making a subtle statement.
7. Orto Parisi Bergamask
If you are keen to have an exclusively bergamot fragrance then you won’t find many others that are as pure as Bergamask. That mouth-watering citrus fragrance is blended only with musk for a slightly sweet accord. But that’s not to say that this isn’t an incredibly aromatic fragrance.
Bergamask is a perfume for men and women that is surprisingly versatile. With its simplicity, the fragrance makes a perfect everyday perfume. However, thanks to its rich, lively projection and excellent longevity, it is also ideal for moments where you want to stand out.
Frequently asked questions about bergamot
When is bergamot in season?
The season for growing bergamot begins in November and ends in January. It is thought that between 25,000 and 30,000 tonnes of the fruit are produced each season.
Can bergamot oil be ingested?
Bergamot oil is not safe to eat as is. That is because of a toxin known as bergapten. For some highly sensitive people, even inhaling the oil can be potentially dangerous if taking certain types of medication due to its interactions with these drugs.
The bergapten in bergamot can cause irritation of the throat and airways. Since there are not currently any guidelines on the safe use of internal bergamot oil use, it is best to avoid this entirely.
Are bergamot and bee balm the same?
The names bergamot and bee balm are often used interchangeably. Bergamot is a citrus fruit from the citrus bergamia tree, whereas bee balm is a herb that comes from the monarda didyma plant. The latter is a closer relation to things like sage and peppermint as opposed to the citrus fruit.
Is bergamot safe for dogs?
It is safe to use bergamot for dogs; however, this does come with a word of caution. Since the compounds within bergamot can react when exposed to sunlight, it is wise to limit sun exposure while using bergamot as a treatment.
Is bergamot safe for cats?
If you wish to diffuse bergamot oil in your home when you have a cat, you should do this in a room where the cat cannot enter. Bergamot is considered to be toxic to cats along with other oils, including, but not limited to, cinnamon, tea tree, clove, lemon, lavender, and ylang-ylang.
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