Describing Balsamic Aromas

by Andrea on July 6, 2009

I have often wondered how to best describe “balsamic aromas.”

I am sure you have also spent countless hours considering this deep question. Here is what I have come up with.

Balsamic aromas are unique–sweet, soft, earthy and rich all at once.

When you take long, deep breaths of these oils, you can settle in for a peaceful experience. Balsamic oils tend to be lower, deeper notes that take us to a forest—to an earthy, woodsy, grounding aroma that can also have rich vanilla undertones. Balsamic scents can also have spicy or floral undertones. You can get a sense of the classic balsamic aromas by smelling Opopanax essential oil. Try smelling good balsamic vinegar and then smelling Opopanax, Sandalwood and Vanilla (the Vanilla oleoresin if you have it). Can you perceive the balsamic aroma in these essential oils and oleoresin?

How would you describe balsamic? I would love to know!

Balsamic aromasBalsamic Aromasvanilla pods

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Owner/Instructor at Aromahead Institute
Aromahead Institute, owned by Andrea Butje, is a premier resource for online aromatherapy classes. Andrea offers her inspired approach to online aromatherapy certification through essential oil videos and original education materials. Check out her book, Essential Living: Aromatherapy Recipes for Health and Home, on Amazon!

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{ 5 comments… read them below or add one }

Margaret July 6, 2009 at 11:36 am

Great post Andrea, and so timely for me; I’ve been contemplating the language we use to describe scent recently. There is a beautiful book titled, “Perfumes:The Guide”, with reviews of perfumes by Luca Turin, (a book was written about him; he proposed a new theory of smell, the vibrational theory) Anyone who loves language will adore his descriptions of scents. I’m also reading , “The Perfect Scent” by Chandler Burr, which also has great descriptions of scents. As an aside, it was pretty neat to see the names of molecules I recognized from our certification class.
So I will spend some time with the balsamic oils and see what comes up for me!


Admin July 6, 2009 at 11:49 am

Hi Margaret,

I love both the books you are referring to, I am so glad you mentioned them. I also appreciate Mandy Aftel’s books, she writes beautifully! Any book by her is worth reading.


Margaret July 6, 2009 at 12:17 pm

Great! I just ordered one of her books, “Essence and Alchemy”!
Have you ever smelled green mango? The description in “The Perfect Scent” was so evocative. I’d love to smell the perfume that was based on that scent. Maybe in your travels you have come across it? (green mango)



Admin July 6, 2009 at 12:27 pm

I have not smelled green mango. Many of the products she describes are absolutes and we tend to work almost exclusively with essential oils as we are focused more on the therapeutic value. However, her descriptions are so alluring that of course I would love to smell green mango!!


Sharon Falsetto July 6, 2009 at 3:42 pm

Balsamic makes me think of ‘earthy’ and ‘spiritual’ essential oils – sandalwood comes to mind immediately…. :)


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