What is So Super About Iso E Super?

???? A synthetic aromatic chemical, which also goes by the alternate name Patchouli Ethanol.

A synthetic aromatic chemical, which also goes by the alternate name Patchouli Ethanol. Iso E Super is one of the most versatile odor molecule ever and it is in almost every fragrance today.

A novel molecule manufactured by International Flavours and Fragrances (IFF) has many facets in the function of perfumery. This molecule is to perfumery what monosodium glutamate is to Asian cuisine. It’s a fragrance booster, helps improve longevity, and brings out clarity of notes and makes them smell more of itself; perhaps even hyperreal.

Most mainstream perfumes today have Iso E Super in varying concentrations. Consider the following (List compiled by Geza Schoen, in Chemistry & Biodiversity, Vol. 5, 2008):

  • Molecule 01, Escentrıc Molecules (2005) – 100%
  • Perles, Lalique (2007) – 80%
  • Poivre Samarcande, Hermes (2004) – 71%
  • Escentrıc 01, Escentrıc Molecules (2005) – 65%
  • Terre d’ Hermes, Hermes (2006) – 55%
  • Incense Kyoto, Comme des Garcons (2002) – 55%
  • Incense Jaisalmer,  Comme des Garcons (2002) – 51%
  • Fierce for Men, Abercrombie & Fitch (2002) – 48%
  • Kenzo Air, Kenzo (2003) – 48%
  • Encre Noire, Lalique (2006) – 45% 

In 1988 the world of perfumery saw a breakthrough when Christian Dior’s masculine fragrance Fahrenheit was launched. It used an overdose of Iso E Super (25%) free from the aromatic fougère genre clichés of the 1970–1980s. Fahrenheit had just reshaped the world of perfumery, permanently!

So, how does Iso E Super smell like?

The odor molecule provides a sandalwood-like and cedarwood-like notes to various medium such as perfumes and functional products.

This is how IFF would like to to describe it: “smooth, woody, amber with unique aspects giving a ‘velvet’ like sensation. Used to impart fullness and subtle strength to fragrances. Superb floralizer found in the majority of newer fine fragrances.”

???? The odor molecule provides a sandalwood-like and cedarwood-like notes to various medium such as perfumes and functional products.

And, according to Fragrantica, Iso E Super is, “A synthetic note with cedar woody, abstract facets that create a fuzz on skin, extending and helping a fragrance composition radiate from the skin, very popular with modern fragrances. Iso E Super has a remarkably pleasant smell — dry, woody and cedar-like, with aspects of ambergris, vetiver and patchouli and a slight phenolic nuance. At the same time, it is amazingly transparent and neutral, without the heavy feeling which is typical of natural woody materials. Although the Iso E Super smell is not intense, it is rich, versatile and never annoying.”

Iso E Super falls under the olfactory groups such as musk, amber, animalic

If we are to look at the odor strength it could be termed as ‘medium’, viz., it won’t jump into your nostrils. In day light it appears colorless to pale yellow clear liquid to an average eye. It is soluble in alcohol and the perfumers can use it up to 10% of finished product according to IFRA guidelines.

Here’s an interesting fact about Iso E Super: Even though there are several ways in which Iso E Super can be synthesized by aroma molecule producers, only the IFF product may be referred to as Iso E Super. Products manufactured by others bear different names such as Isocyclemone E, Amberfleur, Orbitone, Anthamber, Patchouli Ethanone, and Ambralux.


This esoteric molecule has it’s downside as well. Unfortunately, it is also toxic to aquatic organisms and may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. So, use it considering the long term effect on the environment.

Geza Schoen on the the sensual superpowers of the mysterious Molecule 01

???? Perfumer Geza Schoen revolutionized the use of Iso E Super in his seminal Molecule 01 for his perfume brand Escentric Molecules; the fragrance contains a 100% solution of the compound in alcohol.

– Iso E Super is like a drug. When you smell it you want more instantly. The more you are given the more you want. You can never have enough.

– It’s brought alive by the warmth of the body. It blossoms on the skin, adding a velvety radiance to your own individual scent signature. You want to nestle into it, it’s sensual, cocooning.

– It has a strange almost mystical aspect. When you are wearing Molecule 01 you have an aura that everyone around you detects, but you yourself can’t smell it. Every couple of hours it re-surfaces and you can smell it again. Then it vanishes once more, tantalising you. This gives it a mysterious quality, though it’s simply down to the physical structure of the molecule.

You want to nestle into it, it’s sensual, cocooning.

– The attraction of Iso E Super is universal. The appeal of most aromas is culturally determined. So while in one part of the world people like fruity scents, in another part of the world they don’t. But we’ve never found any culture anywhere that is not attracted to Iso E Super. That’s one of the cool things about this molecule.

– In cooking there is no magic ingredient, but in perfumery there is Iso E Super. Nothing else is needed. It’s as if basil were enough to make a bowl of pasta perfect on its own. But when you add basil to pasta you also need to add salt and pepper and olive oil to make it all come together. The sufficiency of Iso E Super is really surprising and rare in perfumery. There are very few molecule out there that smell so great on their own.

An animalic note, something feral yet pure – like a touch of fresh sexy sweat.

– It doesn’t have to be solo. Yes it is great on its own but it has an incredible effect on other aromatics when blended in a formula. It lifts them on its wings and carries them into the air.

– It just smells so unbelievably good. It has the sophistication of an aromatic wood, but then it also has an animalic note, something feral yet pure – like a touch of fresh sexy sweat exuding from clean skin and immediately evaporating into the air. There is nothing like it.

Source: Medium, Escentric Molecules


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