The Blue Gold of perfumers
A LITTLE BOTANY
There are around 120 species, but only three are used in perfumery: Iris Pallida and Iris Florentina, which grow on the hillsides between Siena and Florence, and Iris Germanica, which originally came from Verona and is now grown in Morocco and China.
The rhizomes have to spend nearly three years in the ground, preferably in stony soil. They are then dug up by hand, separated from their roots, washed and dried. The perfumed components – the precious irones – form slowly during a long drying process lasting three years, making a total gestation period of six years! Once dried, the rhizomes, now bursting with irones, are cut into pieces and ground to a powder. They are steam-processed for 20 to 36 hours to obtain a solid substance called Orris Butter. This is then puri ed through molecular distillation, and becomes Iris absolute. It takes no less than one metric ton of Iris rhizomes to obtain 200 grams of Iris absolute, which costs around €100,000 per kilo! Iris absolute has numerous facets: violet, mimosa and woody notes delicately perfumed with hints of carrot and fruity raspberry.