Ethyl lactate

An unusual product, widely used in flavour work but not often offered to perfumers its odour is unusual in being both fruity and buttery at the same time.  The material offered here is the natural isolate.  It occurs naturally in cocoa and a range of fruits as well as wine and other alcoholic drinks.

Historically Ethyl lactate was used as a solvent in perfumery, but that use was limited by its odour as Arctander explains: “Occasionally used as a solvent in perfume compositions. Its mild, ethereal-buttery odor may blend well with certain types of fragrance, but is not always desirable.”  As a solvent it is useful because, as he goes on to say, it is a “Colorless liquid, miscible with water, soluble in alcohol and oils. The aqueous solution decomposes slowly.” 

It is worth noting that although Arctander describes this as a ‘mild’ smelling material, other commentators (including William Luebke of The Good Scents Company) have described it as having ‘high’ odour impact and this perfumer would certainly agree that while it isn’t harsh or overwhelming, it is not a material you’re going to have difficulty detecting on a smelling strip.

As a perfumery ingredient in its own right it is particularly useful for softening the harsh edges of the fruity esters, adding realism to white flower and fruit accords and forms an essential part of accords intended to evoke alcoholic drinks.  Tenacity is around four hours, so best thought of as a top-to-middle note.

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