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Ingredient Profile: Cardamom

Cardamom Plant

Native to South Asia, Cardamom is a spice derived from the seeds of the Elettaria cardomomum plant, belonging to the same botanical family as ginger and turmeric. Traditionally used in Indian cuisine and in the Middle East to infuse coffee, cardamom is known to add full-bodied spicy notes and have an energising effect. Cardamom essential oil is also used in aromatherapy and perfume blends as the oil creates a feeling of warmth and sensuality. With such a potent aroma, only a dash is needed to deliver a versatile, addictive fragrance.

As the third most expensive spice in the world, behind saffron and vanilla, cardamom has been named “the queen of spices”. Its scent has been favoured for thousands of years with Roman and Greek civilization introducing cardamom into their oils to create aromatic perfumes, and even in the Egyptian era with Cleopatra reportedly burning cardamom as incense. In today’s blog we’re learning more about this spice: What is the olfactive profile? Which varieties of cardamom are used in perfumery? Where can cardamom be found in the fragrance market?


What type of cardamom is used in perfumery?

Cardamom is grown worldwide across Guatemala, Malaysia, and Tanzania, although cardamom sourced from Guatemala is preferred in the fragrance industry. Guatemalan cardamom is often purer, and more enriching so it is favoured by perfumers when forming their creative palettes.

There are various types of cardamom used across multiple industries, although, in perfumery, green cardamom is primarily used. Green cardamom essential oil is extracted from spice seeds using steam distillation to release a fresh, spicy, sparkling olfactory profile.


What does cardamom smell like?

 Green cardamom is bright and fresh, giving notes of eucalyptus and mint, adding illumination and intensity to colognes which enlivens the senses. Overall, cardamom is a refreshing aromatic scent that is a blend of both spicy and sweet tones ultimately forming an energising middle note. The fragrant essential oil is described as full-bodied, heady, and resinous. These warm tones provide a blend of hesperidic and spicy notes meaning cardamom is a perfect fit for the aromatherapy industry to ease anxiety and apprehension as well as within fragrance formulations.

Cardamom Plant

Can you use cardamom with other scents?

Cardamom compliments hundreds of perfume blends. The unique compilation of its fragrant tones means that it is complementary to ultimately all fragrance families. For example, cardamom is often chosen as a primary ingredient in citrus fragrances due to its rising citrus component. This means it molds effortlessly with succulent orange, fresh lemon, and zingy grapefruit to create well-rounded fragrances.

Cardamom also blends beautifully with floral notes such as musky rose and white floral tones and is the perfect companion to woods and other spices. This versatility means cardamom is a truly unique ingredient allowing for itself to be seamlessly paired with an array of components.


Is cardamom a masculine scent?

Cardamom is a multi-dimensional ingredient meaning it is well suited to a range of fragrance solutions, including masculine, feminine, and unisex scents. Its ability to elevate different fragrance components enables an array of aroma combinations applicable to a variety of consumer markets. For example, when balanced well with vanilla or sandalwood, the composition can be spicy and creamy, or even warm and sweet when blended with white floral notes.

Cardamom Essential Oil

What market fragrances contain cardamom?

 One of the most renowned fragrances with cardamom is La Nuit de l’Homme by Yves Saint Laurent. The perfume blends cardamom with bergamot, lavender, and cedar to create an intense, contrasting masculine scent. There are also well-known feminine fragrances containing cardamom such as Mimosa and Cardamom by Jo Malone. This accord encompasses sweet and warm spicy notes.

Other examples include:

  • Christian Dior: Dolce Vita – a warm, woody, and spicy scent.
  • Kenzo: Jungle l’Elephant – opening with sweet spices, cloves, and cardamom notes alongside vanilla creating a warm and sweet scent.
  • Killian: Intoxicates – with hints of cardamom, coffee, nutmeg, and cinnamon, this fragrance emanates warmth.
  • Hermès: Voyage – a unisex scent with top notes of cardamom, lemon, and spices.


It is evident that cardamom is a highly appreciated, and versatile ingredient used across the fragrance industry. Iberchem is proud to responsibly source cardamom through its partnership with Nelixia, a company that delivers 100% natural, 100% traceable, ethically sourced ingredients. Iberchem shares in Nelixia’s mission to progress towards a more sustainable value chain, respecting producing communities worldwide. To learn more about why it is crucial that cardamom is sustainably sourced across the value chain, head to our blog page and read our interview with Carole Bernard…


Cardamom Infographic