Aromatic Perfume Accord

Difference Between a Vertical and

Horizontal Perfume Accord

This article gives a simplistic differentiation between a vertical and horizontal perfume accord, as used in aromatic perfumes. To learn more, take the Aromatic Perfume in the Garden workshop with us! By Sharon Falsetto.

Creating a true aromatic perfume can take years of practice as a perfumer. If you want to create aromatic perfumes, it might also help to have some training as an aromatherapist. However, you can start out with a few simple basics to create your first botanical perfume accord!

A Vertical  Perfume Accord for Botanical Perfumes

Most aromatherapists use some version of a vertical accord in their aromatherapy blends without even knowing it. At its most basic level, a vertical perfume accord consists of a top, middle, and base note essential oil.

However, aromatherapists are blending for therapeutic purposes, not for scent purposes, so having one or more essential oils in a blend to make up a vertical accord is not the main purpose. Sometimes middle notes, top notes, or base notes alone are enough. But it is possible to combine the two objectives.

A vertical perfume accord consists of one or more top notes, middle notes, and base notes. For example:

·         Top Note: Bergamot (Citrus × bergamia)

·         Middle Note: Lavender (Lavandula angustifolia)

·         Base Note: Frankincense (Boswellia carteri).

A botanical perfume may consist of several vertical accords.

A Horizontal Perfume Accord for Botanical Perfumes

A horizontal accord works on the opposite level of a vertical perfume accord. It will consist entirely of all top notes, all middle note or all base notes. For example:

A Citrus Accord: Top Notes

·         Sweet Orange (Citrus sinensis)

·         Lime (Citrus aurantifolia)

·         Lemon (Citrus × limon).

Again, a botanical perfume may consist of several horizontal accords and/or combined with vertical accords. So, in this particular example, you could end up with a perfume consisting of:

·         Bergamot, lavender, frankincense, sweet orange, lime, lemon.

The percentage of each ingredient will vary. And, you may want to combine with another vertical or horizontal accord to balance out the aroma, fixative values, and dry down.


This is a very simplistic example of the difference between a vertical and horizontal perfume accord. To study perfumery in-depth, take a class with a botanical perfumer. For an introduction to aromatic perfumes, take a look at our Aromatic Perfume in the Garden workshop!

About the Author:

The author of this article has a combined 25-year history in the health care and aromatherapy industry. She is UK-certified aromatherapist and a NAHA Certified Professional Aromatherapist®. She is both a published author and editor in aromatherapy, a consultant, custom blend formulator and herbal studies student. She is the author of Authentic Aromatherapy and the current chief editor of the NAHA Aromatherapy Journal. She has taken the online Master Gardener short course series with the University of Oregon. Sharon works from her garden studio in Sedona, Arizona, where she gardens and distills plants from her own aromatic gardens, surrounded by natural fauna and flora on an original pioneer homestead property.

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