BACIS studied the chemical composition and sensory analysis of sage oils. Sage oils are isolated from plantmaterial of the genus Salvia. The genus Salvia belongs to the plantfamily of the Lamiaceae (Labiatae), which comprises a lot of aromatic plants. This genus, also called Sage, covers more than 500 species, from which Salvia officinalis L. (Dalmatian sage), S. lavandulaefolia Vahl. (Spanish sage) and S. sclarea L. (Clary sage) are used for the production of essential oils.
The most important salvia oils are Dalmatian sage oil, Spanish sage oil and clary sage oil, which are of economic value to the flavour and fragrance industry because they are used in various flavour formulations and in perfume compounds for high grade perfumery, cosmetics and functional products. Each of these oils contains some hundreds of chemical compounds, which are responsible for their sensory properties.
Characteristic constituents of Dalmatian sage oil are alpha- and beta-thujone. The content of alpha-thujone in Dalmatian sage oil is 30-40%, whereas the oil contains about 10% of beta-thujone. These compounds are essential for the flavours of vermouth and absinth. Dalmatian sage oil has a fresh herbaceous, warm spicy, somewhat camphoraceous odour and flavour. The oil blends well with lavandin, rosemary, citrus, and bois de rose oil. It introduces fresh notes in fougeres, chypre, aldehydic perfume bases, colognes and spicy men's fragrances for after shave lotions and toilet water.
Spanish sage oils contain a series of monoterpenoids, from which 1,8-cineole (15-25%), camphor (10-20%) and alpha-terpinyl acetate (5-15%) are the most dominant. Spanish sage has a fresh herbaceous odour, with cineole and camphor notes. The oil is useful as a freshener in industrial perfumes, soap and detergent fragrances.
The essential oil of clary sage consists of up to 80% of linalyl acetate and only a few percent of sclareol, whereas an extract (concrete) of clary sage contains about 70% of sclareol and only circa 5% of linalyl acetate. An olfactively characteristic constituent of clary sage oil is salvial-4(14)-en-1-one. The fresh plantmaterial of Salvia sclarea has a strong, pungent and penetrating odour, which is often disliked. This odour disappears during steamdistillation and can not be recognized at the essential oil. The penetrating odour of fresh leaves and stalks is rather substantive to skin and clothes and may be due to water-soluble unsaturated aldehydes. Clary sage oil has a fresh floral and herbaceous odour with a bitter-sweet undertone and an amber-like dry-out. The oil has a good tenacity and some perfumers describe the dry-out as tobacco-, and tea-like with a balsamic nuance. The oil is valuable for all perfume compounds, especially for cosmetic purposes.
BACIS reviewed the chemical composition of salvia oils from various parts of the world. Essential oils isolated from other Salvia species are of scientific interest and will also be treated. The review contains 40 pages with 103 references. The main part of this study will be published in Perfumer & Flavorist, Volume 22, number 2, March/April 1997.
Reprinted by Leffingwell & Associates, 2006, with Permission