From Raw Materials to Finished Cologne
The Production of a World Class Cologne
UNITE from Thomas Clipper is the world's first premium blending cologne for men. Made up of City, Coast and Country, every man can make his own blend, creating a custom fragrance. Two sprays of City with one of Country? One spray of Coast An equal Coast/Country blend? The choice is yours.
Step one: The essentials
The first step in making a premium cologne is in the creation of the very best essential oils.
These are volatile aromatic compounds that usually come from the flowers, seeds, stems, roots, and bark of plants. This 'volatility' means that they turn from liquid to a scent easily, so when they’re exposed to the air they turn into a fragrance.
The process of reducing the best ingredients into their essential scent makeup is very much rooted in the south of France, which has been the historic home of the process since the 18th century.
This is partly because a lot of aromatic plants grow in the Grasse climate. It's partly because of a period of rapid technological innovation that put Grasse on the forefront of perfume development over 100 years ago. But it's also because of the power of networks: everyone who wants to be a real perfume expert will spend some time in Grasse. It's an amazing place to learn and practice the fragrance trade.
Traditionally the machinery involved in the production of essential oils looks a great deal to the untrained eye like the production of gin: indeed the distillation process and the essential oil creation process grew up hand in hand, borrowing technology from each other.
Today the machines look a little different from the copper cauldrons of the 18th and 19th centuries, but the basic process is usually much the same. The biggest difference is in synthetic production of scents. There are certain volatile compounds the were originally extracted from animals: this quite cruel process was rendered unnecessary by the synthesis of the same, or better, musk aromas in the lab. That’s what we use.
Step two: Concentrate
After these essential oils have been distilled or created it's the job of a fragrance developer, also known as a 'nose', to blend them into something fantastic.
Our story with our developer started with a brief. We asked her to create something rooted in place - where we were sitting in the South of France - but with a link to our existing products. In terms of ingredients, we said the sky was the limit: we wanted a truly world class cologne, and that means sourcing the best raw materials.
So from the cedarwood in City to the citrus and cypress lead in Coast, much of the scent profile is derived from plants that can be found in and around Grasse and the Cote D'Azur.
Country is a little different: it's more intense and masculine, inspired by our leather wash bags and frankincense shave oil. This scent profile is harder to find in a Mediterranean climate, so we've gone further afield sourcing sandalwoods, black pepper, and a hint of oud.
The selection of these three colognes was a long and taxing process: lots of alternatives were tried and we lived with a number of 'front-runners' for many months before settling on our favourite blends.
Once these had been selected we needed to choose our cologne producers. Our partners in Grasse are extremely specialised: they develop and make cologne concentrate. This can’t be used as a finished product: to turn that concentrate into a finished product requires expertise and time.
Step three: Mix, Mature and Bottle
To do that we decided to work with a fantastic company in the heart of England to blend our colognes. They first add in organic alcohol, and then let the cologne macerate, or mature, for 3 weeks. This lets the fragrance develop, meaning that by the time we're ready to bottle, it's stabilised and will smell exactly as we intended when we developed it in Grasse.
The final stage of the production is the bottling. This is done predominantly by hand, with the help of some machinery in the labelling. It's a very manual process because the bottles are all a little different so the labels have to be lined up regularly to make sure they look the best they can. It’s also very manual because the raw material, the concentrate, is so valuable - our team have to be extremely careful when filling or they risk wasting drops of the precious cologne.
After the cologne is filled into the bottles and they’re sealed up, we package and are ready to ship. A new set of colognes, ready to be blended by you.