Orris root is used widely in the production of gin, where it retains its bold aromas and sweetness during distillation. Fresh orris root, however, does not smell like much, and it can take years for the chemicals inside to metabolize into “irones” — aromatic compounds specific to irises.
One of the chief molecules among orris roots aromatic irones is alpha irone, which is most often described as having an alluring, floral-earthy aroma akin to the smell of raspberries or violets.
Orris root does well as a binding agent, or “fixative,” which is one of primary reasons it’s used to make Gin. Orris was popular in early centuries in pharmacy and perfumery. Not so much for its fragrance - although it does contain a compound called irone that gives it a faint violet smalle - but as a fixative, holding other fragrances or flavours in place by contributing a missing atom that would otherwise make the fragrance volatile and easily released from teh solution it is suspended in.
Quite often, the orris note itself is minimally detectable on the nose or palate — often manifesting as a part of gin’s base notes, adding depth and nuance in conjunction with other botanicals such as juniper, angelica, cardamom and citrus.
Only a couple of hundred acres of Orris are cultivated worldwide; most of the orrise is either Iris pallida 'Dalmatica, grown in Italy, or its descendant Iris germanica var. Florentina, grown in Morocco, China and India. Iris germanica 'Albicans'is also used in orris production.
Orris is found in nearly every gin and many other spirits.
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Common Names used: Orris Root and Orris Powder
Botanical Name: Iris Germanica
Country of Origin: Morocco