Bulgarian rose and raw materials that come from it are really vast theme. We have already written about the provenance ot this flower, how it finds the best climate and soil conditions for cultivation and how it becomes the symbol of Bulgaria in this past post. Today we look into the most precious rose product, the rose oil.
Distillation of rose oil in Bulgaria
Data for rose oil production in Bulgaria sends us back to year 1800 in town of Klisura. In the beginning of 20-th century the rose distilleries began processes of improvement in the production methods and introduced a new distillation technique based on their experience with national drink called rakia. With this improved method of double distillation, Bulgarian rose oil distillaries managed to optimize quantities and significantly improve the quality of the product. Thanks to theese changes Bulgarian rose oil starts to dominate the market and becomes symbol of the highest quality.
Trading – from the Rose Valley to Chicago
Trading with rose oil thrives since 19-th century, at the beginning orientated completely towards export. That was often a family business, as with the brothers Hristo and Nikola Puliev from cify of Karlovo. Bulgarian exporters of rose oil were with offices in Edirne and Tsarigrad (today’s Istanbul), in Manchester and London, in Vienna and even in New York City. Known to all Bulgarians is a trader of rose oil named Ganyo Somov who was used as an inspiration for a famous literature character – “Bay Ganyo” by the Bulgarian writer Aleko Konstantinov afer their meeting during the World Expo in Chicago, USA in 1893.
Muskal and komkum
The most spread form of distribution of rose oil is the small packaging called “muskal”. Little known fact is that the word “muskal” comes from Arab and signifies measurement unit of weight. One muskal in reality equals 4,9844 grams but in practice are used few different “muskals” – of 1, 2, 3 and 5 grams. In bigger quantities the oil is preserved and sold in special copper vessels called “konkum”, with weight capacity of 4 kg 88 g. These special vessels with strange names are used till today for preservation and transportation of the “liquid gold” of Bulgaria.
For centuries the price of the Bulgarian rose oil is compared to the price of gold. The exceptional quality of Bulgarian rose oil is traditionally highly desired asset in the high-end parfumery and cosmetics. Companies such as Chanel, Kenzo, Estee Lauder, Dior and many others use the Bulgarian rose oil in their products, often in small quantities together with oils from other countries like Turkey or Morocco, in order to improve the quality of their end products. Every year before the start of rose gathering season in May and June hectic negotiations are in course, for prices and quantities of the upcoming yield. A very specific business, as the Bulgarian oil-bearing rose is a very fragile and strictly seasonal flower. That is why the price of the rose oil, as the price of other raw materials like rose petals and rose water, are not fixed and may vary strongly every year according to quantity and quality of the season. As an example, in 2015 the wholesale price of the rose oil riched the incredible 9.000 EUR per kilo.
The numerous applications of rose oil
Besides parfumery and cosmetics, rose oil is used in pharmaseutical and food supplements industry, also in aromatherapy. Vast options of application are possible thanks to the aroma qualities of the rose oil but also thanks to its extraordinary features and chemical composition. Along with the exquisite aroma, the rose oil has certain qualities of taste and fuctional benefits for the well-being of human body, as anti-aging, regenerating cells and anti sclerosis. It is important to know that rose oil is good not only for expernal use on the skin but is also beneficial for consumption. This is why boutique quantities are applied in food industry as well. The unique qualities of Bulgarian rose oil in food are avident for instance in Rosey’s mark chocolate collection with roses.