Musings on making scents with Sweet Gale…did you know that the word myrica comes from the Greek which means “fragrance”? Sweet Gale is one of those notes that I am keenly motivated to do justice by, I hope one day to execute an accord that at the very least hints at her hidden splendour. I am in love with this note.
Common name: Sweet Gale, Bog Myrtle
Botanical name: Myrica gale
Supplier: Hermitage Oils UK
Blends well with: hop, cannabis, lemongrass, mastic, schinus molle, juniper, nutmeg, most citruses, lavender, coriander, thyme, ho, neroli bigarade, lavandin, bergamot, osmanthus, geranium bourbon, petitgrain, genet abs., clove, black pepper, ylang ylang…and that’s a pretty good start!
Chemical components: Alpha Terpineol 11%, D-Limonene 53%, Geranyl Acetate 5%, Linalool 4%, Linalyl Acetate 4%. (Hermitage Oils UK)
Aromatic components in the essential oil prepared from the leaves of cultivated Myrica gale var. tomentosa were compared with those from oil derived wild plants by using gas chromatography-mass spectroscopy (GC/MS). We found that essential oils from both the wild and cultivated plants contained similar aromatic components such as β-elemenone, selina 3,7(11)-diene, myrcene, limonene, cymene, 1,8-cineole, and β-pinene, but the content ratio of the oil was significantly different, which might yield differences in the aromatic properties. The aroma impact components of the essential oils were also determined using GC/MS-Olfactometry (GC/MS-O) and aroma extract dilution analysis. Eight aromatic compounds, including linalool, limonene, and 1,8-cineole, were shown to contribute to the aromatic properties of cultivated M. gale var. tomentosa. The strongest aromatic note was defined as linalool, followed by limonene, 1,8-cineole, and β-elemenone. (PubMed.gov)
Interesting bits: “This is very special material supplied to Hermitage by a Scottish artisan distiller.” (okay, so I was hooked after that) “Clear in colour, of a thin viscosity and produced via steam distillation of the flowers and leaves with twigs featuring sparingly in this particular distillation.” (Hermitage Oils UK)
Sweet gale rarely occurs as a single plant, more usually forming dense thickets from numerous suckers…Sweet gale thrives in acid soils along the margins of lakes and ponds and in peatlands and swamps (BC Living)
A natural predator of bog myrtle is the sheep and the deer; the young tender shoots presumably are a welcome change from their normal diet…Bog myrtle likes to be near running water, from where it derives much of its nourishment…you can still find high class restaurants that prepare fish and chicken dishes when it’s young and in season, though its culinary uses are now generally quite rare. There are breweries that use it to make a sweet heather ale, and some home or small brewers do the same according to their own handed down recipe, though unless they have bog myrtle growing nearby they find it difficult to buy. It’s got a very pleasant and very different taste to regular ales, even real ales, and if you’re lucky, you’ll find a heather ale even on your supermarket shelves, as well as on tap in a surprising number of pubs in Scotland. (Bog Myrtle From Scotland)
Their nose: The top notes of this material are candy-sweet and ice water fresh. In the heart a suave floral-sweetness takes charge, the sweet notes reminiscent to me of a Bergamot Mint and Bois de Rose infusion. Slowly but surely I unearth a really gentle sweet-herbaceous note that playfully wonders in and out of detection. For the perfumer the value is chiefly within the top note, imparting distinctive freshness that would be of extra value to anyone creating an oriental themed perfume. Sweet Gale is a marriage made in heaven with most spice materials along with fruits such as Bergamot and Cedrat and with floral and herb materials including Lavender, Lavandin, Rosemary, Hyssop and Clary Sage. (Hermitage Oils UK)
My nose: Sweet Gale opens — sweet, with a strong note of nutmeg, spicy, pungent, full-bodied, happy, alive, and very warm. It’s like a big warm hug! 15min later it’s more like honey, thick and delightful. It’s nutmeg and light and warm and comforting. I look like an addict inhaling so deeply, greedily; I just can’t get enough of this scent. 30min on and it’s soft now, a hint of pencil shavings is coming through but the main impression is nutmeg and “sweet”, sticky and golden if I could give it a colour. At 45min it’s warm, honied, glowing, golden and all I can “see” is honey being poured out slow and deliberate as it spreads out to claim a surface. 1hr now and it’s still sweet and unhurried, woody now, it’s like a nuzzle you get from your pet when they want you to caress them; sweet nectar of life. After 2hrs we’re into the heart notes now and Sweet Gale is like a golden liqueur, balmy, creamy, seductive, like honey on tap, close by always. 3hrs later and now it’s sweet heaven, dwindling but ever so slowly, still thick. After 8hrs I can still describe it as sweet, soft, not as thick but very much what it was 5 hours ago only softer, more whimsical and I find that sort of tough to pull off for something that at its heart is spicy. At 12hrs it’s still so warm and approachable, inviting, feminine, round, curvy, spicy but now only just a bit. The final drydown after 24hrs is still soft warm and sweet on the strip! Great tenacity but also something definitely spicy makes itself felt toward the end.
12/24 comparison: This 12hr strip is lush, vibrant, spicy and even now it’s warm and inviting. At 24hrs on the other hand, although definitely weaker, it maintains the warm glow effect nonetheless, drying out in a very integral way, very uniform in the way it exists.
Ahhh, feels good to be back. Happy sniffing and a wonderful weekend!