aromatic profile: brazilian pepper berry


Common name: Brazilian Pepper berry (a.k.a. Rose pepper, Brazilian pepper)

Genus name: Schinus terebinthifolius (a species of the Cashew family Anacardiaceae)

Supplier: Hermitage

Note: Heart

Family: (cool) Spicy

Diffusion: 5

Blends well with: black pepper, pink pepper, citruses, bergamot, Sumac (smoke tree)

Chemical components: Mostly mono­terpene hydro­carbons (to­gether about 10% of the mass of the dried berries): 21% Δ3‑carene, 20% α‑pinene, 13% α‑phell­andrene, 9% limonene, 8% p‑cymene and 6% β‑phell­andrene. Further­more, mono­terpene, sequi­terpene and tri­terpene deri­va­tives were re­ported: cis‑sabinole, carvo­tanacetone, β‑caryo­phyllene, α‑ and β‑cubebane, α‑amyrin, α‑amyrenone, mastica­dienoic acid and hydroxy­mastica­dienoic acid. The sweet taste (cf. licorice) of the dried berries is due to considerable amounts of sugar. (Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages)

The major constituents are a-pinene 16.3%, limonene 13.3%, delta 3-carene 10.8%. The content of phellandrene is 8% and this is responsible for the peppery element of this oil. (Hermitage)

Pink peppercorns don’t have any of the pungent piperine found in black, white, and green pepper heat, but they do have other aroma compounds in common. Pinene, limonene, phellandrene, and carene are found in both types of peppercorns. Terpene flavour Compound family – highly volatile and easily evaporate and oxidize when exposed to air, light, and heat. (Table Fare)

Interesting bits: grown widely as an ornamental plant, native of Brazil, Argentina and Paraguay.  Not to be confused with Pink pepper because it is not a true pepper, although related to the Schinus molle.  This shrub or small tree can thrive in all kinds of ecosystems. This is also a melliferous plant meaning it produces a substance that can be collected by insects and turned into honey.

Their nose: The smell is a cleaner version of pink pepper, soft, gentle, enticing, it draws you in and just when you think you understand the smell, it hits you with a gorgeous, warm, peppery punch. (Hermitage)

My nose: Of course this opens up wildly pungent, piercing, happily spicy, terpine-like, radiant and sunny! It follows through, 15 minutes later, to become warm, sort of Cedarwood in quality, pencil shavings is what I get here. 30 minutes on and it’s still pungent, piercingly clean, a bit understated now, exotic, masculine a bit herbaceous. After 45 minutes I still get pencil shavings, strongly terpenic, a flash of spice, fading but much more slowly, and I remember sharpening my pencil in front of the classroom. 1 hour later and I get particles, pieces, shavings, hushed and woody, yes, that facet comes through strongly for me, cooler now, lingering and definitely not imposing. 2 hours later and it’s much less terpenic, much more green in quality, now I can envision it with florals, much less aggressive, but also less radiant now too, I see the leaves of the rose not the blossom when I smell Brazilian pepper.  Then 3 hours later it’s a very no-nonsense, clean, clear-cut smell dwindling down to a very refreshing note.  7 hours into the dry down and it’s somewhat piercing, dry, the paper is coming through and it’s almost gone.  24 hours later and it’s still clean, clear, still fully “peppery” and quite long lasting.

Musings on composition: I get this working with Cedarwood, Sandalwood or Fir Absolute, even with my beloved Black Spruce Absolute.


aromatic profile: peach co2


Common name: Peach

Genus name: Prunus persica (subfamily Prunoideae – think: cherry, plum, apricot and almond, of the Rosaceae family – think: apples, pears, quince, raspberries, strawberries, and rose)

Supplier: Hermitage

Note: accent note, Heart

Family: Fruit, Floral

Diffusion: 4-5

Blends well with: Perfumer’s Apprentice has a nice peach accord to try.  I did some research and it seems to play nicely with: florals, clove, vanilla, patchouli, oakmoss, agarwood, cinnamon, iris, pepper, rose, vetiver, bergamot, juniper berry, sandalwood, opoponax, mind, lavender and plum.

Chemical components: More than 80 chemical compounds contribute to the peach aroma. Among others are found C6 gamma-lactones, C8 and C10 (gamma-decalactone), C10 delta-lactone, several esters (such as linalyl butyrate or linalyl formate), acids and alcohols, and benzaldehyde. – Wikipedia

Interesting bits: “Peaches are first mentioned in ancient Chinese scriptures from the 10th century BC, where they were regarded as the most precious fruit, favored by emperors and nobles. The peach entered Europe after Alexander the Great conquered the Persians and brought into his homeland what was then called “Persian apple.” French word for apple is “pêche,” and this is how the modern English name for peach came to life.” – Fragrantica

“For Chinese people, peach is a symbol of longevity, as it blossoms even before the leaves sprout.” – Fragrantica

“The rich flavor of ripe peach stems from its high contents of lactones, especially gamma- and delta-decalactone, and combines very well with fruity and floral compositions. Peach note adds a hit of velvety suppleness to an olfactory harmony, and it is commonly used to ground chypre-based compositions.” – Fragrantica

Their nose: “fruity note, fleshy, sweet, nectarous” – Fragrantica

“The subtly sweet, cozy, comforting scent of milk is a prized note in perfumes. Not only does it create a regression to childhood, welcome solace, but it enhances floral components and matches the sweeter elements really well. White florals and classical chypres often exhibit “milky” notes, due to added lactones, components whose name derives indeed from the Latin for milk; this is because in nature tuberose, jasmine and gardenia do contain lactones among hundreds of other molecules in their chemical makeup. And so do certain fruits which find themselves recreated in fruity chypres, such as plum, peach and apricot. Their infamous skin compatibility (bordering on the naughtily cuddly) isn’t such a mystery; our bodies decompose proteins breaking them up in analogous materials, therefore lactones stick well on skin.” – Perfume Shrine

My nose: Peach concrete opens up fruity and bold like a bowl of ripe summer fruit, jammy! Sweet, hint of animalic quality, warm and pleasurable. 15min in and it’s still very jammy, reminding me of breakfast, fruity, chunky bits hiding in the background, edible. 30min later and it’s almost gone! Plump, fruity, jammy still, sticky , sweet, honey-like in quality and emotion, needs the heat to come alive it seems. 45min and I get an impression of the peach kernel, I can sense and almost feel the grooves and texture and luscious juiciness. No, it’s not gone completely, just sort of receded. 1 hour later and it’s still sweet, jam, apricots even, pleasure of the kitchen, satisfying, summer, is what I get. 2 hours into it and it remains pretty linear, it hasn’t changed much, it holds the note intact throughout. 3 hours and it continues in sweetness, now I get an orange colour, thick, jam, nectar like juice nectar, just like apricot nectar from a juice box!  After 7 hours what is that I smell? Wet dog?! Something smells like it has gone bad! Very unpleasant odour like rotting fruit. Wow!  24 hours later and there is still a slight impression of peach but I’m getting more of the rotting fruit aspect, some peach, apricot, warming in the sun.

Musings on composition: I get an impulse to try this with florals but nothing striking jumps out at me immediately. I also feel inspired to create an accord around this concrete with the help of some synthetics but I’d love to get this accord to sparkle.

I wish you a happy day!

what’s a new olfactive experience worth?


You wouldn’t believe the paper work, documentation and customs forms that are needed to get a few bottles of stuff from suppliers outside of the EU.

On the left is the final FedEx document I had to sign for — after paying €40 that is — to get my little box of goodies.  Before that I had to fill out 5 pages of forms for the customs clearance agent (read: middle man) to send it to another government department in order for it to be declared as safe — this after sending them €40 for their service.

On the right is the prize: Copaiba Balsam, Black Spruce Absolute, Agarwood Attar, Frangipani Absolute, Pink Lotus Absolute, Bergamot Mint and — drum roll please — some 5 year old Patchouli!

It was Black Spruce Absolute that drove me to purchase the bunch.  My olfactive exchange partner shared a sample with me and I literally went bonkers because the scent haunted me for days!  It was nothing less than mesmerising and I knew that before I hunkered down over trial vials and test formulations in the coming fall and winter months I wanted Black Spruce with me — need it — as material I know in my bones will be an important element in my final perfume project.

So I guess in the end the answer is just like any other experience, it’s worth what you’re willing to pay for it.

I literally went to bed with the scents in my head and their memories were like a lullaby.

Yes, definitely worth it.

aromatic profile: oakwood, extract


Common name: Oakwood

Genus name: Quercus robur L.

Supplier: Hermitage Oils (UK)

Note: Base to Middle note

Interesting bits: I had a hard time finding information on this natural raw material, but when I changed my approach and came at it as a flavour ingredient that was historically used in wine making, open-sesame!

I found a lot of useful information at this site for home made wine making at E. C. Kraus. Great site, lots of really good information and I think I’ll be purchasing some of his Oakwood in powder form for some tincturing experiments.

In the making of wine, particularly Chardonnay, (Cabernet and Pinot Noir often use this ingredient also) often toasted chips are added to give a wine character.  The marriage of oak and wine was due to logistics — in order to transport the precious cargo they needed a reliable vessel.  Wine makers needed a wood that would not alter their wines and so between 1500 to the early 1700’s most oakwood was sourced from the Baltics, the area North and East of Poland. Around that time wine producers began to find benefits of casking wine in wood — namely for ageing.

According to my research, the major benefits are:

  • improved stability of clarity and colour
  • softening of harsher characteristics common with young wines
  • wood flavours lend an overall smoother, deeper texture to the wine.

Apparently, oak barrels breathe correctly, that’s why they were favoured over other woods, allowing a slow infusion of oxygen to aid in the ageing process, helping the wine to release its natural fruity elements.  Wine barrels are carefully toasted on their inner walls, toasting helps concentrate the flavour compounds and bring them closer to the surface of the wood so they can be more easily absorbed by the wine.  Lighter toasting brings out a more coconut flavour and more toasting hightens the caramel flavour.

There are many different flavour compounds in oakwood the most important being vanillin — this single compound can add a wide range of flavours to a wine: from coconut to vanilla to caramel.  Who knew?!

The complex profile of oakwood will enhance alcoholic flavours like whisky, rum and chardonnay by adding aged, sweet, “casky” notes.  Fruit flavours of the dried fruit type will also benefit especially raisin, prune, tamarind and apricot.  Other areas where this oak extract will shine are brown flavours like butterscotch, butter rum, caramel, sweet spice blends, vanilla and balsamic vinegar.

Oakwood extract is produced from medium toasted oakwood chips with supercritical carbon dioxide under gentle conditions.

Their nose: (Adam of Hermitage Oils): The top note is soft, soulful, balsamic woody. The heart is teacake-fruit-sweet, soulful-dry-woody with hints of luscious vanilla cream. The base note is fruity-rum and dry-raisin-woody. This material is of exceptional tenacity, lasting two full days alone on my smelling strip.

(Perfumer & Flavourist): Odour @ 100%, woody, oaky, brown, rummy, bourbon-like, phenolic, resinous, slightly spicy and vanilla-like.

My nose: instantly reminds me of alcohol, specifically rum, whisky, brandy, cognac.  I am definitely hit by the vanilla aspect, but it’s also sweet, woody, round and soft, with a sense of antiquity and age, as in old England and France, old.

Musings on composition: this wonderful extract makes me think of far away lands, ships and the salty air, and high sea adventures.  I would definitely want to try to include Ambergris in there somewhere, perhaps seaweed.  Not only but I have a mind-blowing Taihitian vanilla macerating in some drop-dead, yummy Courvoisier VSOP and I think these two would be a perfect pair!  Anything balsamic, raisiny, apricot, pruney, caramely, I think would do wickedly well with Oakwood.  Furthermore, since there’s this fruity aspect to Oakwood, my new purchase of Peach CO2 also from Hermitage, could also be a great fit. I’m learning that you can’t approach all perfume ingredients from the same perspective, some demand that you change the way you look at things.  Which means that we as perfumers change, and that’s wonderful!


aromatic profile: costus root CO2 select

costus root co2 select


This too came from White Lotus Aromatics.  Even though their EOs don’t currently come with GC analysis their oils are high grade, their service is top notch, and I always get a sense that I’m dealing with people of the highest integrity whenever I have dealings with them.

Costus root at 10% dilution. Get ready for this one because the aroma is anything but subtle.

The immediate impression is animalic, wet fur, dirty but not at all unpleasant, deeply natural, slightly fecal and a bit hypnotic, I say this because I just kept sniffing even with the sort of “strange” note, I couldn’t put it down.  I try to stay away from note descriptions that could be negative because the more I hang around perfume ingredients the more I realize that what may smell “bad” as a first impression is only the result of an untrained nose, we’re just not used to smelling it at all or in a certain combination.

1 hour later it still has a very strong presence but has lost its fecal edge and its soooo much more appreciable!

3 hours later it’s not so pungent but remains noticeable, holds together very well, remains integral although it seems more one dimensional now. I definitely like this effect more than that straight out of the bottle.

After 1 day, still strong, maybe even more so now that the alcohol has worn off, much less intrusive and more like a soft caress.

It has a fine tenacity and superb fixative value. Soft, delicate and warm precious woods/orris root odor. Surprising radiant tenacity for an oil which has a fairly low key odor impact. A buttery/fatty note appears shortly after one detects the precious wood/orris root odor. It lends the entire olfactory texture of the oil a very smooth feeling. – White Lotus Aromatics

Keep in mind he’s describing the essential oil and I the CO2, Select.