Aroma Profile: Sweet Gale


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

Note: Heart

Family: Herbaceous

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

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. (

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!


Aroma Profile: Ledon essential oil


Musings on making perfumes with Ledon essential oil: Hmmm, this would be a tricky note to master within an accord but satisfying once achieved. I love the many hidden qualities that seem to jump out at you unexpectedly with Ledon – this note can definitely spark a fire to try something new.

Common name: Ledon essential oil, Ledum, Labrador Tea, Marsh Tea

Botanical name: Ledum Groenlandicum

Supplier: Florihana (organic, wild, country of origin Canada, steam distillation from the flowering plant)

Note: Heart/Top

Family: Herbaceous

Diffusion: 6

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Citruses, nutmeg, black pepper, carrot seed, fennel, Elemi, Cistus, Bergamot, Ylang Ylang, Geranium, lavender, clove, ginger, vetiver, helichrysum, myrrh, patchouli…

Chemical components: The monoterpene family is represented by sabinene as a major product. The limonene concentration depends sharply on the vegetative period, being more important during the flowering period. Terpinen-4-ol and myrtenal are the main compounds of a variety of oxygenated monoterpenes (

Some of the most prominent chemical components straight from the Florihana Chromatography sheet are: alpha/beta-pinene 8% each, sabinene 25%, a-terpinene 3.5%, g-terpinene 10%, limonene 1.6%, p-cymene 2.7%, b-selinene 7%, a-selinene 2%.

Interesting bits: Florihana is a great company. Not only are their products organic or of wild origin of superior quality, but they provide all the necessary documentation you could ever need: MSDS, IFRA certificate, and chromatography.

Their nose: Ledum has a very complex odor profile, herbaceous with cuminic notes and a dry, leathery backnote, as well as faint Citrus notes. It is a very pleasant, strong aromatic, somewhat similar to the Rhododendrons. Dryout is cuminic, seedy and soapy with woody aspects. (

My nose: The opening of Ledon is somewhat like cypress, pencil shavings-ish, thin, warm, and sharp. Outdoors, cool, but with something floral to it. After 15min I find that something goes straight inside and touches me deeply with this note, it’s direct. There is still the suggestion of a floral with the pencil shavings, only slightly though, a faint sweetness and it’s calming and soothing. 30min into the top notes and Ledon is pristine, sheer, light, enigmatic, perhaps because it’s unfamiliar, exciting and titillating, which I attribute to it’s cool effect. 45min now and I get warm, sharp, spicy, but which spice? More like a carrot seed spicy. Cumin spicy. There’s something peppery about it, even slightly citrusy and astringent. 1hr on and you get this wonderful peppery-ness that gives a feeling of expansion and opening, it rustles like dry leaves in the fall, it’s a fall retreat in the mountains. 2hrs and we’re heading into the heart notes which start off soft, romantic and luscious. I sense this now opening up and becoming confident, like it’s spreading its wings and it’s delightful. Just around the corner, a few steps beyond the sharp quality there is serious side to this note. At 3hrs I find it absolutely gorgeous! It is still pulsating with life and feels wonderfully content. Entering the base notes after 8hrs there is something more interesting going on here than just the obvious pencil shavings quality, there’s a hint of the citrus, tart and tangy, that add depth and interest. 12hrs later and what the hell? Holy pencil shavings and cumin! Sharp, spicy, pungent, fast, thinner now with a lot of character. But, aren’t these notes supposed to die down after 12 hours?! The final 24hr mark still reveals a spicy, peppery side, like cumin. Quite strong still but the sweetness, the soft floral-ness is gone, leaving just a sharp note. Wow. Totally wasn’t expecting that.

12/24 comparison: The 12hr strip is very cumin-like, pungent, cool, dry and brittle even. The 24hr strip in contrast, is almost imperceptible, the predominant aspect is the pencil shavings effect.

Happy perfuming!


Aromatic Profile: Rosewood


Common name: Rosewood essential oil a.k.a. Brazilian Rosewood, Bois de Rose

Genus name: Aniba rosaedona

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Heart

Family: Woody/Floral

Diffusion: 4

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Vetiver, ylang, petitgrain, cedrat, mace, leerall, b-ionone, hay absolute, guaiac wood, cubeb, ethyl linalyl acetate, ethyl linalool, etc. (TGSC)

Lemon, tangerine, sandalwood, cedarwood, geranium, orange and lavender.

Chemical components: Linalool can be present at anywhere from 73%-99%! a-pinene, camphene, gernaiol, neral, geranial, myrcene, limonene, 1,8-cineole, benzaldehyde, linalool oxides, a-terpineol.

Interesting bits: Rosewood is an endangered species. Whenever possible, purchase from suppliers that are conscious of how they source their rosewood oil. (Aromaweb)

Rosewood oil is rich in linalool, a chemical which can be transformed into a number of derivatives of value to the flavour and fragrance industries, and up until the 1960s rosewood oil was an important source of natural linalool. With the advent of synthetic linalool this use largely disappeared. For those applications where natural linalool is preferred, rosewood oil has been displaced by cheaper alternatives (Chinese Ho oils from Cinnamomum camphora). There does remain, however, a very small niche market for the preparation of linalool derivatives possessing an “ex rosewood” character… Brazil is now the only supplier to the world market… All parts of the tree are fragrant although only the trunkwood is traditionally harvested and distilled. (

Rosewood contains a lot of linalool – an important component in lilac and lily of the valley compounds. Rosewood is a light and floral top note, especially valued in floral compositions and also an important component in Fougere compositions as a supporting note to lavender. Ho wood and ho leaf are very similar to rosewood and are used in a similar manner. (Ayala Moriel)

rosewood oil has more to offer than pure linalool. Its more spicy and complex piquancy can, for example, transform a lily-of-the-valley type perfume and bring it to life, whereas synthetic linalool cannot, having a flatter and more one-dimensional effect (Bo Jensen)

Their nose: Sweet, floral, linalool, woody, fruity, warm.

My nose: The opening of Rosewood essential oil presents a strange heaviness, something reminiscent of sandalwood, there is a seriousness about the oil that I just wasn’t expecting. It’s firm and although it hints at a floral it isn’t flouncy, but a more grounded, earthy floral. After 15min there’s something lemony here, it’s a beautiful salve to my senses, calming  and reassuring. Easy and enduring are qualities that come to mind during this layer. 30min and now it shares commonalities with a note I just can’t place…damnit! The effect goes deep that massages my rough corners, and as I hold on and follow that wave, there’s a mild pepperiness and it’s more plush. The 45min mark reveals a hint of mint in the Rosewood, now there’s a freshness, like a light evening breeze, yep, this note is like a quiet, private retreat. The 1hr mark unveils a soft richness; and while yes, it is thinner, there is a certain importance to the note now. It’s satisfying because of it’s simplicity and there’s a hint of sweetness, too. After 2hrs it’s still alive on the strip and now I can smell a therapeutic, medicinal quality to it. It’s tranquil and makes me pause as it slowly creeps in to work its magic but it is fading. 3hrs and it’s holding up quite well although much weaker now, the floral quality peeks through for a moment and somehow it’s brighter and less sombre than before. Interesting…huh. As the basenotes unfurl at 7hrs I get it! It’s bergamot that this note reminds me of and petitgrain, too. The projection is almost a 2 now but it’s definitely still alive dry and clean on the strip. 12hrs and there’s a very faint, feathery impression of a floral, antique, but it’s just about expired. At 24hrs it is extinct, but somehow there’s a delicate woody, floral reflex, like a fluid, fading motion that ends a conscious action.

12/24 comparison: The heart of Rosewood is apparent at 12hrs for only a few sniffs, then it fades quickly, but there is definitely evidence that it’s still around although delicate and fragile at this point. When I compare it to the 24hr strip I realise it is more alive than my nose originally picked up because now it’s just a faint outline of what it was. Doing these direct comparisons makes me realise that there is more to be gathered from the scent strips than the initial impression but you can’t get it all at once, you can’t be greedy about it, you have to come at it in layers and find ways to get your nose to pick up on the finer details of the impressions.

I hope this profile has been useful for you and that it’s teased you and made your nose curious to find out for yourself what Rosewood could do for your accords.

Have a great weekend!


Aromatic Profile: Ho Wood


Common name: Ho Wood essential oil

Genus name: Cinnamomum camphora ct. Linalool

Supplier: Néroliane

Note: Top/Middle

Family: Woody

Diffusion: 5

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: cedarwood, coriander, frankincense, geranium, blood orange, sweet orange, rose maroc, rose otto, sandalwood, tangerine, ylang ylang extra.

Chemical components: linalool, cis and trans linalool oxide, camphor, gamma terpinene, myrcene. There are six chemical variations/chemotypes of Ho Wood: borneol, camphor, linalool, 1,8-cineole, nerolidol and safrole.

Interesting bits: ….general blender-modifier in a wide variety of compositions due to its soft, sweet bouquet which melds well with almost every type of perfume compositions. (WLA)

The chemical variants (or chemotypes) seem dependent upon the country of origin of the tree. The tree is native to China, Japan, and Taiwan. It has been introduced to the other countries where it has been found, and the chemical variants are identifiable by country. e.g., C. camphora grown in Taiwan and Japan is normally very high in linalool, often between 80 and 85%. In India and Sri Lanka, the high camphor variety/chemotype remains dominant. C. camphora grown in Madagascar, though, is high in 1,8 cineole (averaging between 40 and 50%). The essential oil from the Madagascar trees is commercially known as ravintsara. (Wikipedia)

Though of the same species, Ravintsara and Ho-wood differ in their chemical compositions. Ho-wood’s high linalool content gives the tree bark floral notes, while the high concentration of cineole in the bark of Ravintsara exudes fresh notes…ideal substitute for the significantly pricier rosewood.  Ho-wood adds delicate woody notes to fragrances, along with floral and aqueous facets. (Albert Vieille)

Belongs to the Lauraceae family, the same botanical genus as cinnamon and Ravintsara.

Their nose: sweet, woody-floral bouquet with a delicate balsamic-herbaceous undertone (WLA)

Light, clean, woody, floral-rosy and a little warm, and very diffusive. Ho Wood is a top note much valued in floral and floriental compositions as well as Fougere. (Ayala Moriel)

My nose: The opening of Ho wood is blanched, slightly floral, and there’s something citrusy about it; it has a zing, there is a lift and a radiance, it’s bright, light and happiness. It’s girly! After 15min there is transparency, it’s light, gossamer soft but there is also a textured quality that is a bit rough, as well as a sort of wildness too. I can smell similarities with lavender – that dry, twiggy quality that is so particular to lavender for me. Yes, definitely, arid is the word that comes to mind. The 30min layer is brisk, quick, and brings to mind summer and heat. It’s drier now. This is an innocent scent to me, and is what I imagine a pale wood to smell like, very pleasant. 45min and Ho wood is placid and poetic, resplendent and sunny; gay. It’s a fluttering and a puff and I can smell this in a cologne. After 1hr it seems to be retreating, like’s it’s decided to take a back seat. I can smell commonalities with Santolina (Lavender Cotton), too. Very faded now. 2hrs into the heart note and it seems paper thin! It’s just about disappeared, like a twinkle or the tinkle of a bell. I don’t know how else to describe the smell other than in the form of a sound. After 3hrs the smell is almost gone now but there’s still a hint of something…limonene? It’s clean and dry. Now we’re into the base of Ho wood and at 7hrs the smell is very faint, like it’s almost a dream, like I dreamt the whole experience. Dry and very faint. After 12hrs it’s completely gone, I can’t pick up a thing. 24hrs it’s gone but for the most fleeting citrus impression!

12/24 comparison: Okay, so at 12hrs the smell was pretty much gone, disappeared and what’s interesting is that when I did a direct comparison of the two layers, 12 and 24 hours, I got no real difference between them. I find this really odd because until now I have always experienced a pretty distinct difference but with Ho wood after 12hrs the effect is pretty much the same.

Wishing you a wonderful week!


making perfumes with cinnamon bark CO2 total extract


Cinnamon bark CO2 total extract is a wonderful accent. Betcha never thought of it that way, huh? If you’re pondering the possibility of making scents with an Oriental base, in an incense or a spice blend, then I invite you to consider cinnamon bark CO2, the super critical fluid extract version of the cinnamon oils the effects of which can be felt, once the blend has aged, at even just 1% dilution. Think about that for a moment!

Common name: Cinnamon bark, CO2, total extract, organic, Sri Lanka

Genus name: Cinamomum zylanicum

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Heart/Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 4

Dilution: 10% (but best if diluted even further, recommended smelling at 1%)

Blends well with: Frankincense, lavender, cedarwood, orange, lemon, neroli, and ylang-ylang, mimosa absolute, patchouli absolute, linalyl acetate, germacrene D, etc.

Chemical components: Cinnamaldehyde 71.7% (about 20% higher than the average value of steam distilled essential oil), Coumarin 0.01%, Cinnamyl alcohol 0.80%, o-menthoxy cinnamaldehyde 2.4%, Eugenol 2.2%,Cinnamyl Acetate 4.5% (Hermitage Oils)

Interesting bits: “Very small amounts(less than 1%) can produce fine effects in many compositions” (White Lotus Aromatics)

Their nose: “Deeply woody and earthy, sweet, uplifting, warm, spicy.” (Eden Botanicals)

“intensely sweet,  warm, spicy, dry powdery bouquet with a delicate balsamic-woody undertone. The odor is very diffusive with good tenacity” (White Lotus Aromatics)

“Cinnamon Bark CO2 Oil has a warm, spicy scent that is somewhere between clove and cinnamon. It is slightly herbaceous with pepper notes.” (Sunrise Botanics)

My nose: To my nose cinnamon bark CO2 total extract opens thick and resinous, woody, deeper than the essential oil, soft. And oh! I can smell this with ambergris or certain animalic accents! It’s hushed and mildly hot in temperature not blazing-sun-hot like the essential oil. After 15min it’s quite different. It now has nuances; the woody aspect is wow! There’s a playfulness going on in the background, but it’s all quite profound and private. 30min on and the top note of cinnamon bark CO2 expresses itself as soft, soft, plumes, powdery soft, weightless, sensual, sophisticated, instant style! After 45min I’m amazed at how this has transformed into a total base note, it has the olfactive vibration of a note that is in perfect harmony with other base notes. It’s distinguished, more earthy now, real and grounded but light like a warm embrace. The 1hr impression of this note is wholeness. It’s round and generous, so much more than the essential oil. It seems to have a glow, like embers and I can smell it with Black Spruce absolute. Or is that just my overly enthusiastic impulse to put Black Spruce absolute everywhere?  I also get old Europe at this point, too. 2hrs now and it’s drier, tempered, more muted, placid and yup, poetic. There is a slight sharpness on the inhale, still and sweet. After 3hrs it’s so warm! Woody and resinous, the sense is more lulling and muffled, continuously comforting this note is a dream. It’s now 7hrs, dry down time, and this material only shares things in common with the essential oil and leaf. It’s tepid in temperature, fading quicker than the other examples of cinnamon, which I find quite odd and it’s mysterious. The 12hr evaluation was missed so on to the 24hr and final evaluation of cinnamon bark CO2: warm, much more spicy and sharp! Still alive on the strip; woody and it warms you right to the heart.

Have a wonderful weekend!


making scents with cinnamon bark essential oil


Musings on making scents with cinnamon bark essential oil take me in the direction of “what you see is what you get”. Cinnamon bark is totally unpretentious and is not out to dazzle you with quick costume changes and olfactive acrobatics, it is what it is. Period. That being said I have the sneaking suspicion that it will take some time, but this very common essential oil has qualities hidden to the untrained, busy, impatient nose.  It’s a very familiar scent that can be easily overlooked but don’t make that mistake. If you’re looking for something to add heat and acceleration to your blend then perhaps cinnamon bark essential oil is that player:

Common name: Cinnamon bark essential oil (Sri Lanka)

Genus name: Cinnamomum zeylanicum

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Heart/Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 6

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Gourmand and vanilla notes (Cocoa Absolute, Vanilla CO2, Benzoin), other spice oils (Cloves Oil, Cloves CO2, Cardamom CO2, Coriander, Ginger CO2, Ginger Lily CO2), Florals (Rose, Champaca CO2, Roman Chamomile, Jasmine), Sweet citrus notes (Sweet Orange, Blood Orange, Tangerine, Clementine CO2), Herbs (Lavender, Rosemary, Sage), as well as the woodsy-Oriental notes (Agarwood CO2, Frankincense, Labdanum, Patchouli, Sandalwood and Spikenard). (Eden Botanicals)

Chemical components: Eugenol, eugenol acetate, cinnamic aldehyde (about 60%!), benzyl benzoate.

“However, the oil from the leaves of the cinnamon bush has eugenol as the main component, the oil from the root has camphor as the main component, whereas the oil from the flowers has cinnamyl acetate as its main component” (Bo Jensen)

Interesting bits: “Cinnamon is a spice obtained from the inner bark of the cinnamon tree. It’s scientific name stems from Hebraic and Arabic term amomon, which means ‘fragrant spice plant’.” (Fragrantica)

“Around 200 species of cinnamon are found in the area covered by Southeast Asia, East Asia and the Pacific Islands. In the tertiary period their distribution was much larger. Occasionally cinnamon flowers are seen in Baltic amber! Cinnamons are fragrant. Leaves, bark, flowers, fruits, wood and root always contain essential oil of various composition…Coca-Cola’s original flavour came from cinnamon, lime oil, cola nuts, etc.” (Bo Jensen)

“The sweetness of Cinnamon Bark adds warmth and a spicy appeal to blends when used in minute amounts. Cinnamon is often used in Oriental and chypre perfumes to add a spicy, warm and sweet touch. It can add warmth to dry woody and spicy orientals, and also adds a gourmand touch to sweet, ambery Orientals as it has the culinary association of freshly baked goods (cinnamon buns, apple pie, etc.). It can also be used sparingly in florals as well as in fougère and aromatic herbal blends.” (Eden Botanicals)

Their nose: extremely rich, warm, aromatic-spicy with a delightful sweet powdery woody undertone with great diffusive power and tenacity. (WLA)

“In perfumery, the oil blends well with Oriental-woody notes, and the combination with olibanum(frankincense) is known and often utilized. The warmth and dry spiciness, the immediate sweetness and tremendous diffusive power (or “radiation”) … highly appreciated by certain perfumers.” (Steffen Arctander)

“…its odor is sweet and bitter, hot and sensuous, with a prolonged aftertaste.” (Fragrantica)

“peppery, earthy, spicy, bright yet slightly woodsy.” (Aromaweb)

My nose: What I get upon the opening of cinnamon bark essential oil is candy. Strong, pungent, happy, abundance, extravagant, lush, candy hearts at Valentines! It’s everything I expected from cinnamon. After 15min it’s strong, demanding, invasive and opulent, persistent, sweet too and fiery hot! Yes, the temperature is hot and piccante. 30min after opening and it’s still strong and bold, striking, uncompromising, tough, I would say, there is a roughness to it and only now the bark and wood aspect become apparent. Aha! I get it! The cinnamon “bark” shows up in the texture of the scent, the roughness! At the 45min marker the essential oil of cinnamon bark is drier, it’s definitely cinnamon, sweet, compelling, slightly thin in quality, but at this point it’s the dryness that stands out. It’s now 1hr and the odour is more extensive, fundamental even, there is the bark quality, it’s still strong and gutsy, like a spicy storm. 2hrs now it’s beginning to settle down somewhat into something a bit more composed and well behaved, more elegant and refined. After 3hrs the pungent quality has lessened and I can smell this together in a sweet Oriental mix. This is a first for me, being able to pick it out in a type of perfume! 7hrs later and cinnamon bark essential oil is a bit sweeter, and shares a lot more in common with cinnamon leaf essential oil. But, it’s more golden, hovering just above the surface. I totally missed the 12hr evaluation, damn! And after 24hrs this essential oil is sharply cinnamon. The candy hearts impression is still going strong and potent! Yep, this leaves no doubt that you’re sniffing cinnamon.

And that’s all from me for today.  I hope you all have a wonderful Wednesday filled with beautiful smells!



making perfumes with palo santo essential oil


Musings on making perfumes with Palo Santo essential oil: holy smokes is this oil interesting! I had no idea! It’s totally given me a whole different appreciation for this oil as a perfume ingredient.  In doing the research for this post I realise that my sample of Palo Santo is from the flowers but I’m finding that most oils are harvested from the heartwood. So of course I now need to try the heartwood version. Researching this oil led me to some interesting revelations into my perfume project and what to trust in myself as I develop this art. Since my thoughts were to profile Palo Santo as a possible addition in the heart of my perfume I really focused my attention on what it expressed between 1-3 hours. This material is incredible!  This is a long profile but well worth it, trust me:

Common name: Palo Santo, (Holy Wood)

Genus name: Bursera Graveolens

Supplier: Neroliane  (obtained by hydro distillation from the flowers of the plant)

Note: Top to Heart

Family: Wood

Diffusion: 6

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: jasmine, grapefruit, cedar wood oils, frankincense, sandalwood, myrrh, vetiver, champa flower, white sage, patchouli, lavender, neroli, rose, ylang ylang, benzoin, iris root, oakmoss, tolu, tonka, vanilla, cistus, oudh.

Chemical components: limonene 58.6%, a-terpineol 10.9%, menthofuran 6.6%, carvone 2%, Germacrene D 1.7%, y-Muurolene 1.2%, trans-Carveol 1.1%, Pulegone 1.1%. Neroliane has this particular version containing also: b-bisabolene, para-cymene and forneol.

Interesting bits: the tree belongs to the same family as Frankincense and Myrrh. Palo santo is a wild tree native from Mexico and the Yucatán Peninsula to Peru and Venezuela. The aged heartwood is rich in terpenes such as limonene and a-terpineol. Chemical composition, as reflected by aroma, is variable. It’s use reportedly dates back to the Inca era.  The aromatic wood of palo santo has also been used in South America to make barrels for ageing wine and beer. (Wikipedia)

The genus Bursera is named after the botanist Joachim Burser, who lived from 1583 – 1649; graveolens is Latin for “heavy, penetrating odour”. The natives say that the tree can live for 50 years without water! The tree does not have a long tap root, but instead has superficial roots that allow it to absorb water quickly; this is similar to frankincense, which in some cases has no roots at all, just a base that attaches to rocks. Palo Santo is obtained from the wood after the natural death of the tree, or from pieces found on the ground. To retain its special properties, the dead tree must lay on the ground for another 3- 6 years before harvesting the wood for its “holy” properties.  The wood is then cut into sticks or ground into sawdust to form incense cones.  Essential oils can be extracted from the tree but will only produce any essences if the tree goes through the process of natural death and resting for 6-10 years. After a natural death, the Palo Santo tree will remain standing for several years. In Peru, Palo Santo wood is harvested under government supervision by the natives of the Peruvian jungle. In Ecuador for every tree used for the oil, about forty new trees are planted.During the first part of the distillation the oil is a light yellow colour has more top notes of citrus.  At the end of the distillation the oil is more gold in colour and has more of the base notes of the wood. In the regions where Palo Santo grows poverty was endemic but the gathering of the wood, distillation of the oil and handicrafts made from the wood provide income and livelihood for local communities. One large tree can give up to 20 litres of oil, which is worth about $4,000.00 USD wholesale to international clients; it will also provide about $2,000.00 in medicinal sticks and another $1,000.00 in incense.   This is enough to support seventeen families for one month on normal wages.  This is especially significant for women who are the majority of the people working with Palo Santo. (

“To harvest palo santo oil, only dead trees that have been left lying on the ground for a minimum of two years can be used. The resin is driven into the hardwood when the wood dies and matures, thus developing its unique and powerful chemistry. The average life of the Palo Santo tree is between 80 and 90 years.” (Floracopeia)

Their nose: citrus with resinous wood notes, fresh, soft, gentle, musky (Floracopeia) Woody, sweet, with citrus and mint undertones (Eden Botanicals) Aromatically speaking I find this material challenging as the top note is an utter whirlwind of strong fragrance types and you can never be sure what will greet you first. The notes I detect are; yellow biting lemon, entwined with honey and marshmallow sweetness, fresh water mint with Catnip idiosyncrasies and creamy notes I associate strongly with Pemou and santal austrocaledonicum. Also I must add I find every individual note is somehow encapsulated within a light spice and delicately charged herbaceous bouquet. A drop on my wrist lasts 30 minutes and I only detect water mint and creamy wood notes for the final twenty minutes. Perfumers this is fascinating experimental material that in trace amounts will provide a rebellious and outlandish edge to herbal, culinary or creamy wood compositions. (Adam at Hermitage)

My nose: this opens with a top note that is sharp and terpene-like; wet, shiny, menthol quality, bracing, like the wind at sea, uplifting, spirited. 10:15 all I can smell is the terpene flash and menthol, but there is definitely a sweet aspect hanging out somewhere in the background. It’s like sucking in a lung full of cool night winter air when you’ve been house-bound for days! 10:30 It’s alive! Expressive, still terpenic and I can still smell mint (menthol) bright, vibrant. Do I smell spices, here?! But there is a nuance of black pepper or something spicy. 10:45 the terpenic facet is now subsiding, leaving a minty, cold impression – woody is not the first impression I get from this material. It’s enigmatic, abstract almost. 1hr and the heart opens into an assertive space, it’s lost the opening terpenic pitch so now it’s settling down into contemplation, but it’s not lost its radiance. 2hrs later and oh, its heart simmers beautifully, like liquid gold. There is a hint of citrus, lemony note in the heart, sort of a jagged dry down, but bright still. After 3hrs ahhhh, the sweetness is the main greeter here, wonderful change from top to heart, more smooth, elegant and less brash now. 7hrs into the dry down and there’s a balsamic, sweet, vanilla tolu-like quality to Palo Santo, more sombre and relaxed, but with a nod to its youthful exuberance of the top notes.  After 12hrs it’s light and airy and I can still pick out the citrus note, galantly holding its own even after 12 hours! Still perceptible as a whole. It’s got grip! 24hrs on and Palo Santo even though almost gone now, is beautiful, creamy, candy sweet with a hint of mint; it has a soft dry down.

12/24 comparison: the 12hr strip still has the terpenic qualities and it’s still has sharp and jagged edges. The 24hr strip doesn’t. It’s more rounded and has almost disappeared.




blending perfumes with clove bud eo


Common name: Clove

Genus name: Myrtaceae (Family) Syzygium (Genus) S. aromaticum (Species).  It’s also synonymous with: Caryophyllus aromaticus L., Eugenia aromatica, Eygenia caryophyllata, Eugenia caryophyllus.  I mention the synonyms only because it’s important to know that in the botanical world one plant can have many names.

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 6.5

Blends well with: spice accords, incense perfumes, sweet florals (White Lotus Aromatics).  “In rose, honeysuckle and certain deep-sweet florals, clove bud oil lends a unique note of natural richness and body. The classic ‘rondeletia’ perfume type is based upon the combination of clove and lavender oils. Modern variations include the use of lavindin, sage clary, bergamot, bay leaf oil, pimenta berry oil, etc.” Steffen Arctander.  If you have a snoop around the TGSC site and check clove bud oil you’ll see a vast list of possible blenders.  These are just a few: amyris, iso-amyl salicilate, beeswax abs., peony alcohol, phenethyl acetate, boronia, cardamom, guacwood oil, ho wood, Labdanum, immortelle abs., and linalool, just to name a few!

Chemical components: eugenol makes up 72-90% of the essential oil and is responsible for that distinct ‘clove’ aroma. “the aroma of cloves is influenced by the presence of eugenol, but also by the presence of some minor compounds in the composition. One of these is methyl salicylate, an ester commonly referred to as oil of wintergreen; another is 2-heptanone, which has a fruity, spicy odour. 2-heptanone is particularly interesting; much like eugenol, it can act as an anaesthetic, and research has shown that it is also contained in the mandibles of honeybees. The compound is secreted when the honeybee bites intruders in its hive, paralysing the intruder and allowing it to be removed by the bee. This is a comparatively recent discovery, and the compound has been patented for potential use as an anaesthetic in humans in the future.” (CompoundChem) Have I said how much I love their site lately? Well I do!

Interesting bits: clove bud also comes as an absolute.  “Cloves grown on the evergreen clove tree and they are picked unopened, while the flower buds are stil pinkish” (Fragrantica).  “Archeologists have found cloves in a ceramic vessel in Syria, with evidence that dates the find to within a few years of 1721 BC” (Wikipedia)

Their nose: “warm clove sweet fruity woody, spicy, eugenol, aromatic, clove, woody and medicinal with a nice depth” (TGSC).

My nose:  my first whiff at 09:30 met with a warm quality somewhat hidden, and to me this is a thoughtful note, sensual and soft.  15min later and I still get soft, but this time woody, even a hint of incense.  Feather light and downy.  After 30min it’s open , warm, like a hug! Gentle and kind, also sweet in a way that reminds me of cinnamon, reassuring. 45min now and I get happy memories of celebrations, joyful note, wood note too, open and embracing.  It’s 1hr and the impression is still of openness, warm, strong but not over-powering strong.  2hrs later and sweet, warm plumes float up to soothe me like a warm blanket of spice, golden in colour. Ahhhh!  3hrs into the dry-down and it’s quite delectable, distinguished, light, hushed now and just beginning to trail off noticeably. After 7hrs it’s only now making a distinct exit, still warm and balmy, evocative. After 12hrs it’s still like a cognac warmed up by your hands. Dim and smooth.  24hrs later and when I blow on it it’s still pungent, very much integral just much more subdued, still with a beautiful presence, warm and spicy.

Musings on composition: I can totally smell this together with Labdanum!  But also Frankincense and Sandalwood.  I can get this working it’s way lovingly into a smoky base.




blending perfumes with nutmeg eo


Blending perfumes with nutmeg essential oil?  If you’re learning to make your own perfumes then here’s an overview of a wonderful and versatile perfume ingredient.

Common name: Nutmeg essential oil

Genus name: Myristica fragrans

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our kit)

Note: Base

Family: Spice

Diffusion: 5

Blends well with: woods and florals especially Ylang Ylang, ginger,

Chemical components: The chemistry of nutmeg is full of inspiration – either sabinene or camphene (pungent)account for 50% of the essential oil. Yikes!  Then you have d-pinene 20%, dipenthene 8%, d-linalool 6%, d-borneol 6%, i-terpineol 6%, geraniol 6%, myristicin 4%, eugenol 2%, iso-eugenol 2% and safrole 0.6%.

Interesting bits: did you know another name for nutmeg is Mace? Apparently, nutmeg from Grenada is the one that sets the standards for all others.  The nutmeg we are familiar with is the shelled kernel (who knew?!). Native to the Banda Islands in the Moluccas, Indonesia; but also cultivated on Penang Island in Malaysia, in the Caribbean and especially in Grenada and Kerala. The essential oil is obtained by steam distillation from the ground nutmeg. (Wikipedia)

Their nose: “the fruit of Myristica fragrans, it has a spicy sweet facet with earthy and more pungent base notes, and is used to provide an oriental spiciness that is subtler than the usual cinnamon-clove-vanilla bouquet of orientals, thus perfect for masculines and lighter woodies.” (Fragrantica)

“…warm, sweet spicy-aromatic bouquet with balsamic woody undertone.”-from Indonesia and “terpenic top-note…with fresh, warm, sweet, aromatic spicy body note and a woody undertone.”-from Sri Lanka (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: I started sniffing at 09:30 and I was met with a warm, pungent but soft aroma, slightly woody, hint of something light and green just around the edges. 15min and whoa! this is way more pungent! Like it’s leaping off the paper but I’m getting a slight medicinal note as well. After 30min this is a spice that sits firmly in place. Now more woody with much more character, a bit on the dark side, but grounded. 45min into it and there is a harshness, it’s like it doesn’t want to come out, just wants to rest in the background. Now it’s 1hr later and I smell something I can only describe as bitter lurking in the background, a tinge of acidity and it’s begun to fade rather dramatically. 2hrs later and a smell of rust?! Dry, totally hidden in the shadows, dusty, faded and antique. After 3hrs I get more fading, very dry, understated now, I like it because now it’s very discreet and indiscernible.  Now 7hrs into the dry-down and it’s almost gone, a sort of metallic effect remains, cool metal or cool wood comes to mind. After 12hrs the smell is warmer even though it’s just about gone! Nice perk! it’s more interesting now, less rugged, more tame.  And 24hrs later this note is still alive. Soft, still sweet, much more woody in the dry-down though it’s lost a lot of it’s pungency, but still definitely alive on the strip.

Musings on composition: mostly used to modify the spicy notes; my thoughts are that this note could hide out very well, tucked away neatly in a composition.

Now of course I have to source the Grenada version.  Good grief, does it ever end?!  Thankfully the answer is, no :).



aromatic profile: black pepper


Common name: Black pepper

Genus name: Piper nigrum

Supplier: Perfumery Art School (part of our school kit)

Note: Heart to Top

Family: Spicy

Diffusion: 6

Blends well with: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

Chemical components: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

Interesting bits: In the winters, black pepper essential oil becomes a great substitute used as warmth-generating aromatherapy constituents. Black pepper essential oil is used as an aromatherapy massage oil, to increase the blood circulation. The essential oil can make a room feel warmer and cosier when used in an aromatherapy diffuser. (Fragrantica)

Their nose: See my other post on Green Pepper tincture.

My nose: pungent, spicy, wakes you up, but warm though. Lovely.  It’s like a burst of sunshine. That’s how black pepper begins its story for me. Then after 15 minutes it becomes comforting, very warm, very familiar, subtle and elegant, refined. It was so surprising for me to find black pepper to have a gentle, lived-in feeling. It was like rediscovering an old friend. 30 minutes later and it’s still very alive, familiar, citrus quality(?), it seems to add structure, a certain predictability, sharp. After 45 minutes I just love this note, now there is a sweetness to it. It’s glowing softly, it’s sheer! It’s light and translucent; it’s as if the presence of black pepper could gentrify the whole. 1 hour later and it remains just beneath the surface with a sensation of ice, this note is very integral, almost proud. 2 hours and it’s still pungent, it almost has the ability to make you forget it’s the humble black pepper. Clean, freshly pressed, centred. The prevalent impression is clean at this point. 3 hours later and it is still explosive, powerful, thin, dry, very dry actually and refreshing. After 7 hours it is still pungent and piercing but no longer really noticeable as black pepper. 24 hours into the dry down and it still possesses that uplifting characteristic, though fleeting — much more so than the Brazilian Pepper berry. Still recognisable as pepper because it is sharper.

Musings on composition: more than intellectual, I can feel this note together with other top notes to add radiance, the kind of radiance that Galbanum imparts to a blend or that we get from other synthetics like green leaf alcohol.

Hey! Get out there and smell something different today OR smell the ordinary differently.

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: african bluegrass


Common name: African Bluegrass essential oil

Genus name: Cymbopogon validus

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics (wild harvest, steam distilled, South Africa)

Note: Base-Heart

Main chemical components: Myrcene, Linalool, Germacrene-D-4-ol, Camphene, Geraniol, Nonanone-4 (thanks to

Interesting bits: well, folks, here’s another natural raw material that I could find next to nothing on!  Based on its chemical composition it shares commonalities with: Hop, Celery leaf, Wormwood, Cardamom, Lemongrass, Juniper berry, Rosemary, Tagetes.  The Cympobogon genus also includes Palmarosa, Gingergrass, Lemongrass and Citronella.

Their nose: “…complex, rich,  sweet, fruity, floral-herbaceous bouquet with a delightful green, roseaceous-balsamic undertone…” (White Lotus Aromatics).  “…top notes include a sharp, lemony-gingery-geranium scent, which gives way to a grassy, hay-like scent, but these are just embellishments on top of the main base notes, which are something like well-used bed sheets, unwashed hair, dog, and something indescribably dusty-musty. It serves the same function as ambrette, which I love, but I think I like African bluegrass even better when I want a cool, gray color instead of a warm, beige one.” (Ellen Covey of Olympic Orchids Perfumes).

My nose: Resplendent! Wonderful, bright uplifting top notes. For some reason to me African Bluegrass is both a cool and a warm note at the same time!  It is absolute JOY! for me.  Alive. After about 15minutes it starts to become more grounded, more confident and distinguished. But the top notes are just bursting with energy!  1hour into the drydown and it becomes sweet, exotic, a bit floral even.  This note is an elixir. Drying into a more composed version of its initial self.  It’s still quenching but now it is much softer, more sleek.  After 4 hours, the citrusy-ness comes back, drying into something less chilling, and more like a dewy morning; it’s more dry now, delicate even. 7 hours later it’s literally calming, still very noticeable on the scent strip, more of a lullaby now than a full chorus, hushed and lingering with resolve.  24hours later it is more dry, citrusy, more brittle, but wow, it’s still alive on paper!  Much more blanched, sun-baked almost as if this were the real essence of African Bluegrass.

Musings on compositions: I would like to pair this with blond woods, sacred woods and resins and I definitely want to try to adapt this to a cologne and a linear perfume!  Oh, the possibilities are endless!