Aroma Profile: Ambrette Seed tincture

ambrette-seed-tincture-1000x600


The Ambrette seed tincture I made about 18 months ago, is lighter in nature than the CO2, and presents itself as something I see myself using more in and Eau Fraiche, a cologne or an EdT. Light, summery and not as invasive as the CO2. But somehow I think my sample has gone bad, so I’ll have to re-tincture this one in the late summer when all the family hoopla dies down. In the meanwhile though, here’s an overview of my impression of this tincture:

Common name: Ambrette Seed (tincture)

Botanical name: Abelmoschus moschatus (tincture)

Supplier: got the seeds from Hekserij and tinctured them myself.

Note: Base

Family: Musky

Diffusion: 10%

Dilution: 3

Blends well with: Bergamot, black spruce, carrot seed, cedarwood, champaca, cistus, clary sage, coriander, cypress, frankincense, geranium, labdanum, lavandin, lavender, neroli, oakmoss, orange blossom, patchouli, rose, orris root, rosemary, sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver… (TGSC)

Chemical components: (EE)-farnesyl acetate(oily/waxy), nerolidol (floral/green/waxy/citrus/woody), farnesol, ambrettolide, dodecanol, among others.

Interesting bits: see my previous post on Ambrette Seed CO2

Their nose: see my previous post on Ambrette Seed CO2

My nose: The opening of the Ambrette seed tincture is soft, coolish in temperature and the projection is very low. Do I smell coconut oil? After 15min I’m thinking maybe the tincture has gone “off”, is past it’s best-before-date, because it smells a bit rancid; it’s fading fast and it’s very dry. 30min later and it’s almost gone. What is going on?! It’s a sharp note, also the coconut is once again present, rancidity is gone though. After 45min I can barely smell it, or detect it, it’s dry. 1hr and it’s soft, hushed, yes, still get that rancid effect (so apparently it does random disappearing and appearing acts), still on the strip but now more feeble impression; parched. 2hrs now and hmmm, yes, the effect remains on the strip which I find incredible for a tincture, very weak, yes, but there it’s there in a very natural way. At 3hrs it’s still alive on the strip and I can get a dry, greenish impression from it. 7hrs on and my Ambrette seed tincture is almost gone, just a memory almost, dry, but only a hint remains on paper. 12hrs now I’m able to get one sniff then the whole thing crumbles like a house of cards. I let it go. I don’t even attempt to struggle. After a whole 24hrs passes the strip is strangely still haunted by the tincture. There is an odd sweetness to the note that wasn’t there in the first 15 minutes. The dry impression is now secondary, oddly enough.

12/24 comparison: In a direct comparison the 12hr strip has a distinct rancid, coconut smell thing going. It’s dry and less pleasant smelling. While the 24hr strip’s olfactive impression almost disappears completely.

P.S. School will be out from Thursday for a whole week for Easter holidays and I can’t wait for a week off! Planning on doing some serious studying, more aromatic profiles and there will be some time (three days to be exact) for a very quick escape to see the beautiful town of Siena, Tuscany, yeah! Smooshed in there sandwich style will be some time with my daughter and her fiancé and finally some house cleaning, ’cause that never ends!

For this Wednesday I plan to get out a profile of a lovely Angelica Root CO2 that I purchased in December from Eden Botanicals, so stay tuned.

Wishing you a wonderful start to your week!

MC

walnut and vanilla tincture

walnutvanilla


Honestly, this walnut and vanilla tincture started out as (and really is) a ‘digestivo’ or digestive! Totally LV’s idea from an ol’ recipe of his great grandparents or something but it’s mainly made of walnuts from the many walnut trees that grow here in our little hamlet.

Around the end of June LV got inspired by some story his mum had told him about his ‘peeps’. Then he went out and gathered between 30-33 chestnuts, cut them up in large pieces and of course he had to go rummaging around in my spice cabinet and got all turned on by my prized Hotu Vanilla from Tahiti that I used in my oh-so-decadent vanilla-cognac tincture.  I was feeling generous so I let him have a couple pods. Then he added a stick of cinnamon, 2 litres of 96° grain alcohol and 500gr of white sugar.

The tincture is dark and a bit syrupy with a really nice woody quality to it. Full aromatic profile will be provided soon.

I knew I would like the liqueur which turned out to be amazing, seriously. It has a wonderful round, smooth quality to it and not at all bitter as I suspected. What I wasn’t prepared for was how much I would like it as a tincture.

There you have it, our latest liqueur/digestive of which I confiscated 20ml for my tincturing experiments, which only seems fair.

Have a merry weekend! (can you tell I just can’t wait for Christmas?!)

In-joy!

MC


 

 

 

raw propolis tincture

propolis


Today I’m doing a raw propolis tincture from our Alps here in Valtellina.  I went to visit Mirko of Miele di Valtellina to get the goods and thankfully he sells in small quantities!

First off I have to say my interest in propolis was piqued with a conversation I had with my French exchange partner from school, she gave me a really nice verbal description of her olfactive impression of propolis which led me to Francis Schofield’s site, she’s a Basenotes DIY forum member, and part of her site focuses on tinctures and in the forum she speaks quite a bit about the use of propolis in some blends.

Mirko is a young guy that has taken over the business from his father and is caring on the noble tradition of apiculture, God bless him, and he gave me the 411 on propolis, which I share here with you as well as a bit of research I did on my own to satisfy my own curiosity.

So what the heck is propolis anyway? The word “propolis” comes from the Greek “pro”, which can be translated as “in front of” and “polis”, the word for “city”. (World of Honey) According to Wikipedia, “‘Typical’ northern temperate propolis has approximately 50 constituents, primarily resins and vegetable balsams (50%), waxes (30%), essential oils (10%), and pollen (5%)”. Apparently, propolis is used by the bees as a hive sealer for small gaps to isolate their hives and to isolate, imprison and mummify any intruders like other insects or small animals that might be so daring to make it inside (good luck to them!).

I had no idea that bees need, actually they thrive, on an increase in ventilation during the winter months! So propolis isn’t about sealing themselves in for the winter, but Wikipedia says that Propolis is more about:

  1. reinforcing the structural stability of the hive;
  2. reducing vibration;
  3. making the hive more defensible by sealing alternate entrances;
  4. preventing diseases and parasites from entering the hive, and to inhibit fungal and bacterial growth;
  5. preventing putrefaction within the hive. Bees usually carry waste out of and away from the hive. However, if a small lizard or mouse, for example, finds its way into the hive and dies there, bees may be unable to carry it out through the hive entrance. In that case, they would attempt instead to seal the carcass in propolis, essentially mummifying it and making it odorless and harmless.

He told me that he lets his bees loose around the “bassa valle” or foothills of the alps not at high altitudes, making his raw propolis a mixture mainly of resin from Chestnut, Robinia and Tiglia (Linden) trees and of pollen and wax. This propolis from the alps is usually clearer than the propolis found growing along the plains.

So, here’s what I’m curious about: I wonder if propolis could have similar effects on a blend, on the whole composition? For example I’m curious to experiment and see if it could nullify or greatly reduce the odour strength of an ingredient or if it could reduce the stability or–okay I’m going out on a limb here, I know–reduce the intensity of a note?  We shall see.

raw propolis

Here’s a pic of what it looks like, pretty much like loose soil. I bought 90 grams of the raw stuff and I’m going to do a split: 45gr at 20% and 45gr at 30% to see if there are any noticeable olfactive differences. Mirko let’s his raw propolis tincture for about a month shaking it daily, as usual I’m just going to let mine sit for as long as I’m inspired, till I get the nudge to remove it and filter.

Here’s to wonderful discoveries!

In-joy!

MC


 

new tincture evaluations

the-fabulous-four


Today I filtered my Cepes (porcini mushroom) tincture, the Golden Virginia tobacco tincture, the pipe tobacco tincture and the Thuja berry tincture. Since they are four together I chose not to give a full 24 hour dry-down evaluation but stick to initial impressions only.

CEPES tinture — I was not expecting much with this one, I’ll be honest. I read about it on Mandy Aftel’s site somewhere that she either used it or sells it so I got curious and seeing as how during the summer these mountains are covered with all manner of mushrooms I thought, why the hell not? Holy cow, was I in for a treat! This tincture opens up with a very strong smell of mushrooms, but also of dampness, outdoors, brown colours come to mind and earth, rich and nourishing…I can definitely smell this in unison with Rock Hyrax or Ambergris or any of the raw, animalic materials to add depth and unexpected nuances. I don’t know why but I also get old books too. I am inclined to try this out in a wood accord. The colour is paler almost unnoticeable on the strip. Intensely diffusive –note to self: use with a very judicious hand!

GOLDEN VIRGINIA TOBACCO tincture — a pale yellow, this is what they call a blonde tobacco and it’s what LV likes to use to roll his own. Fruity, juicy then tobacco smell! Weird, huh? It’s a very soft blend of notes, raisiny, oak, sweet. A vision of an old English library and inside a beat up leather sofa with a rumpled newspaper folded and refolded many times cast alongside with an equally well worn blanket after an afternoon snooze. That sweet, raisin-like almondy aspect is very present. Dries out rather quickly, leaving a very pale, dry scent trail that is weak in diffusion. Would be great to try to recreate this but I am struck by the similarities between this tincture and my vanilla bean tincture (which by the way is on its 10th month, and that’s after being tinctured in the cognac). The smell is really short-lived and is more of a top note.

PIPE TOBACCO tincture — darker and more yellow than the Golden and now I am slapped with the smell of vanilla! Jee-pers! Very raisiny, this almost reminds me of brandy or cognac not tobacco. It’s sweetness is overwhelming. Raisin-like, so much so you don’t even realize you’re smelling tobacco. The impression is almost wet, Golden Virginia is drier, there’s a juiciness that makes my mouth water. It’s lovely and warm and dark — deeply pleasing, ahhhh. Hold on, I get brown sugar too! The sweetness isn’t just raisins it’s also brown sugar and molasses. What a surprise. Evaluating this makes me remember Cogolin. A tiny town in Provence that is well known for pipe making. There we found a retired Italian who spent his days at the shop making pipes. He explained to us that the process involves boiling pre-aged Erica roots for eight hours and then leaving it to dry for two years! Holy patience, Batman!

THUJA BERRY tincture — a deep yellow colour. This bites and prickles the senses at first. Sharp, piney almost medicinal this scent is also harsh and abrasive in the opening. But the sensation it leaves me with is fresh, cool, open, expansive wild territory. Snow. Cold and health. It is stimulating to my senses and I can see using this maybe in a Christmas blend as a room spray or something.

I love tincturing!

lavender, rhododendron and acacia honey tinctures

lavender-rhododendron-acacia


Last month I finally got to tincturing a packet of Lavender from Provence that was given to me as a gift but somehow managed to remain sitting on the shelf for some time. I’m run out of100ml bottles and need to reorder more so I’ll just have to divvy up the lot into two bottles for now. I added 100ml of alcohol to 15gr of Lavender at first but when it soaked it up immediately I had to add another 50ml.

lavender-tincture

Not sure if you can tell but it’s a sort of dark green colour and right away the essence springs to life almost leaping out of the bottle right at me. Putting the lid back on it felt like coaxing a genie back into the bottle. Wow! Now, almost three weeks later I think it’s time to filter it, probably next week, because I am beginning to smell a twiggy, bark-like aspect that I’m not to crazy about.  A full Note Evaluation will follow when I filter and get some time.

rhododendron-honey-tincture

Then just before leaving for vacation in September we stopped off at Il Saraceno, a really cool specialty food store run by Paolo Sala and his family, a good friend of LV’s, and I found some little jars of all sorts of honey! From Lavender to Rhododendron to Robinia (Acacia) honey and lots more in between. I chose Rhododendron because this plant intrigues me. It reminds me of Boronia probably because they both grow well at high altitudes in mountainous areas but I can’t confirm what either smell like as I have neither of them to confront. From the moment I poured the 50ml of alcohol in the tiny 15gr of honey it was as if the honey was shocked, frozen into place, rigidly refusing to blend or let go its bounty! I shook the dickens out of it and almost burned by olfactory hairs recklessly sniffing. Okay, you’re not ready, I thought, but I’ll be back to you again…fast forward to yesterday when I set it in a Bain-marie on the stove on low on the smallest burner. Aha! Some success as it slowly began to release it’s aroma as I stirred and stirred with a wooden stir stick…warm, creamy, sweet, you can almost see the bees teaming around this bush in the summer!  It’s not as in-your-face as the Mille Fiore honey which is very down to earth and unpretentious, but it’s more gentle.  The colour is a very pale yellow and even after the hot water submersion it still didn’t give it all up and leaves this waxy residue clinging to the sides of the jar just as the plant does on the sides of the Alpes. Yep, it’s probably wax now that I think about of honeycombs and wax candles. Duh!

You’d think there’s no real olfactive difference between various honeys but there are! Where the Rhododendron honey is sweet in character and you definitely get the impression of “honey” the Robinia or Acacia honey, from the Robinia tree is soft, round and much more subtle.

robinia-flowers

acacia-honey-tincture

Even the clarity of the bottle suggests as much and this is after the Bain-marie. It, too, has a waxy sediment that is just not dissolving with gentle heat either. I didn’t want to over do it for fear of destroying any of the olfactive properties so I think I’m just going to let these two mature for at least six months. It’s usually between 18°C-20°C in here throughout the year (brrr, I know) so it’ll take some time at these temperatures.

I’m inspired to create a series of honey tinctures because it’s a raw material that is really plentiful here, there’s a wide, interesting variety and my hunch is it’s a very versatile modifier. I’ve tried a few drops in a floral heart accord I’m working on to add grip to the accord and it seems to be doing the job!

Just my two scents.

Well, that’s it for me for this week. Have yourselves a wonder-filled weekend and see you on Monday!

aromatic profile: green pepper tincture

green-pepper


Common name: Green Pepper

Genus name: Piper nigrum (of the Piperaceae family) native of Malabar India

Supplier: bought a small bag from the grocery store and tinctured in 96° alcohol

Note: Heart to Top

Family: (cool) Spicy/Green

Diffusion: 3

Blends well with: gourmand accords, Oriental accords, spice accords, amber bases particularly with sandalwood, rosemary, citrus, lavender, ginger, clove, lemon, coriander, geranium, litsea cubeba

Chemical components: a-pinene 30.7%, b-pinene 16.2%, d-3-carene – 1-15%, b-myrcene 0.8%, limonene 19.3%, elemene 2.1%, B-elemene 0.1%, B-caryophyllene 4.8%. (naturalextracts.com)

piperine, piperetine and piperidine, amides-peperyline, piperoleins. (Fragrantica)

Interesting bits: Pepper grows as a woody, climbing and flowering vine that can reach up to five meters. Green Pepper essential oil is directly distilled from the unripe, undried green colored peppercorns (the fruit). Black peppercorns are formed when the unripe pepper is picked and then dried in the sun. (White Lotus Aromatics)

Black Pepper, christened as “King of Spices” and “Black gold” is the most important and the most widely used spice in the world, occupying a position that is supreme and unique. Black pepper essential oil is stimulating, warming, comforting and cheerful. The quality of pepper is contributed to by two components. Piperine that contributes the pungency and volatile oil that is responsible for the aroma and flavour. (Fragrantica)

The flowers may be unisexual, with monoecious or dioecious forms, or may be hermaphrodite…The pepper is crushed to a coarse powder and on steam distillation in which ammonia is evolved (in common with, for example, ginger, pimento and cubebs). (Fragrantica)

Their nose:  a fresh, light. spicy-aromatic(pepper-elemi-cubeb complex) bouquet with a dry, woody, terpenic undertone (White Lotus Aromatics)

hot and bracing note, short-lived and earthy spice…pleasant, fresh, spicy and peppery, warm, woody (Fragrantica)

My nose: my green pepper tincture opens with a light, barely-there element, then the pepper jumps out! Green, wow! Uplifting, spicy, almost watery and watered down, yes I definitely get that impression of dilution. 15 min later and it’s now very exotic spicy, like India, I get India with this tincture. Almost aniseed-like, aged, old, like it’s been sitting in the spice cabinet for years. After 30 minutes it’s fading very quickly, I don’t seem to get a thing when I sniff, just a vague impression of aniseed. 45 minutes into the dry down and now it’s just a glimpse, a hint of green and pepper is the last impression. It’s a cool spice note. Aniseed tea that mom used to give us for tummy aches. After 1 hour when it slides into the heart note it’s almost gone, I have to blow on it to wake it up but the pepper quality is still in tact. After 2 hours it smells faintly of a spice cupboard but it’s pretty much gone only a slight green note remains. 3 hours later and there’s a faint smell of spice lingering so is the aniseed thing. 7 hours into the dry down and all I get is a faint green impression mingled with paper – dry!  24 hours later and the impression of green pepper is so faint I think I’m imagining it. It’s gone.  But for a tincture it lasted much longer than expected.

Musings on composition: I would use this tincture as a base or backdrop for colognes because the impression is so weak, but that’s what I would want anyway. I discovered spicy can be both cool and warm and that this particular tincture could straddle both the green and the spicy family. Hmmm, all these facets of the single notes that no one can teach me really, I simply have to discover them for myself as I open up to learning more.

Wishing you a wonder-filled day!

four new tea tinctures

bag-of-loose-tea

Slowly I’m discovering that one of the things I like to tincture most are teas – probably because I love to drink it too.  Wearing it is also wonderful in Bulgari’s Green Tea perfume that I often use in the summer.

A few months back, you may remember I did a Lapsang Souchong tea tincture that is simply an incredible olfactive treat and a Mate tea tincture that is very surprising. White Lotus Aromatics sells the Lapsang Souchong concrete (of course it’s on my list!).  At any rate, back in June, I purchased a few from Tee Geschwendner, my go-to online store for teas.

I tinctured four and here’s a sort of overview.  Scent profiles to follow when I filter later this year.

China Pai Mu Tan tea tincture
China Pai Mu Tan tea tincture

China Pai-Mu Tan (white peony) – this is a white tea from the province of Fuji, made from the silvery buds and the first two leaves of each bush. It’s harvested in early spring and is known to have “…a sweet complex honey aroma often compared to muscatel wines”.  — 10gr of tea in 100ml of alcohol.

China fancy white peony tea tincture
China fancy white peony tea tincture

China Fancy White Peony — also from Fuji province, this is first grade Pai Mu Tan. This tincture is immediately different than the other because it is clearer, absorbs less of the alcohol than the first one did.  It also has a very delicate aroma. — 10 gr of tea in 100ml of alcohol.

China Oolong Kwai flower tea tincture
China Oolong Kwai flower tea tincture

China Oolong Kwai Flower — Kwai flower is Osmanthus flower!  You can imagine how happy I was to find this out.  This is a dark Oolong from Fuji and there is definitely a fruity aroma to this one right from the start. The colour is a very pale green. — 10gr of tea in 100ml of alcohol.

Caramel black tea tincture
Caramel black tea tincture

Carmel black tea — this one is a wild card; it’s obviously flavoured with caramel which is but a hint in the beginning.  The colour is a cognac colour, a wonderful brown and the smell is intriguing.  — 10 gr of tea in 100ml of alcohol.

Let’s see/smell what we get in 3 months.

Enjoy your weekend!

thuja berry tincture

thuja-tree-and-resin

The other day we were out at Villa Carlotta on Lake Como and while strolling along the lake I noticed a coniferous full of berries.  Curious of course, I picked one and was gently caressed by the scent that filled my nostrils.  Gotta have this stuff, is all I thought — but what the hell is it?!

Luckily, LV having studied as a landscape designer, knows by name over 3,000 species and genus’.  Thuja Occidentalis a.k.a White Cedar (the man’s a walking database).

Of course we picked some and the next day it was in an alcohol bath where it’s been sitting as you can see, since the 25th of July.

I just took the lid off this one and holy cow it’s like full blown Juniper berries! From my research Thujone, the chemical component prevalent in Thuja berries can be toxic and one viable substitute is of course Juniper berries.

More on the details when I do a scent profile in a few weeks — or a couple months. What’s the hurry, really?

Have a great day!

tobacco tinctures

rolling-tobacco-tincture


I tinctured a load of natural materials over the past month and I want to share with you what’s been going on.

LV rolls his own cigarettes and I absolutely love the smell of the Golden Virginia rolling tobacco he prefers.  I love how the smell isn’t over-powering and only lightly scents his clothes with the tobacco smell. So I thought why not tincture it? Detto. Fatto.  No sooner said than done!

I started getting all excited with the desire to experiment bubbling up unstoppable so I got bold and bought a very dark, pipe tobacco and tinctured it as well.  The pipe tobacco is full of body and strong aromas, most noticeable is the vanilla!

But, since I only began tincturing them yesterday I’ll have to wait at least a few weeks before doing a scent profile for each.

These tobacco tinctures are purely for research purposes. I’m fascinated by the olfactive facets that make tobacco, cigarette, and pipe smoke such an alluring and attractive aspect in a perfume so hands on research is one way to dig deeper into those layers.  Hopefully, one day, I’ll be able to reproduce the effects in one of my own creations.

Hope the sun is shining wherever you are!

 

aromatic profile of two ambergris

two-different-ambergris


It’s a rainy day out today and it’s cloaking the study in a wonderful shroud that is so conducive to creativity, at least for me — I love the rain.  I sit here with my tea happily cuddled by the gloomy, overcast skies.

Yesterday I did a comparison of the two Ambergris that I have: White Ambergris from New Zealand that I bought a piece of and have been tincturing since December 2013, and Profumo.it. The profiles were very surprising to my nose, totally not what I expected at all.

Ambergris from AbdesSalaam (Profumo.it) — 1% tincture strength

9:30am it opens light and luminous with a hint of the old; it’s impactful, and it seems to just keep coming forward, literally moving. 9:45am now it’s more moth-bally, old room, animalic, sort of bad breath, but so intriguing. 10:00am and it smells of antiques, aged character, the ocean and still very animalic.  10:15am and now the animalic quality is the foremost impression, very pronounced, but it now has a shimmering, smooth, golden quality about it.  10:30am warm is what hits me first, closed attic, animalic and poetic and raw, yes, in that order to my nose.  11:30am it’s still very present, warm, seashore, languid as if this note wants to say that it’s in no hurry. Wow, can a odour do that?! 12:15pm and it is still going strong, but now drier, more extensive, further reaching rather than deep like it was in the beginning, and still very warm. 4:30pm now we’re at the seven hour mark and it’s more of an impression than a real presence, bad breath, but even this impression is almost gone, faintly sweet note now, and faintly animalic.  24 hours later and there is a vague animalic impression, still a whiff of bad breath and then the whole thing collapses and disappears.

Volatility: mid

Ambergris from New Zealand (ambergris.co.nz) — 0.44% tincture strength (edited on October 31, 2014)

9:30am and my eight-month-old ambergris tincture opens wet and animalic, moth-balls, old, aquatic, marine, giving me an impression of deepness, profound depths, fathomlessness.  9:45am and it’s already very faint, like a sigh! But there is still that animalic aspect to it that is barely discernible.  10:00am soft, mellow, and warm. 10:15am faintly animalic, still nuances of the sea but more in hints and suggestions though, the temperature is luke-warm. 10:30am it’s bare, white, clean, and still warm. 10:30am an hour later and my nose can’t detect a thing, nada!  Just the merest trace and only if I slow down my breathing and close my eyes.  I can’t believe it, I’m stunned. Where did it go?!  12:30pm and there is a hit of smokiness!  And then it’s gone again.  4:30pm, seven hours later and it’s completely gone, no trace at all.  I feel like weeping!  24hrs later and it’s a very pale sweetness (could it be my imagination?) and nothing else.

Volatility: high

I really believed that my 4.4% tincture would have made more of an olfactive splash (pardon the pun) than the 1% tincture from AbdesSalaam, but then I have no way of knowing for how long his has been aging. Thankfully I found this on http://www.gaharu.com a forum for Oud enthusiasts while doing some online research:

“…the scent doesn’t even project or last very long by itself, but when I mix it with oud or some of my own natural perfumes, it will take the other scent into the fourth dimension.  First of all the scent will open up much more quickly and each note will become perfectly clear in perfect harmony…secondly, this open state will last for a really long time…”

This seems to suggest that there are many layers to Ambergris, the obvious being the olfactive impression the nose receives and the brain registers; and could it be the other facet only reveals itself in combination with other notes which the perfumer can only discover through experimentation and that side remains hidden? This could be true because in my first formulas there are two that I added a couple drops of Ambergris to and they are completely different than the others, existing at an elevated level compared to the others.  I am in awe of Ambergris, I must say.

The photo was taken in Croatia, on the island of Krk, during a vacation in 2012, I was hoping to get lucky :).

Have a wonderful weekend!

pleasant gifts

 

larch-tincture-and-tree

A couple weeks ago we took our niece and her boyfriend from New Jersey up for a hike in the Alps to a place called Vazzeda Inferiore (and before you ask, no, I totally forgot to bring my camera! Duh!).  It was a gorgeous afternoon, the sun was shining and there weren’t too many people about.  Perfect.

As we advanced upon our destination, at about 2,000 meters, where some well deserved prosciutto sandwiches were awaiting us, we noticed greater and greater evidence of avalanches that had ripped through the area the previous winter.  Holy smokes, nature can be scary!  The bridge that we usually cross was broken in half and we had to gingerly navigate our way across, one person at a time and taking extra care to walk in the middle. The river Mallero that carriers glacier water from the Alps was flowing furiously a mere three feet below us!  There was snow five and six feet thick in a lot of places still and trees literally littered our path as we picked our way across.  It was well worth every gasp.  The scenery and the altitude were both breath-taking.

After lunch we snoozed and caught some mountain rays.  Later we went nosing around some of the surrounding stone cottages and I ended up straddling an enormous Larch, victim too of the avalanche.  With it’s roots up in the air and the top half God only knew where I felt draw to just being with it for a while.  LV joined me as we looked at the young sweethearts musing on our own loves and as the memories spread across my heart making my mouth turn up into a smile my hands melted into something gooey.  When I turned upside down to inspect the ickiness I was as dumbstruck as a sailor witnessing land for the first time in months — eureka!

I couldn’t believe the amount of resin at my fingertips!  It was literally oozing out of where it had been broke in half.  LV got out his knife and we scraped it all up, every last ounce! Back home I weighed it, 55 grams of aromatic heaven, scraped it all into a mason jar and added 250ml of 96 proof alcohol to it.

To my nose Larch resin is soft and almost boozy in nature.  Sure, the woody note is definitely central but there’s much more depth to this resin and I can’t wait to evaluate it on a scent strip. It’s also very, very sticky and I don’t know how I’m going to deal with that in a final formula.  I’ll cross that rickety bridge when I come to it.

In the meantime, I’m just basking in the pleasant gifts of an unfortunate event of nature – I can only hope that my perfume failures turn out half as captivating as this.

Have a wonderful weekend!

adventures in tincturing: cardamom and coriander

cardamom-&-coriander

During my break I did try to keep my nose in shape mainly just by being consciously aware of smells, noting them and mentally cataloguing their impressions and being aware of my nose as a very important instrument in how I perceive my world.

Spices have always been a part of my childhood and they are some of the first ingredients I reach for in my mind when mentally formulating, or wishing. So it comes as no surprise that on a visit to D’s place in April I purchased some organic coriander and cardamom to tincture.

I had intended to leave them till July to filter but after performing these evaluations I think I’ll have to filter tomorrow.  At any rate here are my olfactive impressions so far on the scent strip:

Cardamom: This tincture opened sharp, smelling obviously of cardamom, spicy, tangy, fizzy and cool.  From one nostril I captured a lemony, bright facet and from the other a sharp, luminous, also lemony side.  After 30 minutes it begins to warm up, the spiciness unfurls even more, I get India, an opening, calming, goodness.  After an hour I’m shocked that the tincture hasn’t broken down yet, but is still rather fresh, in tact and holding its own!  It starts to fade around 2 hours, after 3 there’s but a hint of an impression.  But the amazing thing is after 24hours if I breathe on it I can still get it! Wow!  Not bad for a tincture.

Coriander:  On the other hand, this one I had higher expectations because about a month ago when I tested it it was perfect so I think I should have filtered it then and there.  But no, I had to push it and so ended up with this:

First impression is a bit unpleasant. Out of one nostril I get flour!  No, not flour, but dough! A sort of yeasty-ness. Out of the other nostril I get a bit of green, clean and soapiness.  30 minutes out and it has a very metallic, thin, soapy impression but less than before and it’s still giving off a greenness.  After 1 hour it’s barely discernible. Now it’s smelling like something I’d smell in food.  At the 2 hour mark its gone.  Ba-bye.  Sayonara.