Aroma Profile: Ambrette Seed tincture


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!


walnut and vanilla tincture


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?!)






raw propolis tincture


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!




new tincture evaluations


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


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.


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.


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.



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


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%. (

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


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!