adventures in tincturing: cardamom and 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.


aromatic family

Of course with my love of Eau de Colognes it’s obvious that I would gravitate to this family.  Some well-known family members are: coriander, lavender, immortelle, carrot seed and spearmint (can not wait to experiment with this one!)  Heeley parfums did two versions of this that totally inspired me at Pitti Fragranze: Esprit du Tigre (think Tiger Balm), and Menthe Fraiche.  Oddly enough Lavender is an aromatic not a floral and at first that classification stumped me but the more I deepened my exploration of this single note the more it made sense in this family.  It’s sharp, piercing, uplifting even herbal.

Because of the vibrant, pungent, even aquatic nature of the aromatic family you can guess that it’s much used in the creation of men’s fragrances, which I adore.

Coriander: love this note with it’s lemony, herbal, minty undertones.  I could pick up the smell of twigs, a dry, green scent and it felt light like a sunny day of lazing about; cicadas, a breezy, woody and camphoraceous.  After 1.5 hours I could pick out a spicy, anise-like smell.  After 6 hours the lemony aspect was faint and the herbal aspects were drier, thinner almost lifeless because the impression that defines coriander is gone.  Volatility: high

Clary Sage: herbaceous, light, green, slightly medicinal, minty, and strange, but after about 15 minutes I can smell lemons!  There are definitely aspects shared with lavender and the citruses.  The note remains whole throughout the dry down, not really decomposing just changing becoming deeper.  Volatility: medium

Lavender: fresh, clean, vibrant, pungent, exhilarating, exciting, but also pure, cold, crisp like snow, bracing like the shock of a fall wind hitting your face.  Lavender also has a very delicate side to it that makes it enduring.  I can pick out the linalol and geranium as chemical components – HURRAY! – yes, this is partly what success looks like during the learning phase of perfumery.  It dries to a woody, herbaceous, dry quality with most of the bite gone out of it.  Volatility: medium

Proprionate (Cis-3 Hexenyl Proprionate): this is a natural isolate which occurs naturally in  mango fruit.  I found it bitter, pungent, dry and celery-like.  Definitely it has a green aspect to it, sweet like peas, and it is powerful.  It dries down into the ghost of green smell, and it’s only here, now, that I get the fruitiness, that pear-like scent coming off it.  Volatility: high-mid.

Hexenal C6 Aldehyde: also a natural isolate which occurs naturally in artemisia, ginger root, guava and rose otto.  This note opens up green, leafy, crisp and my thoughts interrupt the process with “excuse me but, how is this an aromatic?!”; it’s like a green jungle.  Yes, it’s green but it’s a wet, mossier, damp green.  A few minutes after dipping I get a whiff of something sweet, almond, vanillin? a drier, leafier note that is a bit floral.  After 6 hours it’s still very green but more hollow and very present.  Volatility: mid-low.

Okay, done!  Moving on tomorrow to update you on the powder family.

Have a luscious day!