Benzyl Acetate

Common Name(s): Benzyl Acetate

Chemical Name: Benzyl Acetate

CAS#: 140-11-4

Supplier: Hekserij

Odour Note: Floral

Pyramid Note: Heart

Diffusion: Medium

Dilution: 10%

Interesting Bits: Since benzyl acetate makes up 40% of the picked jasmine flower, it is widely used in synthetic perfumery. It imparts fruit flavors like those of banana, strawberry, pear and apple and is thus used in the flavoring industry. (The Role of Chemistry In History)

Very widely used and almost essential in jasmine and gardenia accords: should be in every perfumer’s palette. (Pell Wall)

“Very extensively used in perfumery, from the lowest priced industrial odors to the most highly appreciated cosmetic fragrances, often constituting the main ingredient in a perfume oil. It is almost inevitably the largest component in Jasmin and Gardenia fragrances, and it enters in a multitude of other floral fragrance types in smaller proportions. Its poor tenacity is usually compensated for by proper blending with higher esters of Benzyl alcohol, and with suitable fixatives. In the industrial odors, the volatility of Benzyl-acetate is often only an advantage.” (Arctander via Pell Wall)

Blends well with: since Benzyl acetate occurs naturally in ylang ylang, tuberose, strawberry, plum, osmanthus, neroli, narcissus abs., azelea, jasmine sambac abs., hyacinth, gardenia, champaca abs., cassie abs., and cananga eo., it is also available as a natural isolate. Considering all the aforementioned materials in which it is present, you can also use this as a jumping off point for blending possibilities.

But it also blends well with: woody acetate, vera moss, vanillin, aldehyde C-14, tuberose, tetra hydrojasmone, sandall, pheneleythyl acetate, mimosa, l-linalool, lavender abs., iso jasmine, ho wood, ho leaf, ginger root eo., etc. (TGSC)

Their nose: sweet floral fruity jasmin fresh (TGSC)

Powerful thin sweet fresh fruity floral of jasmin gardenia muguet. (Perfumer’s Apprentice)

My nose: opens… like nail polish, warm, sweet, soft, a hint of paint and floral. Weird, I know. 15min… sweeter, now berry, fruity, very much nail polish, sweet, somewhat heavy, I would probably dilute this down even more than 10% as I find it really intense. But that’s just me. 30min… piercing, almond-y, still sweet, floral, fruity, but bold now, not afraid to step forward is the impression I get. 45min… the diffusion is stronger, wider to me now, still almond-like, sweet and I feel it could dominate a blend, it feels thick and heavy in mass. 1hr… continues to be strong, powerful, but not as much as 30 minutes ago, softer, rounder, sweet, floral, fruity, juicy and the almond facet remains. 2hrs… now it’s much softer, warmer, bringing to mind geranium and lavender…hmmm… 3hrs… vanilla, almond extract, sweet and disappearing into a warm, glowing pillow of softness. 7hrs… slightly nail polish, cinnamic, soft and warm but definitely drying out quickly. 10hrs… a much more subdued version of vanilla now, almond still, almost not there but then I have to be very quiet for it to reveal itself and it comes across as soft, powdery and drier now. 24hrs… just a thin layer remains then a smidge of the nail polish effect appears briefly and it trails off to be slightly floral and fruity.

If you’re getting the impression that I’m banging these out in rapid fire, I am! I’m preparing to head to my daughter’s place to babysit the little munchkin for a week so everything needs to be in order before I leave. Here it’s coming down in buckets, yeah!!! My kinda weather baby!

Be well!

MC

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Givescone (Givaudan)

Common Name(s): Givescone, Rose Carboxylate

Chemical Name: ethyl 2-ethyl-6,6-dimethylcyclohex-2-ene-1-carboxylate

CAS# 57934-97-1

Supplier: Perfumer’s Apprentice

Odour Note: Floral

Pyramid Note: Heart

Diffusion: Medium

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: Rose, carnation, aldehydes, chypre, fougere, aromatic and spicy notes. Tolu balsam, sandalwood, rose abs., rose concrete and rose eo., patchouli, petitgrain lemon, osmanthus, lavender abs., beta-ionone, genet concrete, geranium bourbon eo., the damascenes, etc.

Their nose:  floral, spicy, fruity, woody and even herbaceous nuances. Rose, oxide, warm, spicy, fruity, berry, damascone. (TGSC)

My nose: opens… fruity, floral, purple with a hint of zesty, feminine freshness, it’s a happy scent with a smile, berry nuances and an overall harmonious effect. 15min… very fruity, still berry but more like chewing gum, with a hint of the floral. 30min… mostly fruity, more of a splash, delicately feminine not overpoweringly so, elegant and refined. 45min… Fruity remains the predominant impression for me, berry still, but now with a hint of the mint, there is definite lift and bounce coming out now, it’s more radiant and generous. 1hr… there’s now just a pinch of cinnamon, light and bright, fruity, and the overall impression seems to be hanging back a bit, withdrawn. 2hrs… now there’s something cool, mint about Givescone that is totally surprising to my nose! A eucalyptus impression is coming forward, just a hint of it though, it’s now light but definitely fading. 3hrs… sharp, cinnamon, sweet, feminine, and … kind, which probably just means possessing a certain gentleness. 7hrs… ever so slightly peppery, then it disappears! Sharp but mostly just not there anymore. 10hrs… Gone with a faint peppery note fluttering in the background. 24hrs…again, the ghost of a peppery impression, then nothing.

I’m late in getting today’s post out but it couldn’t be helped. Sometimes, that’s just the way it goes. I’ll see you Wednesday and until then, have a wonderful Monday!

MC

Vetiver Coeur (Hermitage)

Common name: Vetiver Coeur (a vetiver essential oil fraction), Vetiver, Vetivert, Khus

Botanical name: Vetiveria Zizanoid

Supplier: Hermitage

Odour Note: Woody

Pyramid Note: Base

Diffusion: Medium

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: agarwood eo and co2; allspice berry eo, co2 and abs; ambrette seed eo, co2 and abs; amyris eo; angelica seed eo; angelica root eo, co2 and abs; beeswax abs; benzoin abs; bergamot eo; bois de rose eo; cananga eo; carnation abs; cassia eo and co2; cinnamon bark eo, co2 and abs; cistus eo and abs; clary   sage eo and abs; cassie abs; clove bud eo, co2 and abs, coriander eo and co2; costus root eo and abs; fir balsam abs; frankincense eo, co2 and abs; genet abs; ginger root eo, co2 and abs; guiacawood eo;  gurjun balsam eo; ho wood eo; juniper berry eo, co2 and abs; labdanum eo and abs; lavender eo, co2 and abs; lavandin eo and ab; mimosa abs; myrrh eo, co2 and abs; patchouli eo, co2 and abs; oakmoss abs; opoponax eo and abs; orange flower abs; orris root eo, co2 and abs; pepper eo, co2 and abs; sandalwood eo, co2 and abs; tonka bean absolute. vanilla abs; violet leaf absolute (White Lotus Aromatics)

Cassie, Cedarwood, Cinnamon, Clary Sage, Clove, Cocao Absolute, Coffee Bean, Frankincense, Galbanum, Geranium, Grapefruit, Jasmine, Lavender, Oakmoss, Patchouli, Rose, Sandalwood, Tobacco Absolute, Violet Leaf, Ylang Ylang.  We also recommend blending the different types of Vetiver oils we carry to create a unique, complex Vetiver accord. (Eden Botanicals)

Both vetiverols and acetates have softer odours and fixative qualities, and are used as blender with high-class perfumery products. They blend well with ionone, linalool, cinnamic alcohol, oakmoss, vanila, sandalwood, patchouli and rose bases, and are frequently used in western type of fragrances having chypre, fougere, rose, violet and amber aldehyde base, and oriental fragrances and floral compounds. (Fragrantica)

Chemical components: benzoic acid, vetiverol, furfurol, a and b-vetivone, vetivene and vetivenyl vetivenate

Their nose: “…alluring and seductive scent that can range from smoked grasses, China caravan tea and monsoon rain gardens to sweet stripped willow, aged leather, freshly turned earth, gardening gloves, candied lemon peel, marijuana and cinnamon spiced apples.” (A Scent of Excellence)

Vetiver essential oil from Haiti is a golden viscous liquid displaying a warm, a balanced sweet, earthy, mossy, rooty bouquet with a fine precious woods undertone of great tenacity. (WLA)

Our organic Haitian Vetiver is deep and slightly sweet, with light smoky undertones. Its pronounced earth and root notes are well-balanced with its somewhat resinous character. (Eden Botanicals)

My nose: Vetiver Coeur opens soft, warm, grassy and very subtle. Even though I can perceive that it is a much thinner version of the essential oil it’s still very suggestive of Vetiver eo., low in projection, with a hint of leather and I am overwhelmed by the maleness of it. My nose and brain associate this note with the essence of masculinity. 15min: now it’s waking up! Fully grassy, to me uplifting, to another nose maybe not, but I am lifted off my feet and feel reassured! To me this is a timeless scent, discrete, tough and earthy. 30min: Smokey, hint of woodiness, it throbs and like a big yawn when you awake up slowly, stretching, it too eases you into the day. Narcotic, distinct, plump, nutty attributes. 45min: still warm, deep, plush, very down-to-earth, elementary and completely absorbing the senses with its round, fullness. I find it utterly bewitching and enigmatic. 1hr: grassy, root-y, and wet! How did I miss that before? Smells of nature, outdoors, sensual, of arousal, masculine and confident. 2hrs: Vetiver Coeur has no intentions of fading any time soon as it clings madly to the strip, lavish, stylish and damp without being cloying, but also very pensive. 3hrs: it’s now darker, recalling deep woods, now it’s even more enigmatic and brooding. I feel as though I’m being firmly led by the hand and heart down a lush path, entwining and binding together with each step. 7hrs: more dense if that’s at all possible, planted firmly, drier, displaying a strong character, bolder and heavier than in the opening. 10hrs: dry, grassy, thick still very intimate as it meanders along unhurriedly . This is where I feel the feminine quality express itself, revealing a soft, subtly, whereas in the beginning it was more unabashedly male. 24hrs: much darker and more dramatic, deeper and woodier, more grassy, too. The nuances have evaporated leaving a more stripped, naked scent.

I have got to find a better way to end these letters less abruptly, at times it feels like I’m just jumping right off the side of cliff saying “see ya later!” But I guess that’s the way it is sometimes. There are moments when it’s like, here’s the stuff you asked for, gotta run! and other times it’s more, let’s sit down and catch up over a cuppa :). Today is more the former — gotta run! Love ya and have a great weekend!

MC

Elemi Coeur (Hermitage)

Common name: Elemi Coeur (an Elemi essential oil fraction)

Botanical name: Canarium luzonicum

Supplier: Hermitage

Odour Note: Citrus

Pyramid Note: Top

Diffusion: Medium

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: cardamon, cinnamon, clove, frankincense, lavender, lemon, lemongrass, myrrh, nutmeg and rosemary (Quinessence)

The elemi resinoid on the other hand has the spicy peppery and woody-grassy facets more pronounced making it pair perfectly with pepper, woods (patchouli and vetiver especially), and sweet grass… (Perfume Shrine)

Chemical components: terpineol, elemicine, elemol, dipentene, phellandrene and limonene (Esoteric Oils)

The clear yellow liquid has a thin rather than thick consistency and it surprises with its lemony “clean” aspects which are exotic, yet fresh. This is accountable to limonene (a prime lemon molecule) that comprises more than half of the fragrant constituents of the material make-up. The odor profile of elemi is akin to a dill pickle, with a peppery and fennel facet, discernible citrus piquancy, but less tart than expected from that reference. For those reasons elemi oil blends perfectly with notes that share this uplifting fresh quality within their bouquet, be it materials classified as “aromatic” (such as lavender, clary sage and rosemary) or those in the “resinous fresh” category (such as frankincense—which also shares a lemony top-note—and myrrh). It has long being used to extend citrus products thanks to its higher resistance to heat. (Perfume Shrine)

Their nose: rose spicy marine berry peppery peony (TGSC)

At approximately 2%, it brings a very fresh, zesty, pink berry, pepper and peony top note to modern floral bouquets. (Robertet via TGSC)

My nose: The opening of Elemi Coeur is lemony, citrusy, high-pitched, cool, tangy, tart, fresh, incense-y too, clean, polished, thin, bracing and alert. Then 15min later it becomes very thin, reminding me of wood polish, lemon, citrus, simplistic, it seems stripped bare, luminous and zippy in character. 30min and it seems to evolve into a layer of transparency, a minimalism that is balmy and lemony, uplifting yet cautiously playful. At times it’s fizzy and a bit hollow like an echo of the Elemi resin. It begins to fade rather quickly around 45min becoming a veneer of polished politeness. Composure is what it represents to me now, succinct and smooth. It retains its lemony, tartness, but seems to have lost most of its bite, feeling more like a sip of warm lemonade on a hot day. At the 1hr mark I sense a cleansing quality about this oil as it clears my senses with a deep breath. Fresh, breezy, refined and tense although it’s light the movement is unexpectedly slow and not scattered. 2hrs later is’s still very thin, the fading has slowed down now, evolving into the dry down inch by inch, what struck me was that I was able to perceive this movement and yet it remained invigorating and light. 3hrs and all I get is one of it’s main chemical components, terpineol, it’s literally screaming this note, coming across a bit more shrill, citrusy, tart and sour. After 7hrs the evaporation has sped up again and now I can pick out a spice, not sure which one but one used in curry; I smell commonalities with Ambrette seed eo., too. It seems to be getting stale, paler and milder. I have to blow on it a few times at 10hrs to  wake it up, there’s still life left on the strip, and I can pick out the citrus, lemony quality floating around. There is a twiggy texture to it now and it’s not holding up well, quite honestly it seems to be falling apart structurally during the dry down, becoming much more vague. The final evaluation at 24hrs and the lemon note has just about disappeared but it still smells like Elemi, so it pulled itself together in the basenotes to reflect the core attributes of the Elemi resin.

Right! So that’s all for today, I hoped you liked the introduction to Elemi Coeur essential oil and can find wonderful uses for it in your perfumer palette.

Have a lovely day!

MC

Patchouli Coeur (Hermitage)

Common name: Patchouli Coeur (a Patchouli essential oil fraction)

Botanical name: pogostemon cablin

Supplier: Hermitage (but they no longer sell this version)

Odour Note: Woody

Pyramid Note: Base

Diffusion: Medium

Dilution: 10%

Blends well with: agarwood eo, amyris eo, ambret seed eo., benzoin siam abs., benzyl benzoate, benzyl salicylate, bergamot eo, cedryl methyl ether, cistus, clary sage, copaiba balsam, costus root, cypress eo, elemi eo, eugenol, fir balsam, galbanum, ginger, guaiac wood, hay abs., helichrysum eo., jumper berry eo., lavandin eo., lavender abs., etc. (TGSC)

blends beautifully with labdanum, vetiver, sandalwood, cedarwood derivatives, oakmoss, geranium, clove oils, lavender, rose, bergamot, neroli, orris… cassia, myrrh, opoponax, sage clary absolute, borneol, pine needle oils. (White Lotus Aromatics)

Patchouli blends well with vetiver, which contains the same earthy olfactory profile, sandalwood, cedarwood, clove, lavender, rose, labdanum, and so on. (Fragrantica)

Chemical components: b-patchoulene, a-guaiene, caryophyllene, a-patchoulene, seychellene, a-bulnesene, norpatchoulenol, patchouli alcohol and pogostol (Esoteric Oils)

Interesting bits: It is a bushy herb of the mint family, with erect stems, reaching two or three feet (about 0.75 metre) in height and bearing small, pale pink-white flowers. The plant is native to tropical regions of Asia, and is now extensively cultivated in China, Indonesia, Cambodia, Myanmar, India, Maldives, Malaysia, Mauritius, Seychelles, Madagascar, Taiwan, Philippines, Thailand, Vietnam, South America and the Caribbean. (Wikipedia)

Patchouli, an evergreen subshrub, is a tropical aromatic plant that thrives in the rich, shady soil of its native land of Indonesia. Along its upright stems are large, velvety green leaves containing the precious fragrance of patchouli. The name even honors the foliage: “patchouli” comes from the Tamil patch which means “green” and ilai which means “leaf.” The essential oil accumulates in the leaves’ secretory glands, principally in the young leaves, meaning that only the more recent above-ground portions of the plant are harvested for extraction, providing better yield during distillation and letting the plants regenerate faster. Patchouli heart is obtained after traditional patchouli essential oil has undergone rectification. This method is used to enrich the extract’s patchoulol content, the molecule responsible for the characteristic patchouli odor. This scent of the heart is therefore more powerfully woody and earthy, as well as nobler. (Albert Vieille via TGSC)

 Patchouli Heart is a “Fractionation of patchouli oil in order to blend the very noble part of the heart patchoulol notes.” (Robertet via TGSC)

… is a large perennial that is a member of the labiatae family, which includes lavender, mint and sage. (Eden Botanicals)

Properly matured leaves that have been distilled in stainless steel vessels in particular display very soft, subtle, precious woods-herbaceous notes that few associate with this plant. Those oils are also very light in color as compared to the darker colored oils that come from crude iron distilling vessels….”The art of distilling patchouly involves considerable experience and is of paramount importance for producing a high grade of oil. Each lot of leaves requires special distillation methods, according to its condition. A lot containing much stalk material must be treated differentlh from consisting mostly of leaves. A lot containing much dust resulting from too brittle leaves again requires a different treatment.. There exists no general and fixed rules by which a high-grade oil of patchouly can be obtained, the working methods depending upon the type of still employed and upon the condition of the plant material. It can only be said that too short a distillation gives oil of low specific gravity ; whereas too high steam pressure or to long distillation may yield oils that contain resins of disagreeable odor. The difficulty lies in finding the optiumum and the proper point at which distillation should be stopped. (White Lotus Aromatics)

Their nose: woody old wood dry earthy weedy balsamic spicy minty (TGSC)

more powerfully woody and earthy, as well as nobler  (Albert Vieille via TGSC)

Patchouli heart is very clean, ambery, earthy, woody, patchoulol, oriental (Robertet via TGSC)

… possessing an extremely rich, sweet herbaceous, aromatic spicy and woody-balasmic odor. An almost wine-like ethereal floral sweetnessin the initial notes is charcteristic of good oils although this topnote can be absent of masked in freshly distilled, otherwise good oils. The odor should remain sweet through all stages of evaporation. Patchouli will remain perceptible on the perfume blotter for weeks or even months.* Dry or tarlike notes should not be perceptible throughout the first hours of study of the oil on a blotter, and cade-like, dry cedarwood like odor which may appear in the topnote should rapidly vanish and give way to the rich sweetness…Many perfumers have never-or rarely- have ever smelled other types than the dry,phenolic, cade-like type(*Obviously Arctander is describing a patchouli oil that is well aged and well distilled and this type of oil is not very common. It is rare in the first place to encounter an oil that is aged for two years) This type may be their standard of evaluation or they may actually like to use this type. In both cases it can be said that the bodynotes of patchouli should display an outstanding richness, a root-like note with a delicate earthiness which should not include “mold like” or musty dry notes… Tenacity in odor is one of the typical virtues of patchouli oil and is one of the reasons for its versatile use. (Stephen Arctander via WLA)

Patchouli oil is obtained by steam distillation or CO2-extraction of the dried leaves. The oil has a rich, balsamic and herbaceous flavor with a minty-woody undertone. Patchouli absolute is a dark green liquid obtained by the solvent extraction of dried leaves. The absolute has a rich, pronouncedly sweet and herbaceous aroma with woody-balsamic undertone.  (Fragrantica)

The scent of patchouli contains the same earthy element that is also present in vetiver, making it a dark and rich scent. It has an interesting structure, comprised of sweet herbaceous top notes, rich winey heart and balsamic woodsy base.  (Bois de Jasmin)

My nose: OMG! I love this note! Its opening is warm and inviting, cozy with a hint of smokiness, fans out immediately with a medium projection, lighter than Patchouli essential oil and moves with a sure-footedness around me. There is also a balmy quality about it, too. 15min and this is a light-hearted Patchouli, there are tendrils of softness that waft around the room producing a thought-provoking mood. It swells like a round wave and challenges my senses with its sultry seductiveness. There is a texture present that I can’t quite identify. 30min and there is an airy quality, like it has room to breath, less tight than the other Patchouli, unburdened, less cluttered somehow. It is truly mesmerising now, a nuzzle to my nose. 45min and now there’s a dusty facet emerging. I smell a tobacco blend, smoky. It’s as if a beautiful dialogue with someone close; it’s an elegant note, captivating, lush and languid. Ahhh! Did I mention I love Patchouli? 1hr into it’s evolution and the smell is like dry, warm, embers. It’s the feeling of shade, tranquility. Something else I’ve noticed is that it’s a tranquil, deliberate note. It’s ponderous, that’s it, Patchouli does not rush, it’s heavy, sure and firm. After 2hrs it moves from dry to wet, rainy, soaked, and still the heaviness and tobacco thing continues to strike me…it’s mellow and rich. 3hrs on and Patchouli Coeur is thick, and velvety warm. I feel it in full expression now as it fills my nostrils. This is a classy note, woodsy and lush, I could also describe it as one long drawn out moan. That wetness I picked up at 2hrs led me down a curious path but for a moment, but it was just that, a moment. At 7hrs I found this note doubling back and reassuming the much drier character that seems to be it’s dominant expression but now with much stronger, it seems to be simmering with sensuality. There is a primitive manner to this particular material and I am now able to pick up a green twist. After 10hrs it remains dry, warm and now sharing much more in common with Vetiver. It’s a lingering note, lush, perhaps a bit more insistent than the Vetiver. Leafy and secluded, protective even. The final evaluation at 24hrs I get a hint of camphor, and it’s much, much drier and significantly lighter, brighter and with quite a bit more subtlety about it.

Exploring Patchouli is always a trip for me and I love to let it lead me wherever it wishes to go. I chose three Coeurs to explore this week, Patchouli, Vetiver and Elemi Coeur, could be an unconscious desire to get to the “heart” of things. But I wanted to shed a bit of light on what the term Coeur could mean in the world of perfumery. So what is Coeur? Most obviously it is meant to infer “heart” the core of an natural raw material, but I also found some interesting thoughts on the Basenotes DIY Forum that expand further and provide food for thought as we envision our formula taking form:

  • “Take an Essential oil and distill out the bits you don’t want, keeping the bits that you do. That is the Coeur.”, – member of Basenotes Perfume DIY Forum
  • “The truth is adding Coeur to a material name is just marketing – it doesn’t mean anything consistent – except that the starting material was natural and something has been done to it. Some suppliers routinely use this term for what another supplier would call MD (for molecular distilled) or Rectified: so with any given material you’re going to have to look at the technical specification and smell it to know what you’re dealing with.” – Member of Basenotes Perfume DIY Forum
  • “It can mean the smoothed refined version, with some effort being spent upon removal of the original natural’s harsh parts, or undesired molecules, call it a fractionated natural.” – Member of Basenotes Perfume DIY Forum

That’s all for today, have a good one!

MC

Odour Note, Pyramid Note and Fragrance Families

I’m writing this as much for myself as for you the beginning perfumer to bring clarity to form within the process of building a scent from the ground up.

I’ve been trying to reconcile in my head the difference between a note and a family of notes. Here’s why: sometimes when I research the two I find much overlapping and this creates confusion especially when perfumers freely interchange them.

But then I came to the conclusion that much of my confusion was caused by my inexperience. In trying to create better links throughout the site that do a better job at informing it’s been necessary to go through the older posts from 3 years ago and either re-write them or eliminate them altogether.

What’s becoming clearer is that a family of notes is quite distinct in having characteristics of its own that have been pre-established for the purpose of marketing the finished product; take Chyphre , Oriental or Fougere for example.

You might already have this figured out and not be struggling with this, if so just ignore this post, but for the purpose of clarity and organisation of the blog and as a way to establish my own process, I felt the need to create these distinctions in a way that I can better understand and faster create in my mind. 

All this to say that from now on I’ve decided to make a change to the order of the information and instead of Note and Family it will read PYRAMID NOTE and ODOUR NOTE simply because I believe that PERFUME FAMILY is a marketing term and, really, I don’t want to be concerned about that at this stage of evaluation as that classification is better left for the finished product. You’ll find all three available in the drop down menu under PERFUME PROCESS.

Of course, one should have a sensitivity for what one is creating all the way through the process and, yes, if you’re following a creative brief, having a solid understanding of these families helps guide you, but as I said, that’s not where I am yet and my focus is more on the notes.

What I have decided to do is write a page on the various families, which you’ll find here; a page on the various odour notes, which you’ll find here and and a page on the pyramid notes with some examples, which you’ll find here.

Please do keep in mind that these are only meant to be guidelines, suggestions, a possible path for you to follow. At the end of the day the responsibility is yours to make it your own and find your own way through the work.

Birch Tar Rectified 1% essential oil (White Lotus Aromatics)

Common name: Birch Tar rectified essential oil

Botanical name: Betula pendula roth

Supplier: White Lotus Aromatics

Note: Base

Family: Wood

Diffusion: High

Dilution: 1%

Blends well with: iso amyl phenyl acetate, cananga oil, costus valerolactone, guaiyl buterate, indole (TGSC)

Ambrette seed eo, co2 and abs; ambergris melange; amber sweet melange; angelica root eo, co2 and abs; aruacaria eo; buddha wood eo and co2; cabreuva eo; cassia eo and co2; cinnamon eo, co2 and abs; cedarwood eo’s and abs’s; cedar leaf eo; cistus eo and abs; coffee eo, co2 and abs; costus eo and co2; cypriol/nagarmotha eo and co2; frankincense eo, co2 and abs; galbanum eo, co2 and abs; guiacwood eo; juniper berry eo, co2 and abs; mastic eo and abs; muhuhu eo; mushroom abs; myrrh eo, co2 and abs; oakmoss abs; opoponax eo and abs; palo santo eo; patchouli eo, co2 and abs; peru balsam eo and abs; pine needle abs; seaweed abs; stryax eo and abs; vetiver eo, co2 and abs (White Lotus Aromatics)

Interesting bits: Produced by destructive distillation of the twigs and leaves of Betula sp. and then rectified by steam distillation to remove most of the phenolic elements and meet the IFRA standard: crude Birch Tar should not be used in fragrances….Russian leather smells of birch tar because the leather is tanned with the tar products which also preserve this special type of leather…. (Steffen Arctander via Pell Wall)

In natural perfumery is used in leather accords, amber notes, musk accords, incense perfumes, woody compositions, fougere, chypre, spice accords, after shave lotions. (White Lotus Aromatics)

It adds a leathery note to men’s perfumes. Birch tar oil is widely used in suede and leather tannery in Russia…The name ‘betulae’ has its root in the Latin verb ‘batuere’, meaning ‘to strike’. (Ozmoz)

A definition here, for russian leather, is “a smooth leather tanned with willow, birch, or oak, and scented on the flesh side with birch oil.” The ancient legacy of the drawn resin extends to the stone age, “Birch-tar was used widely as an adhesive as early as the late Paleolithic or early Mesolithic era. It has also been used as a disinfectant, in leather dressing, and in medicine.” And the method of its production is as “a substance (liquid when heated) derived from the dry distillation of the wood of the birch. It is therefore pyroligneous — compounded of guaiacol, phenols, cresol, xylenol, and creosol. These, to the fragrance aficionado offer further intimations — is there a familiarity, to guaiac, or creosol?

Guaiacol is present in wood smoke, resulting from the pyrolysis of lignin. The compound contributes to the flavor of many compounds, e.g. roasted coffee. Creosol is an ingredient of creosote. Compared with phenol, creosol is a less toxic disinfectant. But powerful indeed, an distant in history, their applications. Cresols have an odor characteristic to that of other simple phenols, reminiscent to some of a “coal tar” smell. (Girvin)

It wouldn’t be right to dive deeper into Birch Tar without expanding our knowledge to include how it was used in leathers. The Perfume Shrine has a wonderfully concise introduction into this series as well as The Vintage Perfume Vault.

Their nose: smoky, woody, burnt wood, leathery, phenolic (at 1%) (TGSC)

displaying a potent, penetrating, phenolic, smoky (charred wood, tar-like) with bouquet with a sweet ambery-balsamic-resinous undertone of very good tenacity. (White Lotus Aromatics)

One might find, as well — in even the opening research on birch tar — that there’s a potential for this being a hidden, dark and revealing note, (Girvin)

“… distinctly phenolic, very penetrating and diffusive, obviously reminiscent of tar, charred wood and smoke (all of which have their odor from components of the birch tar oil!) However, the most characteristic feature in the odor pattern of birch tar oil is the sweet-oily undertone which appears distinctly on the smelling blotter when the first empyreumatic notes have faded away. These notes caught the immediate interest of perfumers long ago… ” (Arctander via Pell Wall)

My nose: Birch Tar rectified essential oil opens smelling of leather, intensely phenolic, vibrant and lustrous. To me it gives the impression of luxury. Warm, golden. Pungent, definitely, but it’s so much more, it’s hard-edged, tarry and raw. After 15min the foremost impression is smoky then tarry. This note is unapologetic, like a dark grey colour and I feel like thick, winter sweaters. It’s a provocative and pressing note. 30min on and it’s smoky, fire, protection, it’s a very grown up mature scent. Sleek, and devoid of frivolity – this scent does not joke around. 45min sees it express a hard, indifferent side, direct in its conversation with me, it seems to be more commanding, more tarry and ever more a part of the shadows. It continues to echo a burnished quality after 1hr, even though less phenolic now, and a more earthy note is introduced. I can smell a clear commonality with three other smoky notes I love, Choya Ral, Choya Nakh and Choya Loban! Gorgeous. For me this smell is like embers, it glows and lurks about. 2hrs on and Birch Tar rectified is still very brash, even now and at only 1% it remains a very dominating note, sober, sensible and satisfying, with smoky trails that billow forth and invade the room. It is warm and drier after 3hrs, more tarry, less smoky, earthy and now there is a vague heaviness about it with a hint of camphor, deep in the belly of this note. Odd the impressions we pick up. At the 7hrs mark it’s still edgy, rugged and evocative. I smell my Lapsong Souchong tea in this note only now, burnt, gloomy and haunting. 12hrs into the dry down and this note continues to emit a very strong presence, and it remains phenolic in its dry down, smouldering, fuming and earth-bound. It’s like a warm nuzzle to me, this scent, like most phenolic scents I find them narcotic. After 24hrs the scent is still very present on the scent strip; bold, throbbing and still smelling of smoke, burning as well as leather, too.

Birch Tar rectified essential oil is simply a beautiful note, I adore the smell of burning wood and this totally plays into this love I have. While evaluating this note it became clear to me that it is more an accessory note, to be used in very, very small amounts, I can’t see myself ever over-dosing this note…well, not until I have a very good grasp of what I’m doing, and that’s not for some time yet :).

Have a great weekend!

MC