tobacco tinctures


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!


sweet smell of success?

Sweet smell of success?
Sweet smell of success?

…or just beginner’s luck?

The first exercise from the course was to build a cologne to get feel for the power that modifiers have to change the mood and feel of a composition.

So using a ratio of 7/5/3 I completely followed my intuition  in choosing the following notes from Top to Heart to Base:

Top: corriander, lemon, petitgrain

Heart: black pepper, clove, clary sage

Base: Jasmine absolute, labdanum, vanilla

The original was quite nice. That was it. Nice.  Nothing too special.  Not a great flop but nothing to shout about either.  I let it sit for a day to contemplate it and give it time to marry and completely forgot about the modifier.

The next day I noticed the modifier box was empty and after choosing the modifier, what I call the “wild card” I added one drop in 10ml of perfume and the effect was immediate.  The composition went from sort of flat to POW! with just one drop.

24 hours later it was more noticeable on the strip compared to the first attempt.  Now for the skin test.  I tried it and loved it!  I then had LV try it as it did indeed have a masculine edge to it, something I love, and he really liked it because it was soft.  Then I had Dalma try it and she loved it, “mom, you could sell this!”  I love her!  Then Fabio tried it and he said he liked it, it smelled nice but on him it’s not his type, it was too gourmand, but he found it to be very well balanced he said. Their feedback was very useful in moving forward.  I’m a lover of spices so I can imagine why I was drawn to structure it the way I did.

Modifiers are very powerful and must be used with restraint and discretion.

I am quite aware that many, many a perfume flop are right around the corner and I’m not exactly rubbing my hands together in anticipation but I know they are instructive so I’m going to bask in my first success.

More tinctures and an interesting experiment coming this week, stay tuned!

aromatic profile: lavender maillette

lavender maillette essential oil

Common name: Lavender Maillette (France)

Genus Name: Lavandula augustifolia “Maillette” a.k.a. English Lavender “Maillette”

Supplier: John Steele

Note: mid-top

Some interesting bits: This variety is used extensively in the production of perfumes and essential oils.  Considered one of the most precious types of lavender.

It is drought tolerant, resistant to deer and attractive to bees — in fact, we bought the most most amazingly fragrant lavender honey while in Croatia this year and anyone who tastes it can’t believe it wasn’t altered by the locals with lavender essential oil.

Has a shelf life of up to three years.

It is a French variety of lavender which also grows in England

Main Chemical Components: Linalool, linalyl acetate, 3-octanone, d-limonene, Trans-B-ocimene, Cis-B-ocimene, Camphor, Terpinen-4-ol, a-terpineol, Lavandulyl acetate.

Their nose: This essential oil has a soft, sweet, fruity, spicy, herbaceous bouquet with an green, woody undertone. (White Lotus Aromatics)

My nose: This is so light!  This is my first impression. Bright and uplifting like the first warm spring days, sweet.  Cool, luminous, pungent, even tart!  I can pick out the linalool in this.

After the 1st hour it smells more like dried twigs, has lost most of its zing which was probably due to the alcohol effect (not me, the dilution), sweeter, paler, beginning to exit.

After 3 hours strange, but, do I smell coconuts?! Dry, brittle, still faintly sweet, now beginning to fade into the paper, I can smell the smell of paper (is that even possible?!).

1 day later it is still noticeable but now only a whisper remains.



cultivating an interest

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image credit:

Typically I spend my Saturdays doing a lot of running around both for LV and I and my in-laws, house work and I’ve got a couple private students that I tutor in English.  Usually after that I’m wiped. But Sunday we take for ourselves either together, going for a walk or a hike or alone doing whatever we need to to recharge our individual batteries.  This Sunday, since I’ve been doing a lot of reading (Breaking the Habit of Being Yourself by Dr. Joe Dispenza – nothing short of miraculous!)and working on my inner self, I came up with a few insights:

I’m going to change things up a bit and sort of back track.  I’ve decided I want to focus first on profiling the naturals in my possession and then profile the synthetics. Why? Because learning the naturals is so much more complicated, by nature they are more complex and I’m choosing to mainly use the synthetics as accents in my perfumes anyway so for me I want the emphasis to be on learning the naturals by heart.  So from here on out the profiles will be of naturals until I’m done what’s in my organ.

The other thing I don’t think I mentioned is that from a couple profiles ago I started including information about the therapeutic benefits – body, mind and soul – of some of the naturals. This is because I’ve always approached life as a whole and even though my focus, the focus of this blog, is about my lessons in creating perfumes, I believe that I can become a better choreographer of notes if I am conscious of all the levels on which a particular essential oil or isolate can interact with us, including it’s full extension and reach on us as an organism and upon our personal environment.

And finally, as I lay languidly on the couch all afternoon reading, one part of the book struck me. It struck me because it is changing my whole approach and the dance that I’ve chosen to engage in with perfume creation: cultivating an interest.  Doesn’t seem like an earth shaker, does it? That’s my point. We’re so obsessed with making a splash, a point, passions, drives and success that we miss the gentle force of something as subtle as an interest. And something as banal as cultivating. Yet, cultivating anything takes diligence and determination in the face of the elements and unforeseen circumstances.  An interest doesn’t scream or shout, but it is something you choose to meet day after day just for the pleasure of the dance and the curiosity of getting to know your partner better.

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aromatic profile: sandalwood absolute

sandalwood absolute

Common name: Sandalwood

Genus name: Santalum Austro Caledonicum (New Caledonia)

Main chemical components are: α-Santalol(38.2%),β-santalol(18.2%),trans-α-bergamotol(9.9%),lanceol(9.1%), and epi-p-santalol(3.8%). But I learned something interesting from White Lotus Aromatics about New Caledonia Sandalwood, that “GC-olfactometry revealed, that iso-β-bisabolol [2], a new odor active sandalwood trace constituent, having a strong floral, muguet-like, very pleasant smell (16-18) was also present in the oils from New Caledonia.”

Some interesting bits: New Caledonian sandalwood oil is long-lasting, has little or no particular top note and smells soft, sweet-woody, nutty, animalic-balsamic, but is weaker and less radiant than its East Indian counterpart, according to WLA.  Victoria of Bois de Jasmin, says “in some parts of India sandalwood flavors milkshakes and sweetmeats.” Sandalwood, sadly, is among the threatened species because of overharvesting in many countries.  The chewing tobacco market in India is a huge consumer of the essential oil.

Their nose: “a rich, soft, sweet, creamy, balsamic, precious woods odor which is uniform in olfactory properties throughout the long life of its dry out. The heart note is softer and creamier in aromatic texture than the Sandalwood from India and Sri Lanka.” ,WLA. “Sandalwood has a rich, balsamic, sweet fragrance with delicate wood notes. The oil has a woody, exotic smell, subtle and lingering and the color is pale yellow to pale gold.”, Fragrantica.

My nose’s immediate impression is very light, woody and soft, intimate and silent.

After 1 hour I find that with this absolute I have to be in a calm space in order to fully appreciate it, I can’t be stressed or have a gazillion things going on, can’t be in a rush,…after a while I smell more of the wood but in a coy, cajoling sort of way.

After 3 hours it reminds me of paper and I LOVE paper! Dry.

1 day later and now this one just continues to surprise me, holy smokes! It’s so smooth and soft, more of a woody landscape yes, and wonderful base note!


aromatic profile: Lilial


Source: Perfumer’s Apprentice. What’s on the bottle as a description: muguet, watery, green, powdery, cumin.  Part of the group of green fragrances and to my nose a top note.

To me the first time I smelled it, it had a lightly floral, white aspect, fresh and clean; some people say they smell a slight watermelon note and I can see how you can get that too.

1 hour later it’s even lighter than before, hidden almost.  There’s a slight sweet sigh going on and it’s dry too.

3 hours later and it’s almost not there to my nose, but I can still detect a light floral aspect.

1 day later and if I blow on it with my nose I can smell something faint.

aventures in tincturing: rock lichen


On Sunday LV and I went for a walk with Charlie; I was on the lookout for some resin growing off of the trees in the forest we walked through but alas found none.  What I did find however was another gift: rock lichen!  How it grows clinging to the rocks fascinates me so I took just a couple pieces and began tincturing.


This beautiful creature is a happy dance between between a fungus and one or more alga and only certain types of fungus and algae interact in this way — it’s a classic example of nature’s symbiosis, living together.

In researching this impressive botanical I found out some stimulating things, mainly, since we’re talking perfumes, that it’s used as a fixative, to hold a perfume in place longer on the skin.  This comes as no surprise as some of nature’s mysteries are quite evident: lichen are called “extremophiles” because they thrive in polar and alpine regions where they are subjected to extreme dryness.

Lichen provide stability, hence their use as a stabiliser in perfume. In their natural environment they help reduce erosion and in the case of rock lichen, can even very slowly break down rocks. Some lichen even extract nitrogen from the air and make it available to plants, this process is called “nitrogen fixation”.  See why it’s not a mystery?

I have to admit that learning to prepare my own tinctures for use in perfumery has given me a whole new respect and consideration for nature.  I find myself approaching them with much more reverence and care; and although I didn’t do it with these couple pieces of lichen, from now on I will be asking permission from the botanical source before harvesting.