aromatic profile: styrax

styrax absolute


a.ka. Liquidamber styraciflua.  Mine is a 30ml bottle of wild harvest from Honduras that I got from White Lotus Aromatics.

When I first started out a year ago getting into all this I had some confusion, still do, have to admit, about Styrax, Benzoin Resin and Storax, often mentioned interchangeably. They are all are fixatives.

It is a balsam first of all, and according to Bo Jensen, there are two types: Liquidambar styraciflua and Liquidambar orientalis. Here’s how Bo defines Liquidamber:

Etymology: The generic Latin name, styrax, meaning balsam or fragrant resin, is also found as the genus name of the unrelated Benzoin trees, Styrax benzoin and Styrax tonkinensis (Styracaceae), from which the more valuable gum resin “benzoe” is obtained.

So I’ve come to conclude that, Styrax has nothing to do with Styrax benzoin and Styrax Tonkinensis, nor Storax for that matter.  Chris Barlett of Pell Wall perfumes in the UK explains the differences on the nose in his blog post, here.

Onto the odour evaluation.  It’s quite thick and straight out of the bottle it smells strikingly of leather and shoe polish to my nose. When I diluted it to 10%, I must note that I still have some sediment at the bottom of the bottle but the immediate impression was still of shoe polish, sharp, of make-up? woodsy.  I really like this smell on the smelling strip, it sort of hides in the background.

After 1 hour its note is much softer and much, much drier.

3 hours into the dry down and it’s still very dry, still noticeable and strong, but now it seems to be heading into a trail of coolness, aloof would be the term that comes to mind…

1 day later and oddly enough this now smells sweet! with a bit of a woodsy nuance.

I dug deeper into the 2 day frontier and could perceive hints of the original note with some sweetness remaining but softer, lighter, lifted to a higher level somehow.