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!


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!

adventures in tincturing – pine resin (unknown)

Thought I’d begin the new year with some tincture updates because I’ve had some of them sitting there for over six months and was getting really curious, while others it was time.  So I spent my first day of January decanting my tinctures! Let’s start with:

Unknown Resins: back in July LV and I went and gathered some resin pieces off of various pine trees in the mountains.  It was a beautiful, sunny summer day and as we meandered along the trail we’d collect these pieces and they stuck to our hands and our pockets until finally we found a large leaf to wrap them in.

It comes as no surprise, really, to find the final tincture super sticky!  This suits me fine as it means it will add greater sillage to the compositions.  What I’ll end up having to do though is dilute it further to reduce the sticky-factor.

The image on the left is of the first tincture back in November 2012 from a piece LV had knocking about the car for some time.  He used pieces of it like chewing gum but kindly gave up the luscious lump for my tincture experiment.  The image on the left is from the more recent collection in July.


1st tincture: this one is more pungent, you can perceive the wood, pine, it screams forest, but it’s soft, calming and relaxing. Definitely woody and comforting. It dries down into a beautiful warm, creaminess that seems to wrap you in pleasure.

2nd tincture: smells definitely sweeter, I can pick up more terpenes in this one, there’s a hint of an off-note in the beginning which eases off during the dry-down.  It’s not as graceful as the first one, it feels almost young and brash.  Maybe I needed to let the resin sit out in the open and age for while before tincturing it.

Something incredible happened to me this morning!  I was resting on the couch this morning while LV was having breakfast and started a fire.  It struck me that I could pick out the resin baking in the flames! Before I could only sense that I loved the smell of the smoke, but this time I was actually unconsciously picking out a single note, proof that I am indeed training my nose..have a wonderful day!

aromatic profile: oakwood, extract


Common name: Oakwood

Genus name: Quercus robur L.

Supplier: Hermitage Oils (UK)

Note: Base to Middle note

Interesting bits: I had a hard time finding information on this natural raw material, but when I changed my approach and came at it as a flavour ingredient that was historically used in wine making, open-sesame!

I found a lot of useful information at this site for home made wine making at E. C. Kraus. Great site, lots of really good information and I think I’ll be purchasing some of his Oakwood in powder form for some tincturing experiments.

In the making of wine, particularly Chardonnay, (Cabernet and Pinot Noir often use this ingredient also) often toasted chips are added to give a wine character.  The marriage of oak and wine was due to logistics — in order to transport the precious cargo they needed a reliable vessel.  Wine makers needed a wood that would not alter their wines and so between 1500 to the early 1700’s most oakwood was sourced from the Baltics, the area North and East of Poland. Around that time wine producers began to find benefits of casking wine in wood — namely for ageing.

According to my research, the major benefits are:

  • improved stability of clarity and colour
  • softening of harsher characteristics common with young wines
  • wood flavours lend an overall smoother, deeper texture to the wine.

Apparently, oak barrels breathe correctly, that’s why they were favoured over other woods, allowing a slow infusion of oxygen to aid in the ageing process, helping the wine to release its natural fruity elements.  Wine barrels are carefully toasted on their inner walls, toasting helps concentrate the flavour compounds and bring them closer to the surface of the wood so they can be more easily absorbed by the wine.  Lighter toasting brings out a more coconut flavour and more toasting hightens the caramel flavour.

There are many different flavour compounds in oakwood the most important being vanillin — this single compound can add a wide range of flavours to a wine: from coconut to vanilla to caramel.  Who knew?!

The complex profile of oakwood will enhance alcoholic flavours like whisky, rum and chardonnay by adding aged, sweet, “casky” notes.  Fruit flavours of the dried fruit type will also benefit especially raisin, prune, tamarind and apricot.  Other areas where this oak extract will shine are brown flavours like butterscotch, butter rum, caramel, sweet spice blends, vanilla and balsamic vinegar.

Oakwood extract is produced from medium toasted oakwood chips with supercritical carbon dioxide under gentle conditions.

Their nose: (Adam of Hermitage Oils): The top note is soft, soulful, balsamic woody. The heart is teacake-fruit-sweet, soulful-dry-woody with hints of luscious vanilla cream. The base note is fruity-rum and dry-raisin-woody. This material is of exceptional tenacity, lasting two full days alone on my smelling strip.

(Perfumer & Flavourist): Odour @ 100%, woody, oaky, brown, rummy, bourbon-like, phenolic, resinous, slightly spicy and vanilla-like.

My nose: instantly reminds me of alcohol, specifically rum, whisky, brandy, cognac.  I am definitely hit by the vanilla aspect, but it’s also sweet, woody, round and soft, with a sense of antiquity and age, as in old England and France, old.

Musings on composition: this wonderful extract makes me think of far away lands, ships and the salty air, and high sea adventures.  I would definitely want to try to include Ambergris in there somewhere, perhaps seaweed.  Not only but I have a mind-blowing Taihitian vanilla macerating in some drop-dead, yummy Courvoisier VSOP and I think these two would be a perfect pair!  Anything balsamic, raisiny, apricot, pruney, caramely, I think would do wickedly well with Oakwood.  Furthermore, since there’s this fruity aspect to Oakwood, my new purchase of Peach CO2 also from Hermitage, could also be a great fit. I’m learning that you can’t approach all perfume ingredients from the same perspective, some demand that you change the way you look at things.  Which means that we as perfumers change, and that’s wonderful!