making ofscents

on axes and web corners

Before we dig into the body and some notes of the EAU D’ÉPICES (with an educative goal: give you an idea on style): Here are the winners of the draw of last week (tataaaaa!):

The consolation prize goes to Elena (cm… A discovery set is yours. And you pick the samples of your choice.
Full bottle of Eau d’épices goes to Elisa (elisa.g…

Congratulations to both of you. And to all readers who commented but did not win: Thank you, for sharing, and good luck with the next draw.

And back to the developing story… I finished the newsletter draft, scheduled for release at September 15, after Pitti Frangranze, in order to send some impressions from Florence in the newsletter.  In 2.5 weeks we head south, through the Gotthard rail tunnel, finished in the early 1880, 15 km of tunnel, imagine! Back then, folks in Europe really were very entrepreneurial. And brave, taking a lot of risks.

My risks are somewhat smaller. The biggest risk  for me in Florence might be to get into total exhaustion mode. It will be busy days with a lot of sniffing and talking. One of the objects of the sniffing and talking will be the EAU D’ÉPICES. We have discussed some aspects (not all!) of the spicy head notes and the orange floral heart in previous posts
The MAIN AXES of the fragrance are: spices, orange blossom, incense, woods. Talking in axes is somewhat simplistic. Another picture might be a WEB. The corners of the web are: Spices, citrus, orange blossom,jasmine, orris root, incense, amber, wood, tonka beans. And all corners are connected and resonate.

The orange blossom is a heart note, it does not stay forever, but leaves you after a while, given full room for the body notes.  Making the heart notes stay  longer is called fixation. One tool to fix heart notes is by using musk molecules. I do not use these musk molecules.  But there are other synthetic molecules that may act as fixation. Some of them are so potent, they are just like a glue, and are hard to dose, because they become obnoxious after a while. Others are truly pleasant, like some of the synthetic ambers, my favorite being AMBROXAN, a molecule that is somewhat costly, with a price of about 1300 $ US for the kg it is about three times the price of a good Incense essential oil: Ambroxan is a single molecule, but is smells very complex (amber, vibrant wood, floral tobacco) and not cheap like other synthetic ambers that you find in washing powder.

And: It is a great fixation for flowers, without suffocating them. Thus, Ambroxan is there in the base of Eau d’épices, with its woody vibrancy it lifts the heart and fixes the blossom. And it acts like a bridge between floral heart and incense woody base. To render the ambroxan, to make it full, to add depth, I complement it with AMBREINE, a natural extract of Cistus ladaniferus that is … well, very complex! It is a special quality material, like a cut out of cistus, leaving the woody, spicy vibrant side intact, but removing the sweetness. Imagine the fragrance of pineta in summer! It blends very well with ambroxan, and it grounds the INCENSE essential oil that I am using in the base. The incense is an essential oil from Boswellia carterii, steam distilled in France, collected resin in the wild in East Africa and the Arab peninsula, it is a different quality than the incense that I use in the Incense extrême. It is more airy, lighter, less woody, brighter if you want. These three, ambrein, incense essential oil and ambroxan, make up one major building block of the base of the fragrance. There are more building blocks in the base, adding to the complexity.

Complexity is ultimately responsible for the many facets of a fragrance, of its brilliance and its roundness. You can get complexity quite easily by naturals, simply because naturals per se are very, very complex. Of course, you can not just put a drop of a natural oil into your kiloliters of perfume mixture. You must use them in substantial amounts. To give you an example: I use 2 parts Ambrein, 3 parts ambroxan, 4 parts incense essential. Together, these three ingredients make up about 1/5 of the perfume base.