Cold nights, mulled mine, mince pies and log fires. December is here along with our selection of ingredients to give you that festive feeling
VETIVER: Nuts & dry fruits
Vetiver is from the east asian weed grass which grows in marshy environments native to Sri Lanka, Indonesia and South India. The roots have a particular smoky, dry, nutty and slightly bitter scent which is desirable in perfumery especially as the oil can’t be recreated synthetically. It carries a woody scent with a hint of smoke, nuts and dried fruits. This earthy root combines subtle citrus with a deep leather and amber note. It is so rich on its own that it has often been the star ingredient used in fragrances such as Terre D’Hermes and Vetiver by Guerlain. Vetiver is predominantly used in masculine fragrances but we don’t like giving a gender to ingredients…
FIR BALSAM: Pine & Fruit Jam
Fir Balsam is the perfect ingredient to talk about as we approach Christmas. It’s extracted from Fir, a large coniferous tree from the pine family that looks similar to a Christmas tree, and is native to North America and Canada. The absolute is a deep blue green colour and is completely solid, needing heat to become usable. The smell of Fir Balsam is more balsamic and ambery than it is fresh piney, whilst also having a sweet and slightly fruity facet of apricots and strawberry. Great in masculine, woody, oriental and aromatic compositions.
BIRCH TAR: Smoke & Leather
Extracted by heating the bark from the hardwood birch tree to extreme temperatures, birch tar is likened to the smell of smoke, charred wood and a burning fireplace. It adds leathery, balsamic and burnt notes to give perfume an animalic and leathery touch. Mainly used in suede and leather fragrance to give a smokey note. It can be difficult to use in perfumery due to its overpowering scent: use with caution (and very very diluted!).
TONKA BEAN: Marzipan
A common ingredient from the Dipteryx Odorata (“Cumaru”) seed which is native to the South American plant. The word “tonka” originates from Galibi language, native to French Guyana. The Galibi word tonqua or tonquin translates to “bean”, so really this ingredient should be called “Bean bean”! Its aromatic yet edible scent is similar to that of marzipan, due to its almond facet. It will remind you of vanilla with a hint of spice and almond or the smell of hay. But what is really interesting in Tonka Bean is it’s star molecule, what makes up to 60% of its composition: Coumarin, an iconic molecule used in fragrance and a must in Fougere structure. Coumarin smells in fact very close to Tonka Bean itself.