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Top Notes: Anise

Middle Notes: Nutmeg

Base Notes: Tobacco, Hay, Vanilla, Tolu Balsam, Frankincense, Birch Tar, Indonesian Vetiver, Patchouli, Cedar, Cacao, Violet Leaf, Ambrette Seed

Too much tobacco is definitely a bad thing. Not so much bad as it makes you feel a little queasy. Tobacco has a beguiling sweetness that can overpower a blend when you use five too many drops. Despite my desire to create a tobacco blend, it’s better to let it share the glory with cedar.

Birch tar gives the tobacco a smoky character, and the tolu balsam helps to balance any acrid after notes.

I thought I wanted something vegetal? But the violet leaf and hay were just not doing anything for me. When I think tobacco, I imagine a fine pipe tobacco or just the right smell of a lit cigarette. The violet leaf and hay took the blend in a completely different direction. I added anise for a violet leaf and tobacco triad, and that quickly turned the blend into a hot mess.

I want to like Ambrette Seed, I really do, I just can’t find anything that inspires me to use its nutty, musky notes. I’m just not a nutty musky ’mo, I suppose.

Before I fell asleep I thought to myself, Gorl. Nutmeg I have had a love/hate relationship with nutmeg as I’ve always wanted to use it in a blend without smelling like a grandfather. The nutmeg and vanilla work in synchronicity with the tobacco and birch tar. The cacao adds that extra note of faint cocoa that I’ve always loved in a good pipe tobacco.

Frankincense is great for a sweet smoky scent without always relying on black pepper to pick up the slack. With the patchouli and Indonesian vetiver, the tobacco and cedar accord are given a more rounder presence in the blend.

I can’t honestly think of anything else to add to the blend. No time like the present to try a drop on the skin and see how it plays itself out.

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I gave myself some time to relax after struggling with the vetiver blend, a struggle that seemed to play itself out for all eternity. I need to filter the particulates from the blend (more on that another time) so, in the meantime I am trying my hand at making two accords and one new fragrance.

Leather
I feel like I have an obligation to preface this entire section by stating while I am an openly confirmed bachelor, I have zero interest in any leather scene. So when I say I enjoy the smell of leather, it is purely for the sake of smell and nothing else. I try not to think about leather to be honest, it’s not as if the steps needed to create the material are by any means compassionate.

I can easily purchase a leather fragrance oil but I rather like the challenge of creating an accord from essential oils. Perfume Shrine has an excellent primer on the essential oils needed to produce a leather accord. I already have juniper, birch, cade, and labdanum in my possession; I am currently awaiting a shipment of cassie and styrax from Eden. I am opting out of using castoreum for various reasons, but at the most primal level I would not want to further promote the harm of beavers.

Cade is an especially strong EO and I am rather impressed so far with the birch being able to hold its own in the composition. I am very curious (and hopeful) that the cassie and styrax will play their parts and bring the overall blend into a lovely accord.

Gin
I didn’t develop a penchant for gin until I moved to Seattle 11 years ago. Incidentally, at the time I found myself appreciating gin I grew more detached from beer. But I digress. I’m not entirely sure what I would do with a gin accord, perhaps a composition more suited for summertime, yet the composition sounds too lovely not to want to create. I am using the traditional recipe for gin used by Bombay Sapphire … with a few modifications.

I cannot find an EO for grains of paradise so, I am using fresh ginger in its place. Cubeb is West African pepper, therefore I am substituting black pepper. Not exactly a perfect match but, hey, close enough.

I am also awaiting a sample of bitter almond EO from Eden, and this ingredient is the tricky part for the accord. Almond oil is outright banned by IFRA (International Fragrance Association) as it naturally contains cyanide. And who doesn’t want a little cyanide on the skin, amirite? The bitter almond EO from Eden is nowhere near as lethal, however it is still a tricky substance to ship in the mail. USPS only ships small amounts of bitter almond so, I only get to work with 20–30 drops at a time. I’m hoping 1 drop is all it takes to create the gin accord.

Cassia is a strong EO, I forgot just how strong it (and cinnamon) truly are in a blend. I will be carefully, slowly, adding other ingredients to the gin accord—this one is gonna take some time to create.

Tobacco
I already know I am in the minority when I make this claim: sometimes the smell of a burning cigarette hits all right pleasure areas in my nose. I don’t look to walk behind people who are smoking, that’s just crazy, and a burning cigarette doesn’t always smell pleasant. 1 – maybe 2 – times out of 10, a burning cigarette has just that right amount of tobacco and char that come together so beautifully. Almost divine.

Tobacco is rather sweet in its original form so, I am trying a pairing with birch tar and ambrette seed. I may also try adding smoky vetiver and diluted vanilla. This blend will definitely be making the rounds of endless iterations.

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I may have gotten a little carried away last week with the vetiver experimentation. The too long; didn’t read version:

  • Labdanum and Cistus are from the same plant but smell different. And neither one worked for my experiments. Like, at all.
  • Note to self: violet leaf is a base note, not a head note.
  • Adding cardamom and nutmeg to the middle notes overpowers the rosewood and geranium so, then you gotta add coriander and more black pepper and what the hell happened to the fragrance.
  • Tonka bean. Why we gotta be like this?

I made a promise to myself to stop trying riffing off the formula from last week and start fresh. This whole hobby started with a desire to make my own version of Fat Electrician so, let’s start from there.

Top Notes: Nada

Middle Notes: Olive? Is it a middle note? Let’s go with middle note.

Base Notes: Vetiver, Benzoin, Vanilla, Myrrh, Opopanax, Tolu Balsam

Fat Electrician contains marron glacé but candied chestnuts is not an essential oil. As a fragrance oil, sure, but fragrance oils come across as a Yankee Candle ingredient. Plus I have no idea how to mix essential and fragrance oils in the same compound. I considered adding Ambrette Seed to the fragrance but the mixture Tolu Balsam, Vanilla, and Benzoin do a fantastic job of creating that whipped cream element present in Fat Electrician. That Tolu Balsam is pure magic in rounding out the sharpness of the vetiver.

So far the experiment smells amazing. I held the fragrance test strip up to my husband’s nose and he liked it. He liked it! Normally he gives me a look of “Really, again?” The true test comes tomorrow when I wear it around town and hopefully not cause people to lose their lunch—or worse.

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So, a funny thing happened on my way to creating a vetiver fragrance for myself. If you are able, I suggest enjoying the video as you read along on my adventure in going overboard with fragrance notes.

Base Notes: With the last arrangement of notes, I found an increasing dislike for the cistus. I took out the cistus but that left the tonka bean large and in charge in the base. I added vanilla, myrrh, and benzoin. Perhaps a little too much sweetness. So, I added opopanax which made the vetiver too sharp in the base. I softened the base with sandalwood. And a drop or two of tobacco. I think where I went wrong (moreso) was adding cypriol which is lovely on its own but incredibly overpowering with its warmth and smoky scent.

Middle Notes: Hey, I already trashed the base, why stop there? I removed the nutmeg and cardamom, and in their place I added olive, orris, carnation, licorice, lavender, and chamomile. I thought about using coriander instead of chamomile but then I second guessed myself. Fun fact! Lavender and chamomile are the fragrance base for almost every baby product in Western culture. Why you would add them to a men’s cologne is a question best left for time to answer.

Top Notes: Leave no stone unturned is my motto. Or is it take everything, leave nothing? I replaced galbanum with petitgrain, and bergamot for orange. Then I added violet leaf and orange blossom.

What I am left with is a fragrance that is soft and sweet. The fragrance is not what I would consider masculine, it almost reminds me of my reaction to Prada Amber pour Homme. The notes smell clean on the skin, the memory of Amber pour Homme, but the presence of vetiver is absent. The vetiver was all but lost in the base when I finished dumping everything but the kitchen sink into the base. If anything, vetiver became the fixative rather than the star.

I would categorize this tzimmes as almost unisex or incredibly metrosexual (if that word is even still put to use). If I had to start over – which I will – I would keep tonka and opopanax out of the base, instead leaving them for fragrances yet undiscovered.

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