Interview with Jean-Paul Guerlain and Thierry Wasser

Browsing through my Russian blog I found a link to this interview posted by moon_fish (you probably know him on Basenotes under the same name). It's an interesting reading. Enjoy!



Allyl Amyl Glycolate

Image from: http://www.consumentenpagina.be

Allyl Amyl Glycolate is an aromachemical patented in 1936 and forgotten for almost 30 years till 1968 when it was used in Italian detergent at high percentage.

Later it was used in fine fragrances too – from trace amounts in Alliage by Esthee Lauder till 1% in Drakkar Noir by Guy Laroche and even 3% in Cool Water by Davidoff. Also used in Trésor, Eternity, Boss Elements Aqua. You can find it in Camay soap too.

When I smell it in 10% solution I do understand why this aromachemical have been forgotten for 30 years till 1968. It’s not love from the first sight fragrance. Smelling it carefully I can find candy fruitiness of pineapple note with sharp metallic undertone, sourness of apple cider and juicy flesh of a pear fruit. There is also a certain freshness in this molecule. And the sour, sharp, metallic note is very familiar – it’s like galbanum shell without its nice woody undertone. It feels very strange when you can smell only one aspect of a familiar smell (like a galbanum shell without its body). There is also another name for this molecule referring to its galbanum aspect – isogalbanate. Chandler Burr has described the smell of allyl amyl glycolate as “a combination of the smell of processed pineapple and the tin of the can it comes in”.

When smelled at 1% I could notice that allyl amyl glycolate becomes softer – the sharpness disappears although there is still a recognizable metallic note. The fruity notes become less candy-like and the green notes are more pronounced. On my skin the slightly synthetic smell of juicy fruity flesh of pear is the most prominent aspect of this aromachemical at 1% concentration. Later it turns completely into a juicy pineapple note. And it smells stronger on my skin than on the blotter at this concentration.

A combination of green galbanum note with a soft fresh sweet fruit gives allyl amyl glycolate a unique property to soften the harshness of green notes. For example, if I take lyral as a base for white flowers (Muguet) and add a drop of leaf alcohol to add green nuances, I see that leaf alcohol can be pretty dominating in this blend. But a drop or two of allyl amyl glycolate will tame the dominating greenness. It’s also interesting to add some Galbanum oil as well. In Vanderbilt perfume allyl amyl glycolate is used together with another pineapple fruity note (allyl cyclo hexyl propionate) to create a green fruity note connecting the heady fruity floral accord of orange blossom and tuberose with fresh citrus top notes.

Allyl amyl glycolate can be used from trace amounts till several percents in the formulae of fine fragrances. Although – the concentrations like 1% or 3% used in Drakkar Noir and Cool Water are considered to be high (what doesn’t have to be a problem when skilfully blended). This aromachemical goes well with green notes – leaf alcohol and its esthers, violet leaf, galbanum; citrus notes (a combination of fresh and fruity) – citrus oils, dihydromyrcenol; white floral components (fruity, spicy, narcotic, green) – ylang-ylang oil, muguet notes; musks and cashmeran, etc. The substantively is 6 hours (according to IFF, but the PerfumersWorld gives it 10 hours odour life). This makes allyl amyl glycolate primarily a top-note.


Rêverie au Jardin

Rêverie au Jardin - a dream about Lavender Tree Tears in a Secret Garden

This is a fragrance by Tauer Perfumes I haven’t reviewed yet. On my skin it easily turns into a powdery note which I can’t smell through. Sometimes it helps when you wait for the right moment to explore a “difficult” fragrance. This morning I saw a very beautiful view from my window. It was the mist slowly falling down on the trees… like a dream that promises to take you into a secret garden… Well, the image itself looked probably more like “Rêverie a la Forêt” – but to me it was inspiring enough to give the Andy’s Gardens another chance to blossom on my skin.

The fragrance opens with a the fresh breeze of green lavender mixed with balsamic notes of fir needles and exotic undertones of incense and iris. As the fragrance warms on the skin more sweet floral nuances come – indeed as if you are lying down in a beautiful garden and fall asleep under the warm sunlight, the calming scent of lavender and sweet soft kiss of ambery flowers. And when you start dreaming you come to another garden – a secret one…

And there is a big lavender tree in this garden… the one like the Foxglove tree, but with honeyed and ambery lavender smelling flowers and soft and silky white trunk covered with sticky resin tears… A tree like this one…

Those resin drops smell like ambery lavender - a unique combination of lavender and olibanum resin on sweet, floral, ambery background. You take one sticky drop on your finger and see it hardening and turning into a shiny dark orange crystal with sunlight flashes on its edges. But getting harder the crystal becomes brittle and you notice the white powder covering its edges… You can blow it off to make the crystal clear again. And while doing that you inhale some of this powder and feel the sweetish taste of it in the back of your throat. It helps to keep the crystal clear again for some more moments, but soon it falls apart and turns into white powder…

It’s getting cold and you wake up. You notice that the sun has gone, the flowers have faded and the chilly breeze is filled with mossy, earthy smell of the moist soil… It’s time to go inside… and when you take a deep breath you still can smell a fading aroma of the Lavender Tree from the Secret Garden of your dream…


Exploring Sandalwood after a period of anosmie

Sandalwood oil is a very precious material in perfumery because of its rich odour and good tenacity. Unfortunately it was not easy for me to explore it as I am (or better say was) partially anosmic to it. When I smelled it for the first time for about three years ago I could only smell a faint easily disappearing woody odour. The Virginian cedarwood oil with its distinguished woody character seemed to be a much better aromatic product to me. I couldn’t understand why do people appreciate Sandalwood… But fortunately, anosmia can be reduced or even disappear when you are training your nose and work with aromatic substances. So, today I could explore much more nuances of Sandalwood oil. But first of all – some theory:

The term sandalwood oil refers mostly to an oil, produced by a steam distillation of Santalum Album wood snips. It’s so-called White Sandalwood or East-Indian Sandalwood. It has a very rich odour combining the woody nuances with sweet creamy and animalic notes. The demand for this oil exceeds the supply that results in constantly growing prizes and frequent falsification. The massive (and often illegal) cutting of Sandalwoods also takes place making the whole situation even worse. The highest quality Sandalwood oil is produced in Mysore region of Southern India. Sandalwood oil contains up to 90% of Santalol – the majour constituent responsible for its smell.

There is also Australian Sandalwood oil produced by a steam distillation of Santalum Spicatum from Southwest Australia. This oil also contains a high amount of Santalol. And by dry down the smell of Australian Sandalwood approaches the smell of East-Indian Sandalwood. But it has a different dry-bitter top note contrary to a sweet top note of East-Indian Sandalwood oil. Australian sandalwood has different Latin names – Eucaria Spicata, Fusanus spicatum, Santalum cygnorum. Very confusing, because sometimes you find information that they are not the synonyms of the same species, but different trees.

Amyris oil is often confused with Australian Sandalwood and is called West-Indian Sandalwood. It’s produced from steam distillation of Amyris Balsamifera – a tree belonging to a different genus (Amyris) belonging to Rue family (Rutaceae) – a completely different family that doesn’t have anything common with Sandalwood. The oil has a balsamic-woody smell.

Red Sandalwood is the name of Pterocarpus santalinus tree that doesn’t produce any essential oil, but can be used as a dye, for example for food colouring. Only fresh Red Sandalwood is supposed to have a woody odour according to perfumery books. I have a woody smelling powder of Red Sandalwood for making incense and very curious what it might be – a pure Red Sandalwood (but it doesn’t supposed to smell woody when dried)? A mix of Red and White Sandalwood? A mix of Red Sandalwood and Virginian Cedar?

I used a 10% alcohol solution of East-Indian Sandalwood (or sold as it :o) on my wrists and found the following nuances:

Directly after apply I could smell a sweet, slightly turpentine-like odour with a woody undertone that reminded me a bit of Cedarwood. It was more turpentine-like than Virginial Cedar and more woody than Atlas Cedar. The first notes were a bit unpleasant, but they easily blended and found balance on my skin within the first minutes revealing a rich, deep and warm woody aroma. There was also a musky animalic note in it that reminded me a bit of Cumin. I was surprised when I couldn’t find the creamy aspect… but it came later in form of fullness and non-sweet oily creaminess. Although it was much less than I expected. All together it smelled like a skin of Eastern princess warmed by the sun, creamy and silky.

The unpleasant turpentine-like first note and the lack of creaminess made me think that I have a sample of Australian Sandalwood oil sold as East-Indian… The same turpentine like note I could smell in Yatra perfume by Aveda. And they used Australian Sandalwood (although Yatra was much more creamy because they added some Vanilla).

So, I am very glad, that I can smell and distinguish more nuances of Sandalwood oil now. Although… I still barely recognize (and sometimes don’t smell at all) some of Sandalwood aromachemicals… Well – probably it comes with more experience.