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Amber

The word “Amber,” tells little of how such a perfume will smell.  Sometimes spelled “ambra,” the word means one of three things: ambergris; an accord based on labdanum (which many say smells like ambergris; I fail to see the connection) and various balsams. In...

My Ambergris

I’ve been at a loss to describe Ambergris, my latest eau de parfum. One of my perfume friends could only exclaim, “This stuff is weird.” So, Kate has gotten on me for a more thorough description. The opening has the classic aroma of isopropyl alcohol, which is like...

Olfactory Saturation

One afternoon, last week, I suddenly couldn’t smell anything. It took me awhile to realize that I was surrounded with intense aromas. I had just opened a new vial of Rose C02 and my head was spinning. The next day, my sense of smell was better, but my heart wasn’t...

Ambergris: Part II

When my tinctures started smelling like isopropyl alcohol, panic moved in. My first thought was that tincturing in the light had been a mistake and that I had bleached the ambergris and made it worthless. Desperate, I searched around and landed on Wikipedia. Then I...

What Got Me Started on Ambergris: Part I

Eight years ago, I didn’t know what ambergris was. It all started with a book from the fifteenth century, entitled De Honesta Voluptate translated into English as On Right Pleasure and Good Health, published in Latin with an English translation on the facing page. In...

L’Air du Temps

A perfume’s “top” notes evaporate fast. Within 15 minutes or so there’s little left of them. This makes them no less important to the finished creation. They are the first aromas one smells and, in fact, are often experienced by those who wear them and no one else....

L’Air du Temps, Deconstructing the Heart

Perfumery: Practice and Principles, by Robert R. Calkin and J. Stephan Jellinek describes the “heart” notes, also known as “middle” notes, of L’Air du Temps. A floral bouquet builds on the base notes (see last post), and becomes the heart and central theme of the...

More About My Favorite Books

Perfumery: Practice and Principles, by Robert R. Calkin and J. Stephan Jellinek, is my favourite perfume book. First published in German in 1954, it came out in English 40 years later. My first copy fell apart and I’ve had to order another. Chapter 12, “Selected Great...

The Training of the Nose: A Wine Primer

When I was a toddler, things smelled very strong. Vegetables were revolting–cauliflower smelled like vomit, Brussel sprouts like something long dead. It wasn’t until my twenties, that I began to use this sensitivity for more pleasurable effect. In the 1970s,...