The best-recognized synthetics for woody aromas have been around for years. Vetiveryl acetate has a clean vetiver-like intensity and ties together with other older synthetics such as cedryl acetate, cedrol and vetiverol.

In the last 40 years, however, a wide variety of woody synthetics has cropped up. While many of them are “captives” (only available to major perfume houses), I’ve still been able to track down a large number, each with its own nuances. 

Arcadi Boix Camps, in his book Perfumery: Techniques in Evolution, describes many of them.

Palisandin, he says as has an odor of cedar and musk, with undertones of ambrette seed. In any case, this aroma chemical is delicate and slow to become perceptible. I hate to admit it, but he perceives more than I do.

Andrane, he describes as having the precious wood component of patchouli. I like to combine it with patchouli itself.

One of the most important innovations of recent years was the discovery of methyl cedryl ketone, or vertofix Coeur. It has a delightful smell of cedar that makes itself present without taking over. ABC goes on about it and emphasizes how well it goes with methyl ionones, irones, ionones (especially allyl ionone), but does state that it lacks vitality. Later, under his description of cedramber, he describes how it can be added to vertofix to liven it up.

I find cedramber to be sweet and balsamic. ABC describes it as being between amber and patchouli and says it goes well with undecylenic aldehyde (C-11), cyclamen aldehyde, lyral, lillial and others. One of cedramber’s attributes is its ability to pull back the sweetness of a perfume that might otherwise be cloying. ABC describes an accord of ciste-labdanum (the absolute and the oil), nutmeg essential oil, pachouli, Vertofix, musk ketone, castoreum absolute, isobutyl quinoline, isoeugenol, Glycolierral, benzyl salicylate, centifoyl and vanillin. I haven’t tried it yet.