Native to Indonesia, this aromatic plant has almost no smell in the earth. It is first necessary to dry its leaves and to let them ferment for its odorous molecules to form. After distillation, the oil must be aged in barrels for several months to allow optimal use. When ready, Pogostemon cablin reveals a powerful woody and earthy scent with smoky, camphorated, syrupy and even musty accents. Some say it recalls the smell of a damp cellar. Greatly appreciated in France by women of easy virtue at the end of the 19th century, patchouli was for a long time considered a little vulgar. Then the hippie generation of the 70's adopted it as a symbol of freedom and popularized the fragrance. Although it no longer carries a scandalous reputation, its powerful scent continues to fascinate and is used in both feminine and masculine compositions.
Coming from the pistil of a variety of crocuses, this most expensive spice in the world is nicknamed "red gold". Natural saffron is not used in perfumery because it contains safrol, a highly allergenic compound. But its effect is reproduced with one of its derivatives, saffronal. Its very powerful perfume is bitter and slightly metallic, blowing hot and cold on the rest of the composition with also a leathery, tarred facet. Francis Kurkdjian likes to use it in the top layer of a fragrance to break the sweetness of citrus notes. It is often associated with Oud-based perfumes and oriental amber accords.
Cedar from Virginia
This is the typical smell that comes out when you sharpen a pencil: woody, dry, slightly spicy and creamy. This North American cedar, also called red cedar because of the color of its wood, belongs to the juniper family, Juniperus Virginiana. Several types of cedars are used in perfumery, but this one comes into play in the heart and base, which gives a kind of verticality to its woody theme. It is quite different from the other three main varieties used in perfumery, the drier Texas cedar, the animalic and leathery Atlas cedar or the smoky Chinese cedar.
This tall tree from the Philippines belongs to the same botanical family as frankincense and myrrh. Like them, the Canarium commune produces a gum-resin when it is incised. It is a well-known panacea for many ailments in Asia and an incense to burn in China. Perfumers are particularly interested in the oil produced by distillation of this white gum. Its scent evoking lemon, lemony pepper and incense refreshes the top part of a perfume, with also a slightly woody balsamic facet that extends into the heart.
Oud from Laos
The power and complexity of its musky, woody, leathery, smoky and honeyed scent is only matched by the mystery of its creation; largely random since it depends on the fungal infection of a Southeast Asian tree also known as Agarwood (Aquilaria). Only diseased specimens produce an aromatic resin that is distilled to obtain an oil. It is among the most sought-after ingredients in the East and in Asia, and is also one of the most expensive, resulting in poaching. This is why Francis Kurkdjian has chosen an Oud from Laos produced according to the principles of fair and sustainable trade. He combines its vibrant notes with intense flowers, spices and other woods for a bewitching sillage.
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