Gaucho's Journey - Part 6: Evolución

evolución, originally uploaded by faw.

Further refinement was evidently needed, even though I really liked the way the bergamot was working out in this composition. Thinking about it, there was no other time I enjoyed bergamot that much in a composition, nor did it remind me so clearly of Earl Gray tea before in a scent. Must be the yerbamate base, even though it is not quite a tea leaf.

Concluding that the henna, although interesting and peculiar, does not quite do justice to the other elements and promotes murky qualities, I set for a new mod, now eliminating the henna (or helycrisum for that matter) and arrived at a place that felt, all of a sudden, like a new starting point. I was as they say it – back to square one. I was also a lot clearer on what I wanted to achieve and was very weary of wasting more material… Everything from now on was added scientifically, keeping very careful log of each addition, and making sure I also keep the “pure” original “blank slate” version on hand at all times. It was my new blueprint.

I have to admit, the next few batches, from batch no.6 and on to no. 10 are so similar, that I won’t bore you with the details too much. Suffice to say that each one evolved slowly from the previous one, and to make it simple I’ll just draw a basic set of notes and show you how it grew into what is going to be the perfume of tomorrow (literally, as Gaucho will be launched tomorrow!).

At this point, I have created, in fact, two blueprints – one with and one without angelica.
Mod. 6 had the following notes:
Base: mate, hay, Africa stone tincture, liatrix tincture, angelica absolute
Heart notes: guiacwood, honey, broom, lavender Seville
Top notes: Bergamot, French Neroli

Mod. 7 is the same, less the angelica and plus a new element: a relatively high dosage of galbanum of a very sparkling, green and fresh quality, as well as the sweetly herbaceous rosemary absolute
Base: mate, hay, Africa stone tincture, liatrix tincture, angelica absolute
Heart notes: guiacwood, honey, broom, lavender Seville, rosemary absolute
Top notes: Bergamot, French Neroli, Galbanum

From there we move on to Mod. 8, which is identical to mod. 6 only with the addition of galbanum.

While mod. 9 introduced the idea of a floral note – the quirky jasmine auriculatum absolute - it was still very much lacking the depth and finesse I was searching for. Jasmine auriculatum is a grassy-green jasmine (which also happens to be the only jasmine I dislike when smelled straight up…); Mod. 9 still maintained the presence of rosemary, but with no angelica in sight.

At this point I felt I was walking on a very tight rope above a busy street… Every little thing could distract me from my task: to focus and achieve that exact green perfection I have been so challenged by for so long. I felt that I was almost there, but not quite there yet. Something was missing – something to add true character, to push it forward even just a little more and at the sime time round it off and make it come together for real. My only rival here was myself, with my whimsical impulses to skip to the end...

Bright Angel

Angelica, originally uploaded by *Sakura*.

The species Angelica archangelica is originated in Europe and Siberia, where it is used for various medicinal and folkloric uses. Since antiquity, it was considered to strengthen the heart, stimulate circulation and the immune system and was used in centuries for treating various bronchial conditions such as colds and coughs as well as indigestion and promoting the appetite, relieves rheumatic inflammation and can be used as a urinary antiseptic (Julia Lawless, Encyclopedia of Essential Oils). Candies made of angelica stalks are also popular in France and Spain (in the US they may be found bearing the name “French Rhubarb”). If you are curious about how to make them, there are a few links to recipes below. I even found an illustrated recipe for Angelica Pie!

Candied Angelica Stems Recipe 1
Candied Angelica Stems Recipe 2
Candied Angelica Stems Recipe 3

One of the earliest Aqua Mirabillis recipes, called Carmelite Water (it was originally formulated by the nuns in the Carmelite abbey in France circa 1611). Recipes for Carmelite Water vary, but they all containt angelica and lemon balm leaves and lemon peel and orange flower water, and in addition to that various spices, usually coriander, pepper, nutmeg and cinnamon. It was taken internally as a liquor and also applied on the skin for its refreshing fragrance.

Angelica as I first knew it was peppery green and very intense. Somehwere between over eccentric parsley, horseradish and raw green pepper.This was a steam distillation from the roots, and was grown in France. I’ve used it three times only, which is as I said, very unusual for any note in my collection to be so rarely used.
1) In one of my earliest formulas for Sagittarius perfume (according to certain magical traditions, Angelica is considered a Jupiterian and fiery plant)
2) In an attempt to make a more “perfumey” Carmelite Water, using essential oils rather than tinture the above-mentioned herbs and spices
3) In one accord, in a brave moment where I wanted to just use Angelica and not be scared of it. I blended it with a few notes including cloves, oakmoss, patchouli, vetiver, champaca, rose and clary sage. It turned out smelling like fedjoia – that peculiar tropical fruit that resembles a green passion fruit from the outside and an under ripe guava from the inside. I was left amused and just left it at that.

Few years later, I received a sample of Angelica Root Oil from the same species, only grown in India and distilled from the roots. Needless to say, this is a completely different story: while still being very green, it has far less of the harshness and tenacity that the seed oil I mentioned earlier possesses. It is by no means a “soft” note. It is still sharp. But it’s definitely not the same angelica I met before. This Angelica archangelica root oil is musky, animalic, earthy. It even resembles costus root ever so slightly. I have a feeling that I won’t only be running out of the sample fast enough to justify ordering it any time soon. it has a very appealing, mysterious yet familiar almost paper-like quality that reminds me of a Chinese apothecary, in a good way; I may even use it in a perfume mod or two in the near future.

Angelica seed oil is also produced, but is much harder to come across. It is lighter, fresher and spicier, not as earthy and musky as the root oils are.
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