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  1. #1

    Question Wide World of Woods

    Sandalwood, still considered exotic in my neck of the woods, is a note I've become familiar with.

    Maybe a bit too familiar. Not saying I'm bored with it, but I guess I'm looking to re-define "exotic." A lot of trees that grow native by me, mostly conifers and esp. cedar, see fairly frequent representation in fragrance. But others like sycamore and oak (not the moss but the actual tree) get scant attention from perfumers.

    At first I thought they had no essential oils that a perfumer could use but I recognize a scent when I walk past a sycamore in summertime or past a woodpile of seasoning oak. And once in a while, the notes of a frag will list a tree I've never smelled in frag form.

    Can any fans of these scents - I believe many are Hermes - attest to or contest how "real" these notes smell? And if anyone wants to chime in about a frag that uses an uncommon wood note, please speak up.

    Much as I love sandalwood and conifers of all types, I feel like there's a limited palette where wood's concerned for fragrance. Am I wrong?
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    I'd be interested to see if there were any fruit-wood scents out there, and I don't mean combinations of the two, but recreations of nicely scented woods like Pear or Cherry.

  3. #3
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    First of all: great question.

    I have only begun to smell the different types of wood in scents - IMO, no there are not a limited amount of wood notes. The varieties of wood notes in fragrances are as varied as natural wood smells are.

    Yes, sandalwood is a wood that most non-fragrance oriented people could blindly sniff out - but, all sandalwood is NOT alike. Just type the word 'sandalwood' in the Search function above and you can learn about a whole host of different kinds of sandalwood fragrances that are extremely different themes on sandalwood.

    You're mentioning of the Hermes line is confusing to me. Yes, Hermes is a great line for quality scents. But they have by no means, cornered the market on wonderful wood notes.

    Furthermore, there are GREAT scents that utilize synthetic molecules and chemicals to smell like 'natural' wood. There are also HORRIBLE scents that do this same thing. Personally, I could not care less if a perfumer uses synthetic chemicals to conjure up a good wood note - I just want it to smell good.

    A few scents that I would recommend to you, that showcase wood notes effectively, uniquely, naturally and (more importantly) smell great on your skin are:

    - Cypres Musc by Creed (cypress wood, in an almost resinous strength - torn tree limbs smell like this)
    - Gucci Pour Homme by Gucci (not just cedar but...let's call it: black tie cedar with a healthy dose of incense)
    - Bois Farine by L'Artisan Parfumeur (wood and the smell of dough - you have to smell this, to understand its appeal)
    - Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon's (pine in mind altering doses, but all dressed up like a gentleman)
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Nice idea for a thread. Here's some of the more unusual woody scents I've sniffed (or even bought):

    Parfumerie Generale - Bois de Copaiba
    (has an almost playdough-ish aspect)

    Ava Luxe - Palisander
    (Is this precisely the same thing as rosewood? Anyway, I remember my sample of this was creamy and sour -- but not like sour cream, if that makes any sense...)

    Serge Lutens - Chene
    (Oak, rather than oakmoss -- one of the more sober scents Lutens/Sheldrake have concocted, with an especially smooth opening, a little bit boozy to my nose)

    Serge Lutens - Un Cedre
    (Yes, there's a lot of tuberose up front, and that -- or something -- puts some folks off, but I think this it's stunning how nicely the floral notes "rhyme" with the rich cedar. Cedar, I'm realizing, is a note that can smell "cheap" to me when it's not handled right -- the basenotes of Lacoste Booster and Yohji pour homme both let me down a bit, as does Rochas Lui -- but all of these scents have their fans here and deserve a try, although they're not especially wood-focused.)
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  5. #5

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    And let us not forget Lutens' Miel de Bois: waxy honey, 2 x 4's and a sprinkle from the neighborhood cat.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    LOL @ Ruggles description of Miel de Bois. On my skin, honey is often on the verge of smelling like cat piss.

    By the way, I'm only now coming to grips with the variety of sandalwoods that mikeperez23 mentioned. Recently ordered samples, from Dawn Spencer Hurwitz's Essence Oils line, of several single-note sandalwoods: Mysore, Parvati, East Indian, Australian. In fact, the rest of my sample order was Hinoki (notes include: pine needles, spruce, cedar, buddahwood) and Sequoia7 (notes include: sequoia, teakwood). So I guess I'm on the right woody wavelength for this thread. I'll report back when my samples arrive.
    Last edited by PaulSC; 30th October 2007 at 04:44 AM.
    Spray it, don’t say it…
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    I find these to be intriguing combinations with wood


    CdG Sequoia = Wood + Rum + Big Red chewing gum

    Le Labo Rose 31 = Wood + Rose

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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    And let us not forget Lutens' Miel de Bois: waxy honey, 2 x 4's and a sprinkle from the neighborhood cat.
    My spouse's take on Miel de Bois: "Urinal cake..."

    ... but speaking of woods:

    Etro has a scent called Mahogany.

    Idole de Lubin has doum palm, ebony (smoked), and red sandalwood (I think this is one of the Australian varieties).

    Gaiacwood (or guaiacwood) is a woody note in some concoctions.

    Palisander, as far as I know, is just the English form of the French name (pallisandre) for rosewood. If I recall, there are a couple of South American trees that provide this; the products may be slightly different to perfumers' noses.

    Of course, oud (or eaglewood, or agarwood, or lignaloes) is a wood that, like sandalwood, needs to be attacked by a microorganism to produce its scented oil.

    And, speaking of sandalwood, there are many varieties, Mysore sandalwood being the most famous and reputedly the world's best. Another fascinating one is a Nepalese tree related to sandalwood, which the French call amyris; it's found in Hugo Energise and Eau de Lalique.

    SL Chêne is supposed to have oak in it. I've never heard of another one that claimed it.

    Cedar is widely used: Virginia cedar, Atlas cedar (related to Cedar of Lebanon), and cedarleaf oils are all popular.

    Wood tar is a frequent ingredient in "leather" scents, especially birch tar.

    I've seen licorice "wood" listed as a note (I think it's the roots that yield the oil).

    Also, fig-based scents sometimes claim fig wood.

    Olive wood is another I recall having seen.

    Juniper gets into lots of scents; though it's more the berries than the wood, both are used.

    A lot of people refer to vetiver as a "woody" note, although it actually comes from the roots of a leafy vine.

    Cypress is a beautiful woody note, redolent of mossy green notes.

    Myrtle is also popular in some scents, notably Chanel Antaeus.

    Cascarilla bark comes from a tree that grows in the West Indies, often used to complement tobacco notes.

    Of course, cinnamon and cassia are both tree barks also, though we call these notes spicy rather than woody.

    Japanese hinoki wood is used in a few fragrances. It's a Japanese variety of cypress.

    Bay or laurel trees are usually used for the scent of their leaves.

    Macassar wood is a kind of ebony from SE Asia, although the Macassar oil of perfumery was a hair dressing made mostly of coconut oil and essential oil of ylang-ylang flowers.

    Finally, balsams and oleoresins are wood products, among them Tolu and Peru balsams, Copaiba balsam, styrax, frankincense, myrrh, opopanax, copal, and benzoin.

    Where would perfumery be without woods and woody notes?

    And what about the old saw (hopefully soon to be forgotten) that while women should smell like flowers, men should smell like woods?
    Last edited by JaimeB; 30th October 2007 at 06:17 AM.
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  9. #9

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    [QUOTE=mikeperez23;1087532]

    You're mentioning of the Hermes line is confusing to me. Yes, Hermes is a great line for quality scents. But they have by no means, cornered the market on wonderful wood notes.

    I had to look again but the two scents I was thinking of were Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, which features a sycamore note and Eau de Merveilles, which contains an oak note. A quick Google search revealed the same information.

    I should have been more clear as to my mention of the Hermes line. My apologies for the confusion.
    Loves of Late: Agua Lavanda, Eau Sauvage, Gendarme, Guerlain Vetiver, Guerlain EdC Imperiale, Ivoire de Balmain, Kenzo PH, Mitsouko, Royall Lyme, Tabac Original

  10. #10

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Wow, you've gotten lots of great suggestions for wood scents of all kinds.
    If you want to try a sandalwood scent that will blow/open your mind even though you think you know sandalwood, try SL Santal de Mysore.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by The_Giraffe View Post
    Wow, you've gotten lots of great suggestions for wood scents of all kinds.
    If you want to try a sandalwood scent that will blow/open your mind even though you think you know sandalwood, try SL Santal de Mysore.
    Agreed. the only time I smelled it was from your sample-- but it was incredible and it's on my future list. Very unique sandalwood scent.

  12. #12
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    I love it when I see precious wood listed in notes for a fragrance.

    I read: this has been endangered in the rainforests since 1900 and our lawyers prefer the term, 'precious wood'.

    I'm a hypocrite if I say that it bothers me. I wear it anyway. What I'd love to smell is some of these long protected species being cut at the saw.
    --------------------------------------
    Quote Originally Posted by Ruggles View Post
    And let us not forget Lutens' Miel de Bois: waxy honey, 2 x 4's and a sprinkle from the neighborhood cat.
    Got to see a bit of this very thing on the History channel yesterday and it was regarding the ancient Romans writing messages on slender sheets of wood treated with honey, heated well till the honey impregnated the wood, and then as usual when something interesting is happening my wife wants to know if something makes her look fat or why aren't computers coming with floppy drives.

    I can only imagine how fragrant the wood must have gotten and i wonder why the Romans would use cat piss when they could have pissed on it themselves.

    eureka Miel de Bois!
    Last edited by fredricktoo; 30th October 2007 at 08:58 AM. Reason: Automerged Doublepost

  13. #13

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Lots of great and interesting woods mentioned so far! Fun to see Miel de Bois getting this much positive mention!

    My addition to the thread will be: LesNez - Let Me Play the Lion - So dry and heavenly soft.

  14. #14
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    [quote=randumbsmellyguy;1087584]
    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post

    You're mentioning of the Hermes line is confusing to me. Yes, Hermes is a great line for quality scents. But they have by no means, cornered the market on wonderful wood notes.

    I had to look again but the two scents I was thinking of were Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, which features a sycamore note and Eau de Merveilles, which contains an oak note. A quick Google search revealed the same information.

    I should have been more clear as to my mention of the Hermes line. My apologies for the confusion.
    Sandlewood in Bel Ami and Cedar in Terre d'Hermes and if fragrance devolved so badly that hermes was the only house I'd be fine with it.
    Also I can see where you could grow up in a household of just Hermes. Not likely in NJ but other parts of the world.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Must admit I am not a wood expert... yet perhaps! But I find Creed's Bois Du Portugal an amazing wood scent. The wood is so clear to my nose... I have not got the expertise to define which wood notes are what but a real treat IMO.

  16. #16
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Gucci pour Homme by Tom Ford is like falling out of a tree and hitting every branch. Check it out in the directory. It's been reviewed quite a bit here.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by randumbsmellyguy View Post
    I had to look again but the two scents I was thinking of were Un Jardin Sur Le Nil, which features a sycamore note and Eau de Merveilles, which contains an oak note. A quick Google search revealed the same information.

    I should have been more clear as to my mention of the Hermes line. My apologies for the confusion.
    No problem.

    In my opinion Un Jardin sur le Nil are wonderful scents, however they both are not wood prominent fragrances.

    UJSLN is much more of a fruity (green mango) and light wood scent...yes the sycamore is there but it's nicely buried underneath fantastic fruit and green notes. Eau des Merveilles is also much more about it's salty beach vibe mixed with my very favorite ambergris note - I don't smell oak at all. The parfum version of Eau des Merveilles (which is INCREDIBLE and also incredibly expensive) contains a healthy extra dose of patchouli but, again, no oak (to my nose).

    A Hermes scent that is wood prominent: Rocabar.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 30th October 2007 at 05:34 PM.
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  18. #18

    Smile Re: Wide World of Woods

    Wood, Wood, and more Wood. Just when you think you've had enough wood,MPG serves you a cup of coffee with your wood,to wash it down with. Santal Noble. Can't get enough!!

  19. #19
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    No problem.

    In my opinion Un Jardin sur le Nil are wonderful scents, however they both are not wood prominent fragrances.

    UJSLN is much more of a fruity (green mango) and light wood scent...yes the sycamore is there but it's nicely buried underneath fantastic fruit and green notes. Eau des Merveilles is also much more about it's salty beach vibe mixed with my very favorite ambergris note - I don't smell oak at all. The parfum version of Eau des Merveilles (which is INCREDIBLE and also incredibly expensive) contains a healthy extra dose of patchouli but, again, no oak (to my nose).

    A Hermes scent that is wood prominent: Rocabar.
    from the Hemes web site

    Eau des Merveilles

    A surprising, woody-amber fragrance capturing the spirit of wood, the memory of the oceans and the sparkle of a constellation.

  20. #20

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by fredricktoo View Post
    I love it when I see precious wood listed in notes for a fragrance.

    I read: this has been endangered in the rainforests since 1900 and our lawyers prefer the term, 'precious wood'.

    I'm a hypocrite if I say that it bothers me. I wear it anyway. What I'd love to smell is some of these long protected species being cut at the saw.

    "Precious wood", actually, is usually what marketers call a mix of synthetic wood smells. The synthetic molecule smells "woody", but not like any particular tree, so they figure "precious wood" sounds good enough to call it. I'm sure there are exceptions, but generally it doesn't signify a real wood oil.
    Last edited by Maxwell; 30th October 2007 at 09:12 PM.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    So basically, it's short for "precious little wood"
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  22. #22
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by Maxwell View Post
    "Precious wood", actually, is usually what marketers call a mix of synthetic wood smells. The synthetic molecule smells "woody", but not like any particular tree, so they figure "precious wood" sounds good enough to call it. I'm sure there are exceptions, but generally it doesn't signify a real wood oil.
    well I really didn't expect anyone to tell me it really was an endangered tree species. What is their definition of precious? cute wood? exaggerated? overrefined?

    for the clarification Maxwell. I'll do some more research. The more I learn the more I find I have a lot to learn.
    and I thought learning to keep marine aquaria was hard.

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by fredricktoo View Post
    from the Hemes web site

    Eau des Merveilles

    A surprising, woody-amber fragrance capturing the spirit of wood, the memory of the oceans and the sparkle of a constellation.
    Interesting...

    It's a 'surprising woody-amber' fragrance because there's no wood you can smell and when you can't find it you're surprised!

    The 'spirit of wood' fits, though. Is that like ghostwood?

    All of this Hermes-speak is giving me a headache.
    Last edited by mikeperez23; 30th October 2007 at 09:47 PM.
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  24. #24
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    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    It's Hermes so it's probably Precious Wood©

  25. #25

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by fredricktoo View Post
    well I really didn't expect anyone to tell me it really was an endangered tree species. What is their definition of precious? cute wood? exaggerated? overrefined?

    for the clarification Maxwell. I'll do some more research. The more I learn the more I find I have a lot to learn.
    and I thought learning to keep marine aquaria was hard.
    I'm pretty sure "precious" just sounds better to a marketer than "synthetic woody smell". If they call it "precious", then it sustains that fragrance's high-end status.

    Rosewood is one of the only tropical aromatic trees that are used in perfumery, and that's becoming more endangered lately (though they've started sustainable plantations that should help supply in a few years).

    There really aren't many natural woods that can be distilled into an real, pure oil. Most of the "wood" used in modern perfumery (aside from a few niche houses) is primarily synthetic, just like musk is now. Molecules that smell "musky" are very common and easy to synthesize, and aroma chemical companies are discovering more and more easy to create molecules with a "woody" smell as well.

    Synthetics aren't glamorous to most people, hence the need for marketers to call them "precious wood", "rare woods", "sheer wood", etc.
    Last edited by Maxwell; 31st October 2007 at 02:49 AM.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Lots of great suggestions and thoughts, thanks everyone.

    Precious Woods, huh? Intriguing...is it natural-smelling in spite of the vague, no-frills name?
    Loves of Late: Agua Lavanda, Eau Sauvage, Gendarme, Guerlain Vetiver, Guerlain EdC Imperiale, Ivoire de Balmain, Kenzo PH, Mitsouko, Royall Lyme, Tabac Original

  27. #27

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    I'll add "driftwood", as in Olivia Giacobetti's Préparation Parfumée for Andrée Putman. They "spoke about wood, wet wood, wood after the rain, driftwood...".

    This has been on my wishlist for a long time.

    http://nowsmellthis.blogharbor.com/b.../4/647253.html

  28. #28

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    This summer while working at a native plant garden on the U.S. Northwest coast, I had the pleasure of discovering a variety of scents from the trees and plants. Many of the trees smelled delicious in the summer heat as they sweat in the sun. The smell I most fell in love with was that of the Nootka Rose wood. When watered on a late afternoon, the evaporation would carry the oils throughout the area. The aroma was like nothing I'd ever come across before in its complexity. It was a perfume unto itself. There were the floral elements of the rose flower, a nice sweet smell like a well cured compost, and the rich woody character that reminded me a bit of a cigar box that had been home to some good tobacco.

    I too would like to see woods and barks used more frequently. Perhaps dealing with their tannins make them more difficult to work with?
    Last edited by tergen; 3rd November 2007 at 10:22 PM.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Wide World of Woods

    Quote Originally Posted by tergen View Post
    This summer while working at a native plant garden on the U.S. Northwest coast, I had the pleasure of discovering a variety of scents from the trees and plants. Many of the trees smelled delicious in the summer heat as they sweat in the sun. The smell I most fell in love with was that of the Nootka Rose wood. When watered on a late afternoon, the evaporation would carry the oils throughout the area. The aroma was like nothing I'd ever come across before in its complexity. It was a perfume unto itself. There were the floral elements of the rose flower, a nice sweet smell like a well cured compost, and the rich woody character that reminded me a bit of a cigar box that had been home to some good tobacco.

    I too would like to see woods and barks used more frequently. Perhaps dealing with their tannins make them more difficult to work with?
    A lot of aromatic trees aren't used in perfumery because they're either too difficult to distill or they're hard enough to grow that you can't make plantations of them very easily, or tthere simply wouldn't be enough of a market for them to justify the initial investment. I wouldn't be surprised if there were more options in the future though, as people branch out and start growing more unusual plants for their essential oils.

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