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Thread: Castoreum

  1. #1

    Default Castoreum

    Castoreum tincture from AbdesSalaam Attar:

    Urine, wet cardboard, feces at first. When it dries, it turns more sweet but has a slightly dry, astringent edge--gorgeous. Surprisingly, it has a similar antiseptic note to the synthetic castoreum I have smelled. Real castoreum smells much more floral to my nose, and the antiseptic note seems more herbal rather than like "band-aid". Later, it takes on more of the familiar leather quality I expected from the start, but at the same time has a sort of tropical flower quality to it. I wonder if Shalimar ever had real castoreum and civet in it?

    I **liberally** applied profumo's civet tincture and castoreum tincture to parts of one arm...and on the other have applied vintage Jean Desprez Bal a Versailles parfum. BaV and vintage Shalimar extrait are the most skanky animalic fragrances I have come across (even more than Jicky with its huge dose of civet). There is a small chance that the vintage fragrances can have real animalics, so I wanted to try it out.

    So far, the overdose of civet still smells very much like mothballs--it is the same mothball note I smell with synthetic civet in Jicky. As I have noticed in Mona Lisa and also when I tested civet on paper, the civet eventually settles down into a lovely soft and sweet scent. I was thinking this is what I would also smell in BaV...but I think this is not the whole story.

    The spot of castoreum likewise has a rough beginning, but rather quickly mellows to be sweet, slightly tarry and antiseptic. Again, I have smelled something similar in castoreum-heavy scents such as Dzing!, but the natural castoreum is much smoother. I think it is a combination of civet and castoreum I smell in BaV. Of course, there are other notes such as aldehydes and florals, but the animalics in this vintage juice are far more smooth than the newer EdC I own, and in which I also recognize castoreum and civet (synthetic).

    Interesting exercise!

    Side note, I smell root beer in castoreum if I waft it from further away.

    Castoreum is a tincture of natural castoreum, and would be great for anybody who likes to make their own blends or for layering.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Castoreum

    Compiled from the Note Identification Project Thread:

    Castoreum - I am one of those people who likes animalic notes in her perfume. Something about the warmth and organic nature of these aromas fascinates me. Jean Patou 1000, Guerlain Jicky, Paloma Picasso, vintage Cuir de Russie--all have strong animalic notes. They fascinate me. Their "dirtiness" holds my attention. One would, therefore, assume that I like civit and castoreum. To the contrary, I was surprised to find that can barely tolerate these substances on their own.

    Castoreum Natural, profumo.it- smells rude and aggressive. It is leather with a bitter edginess. It has a fecal topnote and rubber undertone. My cat jumped up on my desk while I was writing about castoreum, and I held out my arm to her. She sniffed, looked at me with wide, alarmed eyes, and promptly jumped down and left the room. Do you understand what I mean by "aggressive?" Even she, with no vocabulary to describe it, decided that whatever had marked my arm with its scent was big, strong, and not to angered. This is a "masculine" note, no doubt about it. It claims territory.

    Castoreum: i find this one fascinating. it is warm, velvety, honeyed leather with ambery notes. like you spent some days in a saddle, reminding me of days when i rode the one or other mean horse. why so many people find this smell repulsive - beats me. for me this is a great, great smell and i will definitely use it when we start to mix.

    Castoreum, synthetic, Perfumers Apprentice – Registers as a “leather” note to me. Bitter, animalic, oily, a bit rubbery and smoky, slightly fecal. Yet, I find this note to be attractive. It smells like the pelt of a fur-bearing animal. If anyone has visited a furrier and stuck his or her face into the fresh coats, this is the aroma that exists underneath all the expense and supposed glamour—real animals. Now that I recognize it, I can say that my favorite perfume with castoreum is Paloma Picasso. (I always thought this was the “dirty little secret” of the department stores, possibly the most animalic of all mainstream perfumes these days, never failing to make some sales assistant wrinkle her nose in disgust.) I really like this note.

    Castoreum: vanilla, leather, "band-aid", manure, antiseptic, must be the note that Dzing! emphasizes so well. I have smelled it in Shalimar and some other leather frags (can't remember now which ones). It is a bit headache-inducing.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Castoreum

    Castoreum:

    Castoreum is not quite what I expected. Castoreum comes from the castor sacs of beavers, which are not true glands and as such it is not a glandular component such as the extract of civet is.I expected something dark and extremely potent, perhaps even fecal (a simple and ignorant assumption due to the location of the castor sacs), and while it is dark it is neither extremely potent nor fecal.

    Castoreum starts out with a strange top note, to me reminiscent of gasoline but with more body. It's not that unlike the top notes of labdanum essential oil, and calls to mind also the synthetic geranium one finds in the heart of something like 10 Corso Como or even Terre d'Hermes. The aromatic and slightly harsh qualities quickly fade to reveal a smooth and deep scent that made me think of rubber - not the rubber of tires so much but a harder and denser rubber. The scent of a rubber sanding block, perhaps. There is a hint of something animalic or perhaps even a human like nuance that made me think of black cumin oil, although it didn't smell particularly cumin-ish; it simply had that kind of human odor that cumin so often imparts. The next scent that came to mind is leather - not suede or anything soft, but fresh and raw leather. A well worn saddle, imbued also with the scent of the horse rather than a finely tailored pair of shoes.

    The texture of the scent is smooth and neither wet, dry, nor creamy. Simply smooth and full bodied.

    Testing on skin it quickly became a skin scent although persisted for a long time. As time went on it became dryer but retained its leathery and dark qualities.

    Another random association that came to mind while sniffing was the scent of working on a car.. oil, car grease, etc.

    While sniffing I was thinking of how one might replicate this using only essential oils and my initial thoughts are as follows:

    Castoreum accord:
    1 part valerian root (green/earthy/dirty/musky, 'dark')
    0.5 parts cepes (mushroom) absolute (earthy, dirt, musk, 'dark')
    2 parts patchouli dark oil (green, earthy, smooth texture, 'dark')
    0.5 parts black cumin cold pressed oil (dirty, human nuances)
    4 parts labdanum essential oil (rough then smooth, leathery, gas/geranium/pine like topnote, 'bright')
    1 part labdanum absolute (smooth, leathery)
    0.05 parts cade oil (dark, smoke, leather)

    multiplied out to 1 part minimum =

    20 parts valerian
    10 parts cepes
    40 parts patchouli
    10 parts black cumin
    80 parts labdanum
    20 parts labdanum abs
    1 part cade oil
    Last edited by SculptureOfSoul; 16th October 2009 at 06:07 AM.
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  4. #4

    Default Re: Castoreum

    I wore castoreum tincture side-by-side with civet tincture about a week ago, and here is my experience.

    Castoreum: predominantly leathery; smoky; sweaty; cheesy; and salty. Interesting woody-smoky quality to it, and something in it reminds me of the smell of walnuts. The animalic quality isn't musky, but more akin to a mid-point between stale sweat and processed cheese ( not romantic associations, I'll admit, but where my mind goes ). Authentically leathery, but warm, old, well-used, unwashed leather rather than new leather ( I've smelled second-hand jackets that smell like this, but never new ones ). There's a certain smooth, heavy quality to it that is very appealing. It becomes mellow and rounded fairly soon on the skin, and eventually develops a slight burnt-caramel quality.

    Castoreum doesn't smell like a single note to me, but rather a very strange, heavily animalic fragrance in itself.

    Civet: Strongly fecal; indefinably "sharp" note, almost citrus or aldehydic in quality ( not sure how else to describe it ); musky and almost floral background, the musk coming forward more as it develops.

    In contrast, civet smells plainer and more " to the point", more an individual note and less complex. It's drier, sharper, and the body-note it gravitates to is rather more alarming than with castoreum ( castoreum's sweat versus civet's feces ). Civet stands out a lot more than castoreum, and never mellows out at all, though it fades in strength.

    It's worth noting I also tried L'Arte di Gucci. The animalic notes I'd long attributed to civet are in fact castoreum and musk, according to my nose, at least. I smell no civet at all in L'Arte, despite the fact that I was sure it was a civet overload for ages. Castoreum really dominates this fragrance in a way I don't think I've smelled elsewhere, and I think I far prefer my animalic fragrances castoreum-heavy rather than civet-heavy.

  5. #5

    Default Re: Castoreum

    Quote Originally Posted by SculptureOfSoul View Post

    While sniffing I was thinking of how one might replicate this using only essential oils and my initial thoughts are as follows:

    Castoreum accord:
    1 part valerian root (green/earthy/dirty/musky, 'dark')
    0.5 parts cepes (mushroom) absolute (earthy, dirt, musk, 'dark')
    2 parts patchouli dark oil (green, earthy, smooth texture, 'dark')
    0.5 parts black cumin cold pressed oil (dirty, human nuances)
    4 parts labdanum essential oil (rough then smooth, leathery, gas/geranium/pine like topnote, 'bright')
    1 part labdanum absolute (smooth, leathery)
    0.05 parts cade oil (dark, smoke, leather)

    multiplied out to 1 part minimum =

    20 parts valerian
    10 parts cepes
    40 parts patchouli
    10 parts black cumin
    80 parts labdanum
    20 parts labdanum abs
    1 part cade oil
    I'm curious - did you try your accord out? Did it smell like castoreum?

  6. #6
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    Default Re: Castoreum

    Quote Originally Posted by Asha View Post
    Castoreum:I find this one fascinating. it is warm, velvety, honeyed leather with ambery notes. like you spent some days in a saddle, reminding me of days when i rode the one or other mean horse. why so many people find this smell repulsive - beats me. for me this is a great, great smell and i will definitely use it when we start to mix.
    Agree with this description.

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