Practicing the Mandy Aftel Method

Once Mandy demonstrated her 30-drop method, she set us loose. The assignment was to construct a fragrance. We were allowed up to three different top notes, three different middle notes, and three different base notes. The exciting part is that the total number of drops in each category must not exceed 10. The total number of all the drops should equal 30, no more, no fewer.

She’s incredibly generous with her ingredients as I realized while measuring out drops of red champaca absolute into my mixture

Trying to kill two birds with one stone, I decided to come up with something that would underline orris (iris). For my base, I came up with a mixture of opoponax (2 drops), patchoulyl acetate (an isolate without some of the unwanted aspects of regular patchouli) (6 drops), and oud tincture (2 drops), for my total of 10 drops. For the middle, I used champaca, rose, and jasmine; and for the top, siam wood, orris (Mandy considers it a top note), and yuzu.

When we finished our concoctions, we passed them to the front so that Mandy could discuss them with the group. She asked questions of all of us, asking us to explain our reasoning, esthetic or otherwise, for including a substance. Usually she would pare down our ingredients, stripping our tinctures to their essentials.

She told me to take out the orris, which was deadening the mixture. Now, with fewer drops in the top notes, I had to find a substitute to make up for the removed drops. Often, when an aromatic substance is removed in this way, it is replaced with something of low odor intensity to fill in the spaces rather than contribute another facet to the finished fragrance. With this in mind I added a small amount of frankincense and increased the amounts of the other ingredients in the top note.

Next post: my final project.