At the end of day two, Mandy gave us our final assignment: we were to take two—only two—ingredients to explore together and use them as the basis for a new perfume.
I went home (I was staying at my brother’s, right up the hill) and as I stared at the sunset behind the Golden Gate Bridge, I came up with sandalwood and jasmine, two of the most voluptuous fragrances in perfumery. Each of these has a gentleness, a receptiveness, and yet a distinctive presence. They sometimes bring tears to my eyes. And anyway, I’ve been working on a sandalwood perfume since I first started this craziness and can never amplify the note, just obscure it. So, with Mandy’s approval of my two ingredients, I set out.
My base contained three ingredients; sandalwood (a beautiful aged Mysore), santalol (a powerful heart-note isolate; expensive), and a kind of agarwood that Mandy has in her collection that smells much like sandalwood. The base smelled good. I was off to a good start.
The jasmine went into the heart notes with a trace of rose otto. The rest of the heart note is made up of araucaria, a substance I had never heard of, but one with a gentle enough odor profile to make up most of the middle notes without taking over. Its purpose was to fill in the gaps and give me the needed 10 drops for the heart.
The top notes are black pepper, a trace of mimosa, and a great deal of Siam wood. I have Siam wood in my lab, but I’ve been using it as a base note (because it’s a wood), when I should have been using it as a top note. It was the perfect thing for carrying the sandalwood to the top. I wasn’t worried about the jasmine.