2014 Highlights

I wanted to list some products I especially used, or even discovered in 2014. I picked up the rarest, most strange/exotic, or simply very useful raw materials, synthetics or naturals.

Cassie absolute (Acacia farnesiana): the key ingredient in a true-to-nature leather accord. Extremely powerful. Smells green, foliage (with hints of cabbage on topnotes), then it dries down on a powdery, dry, acidic, fatty hearth. Reminiscent of tanned leather. It is quite difficult to dose as the material has tendency to give off unpleasant topnotes (my personal opinion), difficult to mask in a simple composition.

Musk Z4 (IFF): the same molecule as Exaltenone (Firmenich), but slightly more animalic, less sandalwoody, more close to Exaltone, with its metallic, extremely fine powdery facets. Quite powerful, more than Exaltone. Interesting to note that Musk Z4 solidifies at room temp (20° C), while Exaltenone is in the liquid state.

Styrax resinoid: solvent, toluene, styrene-like topnotes, sweet and sharp. Slightly leathery (oldfashioned “cuir”), mineral, cinnamic, rubbery heartnotes. Sweeter, incensey upon drying. Interesting with floral notes (rose, orange flower).

Cypriol essence: a nice replacer for agarwood (aquillaria spp. extracts), with bitter, green terpenic topnotes, rhubarb, vetiver-like, leathery. Quite powerful and longlasting, powdery, incense, sandalwood-like in the dryout. You can smell this orange, amber-coloured product in certain oud blends.

Mate absolute: a beautiful green, tea topnote. Bitter, dark, dense, smokey, very close to cured tobacco leaves upon drying. In the dryout it nicely resembles oakmoss absolute, with salicylate tones.

Fatty acids esters: oily odour, at times slightly rancid, very interesting in leather accords and floral reconstitutions (mimosa, for instance). They are: Methyl/Ethyl linolenate, Ethyl laurate, Ethyl ricinoleate.

Muskrat glands: in the 60s Arctander explained how this material was suggested as a musk deer replacer during WW II in the USA, but lacked the power of the original product. I wanted to try out this one and ordered some from a Russian supplier. Well, it doesn’t resemble musk deer in any way that could encourage its use as a replacer. It lacks the civet-like, animalic, skatolic notes found in the more prized material. It lacks its fine, well rounded, rich, powdery body. It smells less dirty, more fleshy, quite unpleasantly fatty and dry. It is more sebum-like. I am planning another order and I would like to suggest a different drying method.
Muskrat glands are said to contain Exaltone (a molecule very close to muscone). I am not so sure to smell it in my product, but I can guess it is there.

  1. I’ve asked a trapper for some dried muskrat glands, and he will comply when he does his hunting this spring. What method was used the first time you ourchased, and what will you suggest instead this time? Did you oxidize what you received, then tincture the stock to obtain your Exaltone? Thanks.

    • Andrea said:

      Did I oxidize my stock? What do you mean?

      I think that the problem in the drying could be the heat. I would suggest a method that doesn’t involve heating the product.
      Another improvement is a longer ageing. My glands were only approximately 3 months old.

      I would like you to keep me updated on the subject, if that is fine with you.


  2. Oxidize – In my research, I think that I learned that in order for the Exaltone to be made/released from the Muskrat gland matter, that it must be oxidized first. I apologize that I cannot cite my reference, I didn’t intend to need to do so for anyone else but myself. The Muskrat glands I have received to date were preserved as if they were meat, and not dried, so they were of no use. I am going to be getting some simply dried glands this Spring from a supplier to experiment with.

    • Andrea said:

      I think the main problem with my product is that the glands were pretty dry, but they had not aged properly.. The tincture I made out of them doesn’t smell like anything I could use in a base or perfume. There is this strong, sweet, meaty (ham-like) odour, with some sweaty, human, sebum-like nuance… I can barely stand smelling it on a blotter (and I am quite well acquainted with dirty smells). I will re-order some more and keep you updated.

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