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On 31 December 2014 one of my readers asked me:

Do you have any recommendations for a papery/dusty isolate? Brand new to this, and all I want is to smell like a library!

I replied:

Hi, Thank you for commenting. I think you should try Vetyrisia (Firmenich), a beautiful orris-vetiver base which features ionones, powdery, cardboard-like notes (similar to Chanel N19). There is also orris butter, indeed, and amyris oil: sawdusty, cardboard-like. Between the different vetiver qualities, the one from Haiti is the most dry, papery. Gentiana absolute should also be quite interesting in small amounts for its powdery, earthy, fresh paint-like, fatty, leathery, tobacco notes. Thinking about synthetics, I recommend you to work on acids which, generally speaking, have dry, powerful, dusty, sometimes fatty notes. Citronellic acid posesses a dusty, dry, rose petal-like, pollen-like character. 9-decenoic acid is more fatty, waxy, truly reminiscent of an unscented candle (not beeswax), or an old soap tablet. I don’t know if orris synthetics could work: Orivone for instance, while possessing a nice dry, orris-like odour is too fatty for a paper accord. Cedrol and cedryl acetate should be useful. Other interesting synthetics may be ethyl laurate, methyl/ethyl linolenate, ethyl ricinoleate as modifiers. I would start building the accord on an amyris backbone, cedrol, adding traces of citronellic acid, vetyrisia/orris butter, and then play around the products listed above: ethyl laurate, ethyl ricinoleate, 9-decenoic acid, traces of gentiana absolute. Hope this helps! Andrea

Now, quite intrigued by this amusing request, I wanted to actually test my suggestions. So I came out with this accord. It took me only one essay. I wanted to share it with you:

# Supplier #
CITRONELLIC ACID PCAS 20,00
9 DECENOIC ACID BEDOUKIAN RESEARCH 10,00
ETHYL LAURATE PCAS 100,00
ETHYL LINOLENATE PCAS 600,00
CEDROL TEXAS IFF 100,00
AMYRIS OIL commercial 100,00
                                                                 Tot: 930,00 grams

old bookAs you can see, amyris oil is in much less quantity than originally thought, it is more of a modifier and a topnote, than the backbone. Cedrol plays a very interesting role adding a refined, sweet, velvety, powdery effect, and some consistency to the composition, along with amyris oil (which, however, is more of a topnote). But the core of the accord is undoubtedly Citronellic acid. Books, and old books in particular possess an odor that I could describe as: acidic (a choking effect), fatty (linseed oil-like, for instance), powdery, (and animalic, costus-like, especially in old books).

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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.