Perfume Notes by James Peterson
As a young child, my mother was cleaning out a closet and pulled out an old sandalwood fan that her mother bought in the 1920s. It had a distinct dry dusty aroma that today I might call “powdery.” It took me years of searching to discover that sandalwood oil smells nothing of the raw wood. It took me even longer to distinguish one sandalwood from another and to determine which is the best. I finally tracked down a sandalwood oil that I now use as a model—a batch of original Mysore oil from the 1930s.
Once I smelled this glorious and authentic sandalwood oil, I realized that most sandalwood is but a poor imitation. While many of these perfumes are quite pleasant, they can often be cloying and overly sweet. It seems that many potential buyers of sandalwood perfume assume it is sweet when, in fact, it’s green and woody.
I set out to make a sandalwood that resembled as much as possible my antique treasure. After a ridiculous amount of struggle, I think I’ve come up with something pretty good, if not an exact replica of my “gold standard.”
Brooklyn Perfume Company’s sandalwood perfume is designed to amplify the smell of sandalwood oil, otherwise quite subtle. Our sandalwood has a deep woody background accented with a small amount of vetiver. Vetiver gives perfumes a bright green woody quality that freshens what otherwise might be a heavy mixture. This touch of green aroma is characteristic of the best sandalwood.
Sandalwood oil has been used for millennia and is made by distilling the wood of the tree to come up with a viscous, golden, and aromatic liquid. It has a slightly sweet (but never cloying) and balsamic somewhat animalic aroma. The best sandalwood, and that used in Brooklyn Perfume Company’s, comes from eastern India in the region of Mysore. Traditional sandalwood comes from old wild and practically extinct trees, but that used in our perfume is made from sustainable harvested trees. It has been well aged to develop an even deeper aroma.
Good sandalwood perfumes—those that actually resemble the wood and not some fantasy of it—are best worn in the evening when their soft toasty aromas can blend with rich surroundings, perhaps scented by perfumes others are wearing.