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Vanilla Amber Accord
The amber used in perfumery has nothing to do with the yellow amber stone, which is ornamental but has no smell, nor with ambergris, which refers to an animal extract from the sperm whale. It includes two flagship ingredients, cistus labdanum, with its warm, resinous, animal facets, and vanillin, a new, sweet aromatic compound, which is the primary component of vanilla. The combination of these two warm and persistent notes has been considered to form the amber accord, generally enriched with tonka bean, coumarin and resins such as benzoin or incense, which are all base notes.
Tonka bean from Brazil and Venezuela
This precious raw ingredient comes from the Dipteryx odorata, a tree endemic to Central America and northern South America. Local people have to go into the jungle to pick its ripe fruit once fallen to the ground. After macerating in alcohol and dried, it delivers its kernel, a wrinkled black bean, the tonka. It gradually develops its flavors, including those of its main aromatic molecule, coumarin: powdery, almondy with a freshly mown hay effect, tobacco, slightly honeyed and smoked. Its gourmand facet evokes a slightly vanilla-scented and sweetened shortbread tart. Its absolute, obtained by volatile solvent extraction, is one of the most sensual base notes.
Benzoin from Siam
The smell of benzoin is multi-faceted: sweet vanilla, with a gourmand caramel effect, honeyed, syrupy.Its enveloping properties are used as a base note, and perfume both Orthodox churches and Buddhist temples.
This wild shrub grows on arid soils around the Mediterranean. When it is hot, its leaves and branches exude a sticky animal-scented gum called labdanum, close to ambergris in high dilution. There are several ways of extracting Cistus Ladaniferus: steam distillation of its branches yields the aromatic, resinous and woody cistus oil. Extraction with volatile solvents results in the heavier cistus-labdanum absolute, at once balsamy, pyrogenic and resinous, used in the heart and base of a fragrance. These two products are pivotal notes in "chypre" accords and add character to amber accords and "oud" compositions in both women's and men's perfumes.