Aaaaaand…now we’ve got the alcohol-based version of the Mint Vetiver perfume (a previous post explains how to make it as a solid). This is experiment No. 4 in blending along with Mandy Aftel’s book, Fragrant. The alcohol makes it possible for the perfume to really sparkle and shine, so this version features a more complex array of notes.
Here’s what you need to create Mint Vetiver alcohol-based perfume:
- Perfumer’s Alcohol
- Vetiver essential oil
- Benzoin absolute
- Patchouli essential oil (aged patchouli is nice)
- Clary sage essential oil
- Ylang Ylang Extra essential oil
- Spearmint essential oil
- Bergamot essential oil
- Black pepper essential oil
*Out of courtesy to the author, I’m leaving off the amounts of each raw material. You can find them in her book.
- 10 ml graduated beaker or cylinder
- Glass eyedroppers (1 per essence)
- Small glass of rubbing alcohol for cleaning eye droppers (place them in it upright after use)
- Stirring rod
- ½ oz dark glass bottle (for storing perfume)
- Tiny funnel
- Paper towels
- Cover your work surface with paper towels.
- Add the perfumer’s alcohol to the graduated beaker.
- Add the essences one at a time. Start from the base notes and work your way up to the top notes (I’ve listed them in order – start with the vetiver and end with the black pepper). Stir after each addition, and sniff to experience the blend.
- When you are done with an eye dropper, place it in the glass of rubbing alcohol, and pump it a few times to clean it, and leave it sitting full of alcohol. This will prevent cross-contamination and also dissolve any EOs left on the dropper to make clean up easier.
- Using the tiny funnel, pour the finished blend into a small dark glass bottle.
- Cap the bottle and label it, and store it in a cool, dark place.
- Let it mature from a week to a month to let the essences marry and create a smooth blend. (I know! The waiting!)
How did it work? How does it smell?
This blend came together very easily. I’ve only let it age a week, so who knows if it’s reached its final scent profile – but right now, it has the same character as the solid perfume, but with more complexity and a more obvious evolution through time. It begins with a heavily menthol-y minty character – I can barely detect the black pepper sharpening it slightly, and then it moves into its clary sage heart. The transition is clever, because the spearmint top note is very similar to a green minty note that is a natural part of clary sage. The tabacco-y facet of clary sage is also present, and bridges nicely to the vetiver base. The patchouli is lightly detectable in the base, supporting and strengthening the woody nature of the vetiver. To my nose, the ylang ylang disappears (though perhaps it is sweetening things?) and primarily serves to round out the blend. Similarly, the benzoin also does not make itself known but instead serves as a fixative (I am guessing?) because the alcohol perfume certainly has better longevity than the solid version. The overall effect is medicinal, herbaceous, and earthy/woody. I like the aged patchouli-vetiver drydown even though I’m not a huge fan of the opening and heart of this one.
A quick note on technique: most perfumers will advise you to blend the essences first, then dilute in alcohol. This makes sense if you are working with prediluted essences. However, Mandy’s recipes call for the undiluted oils. In this case – it’s much easier to add them directly to the alcohol, especially when you’re working with a viscous material such as vanilla, benzoin, or fir absolute. My benzoin absolute is diluted to 50% in alcohol (so I added double the amount Mandy called for in her recipe) – which makes it easier to work with. But if your benzoin is semi-solid, it should dissolve easily in the perfumer’s alcohol.
Notes on Notes
I have notes on vetiver, clary sage, ylang ylang extra, and spearmint in the mint vetiver solid perfume post. Here are my notes on the other essential oils in the alcohol blend.
- Benzoin, Siam, Absolute 50% in alcohol, Laos, White Lotus Aromatics – Faint on the tester strip. Hint of cream soda. Sweet. Edible.
- Aged Patchouli, Aftelier – Camphorous? Woody? Pine-y? Definitely WOODY. I mean, it smells like patchouli. How does one describe patchouli?
- Bergamot, Italy, Organic, White Lotus Aromatics – A green orange. Orange, but greener and sharper. Sunny, happy, refreshing, brisk, refined. More restrained and drier than a sweet orange.
- Black Pepper EO, Sri Lanka, Organic, White Lotus Aromatics – Seering, bright, hot, phenolic?, sharp