Saturday, March 10, 2007

Khus Khus (Wilde Vetyver)

putting down roots, originally uploaded by Splat Worldwide.

In my second mod of vetiver I wanted to focus on the unique Ruh Khus, a traditional East Indian distillation of wild vetiver. The note is challenging for the uninitiated-Khus-Khus-nose. As I mentioned earlier, this distillation in copper alembics makes for a very unusual note, not just because of the raw, earthy tone of the root itself, grown in Indian soil, but also because some of the copper remains in the oil and adds colour as well as olfactory residues.

I wanted to go wild all the way with the Ruh Khus, and bring out its characteristics by adding two additional oils that are quite unusual as well: Attar Mitt, which is a distillation of baked Indian earth into sandalwood oil, and also a co-distillation of both vetiver and Mitti (earth). All three oils, Ruh Khus, Attar Mitti and the co-distillation of Indian vetiver and baked earth make for a genuinely earthy olfactory experience.

To balance some of the sharpness from the copper tones of the Ruh Khus I also added a bit of the milder varieties of vetiver in my possession: the woody vetiver from Sri Lanka, and the sweet & tart Haitian vetiver. I also used a bit of the Indonesian vetiver to add body and intensity, and balanced it all out with a tad of Peru balsam, for a rounding, smooth sweetness.

The result was at first alarmingly earthy, but it mellowed with time. Last week I sensed in the mid-top notes a certain aromatic green sweetness that made me recall the unusual scent of unripe guavas. This has subsided a week later (and about 4 weeks after maturing the mod), and now presents a new olfactory resemblance to freshly uprooted root-vegetables, particularly garden carrots, dug out of the garden in a cold winter day and eaten by the enthusiastic gardener after rubbing in the wet grass – which inevitably means that some dirt is consumed along with the crispy sweet vegetable.

The dry down is indeed showcasing the natural, earthy complexity and simple harmony of Ruh Khus. The connection to earth cannot be portrayed in a more immediate way than these particular essences. Once you delve into it, I hope you will understand why it is called “The Oil of Tranquility” in India.

Samples of Wilde Vetyver (Khus Khus) are available for $8 including shipping internationally. You may also order

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At February 20, 2010 10:19 PM, Blogger Poorvi said...

Dear Ayala,

I enjoyed reading your post on Vetiver and am so fascinated and impressed by how sensitively you examined and explained the fragrances. Wow! It is really a talent to be able to do that, and I am inspired to be more attentive to fragrances.

I just wanted to mention that 'khus khus' is actually poppy seed and Vetiver is only 'khus' once. is confusing and I wonder why it is so! :)


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