Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back to Citron

Etrog, originally uploaded by BecomingJewish.Org.

After a year of break from my Etrog project, I'm getting back to designing this perfume. It is probably going to be more of a cologne than a perfume though... And here lays the challenges - technical as well as creative:
1) Etrog (or citron - aka Citrus medica) essential oil is nowhere to be found to the best of my knowledge
2) Etrog fruit is just as rare. The Jews seem to be the only ones trading in it in North America, and the fruit starts at $40 each (you usually need to buy this with the whole set of "Arba'at ha Minim" - the 4 species of Sukkot.
3) Because of this rarity, it is neither easy to make tincture of the fruit, nor is it easy to remember how the scent smells like and stay true to the inspiration!
4) Last but not least - what I'm trying to create is more of an Eau de Cologne scent rather than a full blown perfume. This is the only way I have a chance of letting this delicate note truly shine, rather than being a mere top note!

I'm back to the lab and the drawing board this morning with my Etrog perfume. My 1st two mods of last year utilized a Yemenite Etrog tincture my mother made for me from organically grown fruit from the village. That year I also created my own Etrog tincture from the over-priced fruit here, possible only thanks to the courtesy of Rabbi Binyomin Bitton of Chabad Downtown, who donated to this project the 3 etrogim that he and his sons used throughout the holiday, and that received all the thorough blessings possible. I added to that my own personal etrog (less blessed, admittedly). And I tinctured this with my 1st year's students last fall, after Sukkot was over.

I created 2 mods last year, and kept them relatively simple. I used the abovementioned etrog tincture from the village, pomello tincture from an unusually fragrant and unwaxed pomelo that I completely luckily stumbled upon one day in a Chinese grocery store... A little bit of Japanese mint and rosemary verbenone, Japanese citron (yuzu), and a few fixatives: just benzoin in one, and benzoin and hinoki in the other.

I was much less than impressed with either of these, but had to let my frustration rest for a while before getting back to it. This morning seemed to be a good time to continue... Even though I feel I will need to double the concentration of the etrog tincture with more etrogim from this Sukkot in order to get the right result!

Etrog has a very fine aroma, not so much like citrus - more so like flowers and pineapple. It's hard to capture that, but funnily enough, my pomelo tincture seems more true to it than the actual etrog tincture... It has to have a fine balance between sweetness and dryness. It's a very, very elegant note and not at all like any other citrus (except for pomelo, perhaps).

So this morning, I've blended the same tinctures and yuzu, but also added some blood orange, green lemon and organic lemon, and the same herbs as before. I also fleshed this out with some florals - neroli and orange blossom absolute, petitgrain bigarade and lemon petitgrain. I fixed this with benzoin, frankincense, cypress, ambergris and olive resin tincture. I'm still feeling like a lot is missing and I'm quite sure I know what I want to add: green myrtle oil (which I thought I had but I don't!) and also citron petiitgrain, which I'm out of as well and love (it's a very rare oil to find, but not as rare as citron fruit peel, which I've never came across, ever!). And as I said, a stronger citron tincture, by adding more peels to last year's tincture. This is going to be at least a 3 years project, which can be on one hand really intimidating, but on the other hand - I think this is the beauty of the art of perfume: timing is everything, and the perfume has to ripen not only in the vat, but also in the perfumer's soul.

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At September 14, 2010 10:05 AM, Blogger odysseusm said...

WOW! That is a fascinating process. You are fortunate to work at the craft level, you can make quantities from real items (which themselves have a story). Keep me posted, I like what I hear about the latest version.

At September 14, 2010 4:08 PM, Blogger Isa said...

The creation of a fragrance is so interesting! I was amazed reading your post. Good luck with this perfume!


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