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Perfumer’s Notes: Javanol

By: Jerzy Bajgrowicz and Antoine Gaillard, Givaudan
Posted: December 29, 2006, from the January 2007 issue of P&F magazine.

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  • From P&F Magazine
  • January 2007 issue, pg. 32
  • 6 pages

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In addition, Antoine Gaillard (senior perfumer Givaudan) discusses the challenges in formulating sandalwood notes, javanol applications beyond sandalwood and common application examples.

Sandalwood Oil

Sandalwood oil is one of the most precious and widely used raw materials in perfumery. Extracted from the heartwood and roots of Santalum album trees grown in India and Indonesia, the oil has played an important social, cultural, religious, medical and aesthetic role for millennia. In perfumery, it is valued not only for its multifaceted woody, creamy, sweet, warm and animalic natural scent, but also for its outstanding fixative and blending properties.

Sandalwood trees, which are semiparasitic evergreens, need particular climate and light conditions in order to thrive. Because of the absence of heartwood in young trees, they should not be harvested for at least 20–25 years, at which point their heartwood is separated, transformed into powder and steam distilled to produce the precious oil. This long period of growth (optimally 30–50 years), combined with the declining population of the species (due mainly to continual deforestation, smuggling and the devastating spike disease), have resulted in the dwindling availability of a good quality sandalwood oil, causing prices to soar. After a spectacular price increase in 1974 and a period of fluctuating moderate growth, the cost of sandalwood oil again is increasing rapidly. From $40/kg in 1973, sandalwood oil prices climbed to $210/kg a year later, then dropped back to $140/kg in 1992. Today, the material is priced at around $1,400/kg. A state monopoly imposed on sandalwood trees and attempts to enlarge the geographic area of S. album plantations to Australia—home to another sandalwood species, Santalum spicatuma—have had a limited effect on the general trend. In perfumery today, the use of natural sandalwood oil is restricted almost exclusively to fine fragrances.

Other topics discussed: Synthetic Substitutes; Discovery of Javanol; Javanol in Creation; A Perfumer's Notes: Antoine Gaillard

This is only an excerpt of the full article that appeared in P&F Magazine, but you can purchase the full-text version.