Castoreum

Beaver’s anal glands.  Now who, exactly, first thought that an ingredient from the ‘castor sac’ (a gland near the  beaver’s reproductive organs) would be just fantastic when bottled and dabbed onto the pulse-points…? (We often marvel at who must first have experimented with some of the more unusual elements in perfumery – and try to imagine some of the failed experiments, too…) Not surprisingly, this carnal, animalic note has since the beginning of the 20th Century – for ethical and environmental reasons –almost always been recreated synthetically: it’s really not on to kill an animal to extract a scented oil.  (Although it was also used by physicians to treat fever, headache and hysteria.)  But whatever the source, there’s no getting away from castoreum’s seriously musky sensuality, which also has a hint of fruitiness.  Smelled neat (we’ve tried it: really not a good idea), it whiffs intensely of birch tar and leather; only when expertly blended does it soften and seduce, blending well with rose and oud in particular, and acting as an excellent ‘fixative’ for other notes. (‘Castor’, by the way, gets its name from the Greek word for beaver.)

Smell castoreum in:

Amouage Memoir Woman
Dior Diorama
Givenchy Ysatis
Guerlain Shalimar
Juliette Has A Gun Mad Madame
Juliette Has A Gun Midnight Oud

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