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Black Musk Base

For single note attars you can quite easily make your own by diluting the appropriate absolute or essential oil or combination of both in Sandalwood oil (New Caledonia sandalwood and Australian Sandalwood work excellently for that purpose). For instance if you want to create a really lovely full-bodied contemporary attar, blend together 50% rosa damascena essential oil with 50% rosa damascena absolute. Then combine 15% of this rose blend into 85% sandalwood oil and let it age for a minimum of 1 month. Its odor will improve with each passing month. This can be done with Neroli/Orange Blossom, Jasmin sambac absolute/Jasmin sambac co2, Ylang absolute/Ylang extra and many other single note aromatic themes using absolutes, essential oils etc.

But if you wish to make the complex attars like Black Musk, Amberi and Shamama you will need to blend many more ingredients together as will be shown in the following recipe for Black Musk. The reason for doing this is simply that the three aforementioned attars are wonderful fixative bases for a great variety of perfumes and each has its own distinct character. The Black Musk is the most earthy, rooty animalic of the three (the recipes for amberi will be shared in the July Newsletter and for shamama in August).


This blend requires three months to mature, especially for the birch tar to meld with the other ingredients. Once the blend has matured you can dilute it in sandalwood in any ratio you like from 10-25%. It all depends on the end use. It is important to note that this is my own version of a traditional black musk attar and is not meant to exactly copy what Indian perfumers do. It is a recipe that can be "tweaked" in any number of ways according to the personal likes of the person involved in its creation. For instance you could reduce the birch tar to a few drops for a less "smoky" effect, or you could substitute a tiny quantity of valerian root for part of the spikenard to achieve a stronger, more "earthy" blend.