Scent Notes: At the Confluence of Rivers and Cultures

Here in Saint Louis, the word “confluence” is used for many reasons. Of course, the easiest connection is the meeting of the Missouri and Mississippi Rivers, which was the reason why Pierre Laclede Liguest and Madame Therese Chouteau chose it as the location for their trading hamlet. But it goes even beyond that.

Additionally, due to its origins as a trading hamlet, many nationalities and backgrounds had to come together to trade, work and merge their cultures to work together. Our city flag represents this, with both rivers represented, along with the colors of the French and Spanish flags, to represent the city’s heritage as a French territory that eventually became a Spanish territory.

And it is semi-officially crowned the coolest city flag in America.  

Unfortunately, much of our historical buildings were wiped out by a fire (which is why you’ll see so many red brick buildings in the city). Even more were wiped out by interstate highways and the Gateway Arch Park. However, one of the oldest buildings, a chapel, still stands. And it made me think of, of course, the person who I find to be the most enduring character from our history: Henri Chatillon.

The man who lived peacefully at the confluence of cultures, of nobile French heritage who lived as a member of the Oglala nation. So the idea of incense and coniferous trees together, with their shared trait of terpenic citrus notes as their own confluence.

Incense and Wood

In the incense accord that is at the heart of this fragrance, it of course begins with frankincense. Specifically, a combination of two types: boswellia serrata and olibanum serrata. These are reinforced with (and given a bridge to the woody elements of the composition) elemi, then on top of that some palo santo essential oil, which also throws a brighter, citrus vibe into it.

I further help bring out these citric, terpenic ntoes with grapefruit terpenes, vetikone (which you might remember from La Petite Prairie), claritone and blue gum eucalyptus. To further add some zest, fresh ginger essential oil really makes it bubble up. Then this element is finished off with the fresh, green zest of clarycet and the cold, green spice of cardamom.

Finally, a deep, rich base of benzoin anchors the composition and gives it a rich, semi-sweet and spicy base. 

Conifers and Resin

At the top of the woody, coniferous accord is juniper. And not just the berries. It also includes the branches and all in a mélange of essential oils. Additionally, black spruce essential oil gives some more depth to it, with the atlas cedar essential oil giving it a light, cedar shaving tint to it. Finally, a piñon pine essential oil helps really bring out the terpenic character inherent in coniferous notes and tie it in with the incense.

However, in order to add some weight to it, I added a fir balsam resin and labdanum resin, giving it a full body. And as a counterbalance, iso e super adds a great deal of texture that feels right at home with the fuzzy texture of frankincense.

This might seem like more of a simple composition than others I have done, but I think like many people in history, it is more complex than it might seem at first sniff. However, it still can be easily wearable while always offering something new to learn the more you get to know it.

This scent will be available as an EdT for the Black Cyber Holiday Event this year on Friday, November 27.

Notes: Frankincense, palo santo, benzoin, elemi, cedar, black spruce, atlas cedar, juniper and fir balsam. 

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