India--Sexy Flowers & Sandalwood
India is of course the birthplace of many exquisite essential oils: Mysore Sandalwood, Assamese Agarwood, and the magnificent floral absolutes of Tamil Nadu, among others.
Our absolute guy in Tamil Nadu has a farm in prime Jasmine grandiflorum country—the jasmines have their very specific territories where they grow particularly wonderfully. This extractor is well positioned, for the middle of those Grandiflorum fields are also a central rallying point for flowers from the Lotus Ponds, wild Frangipanis from the Husur forest, the Rose Fields, the Mimosa forest, the Champaka plantation, the Tuberose farms and the Jasmine Auriculatum and Sambac lands.
If you would like to read some impressions, here are some links to some of my blog posts during 3 trips to play in flowers in India.
About Indian Sandalwood
Brutally, it's over. Sandalwood trees aren't extinct, but they were overharvested. In India that means there is no legal sandalwood harvested and distilled except what you buy at the State Distillery in Mysore. And this, sadly, is no longer the case. There is no sandalwood available even at the distillery. The only place you can supposedly buy it is a shady place in Mysore called the "Kauvery Silk Emporium" but this place seems to be a total rip off. You can read about my experiences there
There's some other distillations going on, but they're on the shady side. Availability went way down with the assassination, in 2004, of Veerappan, the famed brigand and sandalwood/ivory poacher.
Sandalwood is a slow growing tree, and India wants its trees to mature. Therefore, we are limited with Indian sandalwood for now. Plus, as with agarwood, India's massive and intractable bureaucracy guarantees there will be no legal and decent quality sandalwood (or agarwood) as far as we can see into the future.
Someone offers you a deal that's too good to be true? It is. Do it at your own risk. Either it's not real Indian Sandalwood, or they're going to seize it at the aiport, possibly fine you, and resell it to the next gullible foreigner looking for sandalwood, and split the money. You haven't got a chance.
And since there's not much sandalwood, it follows that there's not much in the way of attars either. Not a popular thing for me to say, but I stand by it. I reported what I found regarding these lovely old traditional perfumes distilled in sandalwood in 2008. Seems that, when pressed, the houses will say there are actually three kinds available: distilled into sandalwood, into sandalwood/dop mix and into straight dop. But that only came from our repeated, pointed, questions. Again, don't say I didn't warn you. You can read what I found below.
So what do we do about sandalwood at Enfleurage? We now do Australian. But it's S. album, not spicatum. And it's really super soft and sweet...no spikiness or harsh edges. We don't do African for a variety of reasons. And we no longer to South Pacific Caledonia/Vanuatu/Tahiti etc. We do do Indonesian. It's Santalum album. Most of the more remote Pacific sandalwood is Santalum austrocaledonicum. It's a personal choice. When I make it to the Indonesian distiller I will post pictures.