Botanical Perfumery

A Brief Overview of Our Processes

Botanical Perfumery is the art of blending perfume from 100% natural ingredients; a slow process that falls somewhere between art, design and science. Sondrine has a clear vision of what she would like each perfume to embody before she begins to formulate. Her inspiration comes from the landscapes around her, as well as the outstanding materials she works with. 

The base of Spiritus Vini is masterfully distilled in the Barossa Valley from Australian grapes and wine making residuals; a closed loop system which aligns with our values. We use Essential Oils, CO2 Extracts, Absolutes, Resins, Oleoresins, Balsams, and Natural Isolates sourced both locally and globally. Taking the time to ensure we are purchasing from ethical suppliers is crucial to our sourcing process. Raw materials are also procured from artisan producers and farmers, or wildcrafted by us. With raw materials, Sondrine uses tincturing or enfleurage to extract the scent, giving her the ability to capture unique aromas and give the perfumes greater depth and connection to place. Both are slow and traditional techniques to capture fragrance; methods that Sondrine has a great passion for and deserve their own separate posts. Whilst time consuming, there is nothing more satisfying than extracting scent by hand from plants you have foraged or sourced local farmers and artisans to create unique perfumes.

Sondrine dilutes her materials to play with on the ‘perfume organ’, using high precision scales (0.000g) to create hundreds of tiny trials until she is satisfied. After months – often years – of formulation, the perfume is ready to be blended. Once the perfume is blended, it undergoes a two step ageing process for up to six months. The first stage, maturation, is where the perfume concentrate is mixed and left for a couple of weeks to harmonise. The second stage, maceration, involves adding the alcohol and allowing it to sit for months. During this process physiochemical reactions occur, due to the reactive nature of the chemical constituents that make up each ingredient. To the nose, the fragrance becomes rounder and more complex . We ensure the fragrance ages in a stable temperature with no light, and gently agitate the bottle occasionally. Opinions on length of both ageing processes vary, we have found upwards of six months produce the most stunning results. However, it varies with each fragrance – understanding the materials you are working with and using your nose helps to know when the perfume has reached a point of equilibrium .

Finally, the perfume is chilled to sub zero and poured through filter paper to eliminate haze and particles. A Buchner funnel would make life easier here, but we do it slowly drip by drip whilst ensuring the fragrance remains chilled. Some times a tiny amount of bentonite clay aids clarification, and is added before chilling the perfume.

The perfume is then decanted into glass bottles, labeled, packaged and posted to you. Every step is meticulously done by hand using traditional methods, with the deepest reverence for the ingredients and the curious noses who support this craft. 

2 thoughts on “Botanical Perfumery – A Brief Overview of our processes”

  1. Great content, I especially love the tip of chilling to subzero and the addition of bentonite clay to eliminate discrepancies, my question is What indicators would give you an idea of how long to allow a composition to Mature or Macerate?

    1. I’m glad you found the post useful! Great question and a tricky one to answer. It really depends on the concentration of the perfume, and what’s in it. Your best guide is your nose and experimentation. Generally, a fragrance requires an absolute minimum of 6 weeks total in aging. So smell it then on a scent strip, taking notes, and then continue to smell it weekly in the same manner and assess if it is still changing/becoming rounder. What’s actually happening in the ageing process is lots of chemical reactions – both natural and synthetic perfume ingredients are reactive. At some point, you will begin to notice less change and will be happy with how the fragrance has developed – then you know it’s time and equilibrium has been reached. It should smell more complex, rounder, and whole. I’ve found that if it’s heavy with base notes, and extrait de parfum strength, it needs allot longer to age. Perfumes full of citrus and aldehydes will need less time.

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