Musk gets all the credit, but civet is the perfumer’s real secret ingredient.
If I had a nickel for every musc perfume that’s actually no-musk and all-civet…
Musk is the frontman, the poster boy, while civet often does all the work.
Like musk, civet is an exalting fixative. Used wisely, it can be even more potent than musk. Strangely, we’ve yet to see a civet-craze hit the perfume industry as we did with ‘musc’.
Any perfume lover should know the scent of civet and how it works because of how widespread it is. It’s so effective that it’s become a cutting agent of sorts—a way to get out of using as few ingredients as possible (which saves companies money). You’ve probably smelled countless one chord perfumes made ‘complete’ only by the addition of civet.
You smell the story repeats itself over and over. Vetiver + civet, and little else. Rose + civet and little else. Add civet, and you can scrap ten other ingredients. It’s that effective, that potent, and that transformative.
Once you’re familiar with civet, you’d pick it out as easy as rose in a perfume. Having this reference exposes many perfumes—and many perfumers—who try to get away with barebones compositions where they let civet run the show thinking nobody will notice—and most don't notice.
Those who joined The Odyssey Collab will experience the role of civet in perfume firsthand in full force. But not its overpowering, note-hiding kind of force.
There’s a unique citrus top to explore in the five Odyssey perfumes, and civet blends uniquely well with citrus scents. It has an inherent orange sweetness that acts as a magnifying glass when blended with citrus top notes. Not just that, the raw paste has a rich creamy-sweet fragrance even more robust than the richest tuberose.
That’s why civet can take dull floral top notes and ignite them, light up an explosion of orange peel, fuse those notes and make them last straight through the drydown.
Civet binds top and heart notes so well you’re often forced to reformulate the base to incorporate its use. It’s so diffusive and heady on its own, it could even be the base note—in fact, that’s exactly what you smell in many mainstream perfumes… a drydown that’s pure civet, akin to the widely smelled baby-powder drydown of muscone.
What makes civet so powerful is its ability to buff up certain notes and make them go further and last longer. Not just that, it imbues those notes with its ‘civetness’. Orange gets injected with civet to create a new grandiose version of itself.
Why is this important?
We all love a nice bouquet of top notes. But top notes…… fade… often quicker than you’d like.
Modern perfumes solve this by just using synthetics almost exclusively. People who grow up using commercial sprays are so accustomed to smelling the synthetics, they’ve become notes, often whole perfumes unto themselves. ‘White Musk’ is the perfect example. The binders and boosters have become the ingredients.
Civet takes those top notes, energizes them, flips on the lights, and acts like viagra.
By itself, the wafts of clementine would have faded in a matter of minutes. But suddenly, you’re able to let the orange peel top note last straight through to the drydown. Civet embalms the top notes and lets you smell them steep into the heart and base and transform the composition like you’d never be able to otherwise.
Of course, the heart and the base both also get civet-ized in turn. That’s why perfumers can throw together only two ingredients, add a dash of civet, and get away with having created a ‘complex’ fragrance. Of course, if you’re familiar civet, you’ll call their bluff.
So, to an educated nose, these spoof perfumes get exposed quickly, and it surely makes you harder to impress because you know the magician’s trick. But…
When used properly, the same refined nose will delight in the amplifying magic of civet. You’ll get to enjoy top notes longer, mingling with floral heart notes and a cacao base as if they all got baked together like a bar of orange-dark-chocolate where all the tastes melt on your tongue at once.
But what you’ve got here isn’t just civet.
This is a unique compound I use to amp up the amplifying civet even further. It’s a simple addition that boosts every note it touches big time: Indian oud.
Indian oud and civet were made for each other. The twangy orange zest, the strong animalic punch, and what the spiciness of wild agallocha does to the funky-creamy sweetness of raw civet makes the brew an olfactory amphetamine.
Infused into dry-spicy Timor sandalwood, here’s a crash course in perfumery you shouldn’t underestimate. Know your civet and the way you experience, judge, and enjoy perfume will never be the same again. Yes, it’ll ruin the parlor tricks for you, but will work true magic when you know it’s what’s brewing behind the scenes because what you’re smelling wouldn’t exist without this precious elixir.
Those who enrolled in The Odyssey Collab will automatically receive a free .5 gr vial of Civet Oud (along with a few other surprises), to give you a deeper whiff into the fives perfumes you’ll be studying.