That's interesting Chris.
Which scents would you say contain them at high levels?
Also, why do you think such synthetic notes were created?
Lack of natural resources? Lack of versatile natural notes?
Two different perspectives on Norlimbanol / Timberol:
Timberol - this is also known as Norlimanol and one of my favourite synthetics. Chandler Burr described it as 'the scent of dryness', very strong, very persistent dry woody scent. I use mine at a 10% dilution, but you might want to start with less - 5% or even 2% as it is quite potent. One of the most useful woody base notes because it's so clean.
It combines well with other wood-scented synthetics and naturals.
Timberol: 2% Very buzzy and I get the sense of a "dry male underarm". I find this one very intense and a bit scary. It's so tenacious. I can smell it days later on the smell strip.
I think that Amouage Opus V has a lottttttttttttttttttttt of Norlimbanol on the drydown, even they say is oudh and "Dry woods"......
As to why I think there are two factors here, first there are people working in the area of creating novel molecules just because itís such an interesting area of organic chemistry to work on (if you are into that kind of thing). But a lot of this sort of work is very much targeted - so in the big firms like Firmenich, Givaudan and IFF you have chemists being asked to look for a molecule with a particular scent: a musk that is biodegradable, smells as good as tonkin musk and has no biological activity in the human body for example.
In the case of norlimbanol in particular I donít know how it first came about though I would guess it was targeted research as itís a product of Firmenich. The need it fulfils is for something woody that does not impart sweetness to the blend (as for example sandalwood does) and which lasts for a very long time with no ambery quality such as existing chemicals like cedryl methyl ether have.
The advantage and disadvantage that almost all synthetics have when set against naturals is that they are much simpler. So if you want tight control of exactly what notes you are putting in (as Jean Claude Ellena does when heís building up one of his famous minimalist compositions) then synthetics are ideal. They also often have properties you canít get in a natural at all such as being very long lasting, smelling like fresh air or whatever. On the other hand if you build a fragrance only from them, you get two disadvantages:
* they can lack sufficient complexity to retain our interest over long periods of time (unless you are a blending genius like JCE)
* they are much easier to completely analyse using GC-MS, which in turn means that they can be easily copied
All of which goes to say, what Iíve said in rather more detail in my article on this, namely that I think you need to use both natural and synthetic materials to make good fragrances.
Hello Chris, do you find any similarities between the scent of norlimbanol and androstadienone (or androstanol)? To me the scent of norlimbanol is very much like androstadienone. Although norlimbanol seems a bit sweeter than either of the androstenes. But I'm surprised by their overall similarity since their chemical structures are so different. Norlimbanol is structurally closer to beta-ionone than to androstadienone.
I'm not sure what came first, the fashion for Oud fragrances or the development of these very strong, very animalic, sweaty woody notes (you didn't think that all Oud containing fragrances actually contained Oud did you?). They are terrifically powerful (the one I am most familiar with is called Ambrocenide), and I guess that anything that is that strong and that long lasting and that tenacious is going to be of interest to a Perfumer. I smell this type of note in many, mainly masculine, fragrances. Timbuktu is a good example. They definitely have a note of sweaty hormones about them. I can see an odour similarity between Norlimbanol and androstadienone. There is a very old aroma chemical called Aldron, which again has that same weary note. It is an interesting material in that only about 50.0 % of the population can smell it; and many women find it utterly revolting, whilst most men (if they can smell it) find it quite tame. Norlimbanol is, I think, smelled by most people.
Last edited by David Ruskin; 14th December 2012 at 12:58 PM.
Thanks for your comments. I didn't mention this earlier but my wife finds norlimbanol about as nauseating as androstadienone (another example of their similarities).
For myself I don't see much similarity. I find Norlimbanol so dusty dry and woody that I struggle to imagine anyone not liking it (except by reason of it being overwhelming - it is very powerful) so I'm not sure I'm best placed to help here.
I also don't believe in the concept of human pheromones - chemical signals we read unconsciously are well established in the science, but pheromones would need to work on all of us & we clearly all react quite differently to a given stimulus so a material that worked on everyone in the same way is not really to be expected anyway.
I'm not sure that helps a lot!
- - - Updated - - -
Oh and I should have mentioned on structure: there are a great many examples of chemicals with radically different structures that smell similar & vice versa (think of the huge range of musks, with 5 different structural types & many smaller variations yet all smelling similar). On the other hand think of all those stero-isomers that are structurally almost identical yet often smell quite different or one smells strongly & the other not at all.
There are competing theories about what's going on & it's far from clear how the process works as yet.
A fascinating area of research.
Is it Norlimbanol that predominates the top note of Ramon Monegal's Dry Wood? I get a dry oud and wood with a sharp astringent edge...I am addicted to Dry Wood.
For Sale: Gengis Kahn, Mona d' Orio, Penhaligons.