Sandelwood species

polysom

Well-known member
Apr 4, 2021
I have some Vanuatu sandalwood oil from Santalum austrocaledonicum which I quite like. And some West Indian sandalwood oil form Amyris balsamifera which smells quite different, and I don't like that so much. There is also Sandalwood Indian and Sandalwood CO2 from Santalum album, which is both around 70 EUR for 5 ml. And I was wondering if this is worth buying. Is this really that much better?
 

Bill Roberts

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2013
It really isn't just a matter of the species.

One given product sold as Santalum album may be worthless garbage (I paid about $40 or $45 for the smallest size of a purported Mysore Sandalwood from Perfumer's Apprentice and its only value was whatever the little glass bottle itself was worth) while another may be entirely superb, with other products of differing species not even being close.

The Sandalwood Indian from Perfumer Supply House is good and is good value for money. John Steele Sandalwood Supreme is double that price and has odor qualities that the PSH does not, which in some cases may be a great thing and in other cases not. I haven't tried the other John Steeles. I have one Ensar Sandalwood, at the moment I don't recall the specific name, which has even more character yet, though with even more price attached.
 
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polysom

Well-known member
Apr 4, 2021
I see. Thats also why I'm a bit worried to buy 5ml of oil for 70 EUR. Do you have experiences with the one from hermitageoil?
 

Bill Roberts

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2013
For enjoying on its own and if having the money one might very well really enjoy some (not necessarily all) of the really expensive sandalwoods.

Going only by that John Steele and the Ensar, I'm not at all convinced that the extra "character" they have easily if at all lends themselves to better perfume formulas compared to the more ordinary Perfumer Supply House product. In other words, along with the extra character may come less ease of blending.
 

Jolieo

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2018
I have the psh, hermitage- not all but several of them, Eden botanicals, aura cacia
Hermitage attributes all kinds of qualities- I just can’t perceive- they aren’t poor quality, but they aren’t the miracle that is advertised- so if on sale, or discounted, good value- a little overpriced otherwise
Eden botanicals is the same- a little overpriced - but they have a thanksgiving sale 15% off - then perfect
Psh I have 2 bottles-1 is the best of the lot, the second is very weak- but for the price and I halothane I will of source my sandalwood from there
Aura cacia is Australian sandalwood- and I am very happy with that, I got it on sale
 

mnitabach

Well-known member
Nov 13, 2020
Eden Botanicals plantation sandalwood is very easy to blend with, reasonably strong & tenacious, and while it's expensive, it's not stupid expensive.
 

Bill Roberts

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2013
That is disappointing that the PSH bottles vary like that. I will be sure to be much more qualified in any recommendation of it, if even recommending now.

That is actually the second quality issue that has shown up lately after many years of none that I knew of.
 

Jolieo

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2018
Bill - I Ithink that it’s more that the first bottle I got was so exceptional and the second bottle just didn’t meet that quality standard but it still was perfectly fine
 

Bill Roberts

Well-known member
Mar 1, 2013
For hobbyist use it's not that big a deal for a first purchase of a given material being exceptionally fine and the second purchase instead being described as "just didn't meet that quality standard" and also as "very weak," while maybe still being fair value for money, but for professional use that can be a disaster.

At the least, incoming inspection, as with Eden Botanicals, should have resulted in a note that the batch does not not match earlier batch so-and-so and the customer may find it different in whatever way (weaker, etc.)

If a given product can't be trusted to be consistent with time, and that can be the case with some specific products (by no means all) that ought to be noted on the webpage.

I mean if a supplier is top notch. If run of the mill then who could expect it. Christine generally has been top notch but what you describe is to me an example of something falling through the cracks and an actual quality issue even if the follow-up differing and inferior batch isn't a bad buy in its own right.

At $112/oz, people are paying substantial money for the product, and while I don't know the minimum order quantity when stocking it, I'm pretty sure each order was a substantial investment. It's to me an unreasonable idea that even by the time one is up to this price level it could supposedly not be worth checking the product to see if it's right or the same as previously.

As a more serious example, both as it was double that price and because I can rely on personal observation rather than my grasp of written words, the Perfumer's Apprentice "Sandalwood" I have written about was not even detectable as being any kind of sandalwood at all, whatsoever. How on Earth can one retain rather than return a shipment almost undoubtedly costing in the thousands, and to be sold to customers at $200/oz, without even a momentary sniff to see if it even seems to be sandalwood at all? What I don't think that stuff was, at all, except maybe in a technical sense if pulled out of a 1 year old tree or from twigs or something.
 

polysom

Well-known member
Apr 4, 2021
I have the psh, hermitage- not all but several of them, Eden botanicals, aura cacia
Hermitage attributes all kinds of qualities- I just can’t perceive- they aren’t poor quality, but they aren’t the miracle that is advertised- so if on sale, or discounted, good value- a little overpriced otherwise

Thanks for your opinion. Then I will wait until it is on sale or discount.
 

Jolieo

Well-known member
Feb 18, 2018
Bill - I do get what you are saying- and I would love it if it all worked that way
But in my experience, not do naturals vary wildly, from lot to lot, but pricing varies too.
What I appreciate about psh’s sandalwood, both of them, is the usability. The last game did teach me that sandalwood has qualities that go beyond smell. Even at low odor the psh second batch has those qualities: it acts as a blender and fixative- the low odor might have an advantage over the unaged oils, for me. The Australian has a pronounced aroma that pokes out out for awhile, and the expensive stuff’s aroma is so expensive that I don’t want to obscure it- so I am reluctant to use it. Psh’s is inexpensive enough that I can use it, almost casually- well not really , but casual enough for sandalwood
 

polysom

Well-known member
Apr 4, 2021
Speaking of sandalwood oil, I often read about aged sandalwood oil. What does "aged" mean in this context? Was it produced from old sandalwood trees? Or, was the sandalwood wood stored for a long time to age, before harvesting the oil? Or was the oil stored for a long time to age (like you can do for patchouli)?
 

Sniffita

Well-known member
Oct 20, 2020
Speaking of sandalwood oil, I often read about aged sandalwood oil. What does "aged" mean in this context? Was it produced from old sandalwood trees? Or, was the sandalwood wood stored for a long time to age, before harvesting the oil? Or was the oil stored for a long time to age (like you can do for patchouli)?

If referring to true Santalum album, that is (should) always be made from aged trees, at least 30 years old. So I suppose that "aged sandalwood oil" usually refers to oil stored for aging. True sandalwood is one of the oils that get better and better by aging.
 

Chris Bartlett

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 17, 2011
I have some Vanuatu sandalwood oil from Santalum austrocaledonicum which I quite like. And some West Indian sandalwood oil form Amyris balsamifera which smells quite different, and I don't like that so much. There is also Sandalwood Indian and Sandalwood CO2 from Santalum album, which is both around 70 EUR for 5 ml. And I was wondering if this is worth buying. Is this really that much better?

Amyrys balsamifera really should not be described as Sandalwood at all: it's Amyris Oil only Santalum species should be described as sandalwood. However Amyris Oil can be an excellent substitute for sandalwood and because it's so much cheaper can be an excellent material to use in blending, expecially while you're experimenting.

Also note that Amyris oils are produced from both the bark and the wood of the tree - in my opinion the bark oil is significantly nicer - and more sandalwood-like than the wood oil. To the best of my knowledge real sandalwood oil is only produced from the wood (including stumps, roots etc) of this parasitic tree, though someone may know different, I think the bark is too thin to be worth seperate distillation.

Sandlewood species:

Santalum album - Indian sandalwood - is now so endangered and regulated that none can be legally exported from India though saplings are now being grown commercially in other parts of the world most are too young to harvest and of those old enough the wood mainly goes to carvers rather than for distillation. It is therefore very difficult to obtain genuine oils from this plant: I have never been confident enough of a supply to stock it.

Santalum austrocaledonicum - Vanuatu and New Caledonian native Sandalwood - the Vanuatu version is now almost unobtainable too, again because the wood is going for carving rather than distillation. A shame because they set up a super, sustainable community production I like supporting. However the New Caledonian source is still viable as a supply of oil and some highly reputable brands source their sandalwood there: it's the sandalwood we stock at Pell Wall

Santalum spicatum - Australian Sandalwood - now dominates the oil market. For most perfumers it's not as good as the New Caledonian but the supply is reliable and it's cheaper so it's used quite widely. Much of what is sold as Santalum album is actually this oil.

I've also seen Fusanus spicatus described as Australian or even Indian sandalwood. It's possible this is synonym for Santalum spicatum but I'm not sure.

I hope that's of some help.
 

Chris Bartlett

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Jul 17, 2011
Eden Botanicals claims that their Plantation Sandalwood is album:

https://www.edenbotanicals.com/sandalwood-plantation-grown.html

Do you think this is unlikely to be the case? Eden seems to be very careful about species, for example even emailed me when they discovered that a cinnamon material they sold me was misattributed as to species.

My experience wtih Eden is limited, but I'd agree they do seem to be careful. There certainly are Santalum album plantations in Austraila but growing there only started about 20-30 years ago, so most will be a bit young for harvesting. The retail price per Kg seem on the low side, but not wildly so: it could be what it says it is, taken from young plants removed for thinning of the plantation for example.
 

HermitageOils

Well-known member
Aug 13, 2013
Hello, Adam here, I have read this and think I can add some value to the conversation.

First regarding S.album from India, export can happen albeit it is a tightly controlled and very slow process. Done properly the buyer goes through the government auctions to purchase the logs, albeit with Covid these auctions which usually take place every 3 months, now are taking place every 6 months. With the mandatory permissions and permits you can ship S. album e.o out of India 100%.

You will find various so-called producers in India who will ship as fast as you can click your fingers. In those instances, it's probable the supplier will also submit a false invoice, so no mention of sandalwood on the invoice, and you run the risk that the logs have been illegally acquired.

Most of the sandalwood that comes out of India now is plantation. Young sandalwoods are in the 30-40 year age range, and this is usually what you will find if you buy your Indian Sandalwood via the big corporates in Grasse who offer this for sale.

Price for such sandalwood is usually in the 2200 to 2500 Euro ballpark per kilo range and with good reason as the profile is also lacking.

I take on board that some might consider our pricing to be above average for some of our Indian sandalwood offerings, but please note that in those instances the logs used have been acquired legally, along with being much older logs and subsequently the prized santalols content is also much higher than the norm. This is reflected in the price and to be fair we also always try to offer our sandalwood in tiny volumes so that no one is excluded and can essentially sample prior to buying big. Personally, when it's right, I don't think anyone can touch India for Sandalwood.

Regarding S. austrocaledonicum, yes to carving but in fairness the carving world has always been a big taker of sandalwood and this e.o is without question very straightforward to obtain as many of the corporates have programs in place that see them partnering with the producers, sharing knowledge and helping to produce a top draw product. -

As for Australia various programmes are in place with some of the big players including growing S.album but what I have evaluated just does not ooze a profile that dazzles. Quite the contrary, Australian-grown S. album tends to take some of the rough edges that characterise S. spicatum (possibly due to the climate?). Exceptions possibly for CO2 productions. Personally for S.spicata e.o, I am not a fan as the profile has too many rough edges and a rather plain body when you do direct comparisons with S.album and S.austrocaledonicum hence dropping it maybe a year ago now.

Amyris, is a material that for some, can be a way to enjoy an aroma that vaguely represents sandalwood on the cheap. It costs around 110 to 150 euros a kilo and is no substitute for genuine sandalwood of course, not remotely, That's not to say though that it can't help perfumers recreate cheap smelling sandalwood bases : )
 

giftmischer

Well-known member
Oct 3, 2016
About species, plantation, looking ahead to 2040: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/ful...rs." Australian Forestry 83.4 (2020): 245-254

"In the near future, if not already, planted sources of S. album, S. austrocaledonicum and S. yasi will overtake and supplant wild sandalwood resources of the same species, and this pattern will be repeated for S. spicatum in the next 10–15 years. ...The quality of S. album oil produced in plantations in north-western Australia is lower than that for wild-harvested S. album: Quintis is now harvesting its trees at 15 years old, but harvesting would be better delayed by another 5–15 years to improve oil yield and quality. Due to the cost of maintaining these S. album plantations and investor contracts, Quintis cannot afford to keep them for 20–30 years."
 

Contrapunctus

Well-known member
Mar 4, 2021
Just for a convenient overview of the Santalum species for essential oil production:

Santalum album
S. austrocaledonicum
S. lanceolatum Northern Sandalwood
S. paniculatum (Royal) Hawaiian Sandalwood
S. spicatum

(I'm not sure if S. yasi is actually available. Google didn't show me reliable seller at first glance.)

The essential oil of S. lanceolatum is probably the one which is most far away from the 'typical' sandalwood-profile: although it has almost none of the sometimes unpleasant harsh/terpenic top-notes, the overall scent is totally different, because of some fruity (orange) and floral (lily of the valley, it contains quite a bit of Farnesol). If you have to compare it with another S. species, I think that S. spicatum would be the one. But S. spicatum has top-notes, is more woody and not fruity, although it shares a bit of the floral base (it also contains some Farnesol, but less than S. lanceolatum).
 

Contrapunctus

Well-known member
Mar 4, 2021
S. lanceolatum with the orange note sounds quite interesting.

Well, it's a matter of personal taste. If you don't expect something very sandalwood-ish, I'd recommend it just for the purpose of exploring 'new' scents. What I really like about S. lanceolatum is the Farnesol dominated floral base that lingers in the air for hours. Regarding the 'orange' note, it's very subtle, the oil doesn't really smell like oranges, it's more a bright, somewhat fruity note. Finally, there may occur some variation in different batches/sources (as with many other genuine uncut essential oils).
 

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