Ahead of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend, publishing in January 2018, Stylus visited the olfactory archive museum of California-based all-natural perfumer, archivist and author Mandy Aftel.
Located at the rear of Aftel’s Berkeley home and blending studio, the one-room museum offers a voyage through the natural origins of aromatics, bringing them to life via a vast collection of cultural and historical artefacts.
Some 300 botanical essences and raw ingredients are available to experience first-hand. These are derived from flowers, barks, grasses, resins, fruits and other natural sources – some very rare. Central to the experience is Aftel’s ‘Scent Organ’ – a vast wooden testing bench of aromatics, where visitors are encouraged to select and sample various base, middle and top notes.
Further highlights include a display on the now-often-synthetic scent musk, and its origin as the glandular secretion of the musk deer. It also explores how ambergris, which is produced in the digestive system of sperm whales, is still highly prized – although largely replaced by the synthetic alternative Ambroxan.
Aftel’s latest book is The Art of Flavor, which she co-authored with San Francisco-based two-Michelin-starred chef Daniel Patterson. The book dives into how food gets its flavour and how natural alchemy can help to enhance it – more of which will be explored in our New Fragrance Worlds report, part of our Future of Flavour Industry Trend.