I recently had the wonderful opportunity to try a sample of Onda from a very generous person, and it got me thinking about some of the leathery skanky notes I like in very small amounts: castoreum and the para cresyls. Onda is very bold and probably the most animalic scent I’ve ever tried, including SL MKK. The skanky leather notes took the lead on me much more than the vetiver in Onda.
Castoreum is all about animal and leather to me, but the para cresyls also add outdoorsy notes (for many people they have connotations of horses and barnyards) and add some floral nuances (they are part of narcissus accords). Para cresyl phenyl acetate has a honey note too, whereas para cresyl acetate does not.
I recently fell for PdN Le Temps d’Un Fete; it’s a pretty green floral scent with hay notes and a lovely narcissus note that has just a bit of that narcissus skank in the base. It’s subtle skank and fun to have it just peek out at you. The hay notes make it very outdoorsy and spring-like to me. I also recently tried the Patou scent Chaldee and enjoyed the subtle skanky note in the base that again reminded me of slightly dirty narcissus.
Castoreum is more leathery and dark without the floral and outdoorsy aspects I get from the para cresyls, but I like it. I prefer all these notes in moderation. Indole is perhaps a better-known skanky note because people are familiar with it in jasmine. It is more fecal rather than leather, but when highly diluted it has a jasmine effect. Civette is another skanky note; this one is tough for me and a molecule is about all I can take (it’s useful in trace amounts in blends but sure is obnoxious to make the dilutions from the raw material). Costus is another tough one, smelling of wet dirty hair. I’m a nut about keeping my hair daily washed and costus is not a smell I like, lol. Cumin is another note that many feel is skanky, smelling of sweat. I like subtle amounts of cumin but don’t use it much because so many people dislike it.
I do like castoreum and the para cresyls in small amounts and have used these in leather accords. The para cresyls can be added in very small amounts to impart animalic character to synthetic musks, which for the most part are not very animalic compared to real musk.