French Lilac 1: Lamb's Head
The French lilac I use in my enfleurage are from my family's 35-40 year old heirloom trees. They have 4 varieties, but we no longer know the names of them. Each one has a different appearance, texture, and perfume. During their bloom time I become very familiar with them because I spend 10-15 hours a day on their enfleurage, for about 2 weeks. With that amount of contact, you can't help but notice the subtle differences in their fragrance, and develop favorites.
French Lilac 1: Lamb's Head.
The first to bloom. I'm calling it Lamb's Head because its full, fluffy appearance, pastel curls, and panicle shape remind me of the heads of lambs. This variety has the largest florets and they have a unique papery texture. They fill the sheets of pommade quickly (for lilac). After 12-24 hours on the enfleurage pommade these blossoms shrivel and soften. Lamb's Head has an gentle scent, maybe the least audacious and the most delicate of the varieties, but stunning. Its nuzzle is airy with the crispness of tulle probably because this cultivar has the lowest water content in its flowers (not scientifically proven, just evident through touch and their behavior on the pommade). I consider Lamb's Head the most ethereal variety, and because it blooms first, to me it represents the veil between spring and summer. The floral buds look like grape clusters, but they open to reveal white petals tinged with pink and purple from their undersides showing through. More than the other varieties, this one's opening can be described as "ballooning," enhancing the synaesthetic impression that their scent has a floaty, transparent quality like soap bubbles rising into the sky. I get the distinct note of marmalade from Lamb's Head. Whether it is actually present, or the result of synaesthesia is a mystery to me. The reason I suspect synaesthesia is because you sometimes encounter little drops of marmalade colored pollen in the center of the petals, which transfer to the enfleurage. To me this adds a bittersweet impression of oranges and the dry-rubbed character of bergamot. This bright sweetness cuts through the sometimes polished, sharp gem facets of lilac, making Lamb's Head constantly refreshing and never overwhelming. I also love when gastronomy pairs lilac and anything in the orange family, so my observation of marmalade could be the product of anticipation or memory. Lamb's Head is the bunchiest brunch lilac, with marmalade in the foreground and mimosas bubbling out of focus in the back.
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Copyright 2021 Abby Hinsman for Wild Veil Perfume.