What Does Sandalwood Smell Like

what does sandalwood smell like?

by Dylan Baker
Updated on

What does Sandalwood Smell like?

You have probably heard about sandalwood a lot of times. It is a renowned product in many industries, like cosmetics, candles, and perfumes. It is the bread and butter of many companies that are in the business of appealing to the sense of smell. It is a high-end product that not just anyone can afford.

So, what is it about this particular tree that makes it so special? Allow us to elaborate.

What is Sandalwood?

First and foremost, let us delve deeper into what exactly sandalwood is.

Sandalwood is a part of the Santalam genus of trees. But it is no ordinary plant. It is actually one of the most sought-after and the most expensive woods in the world. Contrary to most aromatic woods, the trees gain a richer scent as they age. For it to produce good quality wood, the tree needs to be harvested for a minimum of 15 years, which explains its limited availability and soaring costs. 

It is used in form of pieces of wood, powder, and oil extracts. The wood itself has immense cosmetic as well as therapeutic value. However, its most valued characteristic is its enchanting smell. 

Sandalwood also has a rich history in terms of its use in various cultures and religions, especially due it to its pleasing fragrance. It is a vital part of many Hindu traditions and is used extensively in India. It is also used extensively in Jainism and Buddhism. The tree has a place of pride across many communities. 

What does it smell like?

Sandalwood has a very distinct smell that cannot be mistaken for anything else. The scent obviously has a dominant woody component to it. It has a soft and warm scent which is generally described as comforting for the senses. Many people also use terms like ‘creamy’ to describe its feel. Its rich earthy scent has been known to relieve stress and anxiety. The wood’s fragrance has a buttery, dusty vibe to it. 

On its own, the wood has some sweet, floral notes as well. It is a part of the ‘chypre’ family of scents, known for its enigmatic impact on the olfactory senses. Particularly the Mysore Sandalwood variety is known to have the best scent of all its types.

The wood has to go through elaborate processes for the extraction of oil. This includes methods like steam distillation, water distillation, CO2 extraction, etc. It adds complexity to any scent that is mixed with it, lending a certain warmth that is only provided by sandalwood.

This scent is one of the more versatile ones in the industry. It compliments many extracts very well without overpowering them, which is why it is popularly used in the fragrance industry in collaboration with other scents like lavender, jasmine, or germanium. It can also be paired with Bergamot and other scents with a citrusy tone. 

In fact, the demand for sandalwood extract is always in excess of the supply. Some countries have even laid down laws to protect the quickly dwindling supply of wood. 

Where is the Scent Used?

Sandalwood is popularly used for its scent in various things. Its scent provides relaxation and is a popular choice in the practices of aromatherapy. It is used in making incense sticks and candles- a practice popular since ancient times.  Besides that, it is famously used as a base note in the world of modern perfumery. In fact, its balsamic scent is iconic to many famous perfumes. 

Men’s Perfumes that use Sandalwood

If you ever want to try out the much-talked-about scent for yourself, here is a list of some top-shelf perfumes that carry the smell and will be a great way for you to test the wonders of sandalwood’s odor for yourself.

1. Egoiste by Chanel 

First launched in 1990, this bottle has been a widely preferred choice among perfume connoisseurs, especially sandalwood lovers. It has base notes of sandalwood, tobacco, vanilla, leather, and amber. Top notes include Brazilian rosewood, coriander, and mahogany, while middle notes include cinnamon and carnation. 

2. Fahrenheit by Dior

This scent was launched in 1988 and is a great aromatic choice for men. It has Sandalwood in middle notes, along with nutmeg and cedar. Top notes contain mandarin orange, nutmeg flower, chamomile, and lavender with leather, musk, and vetiver in base notes. 

3. Tam Dao by Diptyque

It was created in 2013 by Daniel Moliere. The scent is warm and woody. It contains notes of Mysore Sandalwood and complimenting extracts like cedar, amber, vanilla, coriander, lime, ginger, and some exotic ingredients. 

4. Jazz by Yves Saint Laurent 

This product contains a woody, aromatic scent for men. First made in 1988, this bottle features sandalwood in the base notes with other extracts such as tobacco, leather, and oakmoss. Top notes have lavender, nutmeg, and coriander while middle notes are of geranium and carnation. 

5. Contradiction by Calvin Klein

Contradiction is a warm, amber fragrance from the house of Calvin Klein, launched in 1999. It contains sandalwood, ebony wood, vetiver, and musk in base notes. Other notes in the scent include lemon, lavender, lime, pepper, and cardamom. 

6. Floris London Santal

This one is a spicy fragrance for men, made in 2002. It contains extracts of sandalwood and other ingredients such as vanilla, Virginia cedar, bergamot, pepper, cloves, and cardamom along with slightly bitter notes of lemon. 

7. Colonia Sandalo Concentree by Acqua di Parma 

Launched as recently as 2016, this fragrance has a woody tinge to it. Base notes are sandalwood, Tonka bean, and amber. Middle notes include lavender and cardamom, while top notes are of orange, lemon, bergamot, and petitgrain. 

the bottom line:

Sandalwood is a very premium, exotic product that is undoubtedly worth all the hype surrounding its name. You definitely have to shell out a significant amount to get your hands on its magnificent scent, but you get what you pay for. Its high demand and even higher price have led to many sellers selling adulterated products so look out for any cheap fakes. 

We think that a good sandalwood fragrance can be a great buy. But don’t just take our word for it, try it out for yourselves. 

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About the author

Dylan Baker

Dylan is a Men's fashion and image consultant, He is also the man behind Dapperclan. He is extremely passionate about fashion and wants to help men style and look better.


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