The ancient Egyptians used sandalwood in medicines, for embalming, and in rituals to honor their gods.
Sandalwood primarily comes from the Indian subcontinent, specifically from India and Sri Lanka. The species of sandalwood most commonly used for its aromatic properties is known as Indian sandalwood (Santalum album). This variety is highly valued for its rich fragrance and is considered one of the finest sources of sandalwood.
India has a long history of sandalwood cultivation and production. The southern states of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, and Kerala are known for their sandalwood plantations and have been traditional sources of high-quality sandalwood.
Sandalwood is also cultivated in Sri Lanka, where it is known as Ceylon sandalwood. While Indian sandalwood is more widely recognized and utilized in perfumery, Sri Lankan sandalwood also possesses its own distinct aroma and is sought after by perfumers and incense makers.
Apart from India and Sri Lanka, other countries in Southeast Asia, such as Indonesia and Australia, also produce sandalwood. However, the sandalwood species found in these regions, like the Australian sandalwood (Santalum spicatum), may differ in scent profile and overall characteristics compared to Indian sandalwood.
- Warm and Woody: Sandalwood carries a warm and woody aroma that is often described as creamy and smooth. It exudes a comforting and velvety scent reminiscent of polished wood.
- Soft and Subtle: Sandalwood has a gentle and understated fragrance. It does not overpower but rather creates a soothing and serene ambiance.
- Creamy and Mellow: Sandalwood offers a creamy and mellow character, evoking a sense of luxury and tranquility. Its scent is often compared to the smoothness of fine silk or the velvety touch of a cashmere fabric.
- Slightly Sweet: Sandalwood carries a subtle sweetness, reminiscent of honey or milk. This sweetness adds depth and richness to its overall aroma.
- Earthy Undertones: Sandalwood possesses earthy undertones, which give it a grounded and natural quality. These earthy notes can evoke a sense of serenity and connection to nature.
- Slight Incense-Like Quality: Sandalwood is often associated with incense due to its use in religious and ceremonial settings. It emits a subtle incense-like quality, contributing to its spiritual and calming aura.
- Long-Lasting: Sandalwood has excellent longevity, meaning its scent can linger on the skin for an extended period. It gradually unfolds, revealing different layers of its complex aroma over time.
- Versatility: Sandalwood is a versatile note in perfumery. It can serve as a prominent ingredient in woody compositions, provide a smooth base note in floral fragrances, or add depth to oriental blends.