When you follow a passion it will lead you to unexpected pathways. Love is blind”, does not just mean you cannot differentiate between the positive and negative, but also that you cannot foresee where it will lead you. You may fantasize where it will lead you, but it is almost guaranteed to be off the mark. In the heady mists of seduction you can not foresee where it will lead you.
All I wanted to do was to acquire some Omumbiri to experiment with in my perfumes. I have been dreaming for a long time to compose a perfume made from only African aromatics that will reflect the soul of Africa, and when I heard about Omumbiri, I felt it was just missing link I was looking for.
So naively I set about to source it and to find whether it was possible to acquire some. Before I knew it a chain reaction was set in motion from which I could not turn back from, regardless the costs. Yet, it opened it whole new world to me.
As most of you know I have been trying to get the Omumbiri distilled for a long time now. I was hoping one of the smaller distillers could distil it for me, however, I soon found out that due to its sticky nature it will require a dedicated still. Just like myrrh it is a very messy business. You can see at the link below what a sticky business myrrh distillation results in.
It sticks to the still like varnish and requires a specialized still and a special technique for cleaning. I experimented with it using the primitive stove-top technique to get a distillate, using a copper pot. That pot is now my Omumbiri pot only. The distillate has a beautiful smooth roundness which is almost a cross between Myrrh and Frankincense but with a distinct ethereal earthy note in it. It reminded me of the scent of wet soil after the first rains, but softer, with a hint of smokiness.
That particular note, I smelled in the oil before it was whisked away from me to lab for analysis. After many fruitless attempts to get the oil distilled I approached a big company. The distilled a small amount in their lab and took it to Europe in May to see what the response would be from the big players, as before they could go in production with it they had to see whether there would be enough demand to justify the outlay. They had to sell at least 100kg of oil to make it possible. Sadly due to the economic downturn, although there was a lot of interest no one wanted to invest in something new at this time.
I have however, received news that a still is being built in Namibia and as soon as they get electricity installed, they will go ahead with production – possibly in July. To assure the sustainability of the project it is vital to get the oil distilled.
What Karen Knott has done with the Omumbiri project is really remarkable, especially considering what odds she up against to create the infrastructure to be able to meet the requirements of big business. She is truly a remarkable and passionate lady.
In the mean time I have used the tinctures in two of my perfumes combined with the distillate and I love it. The tincture does require aging before it really matures into its true beauty.