Musky things.No other scent group has taken the world by storm quite like the “musky” perfumes. Musk has been around for a long time, and artificial musk was a happy accident which occurred during the development of dynamite! One of the scientists who was working on TNT noticed that there was a lovely smell coming from the workbench and called that to the others’ attention. Not being shy about making a buck off research, the group sold the liquid (which was not explosive, except socially) to perfume houses and the fad for musk started in earnest.

Musk has a great many different smells: subtle, aggressive, hawthorny, sharp. One thing it has in common is that it is a heavy molecule and stays around a long time and so is a basenote. In the 21st century it never smells like anything you encounter in nature, it is decidedly a man made item. There are attempts to mimic modern musk among natural perfumers (e.g. musk ambrette) but the array of perfumer’s artificial musk outstrips the variations on anything the natural perfumer has to work with.

Of course, the original perfume musks were taken from animals. They were the basenotes, and diluted they are often delightful. However, public sentiment has sharply turned against using secretions from civet cats and musk deer due to animal cruelty issues (and the more crass reason that artificial musks smell better and are cheaper). You would be hard pressed to find any perfume which boasted real castorium (beaver musk) for example, nowadays.

Though musks have always been with us, they were more bit players than the star of any perfume, even through the glory days of French perfume in the post war 1950s, Not until the corporate-loving era of the 1980s did the aggression of the culture called for aggressive scent to match. Giorgio of Beverly Hills was a flagship fragrance of mega musk and sweet flowers, crystalline musks became the darlings of the public (and remain so to this day), and every once in a while, a sly musk catches our imagination (something hawthorny like 301). It is safe to say that if you want a hit you have to employ musk in some form or another, at least for its staying power and star power.

Discover Possets and take a look at our listing for musky scents, we are very good at them. Take a tour of each of the scent families and it’s just fun going through the list of perfumes on offer.

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