Welcome to Colognoisseur!

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Hi I am Mark Behnke and this is my brand new solo blog. For those of you who have followed me over here from my previous stint as Managing Editor at CaFleureBon, thanks for your support and you can skip the rest of this paragraph because you already know most of this. I have been a lover of perfume for almost thirty years now. From my first bottle of Jovan Musk for my thirteenth birthday, I thought it would make me more attractive, to my favorite perfume of 2013 Knightsbridge de Robert Piguet, which just makes me smell fantastic, I have been fascinated with everything about the liquid in the bottle. My day job is as a research chemist working on rare and neglected diseases in the public sector. That training as a chemist makes me more than a little interested in the things that go into making perfume, both synthetic and natural. Five years ago Michelyn Camen came and plucked me off the perfume forum Basenotes where I had happily been contributing reviews under my nom de blog Somerville Metro Man. Over the past five years, most of it at CaFleureBon, she has been both mentor and collaborator and if this blog is a success a large part of the credit will come from all that she taught me. The name of this blog also came from a discussion on Basenotes on what to call a male perfume fanatic, perfumista seems feminine, even though it is genderless. One of the forum members, who goes by Quarry, came up with the mash-up combination of Cologne and Connoisseur to get Colognoisseur. I’ve always thought it was a great name and even before Michelyn stoked my writing fires I reserved it for this very day when I might be ready to strike out on my own.

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The Wall of Minis at Osswald NYC (Photo courtesy: Osswald NYC)

Colognoisseur will focus on reviews of the newest perfume releases primarily. There will always be at least two new reviews on Monday and Friday of each week. When the pace picks up in the fall I’ll probably be using a third day to keep you informed of the best new fragrances that are out there. This is also a good place to talk about my review philosophy. You won’t see a negative review from me. That doesn’t mean I like everything, far from it. Here is what it means. In 2009, when I started doing this, I sniffed 256 new perfumes. In 2013 I sniffed 514. The number has doubled in five years and one of my biggest regrets is that this tsunami of fragrance is overwhelming for everyone. That’s one reason I think blog reviews are important in helping to notify a reader of something they might like to try in a world where over a thousand new perfumes get released. Every review you will read is the result of wearing the perfume on my body on two different days. If you do the math with 365 days in a year the very most I could review would be 182 new fragrances. Because of that limitation if I try a new fragrance on a paper strip and a bit of skin and it doesn’t seem like it is worth my spending two days with it, that’s the end. The ones I like get put on my bathroom vanity to be worn over the next week or so. I could write that something I didn’t like smelled like a feral cat but that really isn’t giving it a fair shake if all I have done is very peripherally experienced it, especially compared to the fragrances I do write about. The result is you won’t see out and out negative reviews. If you read this blog, and have read me in the past, I think my words convey when I really, really like something over just liking something.

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The Lenox Globe map with the phrase Hic Sunt Dracones (Here be Dragons) to designate the unknown

What I’m going to fill the other five days up with is still up in the air on this first day. I know I want to write a bit about the molecules that have defined whole sectors of perfumery; aldehydes and Chanel No.5 is an example but I’m going to go for some that are maybe less familiar to most. I promise to not turn it into chemistry class. I want to touch on some older fragrances because I think we are in the second Golden Age of Perfumery and many of the classics that will be talked about in a hundred years should be pointed out. I definitely will continue to delve into the people behind the perfume and give you some insight into how important the entire team behind a fragrance is. I’ll editorialize a tiny bit about subjects I think are important.

Like anything I’ve started Colognoisseur will evolve as a cooperative enterprise between myself and, you, the reader. Please let me know what you like, in these early days especially, so I have an idea of what my readers are interested in.

Above all come join me on my latest adventure as together we explore the World of Fragrance.

Mark Behnke