New Perfume Review By Kilian Single Malt- Scotch by the Numbers

It brings a smile to my face that the scion of one of the greatest names in cognac is making perfumes around different liquors. What doesn’t bring a smile to my face is these perfumes are city exclusives. Owner and creative director of By Kilian, Kilian Hennessy, released Apple Brandy for the opening of his New York boutique. This was followed by Vodka on the Rocks for the Moscow store. I liked both of them and they are good takes on the liquor named on the label but I only try to write about city exclusives when I think they are truly exceptional because of their limited availability. The reason you’re reading this is the latest release for Harrod’s in London, Single Malt, is one of the best in the By Kilian line in years.

kilian with scotch

Kilian Hennessy

For much of the last four years M. Hennessy has been broadening his brand by adding in very specific styles of perfumes. At this point in time it is probably safe to say there is a By Kilian perfume that should appeal to anyone. That is good business. What I have been missing over the recent releases has been the deeper slightly dangerous vibe of the original releases. The most recent Addictive State of Mind collection sort of returned to that but Single Malt really feels like the one that hearkens back to the origins of the brand.

sidonie-lancesseur

Sidonie Lancesseur

For most of the perfumes in the line M. Hennessy has worked with two perfumers. For the olfactory liquor cabinet he turns to one of them Sidonie Lancesseur. Mme Lancesseur has a great understanding of what M. Hennessy wants. It has led to her making some of my favorites in the line. For Single Malt she is constructing a whisky accord from a disparate group of notes. This is another characteristic of some of the best By Kilian scents. I like being able to pick out the individual raw materials and then all of a sudden, like magic, they all snap together to form something that is recognizable.

Single Malt starts off like a typical fruity floral as plum is the first thing I notice. It is a restrained plum not juicy but maybe a day or two from being fully ripe. It is restrained but it is a sweet fruity beginning. What comes next is a rich wheat absolute. This is the core upon which Mme Lancesseur will build her whisky accord. Right away the plum seems to be wrapped up in the wheat and altered. The clean woodiness of cedar and the resinous quality of tolu begin to refine the accord. Then the last piece, vanilla, comes and just like the way a drop of water releases the best single malt the vanilla zips all of this together into the promised whisky accord.

Single Malt has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Single Malt is reminiscent of what I think is the best fragrance in the line Back to Black. Where that perfume was all about tobacco this one is all about whisky. Both of them are fascinating studies in the art of capturing an effect. Hopefully this one will eventually be released more widely than just in London. I think it is worth the effort to try and acquire now especially if you are a fan of the early By Kilian releases. I am going to sit back with a glass of Balvenie 12 yr Doublewood and breathe deeply, surrounded by some of my favorite odors in the world.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Christian Dior La Collection Privee Feve Delicieuse- Tonka Harmonies

If you’re looking for the creativity in perfume you have to look no further than the very excellent Christian Dior La Collection Privee composed by Francois Demachy. Starting in 2009 with Ambre Nuit M. Demachy has curated and composed a collection which represents everything Christian Dior stands for. There is no shortage of imaginative perfume making going on throughout the fragrances in this collection. It is also seems to be relatively unknown. I know at every Sniffapalooza when I introduce some one to the line in its in-store boutique at Bergdorf Goodman they also walk away impressed and usually with a bottle in their bag.

The latest release Feve Delicieuse is the first real gourmand in La Collection Privee. Even as I type that I hesitate to call it a gourmand because while it is a vanilla fragrance it is mostly a tonka bean perfume. M. Demachy keeps it very simple but he also uses some really beautiful raw materials. This means that Feve Delicieuse relies upon the ability of those materials to all take their place in the proper order without taking over. M. Demachy ends up turning Feve Delicieuse into a vanilla that is not cloying or syrupy. It has an unusual delineation and a snap to it instead of the more typical treacly kind of vanilla more common within the gourmand family.

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Francois Demachy

Feve Delicieuse starts off with a patina of Calabrian bergamot. Bergamot is such a ubiquitous ingredient in the opening of perfumes it is easy to overlook it. M. Demachy found a bergamot which makes sure you pay attention. It has that lively bright citric tartness but this also has a subtle undertone of crisp apple. I’m not sure if there is another ingredient which helps focus that grace note into something crisp and green. It is almost a palate cleanser as the main course of tonka bean from Venezuela is next. Tonka is one of those versatile notes in perfumery because it has a transparent vanillic character paired with a coumarin-laden nutty hay-like quality. Usually a perfumer picks one side or the other to accentuate. Because the tonka is the star M. Demachy does both. In the early moments of the tonka appearing, there are richer sweet gourmand notes of caramel and chocolate. The nutty part of tonka sinks in to the sticky matrix and forms an abstract hazelnut accord. If that was all there was to Feve Delicieuse I would have been happy. M. Demachy had some more to show me. The vanilla side of tonka starts to become more pronounced because M. Demachy adds in Madagascar vanilla. This is where Feve Delicieuse becomes something more than gourmand. As the tonka and the vanilla combine instead of heading for full-on gourmand territory it finds a lightness of being which then turns almost golden like diffuse sunlight. It is an immensely satisfying place to spend the final hours with Feve Delicieuse.

Feve Delicieuse has 10-12 hour longevity and modest sillage.

M. Demachy on the Christian Dior website talks about how he wanted Feve Delicieuse to portray the “love of harmony” that is the Dior aesthetic. In the case of Feve Delicieuse I have to agree that the harmonies are all spot on as they sing an intricately layered song.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Cartier XI L’Heure Perdue- Embracing the Synthetic

There may be no designer collection which holds more interest for me than the Cartier Les Heures de Parfum. Starting in 2009 Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent kicked off Cartier’s exclusive perfumes with five entries on her thirteen-hour clock face. Ten of the thirteen hours have been released but there hasn’t been a new one since 2012. Mme Laurent works at her own pace and so after a nearly three year wait the latest entry has arrived, XI L’Heure Perdue.

L’Heure Perdue translates to “lost time” and this time it seems like a bit of non-sequitur for a name. Mme Laurent was very conscious of creating a specific effect with L’Heure Perdue. In an interview with Thomas Dunckley on his The Candy Perfume Boy blog Mme Laurent was quoted on the creation of L’Heure Perdue, “I wanted to create a perfume that did not rely on natural ingredients. It’s totally molecular or ‘synthetic’.” The more I talk to perfumers the more I am hearing this slight irritation with the perception that natural is better by default. For these artists natural or synthetic they are all components for them to comprise a specific effect. The effect Mme Laurent is going for here is sci-fi milk.

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Mathilde Laurent

Mme Laurent, also in The Candy Perfume Boy interview, mentions that she uses vanillin as the keynote for L’Heure Perdue precisely because it has been the source of the smell of vanilla for 100 years and it is completely synthetic. By using vanillin and its familiar vanilla as her foundation she forms a kinetic kaleidoscope of other aldehydes. It makes L’Heure Perdue one of the boldest explorations of aldehydes in recent memory as Mme Laurent goes to her organ and sweeps it clear except for the shelf holding these ingredients.

The first aldehyde which comes out is heliotropin. Heliotropin besides smelling like heliotrope also carries with it a slightly sweet almond-like nuttiness and a vanillic undertone. This is where I would tell anyone who tries L’Heure Perdue to stop and really experience the first moments. It is almost a heliotropin solo act. If you stop and smell the heliotropin I think you will see there is incredible depth and nuance in this synthetic component. It doesn’t take long for a sirocco of many aldehydes to sweep in and lift the heliotropin up on their shoulders and carry it toward the vanillin in the base. This middle phase has all of the kineticism I associate with aldehydes as they fizz and pop around the heliotropin. Eventually they arrive where the vanillin is waiting. Once L’Heure Perdue comes together it is like a digital version of milk. It definitely has the smooth creaminess of milk but the other aldehydes twist it into something a 3-D printer would produce. I have spent days trying to find a way to describe this and still words fail me.

L’Heure Perdue has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

L’Heure Perdue’s embrace of the synthetic over the natural feels a bit like a statement from one of our best perfumers that you ignore the synthetics at the peril of your own creativity. What L’Heure Perdue displays is if you embrace the right synthetics you will produce something as breathtaking as anything nature can produce.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Juliette Has a Gun Gentlewoman- The Neo-Dandy’s Fragrance

It can be difficult to have a recognizable surname and yet forge your own path, especially when you choose to work in the same field. It is why since 2006 when Romano Ricci started his own fragrance line called Juliette Has a Gun it took some time for him to create his own brand DNA. By 2015 that aesthetic has been refined and perfected. I think it is an important component of success to create a recognizable brand identity in the ever more crowded niche perfume sector.

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M. Ricci has always presented his fragrances as chapters in a story following his contemporary version of Shakespeare’s Juliette. In this fragrant story Juliette has never been demure about inserting herself into the action and shunting Romeo, or anyone else for that matter, to the stage apron. Assertiveness in a heroine is often confused with masculinity. For this thirteenth chapter of Juliette’s story, Gentlewoman, she has embraced the characterization and re-cast herself as the “neo-dandy”. What would a neo dandy wear? Why a neo-cologne of course.

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Gentlewoman is M. Ricci’s exploration of that most classical of perfume architectures, eau de cologne. Like his Juliette it is also a modern re-telling of something deemed classical. It also takes eau de cologne and makes it softer around its more traditional spine. There has always been a visual component to M. Ricci’s releases. For Gentlewoman he chose photographer Sonia Sieff to lend some pictures of this thirteenth version of Juliette. The three I’ve chosen to illustrate this show her as she slowly transforms from tuxedoed neo-dandy into seductress. Gentlewoman also does the same kind of deconstruction from classically appointed to musky enticement.

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Gentlewoman opens on the typical eau de cologne ingredients of bergamot, petitgrain and neroli. There are many colognes which start this way but in the case of Gentlewoman I think the neroli is a little more opaque which forms a less percussive cologne opening than is expected. The person in the tuxedo looks like a woman, is she? The heart of this is where the lavender which often makes up the heart of a cologne is now surrounded by different choices. For Gentlewoman it is the twin choices of coumarin and almond which turn this cologne onto a different path. The almond provides a slightly sweet nutty quality. The coumarin adds a slightly sweet hay-like quality. Together the subtle sweetness over the more substantial nutty and hay qualities is really enticing. Again as in the top notes orange blossom is added to soften the potential rough edges. This is when the bow tie is loosed. The jacket thrown over the top of a chair. Juliette looks appraisingly at you, are you game? The base notes answer that question with a mix of three synthetic musks: ambroxan, muscenone, and ambretolide. Together these form that very sexy skin accord with a bead of sweat rolling tantalizingly down it. Juliette has made her choice clear and you will be forever lost to her charms.

Gentlewoman has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage. This might be a modern eau de cologne but it definitely is at a much higher oil concentration than the typical eau de cologne and as a result lasts much longer.

M. Ricci has continued to evolve his brand while staying true to his titular heroine. Gentlewoman takes her into a new place; one which any lover of cologne should enter.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by the US distributor Europerfumes.

Mark Behnke

All photographs, except package shot, are copyright Sonia Sieff for Juliette Has a Gun.

New Perfume Review Monsillage Eau de Celeri- Green But Not Vegetal

If I was asked to name a perfume trend of the last six months I would unhesitatingly reply, “green”. Not green in the sense of being eco-friendly but green as in the combination, and dominance of, green notes and themes. It is an interesting hive mind kind of thing to think about; when perfumers working all over the world all begin to converge on a similar theme. You might easily believe in New York and Paris where there are higher numbers of perfumers some of that might form organically. How do you explain it finding its way to Montreal? Owner and perfumer of Monsillage, Isabelle Michaud, has produced one of the more unique green perfumes I’ve smelled called Eau de Celeri.

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Isabelle Michaud (center) with her 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category

Based on the name you might expect Eau de Celeri to evoke the vegetable crisper drawer in your refrigerator. Let me assure you right at the top that is not the case. The celery in the title is meant more to give you a sense of the hue of green Eau de Celeri represents. It isn’t a pale transparent wispy green. It also isn’t a galbanum sledgehammer either, although there is galbanum here. Mme Michaud works some of the more familiar green sources but she finds something crisp about them. If there was anything about celery this perfume reminded me of it was that snap of a fresh stalk.

Mme Michaud opens with a very fresh citrus mélange of lemon and grapefruit. This is a tart snappy beginning. It segues into a cut-grass accord but there is one additional note Mme Michaud adds which gives that cut-grass a makeover. She uses coriander leaf as a co-conspirator. The rough green quality of coriander itself is instead made diffuse placed inside a leafy matrix. It adds an herbal edge as well as subtly shading the grass slightly darker. It allows for an extremely smooth transition to a base of vetiver on top with galbanum providing support. If galbanum can clobber you like a caveman’s club; in Eau de Celeri Mme Michaud employs it more like a scalpel. She allows it to fill in the gaps that the vetiver and the cedar in the base leave for it. It makes it more of a ghost floating in and out between the other two more prominent notes. That kind of wispiness caused me to keep tuning back into Eau de Celeri on the days I was wearing it. It acted like an olfactory tap on the shoulder saying, “Hey you’re wearing a pretty nice perfume buddy.”

Eau de Celeri has 14-16 hour longevity and above average sillage.

On the days I wore Eau de Celeri I had a few people ask me what I was wearing. It is really a very genial perfume that can be worn for almost any occasion. Mme Michaud plugged into the perfumed gestalt around green and came up with one different than all the rest.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

Editor’s note: Eau de Celeri recently won a 2015 Art and Olfaction Award in the Artisan Category.

The Sunday Magazine: Summer Rum Cocktails

Now that I am actually spending some time on the back deck here in Poodlesville I am starting to realize I rotate my cocktail mixing cart the same way I do my perfumes. I realized this as I was shaking up my first Daiquiri of the year as I started bringing all the different bottles of rum I have to the front of the line. As I was doing that I was realizing I was already mentally reaching through my mental cocktail recipe book for the drinks I was looking forward to making. If you want some suggestions here are three summer rum cocktails for you to give a try.

I think a daiquiri might have been the first cocktail I ever tasted as a child. I don’t know if that is why I like it so much. I do know it is almost a ritual for me to drink a daiquiri on the first really warm day of the year usually while cooking something on the grill. A daiquri is one of the simplest drinks to make combining rum, fresh lime juice and simple syrup. I came across a variation which has become my current favorite called The Hemingway Martini.

The Hemingway Martini

2 parts rum (use a really good white rum)

1 part fresh grapefruit juice

1 part lime juice

0.5 part Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

0.5 part Simple Syrup

Combine all the ingredients in a shaker and serve straight up garnished with a grapefruit slice.

planter's punch

Planter’s Punch is one of the oldest cocktails known. It is also one of those cocktails which has been trampled to death over the years. It is the basis for all of those fruity rum punches you drink on tropical island vacations. What is sad is that the original version of the recipe which came from the very not tropical Planter’s Hotel in Saint Louis, Missouri is really good; especially if you make the effort to use fresh fruit juice. It still packs a kick but you don’t feel like there is sugar crystallizing on your teeth.

The Original Planter’s Punch

3 parts dark rum (I prefer Mt. Gay but any good one will do)

1 part Fresh squeezed orange juice

1 part fresh squeezed lime juice

1 part fresh pineapple juice

4 parts club soda.

Combine everything but the club soda in a shaker and shake over ice. Strain into a glass over ice. And add an equal volume of club soda. Garnish with a teaspoon of grenadine and a couple dashes of Angostura Bitters. Stir with a spoon.

As the summer goes on we get tremendous thunderstorms which pass through and if I need a cocktail to match Mother Nature’s furious grandeur I make a Dark and Stormy. This is another tropical inspired drink which has been made poorly by the addition of too many extraneous ingredients. It should only have two; rum and ginger beer. If you try that you will make sure to instruct any bartender about to add fruit juice to it to stop.

Dark and Stormy

2 parts dark rum (Gosling’s Black Seal is the original ingredient)

3 parts ginger beer

In a glass with ice add both ingredients and stir. Garnish with a slice of lime if you must have fruit but I won’t do it.

I hope you join me for cocktail hour on your deck or patio with one of these rum drinks.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Prudence Paris Alexis- The Way It Used To Be

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I spend so much effort at every edition of Esxence looking for the new and exciting I forget there are long-time steady brands which are also deserving of attention. For the latest version I finally spent some time with Prudence Kilgour the owner and creative director of Prudence Paris. Mme Kilgour and I bonded at my very first Esxence over her perfume for dogs, Polisson. My very French standard poodles can often be found wearing a spritz or two, especially on those days just before going for grooming. Ever since in my willy nilly hurry I have unknowingly not stopped to stop and smell her latest offerings. While I was making up for lost time her latest perfume for men Alexis managed to make a lasting impression.

One of the things I truly admire about Mme Kilgour’s approach to perfumery is that it has a feel of a different time. You won’t see me talking about the perfumer she works with because that’s the way they both want it. Her perfumer is from the old school where he believes his name is not important. It is more important to realize Mme Kilgour’s vision and produce a perfume that they both are pleased with. It has been the same perfumer for the nearly thirty fragrances in the line. By this point they have developed an intuitive working relationship which shows in the overall cohesiveness of the collection. As I was trying the releases from the last year and a half or so one thing struck me very strongly that one reason I like the line as much as I do is this way of working in a way that has passed for the majority of perfumery produces perfumes which have a fascinating timelessness about them. To borrow Kurt Vonnegut’s phrase they feel “unstuck in time” appropriate to whatever era they land in.

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Prudence Kilgour

Alexis is meant to capture the combination of well-educated and adventure seeking found most often in young gentlemen of breeding. If that sounds pretentious let me assure you Alexis is not. If you think of that stereotypical globetrotting young entrepreneurial adventurer who skis the Alps one day to leading a tech firm on the bleeding edge the next day. It is that lifestyle which matches the thrill of being in a crouch schussing to the excitement of trying to do something totally new in business. Alexis captures the driven knowing smile of our hero.

Alexis opens up with a high-speed citrus mix of grapefruit, mandarin, and bergamot which races right into a spicy floral heart. Geranium and rose form the floral core which is combined with baie rose and black pepper. The spices accentuate those same facets within the rose. Patchouli acts as a foil to keep the rose from getting too much traction. Alexis heads into very classic base territory as oakmoss, vetiver and musk with a bit of benzoin bring home the timelessness I spoke about.

Alexis has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are one who thinks they don’t make them the way they used to then you not only should give Alexis a try but the entire Prudence Paris collection. There are many joyous moments to be found in doing things the way they used to be done.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Prudence Paris at Esxence 2015.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Elisire Poudre Desir and Jasmin Paradis

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Yesterday I reviewed three of the five new releases from Elisire. When I read the press release about Franck Salzwedel’s new line of perfume there were two out of the five which piqued my interest right away. It wasn’t because they were my favorite raw material or the note list. What intrigued me were these words, “Developed with Alberto Morillas.”

Alberto Morillas is the very definition of Living Legend when it comes to perfumery. He has made some of the greatest perfumes of all-time. For the great majority of his career that talent has been displayed on department store counters versus smaller niche perfume boutiques. In the last few years M. Morillas has begun working with a few niche brands. What separates his output when working on the niche side is a bit more freedom on budget. M. Morillas could take broccoli and crabgrass and make something which smelled amazing. M. Salzwedel allowed him some freedom to use some ingredients he might normally eschew in the name of budget. The two perfumes he has composed for Elisire, Poudre Desir and Jasmin Paradis show this to be true.

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Alberto Morillas

Poudre Desir is meant to evoke a flower garden after a rainstorm has passed. To achive this effect M. Morillas first uses a mix of bergamot and mandarin that shine like those first rays of sun after the dark clouds have passed. There is diffuse brightness which warms the early moments of Poudre Desir. The heart is iris in all of its promised powdery glory. If M. Morillas left it that way it would smell more of a woman’s vanity than her garden. To make sure that it is living flowers we are reminded of he partners the iris with jasmine, heliotrope, and gardenia. Those very heady narcotic blooms take the iris and make the powdery parts of it less prominent. It forms a fresh spring flower bouquet to bury your nose into. The base is a mix of musks which form a sun burnished skin accord which is framed with a bit of cedar. Poudre Desir is the smell of renewal after nature has washed it clean.

Jasmine is a supporting player in Poudre Desir but as you would expect in Jasmin Paradis it is the star. This time the citrus opening is exuberant and over-stuffed as neroli, bergamot, and grapefruit burst onto my senses with all of the energy that those notes can muster. It leads to the heart of jasmine. It is here where M. Morillas can really design a powerfully nuanced jasmine accord. He starts with the synthetic jasmine source Paradisone. If he was designing this on a budget he probably would have added in a drop or two of Jasmine essential oil and moved on. With a little more flexibility he takes two natural sources of jasmine; jasmine sambac and jasmine petals, layering them upon the synthetic. The Paradisone provides expansiveness and lift. The natural essential oils take advantage of the space and expand into them. They provide depth and texture the synthetic couldn’t provide by itself. Jasmin Paradis ends on a resinous base of incense, olibanum, and Ambrox. As in the heart the Ambrox provides a synthetic foundation for the natural sources to expand upon.

I think all five of the new Elisire perfumes are worth sampling. M. Salzwedel has produced a strong first impression with all of them. It will be these two by M. Morillas which will linger in my memory a little longer.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Osswald NYC.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Elisire Elixir Absolu, Eau Papaguena, and Ambre Nomade

I am so happy to see a new perfume brand which manages to limit their first releases to only five, I realize how much things have changed. The latest collection of only five came from a brand called Elisire. The founder Franck Salzwedel spent a large part of his childhood in Asia before attending fashion school in France. He would go on from there to work on helping fashion designers navigate the world of fragrance. He would jump to New York where his career in the visual arts as a painter would take off. Like many who share the experience of painting and fragrance together M. Salzwedel sees fragrances as colors. The desire to capture that vision in a perfume led to the founding of Elisire. All five of the first collection are worthy of mention and I will do short reviews of all five over the next two days.

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Pierre Negrin

One of the perfumers M. Salzwedel chose to work with was Pierre Negrin who did two of the five fragrances. The prevailing color for one of them, Eau Papaguena, is undoubtedly green. M. Negrin opens on an herbal version of the color as tarragon and basil provide the pungent start. A well-balanced use of spearmint adds a bit of lift to the herbs. It leads to a really delicate orange blossom heart which shades the green a couple hues lighter. The colors deepen in the base with vetiver, cypress, and incense heading for the center of the color wheel. I really like the shift from transparent to something which has a bit more presence by the end. If you like green fragrances this should be on your test list.

The other one by M. Negrin shares a kinship to the other but Ambre Nomade is like a glowing ember of pulsing orange. This also starts with an herbal duet of rosemary and sage but they are joined by a crisp apple, an energetic ginger, and a green lavender. This forms that glowing warmth which is banked a bit by some ylang-ylang in the heart which provides a bit of yellow shading. The base truly pulses with contained energy as M. Negrin combines patchouli, olibanum, vanilla, and musks to form the glowing ember. There are so many perfumes with amber in the base which are too timid. Amber Nomade is a bold exploration of amber as good as any I’ve tried recently.

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Ilias Erminidis

Perfumer Ilias Erminidis has done some tremendous work on the mass-market fragrances he has contributed to. M. Salzwedel gives him the chance to work towards a more niche aesthetic. As a result M. Erminidis takes the opportunity to create an olfactory mosaic of some of the best florals in perfumery in Elixir Absolu. It all starts with a fairly usual citrusy bergamot opening. What comes next is less common as he layers floral after floral to create a heart which always seems in motion as another floral arrives. Freesia starts it, then orange blossom, tiare, magnolia, ylang ylang, jasmine, and rose. These florals form a cohesive accord that is beautifully constructed. From this fantasia M. Erminidis goes for vanilla and sandalwood forming a comforting base note. It is the collage of florals in the heart which makes this one memorable.

I’ll conclude tomorrow with the two perfumes composed by Alberto Morillas.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Osswald NYC.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Jasmine

As spring begins to take hold I find I am already looking forward to the summer nights when the jasmine scents the air. Jasmine is one of those ingredients which has multiple faces in perfumery. The reason is there are very few perfumes with a high quantity of jasmine essential oil. It is there in small quantities to flesh out a synthetic source like Hedione. That hasn’t kept it from still being one of the most popular florals in fragrance. I already mentioned that Serge Lutens Sarrasins is my Gold Standard but that is a beast. Here are five more which are a little lest feral.

Jean Patou Joy, I think, was my first introduction to jasmine when one of my parent’s friends wore it to a party and I was fascinated with how she smelled. It would be years later that I found out Henri Almeras took the very best florals of Grasse in rose and jasmine and combined them over a musky base. Joy is a masterpiece because of that attention to quality.

For those of you who think Sarrasins is too much Serge Lutens A La Nuit is a much more genial alternative. Christopher Sheldrake mixes two sources of jasmine and layers it over spices, honey and musk. While it sounds similar to Joy it is entirely something else and it is entirely pretty.

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Calice Becker might have created the most stunning jasmine soliflore in By Kilian Love and Tears. In this perfume the jasmine pretty much stands alone. For most that kind of scrutiny would cause it to wither and die. Mme Becker creates a multi-faceted jasmine from a whole group of different florals and multiple jasmine sources. It smells like no single jasmine; it smells like all of them. It is utterly fascinating to try and dissect. It is much better to just let it whisk you away.

Krigler Juicy Jasmine 30 is a different take on the soliflore. It is a light fun perfume where the jasmine is lifted up by orange blossom, muguet, and hyacinth. Juicy Jasmine 30 always feels like it is taking me to a fabulous garden party.

Le Labo Jasmin 17 by perfumer Maurice Roucel is what happens when you take a bouquet of white flowers lead by jasmine and capture them in sweet sticky amber. This is the richest jasmine I own and the one I most often wear during the winter. It is comforting and warm underneath the jasmine.

If you like jasmine these five should be on your sampling list. If you want someplace to start these are great starting points.

Dsiclosure: I have purchased bottles of all fragrances mentioned.

Mark Behnke