New Perfume Review L’Envol de Cartier- Too Transparent?

There are perfume brands which seem to mine their original creations incessantly with flanker after flanker. Cartier can easily be accused of this with the entire Declaration line. Ten flankers in the 18 years since Declaration’s original release. Eight years ago in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent tried to till some new ground with Roadster. I liked it but it seems others did not share my enthusiasm. So it was back to Declaration flankers. Now it seems Mme Laurent is ready to give it another try with L’Envol de Cartier.

L'Envol de Cartier is described as a “transparent Oriental” in the press release. Throughout that description the adjectives which bring to mind sheer are used. Surprisingly I didn’t find anything mentioning this was aimed at Millennials even though it is this transparency which seems to be the common thought amongst the brands that this group desires. That may just be my Baby Boomer curmudgeon surfacing. It is not like Mme Laurent hasn’t composed in this style previously. L’Envol de Cartier is kept light and airy until we get to the base which literally roots this.

mathilde laurent

Mathilde Laurent

L’Envol de Cartier opens with what is called a “transparent honey accord”. What that means is a very light presentation of honey is buoyed by some ozonic and airy notes. I feel like there is an aldehyde in here but this is so slight it is difficult to be sure. Bottom line this is like a very thin film of honey over a pane of glass with the sun shining through it. The airiness is added to with an application of the more expansive white musks which take that honey accord and mount it on an expanding soap bubble. After all of this it is a surprising contrast when a near full-throated patchouli provides the foundation. This is a classic dirty patchouli adding a vivid contrast to what came before.

L'Envol de Cartier has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

On the days I wore this there was always a moment when I wanted something more. I like what Mme Laurent has done here. As it compares to many of the other transparent fragrances crossing my desk this is in the top tier of this style of perfume. I think it is going to be too transparent for some. I am probably in that category. I admire the effect and the skill necessary to achieve it. I just wish it connected with me more. I am very happy to see Cartier try something different. If this doesn’t succeed, please let Mme Laurent try again instead of doing another few Declaration flankers.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from Cartier.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Comme des Garcons Black Pepper- Series 9?

My enthusiasm for new materials in perfumery is similar to my enthusiasm for a new release from Comme des Garcons. When they come together in the same package it is like a perfumed double rainbow. When I received my sample of the new Comme des Garcons Black Pepper dual arcs filled my personal headspace.

Black Pepper was composed by perfumer Antoine Maisondieu. M. Maisondieu has been one of the more consistent collaborators with Comme des Garcons over the last few years. I would say they return to him because he seems to have an innate understanding of the place this seminal niche brand occupies. He also takes the opportunity to try and do things with an eye toward innovation. With Black Pepper that comes from the other main ingredient besides the one listed on the bottle Akigala Wood.

Antoine-Maisondieu

Antoine Maisondieu

I became aware of Akigala Wood about a year ago. When I learned it wasn’t a wood but an enzymatic digestion of patchouli I was very interested. The reason is this is a very different process to altering the overall profile of patchouli essential oil. Distillation is a process of using physics. Enzymatic digestion is allowing enzymes to digest parts of the essential oil they find tasty. This leaves behind a patchouli altered by biology. When I had the opportunity to smell Akigala Wood it is only because I know it was once patchouli that I make the comparison. What the enzymes seem to be feasting on are the molecules within patchouli oil which impart the earthy herbal character of that oil. What is left behind in Akigala Wood is an enhancement of the spicy character in an undefined woody matrix. Which makes it a near perfect partner for the black pepper.

M. Maisondieu keeps the structure of Black Pepper simple. First the black pepper is present. It is very dry and austere. M. Maisondieu modulates it even more towards that spare quality by adding some white pepper. The early moments are so dry it might be too much for some. I really enjoyed it because I knew what was coming. The Akigala Wood turns that aridity into something almost oily in nature. The spicy woody nature of the Akigala Wood envelops the black pepper and almost feels like it rehydrates it. Now the pepper becomes much more expansive as if lifted by the spicy nature of the Akigala Wood. The woody nature of the material keeps things grounded along with cedar. The base adds a dollop of roasted sweetness with tonka bean and a little sandalwood before finishing with a flare of musk.

Black Pepper has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

From 2000-2008 Comme des Garcons released collections titled Series 1-8. Each had a specific focus. Each perfume within each series had a specific ingredient or accord to explore. Many of these are among my favorites in the entire Comme des Garcons line. On the days I was wearing Black Pepper it felt like it was maybe the first entry in a new collection Series 9: Spices. M. Maisondieu has made a perfume which is as exploratory as the best of those fragrances within the Series collections.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Comme des Garcons.

Mark Behnke

Discount Diamonds: Versace Blue Jeans- The Start of Something Good

When I first discovered the discount fragrance collection at my local TJ Maxx it was like my own personal treasure hunt. If it only cost $9.99 it wasn’t much of a risk to buy one and see what I thought. Most of the time I would understand why it ended up at the discounters. The fun of the whole process was finding the ones which fell through the cracks. One rule of thumb I had was if it was in every discount bin it was probably not that good. Which is why it took me quite a while to finally buy a bargain bottle of Versace Blue Jeans.

versace blue jeans

In 1989 the fashion brand Versace wanted to really make a mark in fragrance. Since then Versace has consistently released a few perfumes every year. Versace is one of those brands which has staked out the department store sector as where their fragrance customer is found. It has been a successful enterprise over time but those early years were a bit bumpy as Versace was searching for their perfume style. In 1994 they really pushed all in with a pair of massive new releases Blue Jeans for men and Red Jeans for women. These were everywhere that holiday season and they never really caught on. Which then saw them slowly make the descent to the discount bins. They had produced so much of it that it was everywhere. When I finally purchased my bottle I found a fresh Oriental which was quirkily interesting.

jacques cavallier

Jacques Cavallier

The perfumer behind Blue Jeans was Jacques Cavallier fresh off of his L’Eau D’Issey success. With Blue Jeans it was like he was attempting to graft some of that fresh onto an Oriental foundation. It ends up coming off like a perfumed mash-up of a top 40 pop song and a baroque string quartet.

Blue Jeans starts with that populist aesthetic right away. M. Cavallier uses grapefruit, geranium, and juniper berry to provide that fresh opening accord. Iris, lavender, and violet tint the heart a shade of purple. Nutmeg provides a nice contrast. The base is all woody Oriental as cedar, sandalwood, vetiver, and amber all take their proscribed places within a very recognizable base.

Blue Jeans has 10-12 hour longevity and way above average sillage. This is one you only need a spray or two of.

The Versace aesthetic would come alive with the release of 1996’s The Dreamer. Blue Jeans is that interesting signpost pointing to better days to come. It is still one of those fragrances I turn to for hot days followed by cooler nights.

Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Phaedon Concombre- Simple Summer Spritzer

One of the fun things about attending Pitti Fragranze is seeing what independent perfumer Pierre Guillaume has made just for the fair as a one-off. When I attended in 2014 he showed me this fabulously watery cologne of cucumber. In many ways it was like the amuse bouche served by a chef before the meal. A simple statement of aesthetic in a trifle. The funny thing was that silly trifle got stuck in my head. So much so that when I saw him the next year I asked about it. He then told me that he was definitely going to release a version of it. He just wasn’t sure when. The answer is he has released it a couple months ago; Phaedon Concombre.

We always talk about wanting a perfume that can be worn on the hottest of days which will not turn cloying in the heat. Concombre is that design wish come true. One of my favorite summer meals when it is just too hot to turn the oven on is to thinly slice cucumber and place it in ice water. After the slices are cooled I drain them and sprinkle balsamic vinegar over it. For dessert a similarly ice-cold watermelon rounds out the meal. We’ve never discussed it but M. Guillaume must also have the same summer routine of some kind because Concombre has cucumber and watermelon as its nucleus.

Pierre-Guillaume-5

Pierre Guillaume

Concombre starts with that fresh chilly watery cucumber note. M. Guillaume livens it up just a little with a sprig of mint. It is almost as if it came over on the breeze from the mint on top of my iced tea. He freely uses freesia to provide that watery quality. It also provides a chill which is not something I usually ascribe to freesia but in Concombre it definitely does cool things down. Then as the watermelon accord arises you get this lightly vegetal with the sweet melon floating on top of cool water. It is delightfully refreshing. It is all framed in clean lines of cedar.

Concombre has 6-8 hours of longevity and moderate sillage.

There is no practical reason to keep perfume in a refrigerator. I do it with some of my favorite colognes because they go on more refreshing when they are chilled. Concombre is another which also benefits from being in a refrigerator. It enhances all of the chill elements throughout Concombre. The days I wore it I refreshed it twice and each time it elevated my spirits. Concombre is a summer special.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample from Phaedon.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review La Femme Prada- Finding a New Voice

Prada has released a new pair of his and hers fragrances. Called La Femme Prada and L’Homme Prada. Both were produced by in-house perfumer Daniela Andrier. I wasn’t expecting much from L’Homme Prada because in the press materials it was mentioned it was Mme Andrier returning to that neroli/iris/cedar axis she believes makes up a men’s perfume. In trying it this is more like a flanker of Infusion D’Iris which had its own sort of flanker in Infusion D’Homme and now L’Homme Prada completes the trilogy. I am not sure why Mme Andrier keeps tilling the same soil for L’Hommes while finding new things to say for La Femmes. La Femme Prada has a nod to the Prada past while finding some new things to say.

La Femme Prada and L’Homme Prada are meant to be mirror images. If you own both bottles they go together to form a circle with the men’s side having a black leather coating and the women’s a white leather coating. Because I had tried L’Homme Prada first the mirror image part worried me. There is no mirror here these two fragrances are distinctly different. It seems lately Mme Andrier has found having a little more presence in her compositions to be a desirable thing. Most of the Olfactories and Candy are examples of this. La Femme Prada also has a heightened floral presence. Mme Andrier uses a mixture of notes to tune that floralcy into something quite nice.

Daniela_Andrier1

Daniela Andrier

La Femme Prada opens with a very expansive frangipani which provides a tropical garland accord. She supports the frangipani with tuberose mainly along with a little ylang-ylang to enhance the tropical facets. At this point I liked the nice floral accord. Mme Andrier then begins to transform it first with spice and beeswax. The spices provide contrast to the very sweet florals. The beeswax provides a lightly honeyed nature which is quite appealing underneath the flowers. The base uses the push and pull of vetiver and vanilla as the latter turns the sweetness of the florals into something more confectionary while the vetiver provides a sturdy foundation.

La Femme Prada has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

La Femme Prada is the better of these two releases simply by virtue of Mme Andrier finding a new voice to her compositions. I would really like for her to find the same inspiration when it comes to her next perfume for the L’Hommes.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Prada.

Mark Behnke

The Sunday Magazine: Sia

There are many success stories where people talk about how they went to Plan B after Plan A had not worked out. There is a different version of this story currently happening within popular music. Australian-born singer Sia Furler now known only by her first name, Sia, had modest success as a singer as Plan A. Eventually she would transition to Plan B as a songwriter for others. Only to have one of those others show how dynamic her voice is and she has now come back to Plan A while continuing Plan B.

Sia was born in Adelaide and for many years was in a band called Crisp. When the band fell apart she began to record solo albums. She also moved to London at the same time. From 2000-2010 she released four albums. The track “Breathe Me” off of her album “Colour the Small One” was the song used over the series finale montage of the HBO series “Six Feet Under”. That was what sent me to the internet to find out what that song was and who did it. I discovered a singer who was largely unknown but sang these engaging lyrics seemingly influenced by multiple musical genres. I expected her star was going to rise. Except it never really did, which was when Plan B arrived.

sia-01-07-2016

Sia

While working on her fifth album “We Are Born” in 2009 she was approached by Christina Aguilera to write some ballads for her. Three of those songs would make it on to Ms. Aguilera’s album “Bionic”. Even though Sia was still working on Plan A she probably didn’t realize Plan B had arrived. “We Are Born” was again moderately successful but it would lead to Sia to retire from the studio as a singer and to fully embrace being a songwriter for others.

She would become one of the most sought after songwriters out there. It would reach its peak with her providing the song “Diamonds” for singer Rhianna to record. One of the way songwriters like Sia work is they will record a stripped down version of the song to give to whomever they are providing the song for. In 2011 she wrote a song for Katy Perry named “Titanium” which was supposed to be produced by David Guetta. She supplied a demo track of the vocals and was likely off to write another song. As Mr. Guetta worked on the song with Ms. Perry she decided it sounded too much like her previous songs and decided against doing it. Mr. Guetta still believed in the song and looked for a different vocalist to take the lead. Until he realized that demo track by Sia was the lead he was looking for. He would release “Titanium” with Sia’s demo vocal included. It became a giant hit. It also propelled Sia back into Plan A.

She un-retired and returned to the studio to release 2014’s “1000 Forms of Fear”. If “Titanium” was giant, the first single “Chandelier” was even bigger. It is one of those rare pop songs which was everywhere while also being respected for the artistry. It was a top 25 mainstay on many year-end lists of the best songs of 2014. Now the singer was equivalent with the songwriter in levels of success. Plan A and Plan B had come together as one.

Sia has continued to flourish in both parts of her career. She released a follow-up album to “1000 Forms of Fear” in 2015, “This is Acting” which was equally well received. Concurrently she wrote hits for Beyonce, Katy Perry, and Celine Dion among others.

It is a rare story to be sure but one to watch move forward with appreciation for the person behind it all.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales (Part 5)- Mandrake, Wolfsbane, & Conclusions

Concluding my reviews of the new Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales with Mandrake and Wolfsbane.

carlos vinals

Carlos Vinals

Most people are familiar with Mandrake as the squalling magical plant in the Harry Potter novels and movies. This comes from Wiccan beliefs that the roots emitted a fatal scream when dug up. Creative director Joseph Quartana working with perfumer Carlos Vinals wanted to mix both the fictional qualities with the reality of the plant. What they came up with was a fragrance which evokes a plant firmly rooted in the soil which after you unearth it might just have a magical scream waiting for you.

Mr. Vinals was inspired by the smell of actual Mandrake which has an uncanny resemblance to apples. So he uses a classic red apple accord. He surrounds the crisp fruit with the off-beat green of rhubarb, cardamom, along with birch leaf and birch root. This creates a really interesting fruity foliage accord when it all comes together. That apple is ever present but the two sources of birch provide the leafiness and the sense of the soil it is growing in. This eventually slides into a leathery woody finish around leather, sandalwood, and patchouli. To represent the magical shriek Mr. Vinals adds a sharp synthetic contrast which has an air of being too sharp. I would have liked less of this as the fragrance at this point didn’t need that kind of grace note added. On the days I wore it I found it distracting.

Mandrake has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I like everything about Mandrake except for that final bit of artistic flair. It was what kept it from being my overall favorite.

philippe paparella-paris

Philippe Paparella-Paris

That goes to Wolfsbane. When I was sitting with Mr. Quartana in Milan as he explained the collection to me I was already imagining a fragrance which was found deep in a wood full of supernatural influences. Probably for the best Mr. Quartana only gave in to that most obvious of impulses only once with Wolfsbane. Working with perfumer Philippe Paprella-Paris this is that walk through a mystical wood holding tight to your wolfsbane in the hope it will defend you from the beasts in the shadows. M. Paprella-Paris wants you to feel that there is something just outside your vision but not beyond your sense of smell.

This opens with an absinthe-laden top accord. M. Paparella-Paris realizes a wee bit of The Green Fairy might be necessary to step into the woods at night. The other aspect is the wormwood within the absinthe also gives off a senses of ancient decay. To heighten that M. Paparella-Paris uses angelica root, fig, ginger and most importantly cumin. That cumin is what portrays nervousness with the sweaty character that normally comes with it. In combination with the ginger it also creates a simmering kind of kinetic energy. As you move deeper into the woods castoreum brings the scent of whatever stalks you to your nose. Night-blooming tuberose seems less innocent and more threatening all of a sudden. Patchouli, tobacco flower, prunol, and benzoin evoke the forest floor you are moving through at a renewed pace. Somewhere you smell the truffles present in the ground but you need to keep moving as the woods seem to close in with vetiver becoming ever stronger along with the whatever is right behind you.

Wolfsbane has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Wolfsbane is my very favorite of the Les Potions Fatales. It has the most dynamic evolution of any of these debut fragrances. It never failed to make my days better when I wore it.

When it comes to large collections like this I am usually dismissive of them. My biggest irritations are no real lack of cohesion matched with cynical box checking. Let me assure you that Mr. Quartana has overseen a true collection in every way that word should apply to fragrance. He also never, not for one moment, diminished his artistic vision of what this collection was going to be. No box checking going on here. One other thing I would like to mention is the use of a different perfumer on each fragrance. Granted he chose to work with the roster of perfumers at Symrise which truly showed their versatility throughout this collection. But getting a cohesion from different artists even being directed by a single creative director is not easy. I think this is a collection which should be sought out by those who enjoy something different in their perfume.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Parfums Quartana.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales (Part 4)- Lily of the Valley & Poppy Soma

Continuing my reviews of the new Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatles with Lily of the Valley and Poppy Soma.

nathalie benareau

Nathalie Benareau

When I was looking through the names of the different perfumes in this collection there was one which seemed too common to be included; Lily of the Valley. The rest of the collection features less ubiquitous focal points. When I saw Lily of the Valley I thought to myself this is meant to be the safe haven. Creative director Joseph Quartana and perfumer Nathalie Benareau do provide probably the least adventurous entry within the Les Potions Fatales but they make sure to add one twist to keep it in alignment with the rest of the collection. What that means is Mme Benareau takes the innocence represented by the floral and dresses it up in a black leather biker jacket.

The early moments of Lily of the Valley are very straightforward as the titular flower is supported by neroli, rose, and jasmine. These are all mostly indole-free versions of these flowers so the purity of the lily of the valley is preserved. Until that leather jacket accord comes forward. At first it seems incongruous but Mme Benareau adds in sandalwood, labdanum, and vetiver which help our innocent discover her wild side.

Lily of the Valley has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

Lily of the Valley is the most accessible of the Les Potions Fatales. It is the shallow end of a pool which contains much more interesting things in the deep end.

Emilie_Coppermann

Emilie Coppermann

One of those interesting things is Poppy Soma composed by Emilie Coppermann. One of my favorite movies is “Once Upon a Time in America”. The movie opens with Robert de Niro’s character heading to an opium den to hide from the police. This particular den has a shadow puppet theatre out in front. One of the fun debates about the movie is whether the movie which follows is an opium dream or reality. I have always wanted a perfume which captures that milieu of the wooden shadow puppets mixed with the sweet smoke of the opium. Mme Coppermann has delivered that to me with one of my favorites of this collection.

Mme Coppermann uses gardenia as her nucleus of the sweet opium accord. This is a gardenia in all of its fully narcotic grandeur; which seems appropriate. To add in a touch of acrid to represent the smoke she employs Szechuan pepper, curry leaf, and red pepper. These overlay the gardenia with piquant pungency which adds texture to the intensity of the floral. Once the opium has taken hold Mme Coppermann plunges us into a floral fever dream consisting of jasmine, rose, and tuberose. All of these are given enough room to be as expansive as they can be. Over time as we come down the incense stick burning nearby provides a focus for reality. Labdanum, styrax and musk provides a bit of a reminder that we have been sweating while tripping.

Poppy Soma has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I mentioned that this is one of my favorite Les Potions Fatales I will take it a step further and say it is one of my favorites by Mme Coppermann. I have admired her work for many years but Poppy Soma seems like an artistic breakthrough for her personal portfolio. She has made a joyfully exuberant perfume which still has the ability to ensnare you in its depths.

I will finish my reviews tomorrow with Part 5 on Mandrake and Wolfsbane plus some concluding thoughts.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by Parfums Quartana.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales (Part 3)- Digitalis & Hemlock

Continuing my reviews of the new Parfums Quartana Les Potions Fatales collection with Digitalis and Hemlock.

david-apel

David Apel

Digitalis is well known to me in my day job in drug discovery. It is used to treat heart arrhythmias. Although patients have to be careful not to take too much or the toxic nature can overwhelm the therapeutic one. Creative director Joseph Quartana, working with perfumer David Apel, were focused on the lore around the more colloquial name for digitalis, foxglove. Foxglove is an attractant for faeries in folklore. Mr. Apel composed a perfume which captured the glittery trails left by the fairies as they flit among the trumpet-shaped blooms. When I think of fairies I think of silver winged sprites trailing fairy dust in a sparkling trail behind them. Mr. Apel pulls together a group of ozonic and metallic trending notes to create a perfume which evokes this sparkling flight.

Digitalis starts with the aromachemical floralozone as the linchpin of the ozonic accord on top. All of these notes provide lift. Matched to them is the metallic nature of violet leaf and silver iris. These provide an austere floral nature. These combine to form the wings full of dust. A very green phase comes next with galbanum, basil, cucumber, and coriander. It grounds the high flying sprites as they alight on the foxglove. The smell of the flowers are represented by a mixture of violet, rose, neroli, and jasmine. Mr. Apel lets the florals provide a contrast to the more strident ozonic and green accords which came prior to this. The base becomes a little more like damp soil as incense, fern, and moss provide that accord.

Digitalis has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

While Digitalis didn’t necessarily set my heart a-flutter it is an excellent interpretation of the brief by Mr. Apel.

Christelle Laprade

Christelle Laprade

If I asked you to name a poisonous flower chances are Hemlock would be one of the ones you named. Famous for being the method of execution of Socrates for corrupting the young men of Athens. The perfume Mr. Quartana collaborated on with perfumer Christelle Laprade is meant to carry a bit of that corruption the philosopher was imparting so long ago. Mme Laprade starts with an accord which reminded me very strongly of when I used to open a new vinyl record and the smell of the fresh-pressed plastic would arise from the sleeve. Other corrupting influences like leather and rum show up as well.

Hemlock opens with that fantastic fresh vinyl accord. I was enchanted by this from the first time I smelled it through to every time I wear it. Mme Laprade then adds a coterie of spices with clove, cinnamon, and pink pepper transforming it from synthetic plastic to something more vital. A rum accord is next which is melded with a synthetic white floral accord. There is nothing natural about the florals at the heart of Hemlock. It is an appropriate progression from the vinyl to in essence synthetic flowers. This heads into a leather and patchouli base sweetened a bit by vanilla and benzoin.

Hemlock has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Hemlock is one of my favorites in this collection, The embrace of the unnatural carries a large amount of appeal for me.

In Part 4 I will review Lily of the Valley and Poppy Soma.

Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Parfums Quartana.

Mark Behnke

Under the Radar: Fresh Cannabis Santal- Pot Brownies

There is not a whole heck of a lot of perfumes which feature a cannabis accord. There are more in the last couple of years but it is still a tiny subsector of fragrance. This month’s Under the Radar pick carries the name cannabis in its name but it isn’t really that prominent. Fresh Cannabis Santal is a lush chocolate and patchouli gourmand more than an illicit hit in the dark.

cannabis_santal

Cannabis Santal was released in 2006, Fresh had been releasing fragrance since 1996 and most of them were riffs on sweetness. They were sort of taking the idea represented by Aquolina Pink Sugar and expanding it in all directions. Most of the name of the perfumes were “Sugar fill in the blank”. They had a much less distributed collection called the Index line where they still explored sweet fragrances but they were more interesting than the Sugar line. When I lived in Boston there was a Fresh boutique in town which allowed me to work my way through the many Fresh perfumes. I remember walking in on a fall day and smelling something which stood out among all of the sugar. It stood out because there was a richness to it. I was drawn to it more than anything I had ever smelled in the store previously.

Caroline Sabas

Caroline Sabas

Perfumer Caroline Sabas was given some leeway to break outside the sugar shack; which she used. Her composition is mainly orange, chocolate, rose, and patchouli. There is some cannabis in there and it shows up like a bit of a jack-in-the-box when I wear Cannabis Santal. If you’re looking for a pot connection it is more similar to if you made a batch of pot brownies using orange and rose water to flavor them.

Cannabis Santal opens with a deep orange given that depth by the use of plum. Very rapidly patchouli, rose, and chocolate rise to cover the orange. Very often I talk about patchouli not having that head shop vibe; not here. It actually combines with the chocolate and the rose to sort of dirty things up. It keeps the sweetness from being innocent. It gives the impression these brownies might have more underneath that you suspect. A woody finish which is more vetiver than santal completes the illusion of the label.

Cannabis Santal has 12-14 hour longevity and extremely potent sillage. When I said I smelled it from the door of the Fresh boutique it is not an exaggeration.

Fresh has discontinued much of its line of fragrances with only about a dozen left for sale. Cananbis Santal is one of those survivors. I think it is one of the top tier of gourmands released during that time when there were many of them being released. If you’re looking for that hit off of a joint don’t look for it here. Instead slice off a brownie and wonder why you are smiling so much.

Disclosure: this review is based on a bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke