One of my most memorable experiences was going spelunking. When I was in graduate school there was a nearby cave system and the school organized regular trips with appropriate professors to turn the adventure into a teachable experience. As we got deeper and deeper into the mountain there were so many sensorial experiences. For the first time I learned what dark was when we stood in one of the open galleries and turned off our headlamps. It seemed like it carries weight and motion. A black light showed us the veins of minerals running through what seemed monolithic stone. The final experience was walking into a wide-open field of limestone stalactites. The elongated hazards of every movie which ends up in a cave were all slowly dripping water into a pool underneath. Each drop was saturated with the limestone making it look like a pond of milk. When we emerged hours later back into the light the intensity of it all remained. Stora Skuggan Moonmilk is inspired by those milky stalactites and provides its own intense experience.
With its first two releases the brand was alternatively amateurish and intriguing; Silphium being the latter. With Moonmilk as the third data point I was wondering which face I would see. It turns out it is sort of in between as the early going feels amateurish before perfumer Tomas Hempel uses a firmer creative hand to outline the contours of his cavern.
The opening of Moonmilk is a grating lime and black tea accord which set my teeth on edge. It is made slightly worse as black pepper adds even more irritating screechiness. It is like having to squeeze into a very narrow crack scraping your skin along the wall. Once you get past it what is left is inspirational. This cave is an overdose of sandalwood. Mr. Hempel uses this as the basis to construct the rest of the fragrance upon. As I look towards the entrance a last breeze of fresh air comes in the presence of cardamom. Then in what really makes Moonmilk stand out Mr. Hempel uses lily-of-the-valley as the predominant contrast to the creamy wood. All my previous annoyance is soothed by this combination. As we go deeper, leather provides the animalic sense of darkness. Because of the high concentration of sandalwood it never rises to equality it provides the same kind of detail as the lily-of-the-valley.
Moonmilk has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Moonmilk is a 90% fabulous sandalwood perfume if there was anyway I could spelunk my way past the opening I would do it every time. Others may not find it as off-putting as I did. What I am urging is to make sure you work your way into this sandalwood cave there is a lot to see once you’re inside.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.