My Favorite Things: Raspberry

If there is one style of perfume I struggle with it is fruity floral. Part of that is because of the first word, “fruity”. It usually means intensely sweet which lives on the edge of my tolerance for that in a fragrance. There are many times I wish I could smell the version that didn’t make it into the bottle; where the fruit was cut in half. I had a realization a couple weeks ago when I was wearing one of my favorite hot weather colognes which has a prominent raspberry in it. As I was walking in the heat I realized this is a time when this should be at its worst for my sensibilities but it wasn’t. Which made me realize there are a few raspberry perfumes I really enjoy. Here are five of them.

The perfume that opened my thinking up is Carthusia Uomo. Carthusia is one of those perfume brands which is not very well-known but I think Uomo is one of the best colognes I own. Released in 1948 as part of the original set of Carthusia fragrances it is a raspberry, rosewood, and leather cologne. The raspberry is made very dry so that it lays itself like a veil over the soft rosewood which is supported by an even softer leather. This has been one of my favorite colognes ever since I tried it for the first time.

For the flip side the raspberry perfume I pull out when the weather turns colder is Tom Ford Private Blend Tuscan Leather. This has been what I have worn to many formal occasions. Tuscan Leather was one of the original Private Blend releases ten years ago. Perfumers Harry Fremont and Jacques Cavallier created a lovely mixture of fruit and animalic that works. The raspberry is surrounded with herbs and resins to keep it under control. As the leather rises the raspberry also meets it on its ascendancy. This is one of the best sellers in this very popular line. Wear it a few times and it is easy to understand why.

Shay & Blue Framboise Noire also finds the animalic is the right companion for raspberry. Perfumer Julie Masse uses musk as the companion in Framboise Noire. This also sits on a base of dark woods which provide a depth to the entire mix. If leather and raspberry don’t appeal musk and raspberry might.

When I tried Marc Jacobs Daisy the strawberry on top made me rush for the cosmetic wipes. You could have had me on the floor laughing if you told me replacing the strawberry with raspberry would change my opinion. Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau so Fresh did exactly that and you had to pick me up off the floor. Perfumer Alberto Morillas made that change but he also lightened and tightened up the entire construction from top to bottom. It is one of the few fruity florals I point to when I’m at the mall and asked for a recommendation.

Tauer Une Rose Vermeille is an example of what I would do if asked to conspire on a fruity floral. Andy Tauer uses raspberry as a note to fill in around the gorgeous rose at the heart of this perfume it is recognizably there but most of the time it is as part of a greater rose accord that I notice it. This gets richer with a vanilla and ambergris base. This is Hr. Tauer at his best finding the right notes to fill in the spaces.

If you’re a fan of raspberry and haven’t tried these see if they give you a different perspective on the little red fruit.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Basil

If you have ever grown basil at home you have now reached the point in the summer that you wonder what you can do with all that you have on hand. I know over the years we have gotten very creative in finding ways to use it. I might become tired of using it in recipes but one thing I never tire of is the fresh green herbal scent of the leaves. Just picking one and crushing it in my hand is a pleasure while cooking on the grill or watching the poodles cavort in the backyard. Basil has been an ingredient in perfume, usually paired up with some other herbs. Even as part of an ensemble there some fragrances where the basil takes the lead. Here are five of my favorite basil perfumes.

You might think I would start with the classic Jo Malone Lime, Basil, & Mandarin. It was a favorite until last year when it was replaced by Jo Malone Basil & Neroli. Perfumer Anne Flipo uses three different isolates of basil paired with a fantastic neroli. It has become my favorite perfume in the entire Jo Malone line.

It is the basil which makes Dior Eau Sauvage something more than just a masculine lavender perfume. Perfumer Edmond Roudnitska has basil provide the bridging note from the top citrus accord down to the vetiver base. As part of the expansive Hedione heart it adds green threads to the jasmine tapestry M. Roudnitska creates. I don’t think many will think of Eau Sauvage when I say basil perfumes but like things you never noticed that you can’t help seeing once you do see them; give Eau Sauvage a try and I bet you notice the basil now.

Another evergreen fragrance which uses basil is Azzaro pour Homme. This masculine powerhouse uses basil as a part of an herbal heart accord. Like in Eau Sauvage it also provides that bridging effect from the top of lavender and citrus to the patchouli and vetiver heart. This one is a little harder to see the basil as a featured note perhaps. I always notice it but that might be because I am attuned to it.

One of the best examples of a Mediterranean style is Annick Goutal Eau du Sud. Perfumer Isabelle Doyen wanted to capture twilight in Provence. She uses verbena as her focal point allowing basil, citrus, and sandalwood to complete the milieu. You might not think of basil as a typical fresh note; Mme Doyen shows that it can be.

I often complain about flankers taking the original and shoving a couple of new notes in to the formula and repackaging it. 99.9% of the time it is cynical; Tom Ford Private Blend Neroli Portofino Forte is the 0.1%. One reason might be perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux when asked to make his original Neroli Portofino “forte” he didn’t take that to mean to turn up the volume. Instead he looked at the top and base accords to find ways to make them bolder. The basil leads the chorus of herbs joined by tarragon, rosemary, and mint. Galbanum shades it all a bit greener. I like this because it does add strength. The neroli heart is given a different perspective coming out of such an herbal top. A leather accord provides the strength to finish. This also has replaced the original as my favorite of the blue bottle Private Blends.

These five help me keep my enjoyment of basil going all year long.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Coconut

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Having grown up in South Florida there were many summer afternoons when my snack was opening one of the coconuts which had fallen from one of the palms in our front yard. If I needed more coconut it was the smell of every suntan lotion people wore. Coconut has found its way into fragrances inspired by the sun tanning products and the fruit itself. It always seems particularly appropriate for the summer months. Here are five of my favorite coconut perfumes.

The best fragrance inspired by coconut suntan lotion is Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess. Bronze Goddess began its life in 2007 with the name Azuree Soleil before changing the name a year later. Perfumer Alberto Morillas has made a combination of sun, flowers, and coconut that is arranged on its own metaphorical beach towel. Citrus on top moves to a heart of jasmine and magnolia. The coconut here is fantastic because M. Morillas embeds it in myrrh and amber. It provides warmth like shimmering sun-warmed oiled skin. This is one of M. Morillas’ best perfumes. Every summer when I wear it I am reminded of that.

The perfume which reminds me most of the process of getting through the husk to the core nut at the heart is Comptoir Sud Pacifique Coco Extreme. Perfumers Claude Broggi and Jacques Lions use almond to represent the woody nut, coconut and vanilla to evoke the sweet meat inside. Whenever I wear this I am a child sitting with my back against our palm tree chewing on the coconut I just opened.

Perfumer Olivia Giacobetti created an abstract version of coconut in Honore des Pres We Love New York: Love Coconut. Mme Giacobetti wanted to have her perfumes for Honore des Pres be all-natural. She also wanted to keep her indelible transparent style. Coriander and tonka provide the outside while coconut milk and cedar provide the rest of the picture. This is a coconut cirrus cloud which works best when the temperature is at its hottest.

I’ve also eaten my share of coconut while on the beach. For that experience Heeley Cocobello captures all of that. Perfumer James Heeley’s opening of green gardenia over palm fronds is perfect. The sweet coconut is sprayed with briny mist before settling on a vanilla laden base.

My final choice is a way I learned to eat coconut while traveling through the islands. Once you crack it open you squeeze some honeycomb over the coconut. Perfumer Margot Elena must have also had this experience because she made her version as a fragrance in Love & Toast Honey Coconut. It is, as advertised, as she combines honey and a coconut accord in a simple linear construct. It is a lovely trifle ideal for a day at the beach.

If you want a little coconut in your summer fragrance choices give any of these five a try.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Juniper Berry

For those who read my The Sunday Magazine columns my love of gin has been the topic of many of them. I think it started when as a child a family friend used to stand on his pool deck with freshly-made gin and tonic and would say, “g and t, ice and a slice, nothing nicer”. It would be a few years before I had my first cocktail but I knew it would be a “g and t”. Which it was. I even learned how to make my own gin and as a poor student had something better to drink than just beer. From a fragrant perspective, the heart of gin is juniper berry. Now that we have kicked off the summer I thought I’d share my favorite juniper berry perfumes.

For the purest “g and t” fragrance experience it is the recently released Art de Parfum Gin & Tonic which does it best. Creative director Ruta Degutyte and perfumer Sofia Koronaiou create a near-photorealistic fragrance. The juniper berry is the heart surrounded by citrus, cucumber, and cardamom. What sets this apart is a very well-constructed tonic accord. You can almost see the condensation on the outside of the glass.

In 2011 perfumer Olivier Cresp created a gin-based floral cocktail in Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling. M. Cresp has the juniper berry out front until it duets with orris and leather. Turns out gin goes with everything.

Atelier Cologne Cedrat Envirant is inspired by a champagne and gin cocktail called a French 75. Perfumer Ralf Schwieger captures the effervescence of the champagne with cedrat. He twists it with mint and basil before the juniper berry arrives. This is all over a sweet woody base. After smelling this perfume for the first time I went out and made myself a French 75; the perfume is better. Gin was the drink of Prohibition and the 1920’s.

In Arquiste The Architects Club creative director Carlos Huber and perfumer Yann Vasnier use the juniper berry to represent the gin portion of a party in a wood-paneled men’s club in London. M. Vasnier captures the clash of bright young things and the establishment with an exquisitely designed woody observation on how the old and the new interact.

Frapin L’Humaniste has perfumer Sidonie Lancesseur create a spring floral infused version of “g and t”. A pinch of pepper along with thyme and nutmeg form the introduction to heart of peony and juniper berry before Mme Lancesseur uses her tonic accord as part of an oakmoss and tonka bean base. It is another close to reality interpretation of gin and tonic.

This was a funny list as there are five other juniper berry perfumes I had thought to include only to find they were currently discontinued. If you want your summer to have a bit of gin and tonic in your fragrance try these five.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased except for Art de Parfum Gin & Tonic which is from a press sample provided by the brand.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Rhubarb

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We all have different natural smells which signal the change of seasons. Based on the sheer amount of perfume that gets released this time of the year most brands believe rose is the harbinger of spring. While that might be true for many; my signal scent for spring comes with one of the first things harvested; rhubarb. I always look forward to May because rhubarb and strawberries are ready to be eaten at the same time. Rhubarb as a perfume ingredient has a rooty vegetal quality along with a hint of tart citrus facets and a sulfurous undertone. It is not an easy ingredient for a perfumer to work with but sometimes it can create the sense of digging in the soil. Here are five of my favorite rhubarb fragrances.

My first experience with rhubarb in perfume came from Comme des Garcons Series 5 Sherbet: Rhubarb. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour took rhubarb and displayed in all its tart vegetal glory. To stay true to the sherbet theme of the series M. Duchaufour adds in sweetness via lychee and vanilla. The whole effect is a creamy rhubarb ice cream. Beyond the use of rhubarb, it is just a fascinating deep freeze effect M. Duchaufour realizes.

Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena uses rhubarb with its most common partner grapefruit as his top accord for Hermes Hermessence Rose Ikebana. Hermessences have been likened to perfume haiku. The rhubarb and grapefruit are the five syllables of the first line here. Peony and rose provide the second line while honey and vanilla the final line. Rose Ikebana is all about the rose but it is the grapefruit and rhubarb which keeps me returning to this minimalist construct.

There was a part of me that wanted a perfumer to go all-out with the rhubarb and give it a chance to shine. M. Duchaufour would create a spring garden opening around not only rhubarb but tomato leaves, green apple, and strawberry in Aedes de Venustas. This is spring time digging in the dirt which patchouli represents before trailing to a warm amber. It is the perfume which showed me that rhubarb could be a star.

In Jul et Mad Terasse A St-Germain perfumer Dorothee Piot uses rhubarb as part of an elderflower accord. The rhubarb provides the tart aspect as along with grapefruit, freesia, and lotus flower the elderflower comes alive. It ends with a creamy sandalwood and patchouli base. This shows the potential of rhubarb as a versatile ingredient.

I was still wanting a rhubarb perfume which showed something artistic. I would get that from Hermes Eau de Rhubarbe Ecarlate. Perfumer Christine Nagel takes a fabulously complex rhubarb note then like tendrils of fog she ensnares it in a coating of white musks. Each new musk transforms the keynote displaying every facet that is there. It is a shifting study of rhubarb as the shadows and light alter constantly.

If you want to join me down in the dirt this early spring try one of my favorite rhubarb perfumes.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Cardamom

Spring is here right on schedule. Also, right on schedule is the beginning of my rotation of spring favorites to the front of the perfume wardrobe. Most opt for florals and aquatics. I prefer spice perfumes for the cool nights and warm days. One of my favorite shoulder season spices is cardamom. Here are five of my favorite fragrances featuring cardamom.

I can’t be 100% sure but I think the perfume which made me a cardamom fan was 1996’s Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. Composed by perfumers Dominique Ropion and Jean-Louis Sieuzac under the creative direction of Celine Verleure; Jungle L’Elephant features a rich creamy cardamom among the panoply of spice as clove, cumin, licorice mix with mango, vanilla and amber. Jungle L’Elephant has always been that perfect shoulder season perfume. The equivalent of a lightweight cashmere sweater. It is among my very favorite perfumes, period.

Perhaps one of the oddest cardamom perfumes I own is Heeley Esprit du Tigre. Perfumer James Heeley wanted a fragrance which evoked the classic liniment Tiger Balm. Not your typical inspiration leading to an atypical perfume. A strong camphor and mint opening leads into a strong cardamom, black pepper, and clove heart which recreates the herbal scent of Tiger Balm. Vetiver finishes it with a green flourish. I wear this on the spring mornings which are a little cooler and the days don’t get that warm.

With the new renaissance of colognes cardamom has become one of the more popular ingredients in this trend.

In 2012 there was an entire collection of cologne nouveau from The Different Company all created by Emilie Coppermann with the creative direction of Luc Gabriel. I liked all of them but the one I wear the most is Sienne D’Orange. Mme Copperman uses a greener version of cardamom to go with orange in the top accord. She brilliantly uses carrot as the bridge to orris before finishing with a suede leather accord. This is exactly what imagination can provide to staid archetypes.

The same can be said for Thirdman Eau Contraire which was called Eau Nomade when I purchased it in 2013. Owner-Creative Director Jean-Christophe le Greves wanted a collection which pushed the envelope on cologne architecture. Working with perfumer Bruno Jovanovic this was an impressively realized collection of which Eau Contraire was my favorite. In this case M. Jovanovic used a hefty amount of cardamom to provide contrast to lemon and orange. A very technically adept mixture of various musks provide the development around this trio. This has been one of those perfumes which makes me smile broadly when I wear it.

As mentioned above a greener version of cardamom was beginning to be used by perfumers and I was wanting someone to really go all in with that ingredient. My wish was granted in 2014’s By Kilian Intoxicated as Calice Becker working with creative director Kilian Hennessy made a cup of strong spice infused Turkish coffee. Mme Becker formed a nucleus of strong rich coffee to which she added the green cardamom in a significant quantity so it could stand up to the coffee. It almost has a sappy stickiness in this concentration. Cinnamon, nutmeg, and caramel finish this off. Intoxicated is one of my favorite coffee fragrances but it is the green cardamom which makes that true.

If you’re looking for something to add to your spring fragrance rotation give these cardamom perfumes a try.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Lemon

Every spring I get overwhelmed by the number of new rose releases for spring which pile up on my desk. I have become openly grumpy about this and hope every year for something different to show up as the weather begins to warm up. Last year I realized I was wearing several specific perfumes as a palate cleanser versus those rose fragrances; lemon focused perfumes. I made sure to remember when this time came around this year to share my favorites. Here are five which I love.

One of my favorite summer treats is to take a cold lemon and cut it into wedges and coat it in sugar. Then I bite into the wedge for a cold sweet and sour treat. When I want the same effect, I turn to Fresh Sugar Lemon. Perfumer Cecile Krakower mixes two sources of lemon and adds it into a heart of orange blossom, lychee flower and ginger. Those three ingredients provide the sugar part of the equation. It is one of the interesting aspects of perfumery that I can tease apart the strands but it is when I stop doing that the sugary effect is balanced contrast to the lemon. The base is found in caramel tinged sandalwood. Sugar Lemon is an example of how simple can be very good.

Diptyque Oyedo is a true melange of all citrus; especially in the very early going. The lemon rises out of the crowd as the herbal green of thyme along with apricot lift it up above the other citrus ingredients. As it was with Sugar Lemon the base is a mix of wood and gourmand as cedar and a praline accord take on that role. Of all of the perfumes on this list this is the most dynamic.

It is a very rare thing where I think the flanker is way better than the original; Chanel Allure Homme Edition Blanche is one of those. The original Allure Homme was composed by Jacques Polge and Francois Demachy in 1998. Ten years later the same team of perfumers reworked the original formula by replacing the original softer citrus opening around mandarin with one centered on a burst of lemon. The heart is a sandalwood and tonka down to a very different base of vetiver, cedar, amber, and vanilla from the original as the latter two notes take over from the first two.

One of the best recent variations on lemon has been Atelier Cologne Citron D’Erable. Perfumer Jerome Epinette splice lemon onto a fabulously rich maple syrup accord. By trapping the exuberant citrus in the sticky syrup, he creates a true shoulder season citrus which is at its best on cold mornings followed by warm afternoons.

I finish with what I consider to be one of the greatest rich citrus perfumes ever and it is all about lemon; Balmain Monsieur Balmain. Originally composed by Germaine Cellier and brilliantly re-worked by Calice Becker in 1990 this is what I think a spring fragrance should be. Three styles of lemon are combined in the top with lemon, petitgrain, and verbena. They are given lift by a brilliantly restrained use of mint. Then herbal thyme, rosemary, and sage along with ginger and nutmeg swaddle a spicy rose which provides deeper harmonies for the bright top accord. It all ends on fabulously constructed light chypre accord.

If you want something to freshen up your days as things begin to thaw try these five lemon perfumes to provide some light.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottle I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Tonka

For the first part of my life if you said “tonka” to me I expected it to be a diecast truck for me to play with in my sandbox. Even when I left my sandbox behind and picked up a perfume bottle if you still said “tonka” I probably still would have thought about toys. It really wasn’t until the release of Thierry Mugler A*Men that I ever heard about this perfume raw material called tonka. Over the years since I have come to enjoy the perfumes which put it out in a prominent way so I can enjoy its sweet toasty warmth. Here are five of my favorite fragrances which have tonka out in front.

Tonka had existed from the beginning of modern perfumery as part of the classic fougere accord. But for me it was Thierry Mugler A*Men which showed me the way tonka could be used. Perfumer Jacques Huclier used it as a key component of the gourmand base which has become the DNA of nearly every subsequent A*Men flanker. This came full circle with last year’s A*Men Pure Tonka where M. Huclier put the tonka out in front in the recognizable accord. It is the “one thin mint” of tonka perfumes.

The best use of tonka’s sweeter effect comes in Givenchy Pi. Perfumer Alberto Morillas hard on the heels of the gourmand trend produced a perfume which many will incorrectly call a vanilla perfume. It is because tonka has a very sweet nature like vanilla but it has more warmth and a less aggressive sweetness. Which is why Pi is often the “vanilla” perfume for people who don’t like vanilla. Taking the tonka in the heart and surrounding it with herbal rosemary, pine needles, and benzoin this has become one of my favorite cold weather comfort scents.

Perfumer Geza Schoen would also find tonka a good running partner for balsam and incense in Ormonde Jayne Tolu. In this perfume that accord doesn’t arrive until after an herbal and floral interlude. It provides a different version of the same trio that was used in Pi by going even warmer.

The warmest most embraceable version of tonka appears in Guerlain Tonka Imperiale. Perfumer Thierry Wasser uses gingerbread, honey, tobacco, coumarin along with tonka. This is the perfume equivalent of a Snuggie.

Then there is the perfumer who looks to find some different way to display tonka. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena in Hermes Hermessence Vetiver Tonka. M. Ellena takes traditional grain notes and matches them with dried fruits. Then where vetiver would provide a sharply green and woody counterpoint he softens the barb with tonka and hazelnut. The vetiver and the tonka go together beautifully and as with the other four perfumes above the wamth it provided the cooler vetiver really makes Vetiver Tonka stand out.

If you need the perfume equivalent of a warm blanket in front of a fireplace these five tonka fragrances cah provide that comfort.

Disclosure: this review based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Caramel

From Halloween until the New Year candy seems to be everywhere. One of the more ubiquitous versions is the chewy goodness that is caramel. Caramel was only a recent addition to the world of perfumery when perfumer Olivier Cresp created the caramel base accord which has become synonymous with Thierry Mugler Angel in 1992. That fragrance created the gourmand genre of fragrance and since then it has been an ever-expanding sector of the market. I have come to really embrace these perfumes especially in the cold weather. Here are five of my favorite caramel perfumes.

Sure, Angel may have started everything but it was 1996’s Thierry Mugler A*Men which made me a caramel fan. Perfumer Jacques Huclier was able to successfully create a masculine partner to Angel without being an imitation. Starting with lavender and aldehydes into a patchouli and coffee smudged with just a bit of tar before that signature caramel, chocolate, and vanilla finish. This is every bit as great a perfume as Angel; catch me in the right mood and I can make the argument that it is better.

Neil Morris Fragrances Afire reminds me of those Brach’s Raspberry Caramel Royals that have waned a bit in popularity. The raspberry ones were my favorite and when I smelled Afire for the first time it was what immediately popped in to my head. The heart of Afire is raspberry and caramel viscous and sticky. Then the fire arrives as swirls of incense, woods, and vanilla ignite the final stages. Another of Neil Morris’ perfumes I wear again and again.

Acqua di Parma Arancia di Capri is the subtlest caramel fragrance on this list. Part of the Blu Mediterraneo collection this is a gorgeous sunny citrus full of grapefruit and orange. Cardamom and mate add some zestiness. Then as it ages all the crisp citrusy nature fades to leave a musk-laden caramel which is like warm sweet skin. If the idea of caramel seems like too much Arancia di Capri is a good example of what it can do when used sparingly.

One of the candy trends of the last couple years has been the combination of sea salt with caramel. Shay & Blue Salt Caramel is a simple perfume equivalent. Perfumer Julie Masse takes a slightly ozonic sea salt accord and lays it over a rich caramel. She uses tonka, vanilla, and sandalwood as supporting notes but it is the salt and caramel that are out front almost the entire time. If you’ve ever opened a box of salted caramels this is almost exactly what Salt Caramel smells like before becoming softer over time.

Prada Candy came out almost twenty years after Angel but it feels like the next evolution of this style of gourmand fragrance. Perfumer Daniela Andrier swirls in a full octave of white musks and an overdose of benzoin before coating it all in a torrent of caramel. Candy is a fantastic example of perfume composition as Mme Andrier finds complex combinations to create simplistic effects. It is a perfume that contains interest on multiple levels.

If you’d rather wear some caramel than eat some these five should satisfy your sweet tooth.

Disclosure: I have purchased bottles of all the perfumes mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Holiday Spices

I’ve been spending the past few days assembling my Holiday staples. Find the Santa hat, check. Assemble the Holiday earrings, check. Locate the blinking Christmas tree hat, check. Get the family gingerbread recipe out, check. Pull my favorite perfumes I like to wear this time of the year to the front of the shelf, check. I knew I wanted to do this column on a note which held them all together. As I looked at the bottles I am looking forward to pairing with my Ho Ho Ho! I realized there was not one consistent theme other than they were all spice focused compositions. Which then got me thinking that was my theme Holiday Spices; cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, anise, and clove. Here are five of my favorite perfumes I’ll be wearing through the New Year.

Aroma M Geisha Amber Rouge despite the name is one of the fragrances I own which just feels perfect for the Season. This was the first perfume I tried of perfumer Maria McElroy’s line of fragrance. Geisha Amber Rouge is a flanker of the earlier Geisha Rouge except it is the better of the two, a rare feat. A simmering mixture of clove, cinnamon, and anise is dusted by a fabulous Moroccan amber while being rounded out with incense.

diptyque-leau

Diptyque L’Eau is my choice as the smell of Christmas. One of the first perfumes for the brand in 1968. Composed by Desmond Knox-Leet back then and recently re-formulated by Norbert Bijaoui. Mr. Knox-Leet wanted to create a perfume version of potpourri. Instead it is a wassail bowl of spices and fruit infusing the air. A gigantic spicy opening of all the Holiday spice shelf with lemon and orange floating on top of it all. Rose and sandalwood fill out the punch bowl.

Slumberhouse Jeke in its extrait formulation is at first a giant smoke bomb. Once the exhaust fans have kicked in what is reveled behind the smoke is patchouli, dark tea, and clove. Perfumer Josh Lobb completes Jeke with a duet of vanilla and benzoin.

Suleko Baba Yaga ends up in a cloud of smoke but before we get there the holiday spices are in charge. Perfumer Cecile Zarokian combines nutmeg, cinnamon, and clove with rich orris. This is my seasonal iris choice because it is so precisely balanced. Cade, leather, and musks tilt this towards a smoky animalic finish.

I spend a lot of the holiday season with a hot chocolate containing a cinnamon stick. The perfume which comes closest to this is Arquiste Anima Dulcis. Creative director Carlos Huber guided perfumers Yann Vasnier and Rodrigo Flores-Roux into smoking hot spicy hot chocolate perfume. Cinnamon is made savory with sesame and oregano. Clove, cumin, and chili pepper spice up a dark rich cocoa. Above all of this is a cloud of jasmine. It ends with a rich vanilla providing some heft to the spicy chocolate.

If you’re looking for some Holiday olfactory cheer these five might do the trick.

Disclosure: this review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke