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

My Favorite Things: Smoke

One of the things I like about autumn mornings is the smell of smoke which hangs in the air in a visible haze. Smoke is a longtime part of fragrance. It can often be used poorly overbalancing a composition. Yet when it is used in balance it provides one of the more unique chords in perfumery. Here are five of my favorite smoky perfumes.

The perfume which made me fall in love with fragrant smoke was Tauer Lonestar Memories. It was the third fragrance by Swiss independent perfumer Andy Tauer. It was also after he had become the first independent perfume star due to receiving a 5-star review from Chandler Burr in the NY Times for L’Air du Desert Marocain. Hr. Tauer did what has always made me enjoy independent perfumers he set this anticipated release on fire. This is the figurative campfire scent of the American West. The early moments are the herbal slightly spicy greenness of the prairie. Then the campfire accord is formed around birch tar, labdanum, and leather. This smolders enchantingly before giving way to woody embers of sandalwood, myrrh, vetiver, and cedar. Hr. Tauer has always shown the admirable quality of following his muse; Lonestar Memories laid down an early marker to the truth of that.

My introduction to another independent perfumer was also shrouded in smoke. Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline was a perfume with a smoky charcoal-like color to the juice. M. Durbano would layer on multiple versions of swirling clouds of smoke. Starting with skirling curls of frankincense swathed in cumin and cardamom. Leading to an intensely smoky heart accord of leather and oud before grounding it all with an earthy patchouli and musk. It was M. Durbano’s third release but it has always been near the top of my personal chart.

2nd-alan-cumming-500x500

One of the few celebrity fragrances which rises to be able to be included on this list is 2nd Cumming. A collaboration between actor Alan Cumming and perfumer Christopher Brosius. Together they made a fragrance of whisky and cigars on the Scottish heath which has a fantastic haze of the peat fires burning. There are amazing fun grace notes to be found throughout like rubber, truffle, and mud but it is the burning peat which makes 2nd Cumming a smoky stunner.

Most smoky perfumes are either cade or leather. Perfumer Mona di Orio chose to use both in her Les Nombres D’Or Cuir. She wisely keeps it simple with a mix of cardamom and wormwood on top providing a twisted absinthe accord. The cade and leather could have become incredibly boisterous but Mme di Orio keeps it all controlled. The animalic is accentuated with castoreum and opoponax in the base. One of Mme di Orio’s best.

Australian designer Naomi Goodsir and her partner Renaud Coutaudier started the Naomi Goodsir brand in 2012 with an example of how to use cade for the smoke effect in Bois D’Ascese. Perfumer Julien Rasquinet leads you to it with a progression of mandarin, tobacco, labdanum, and incense. Then mixing cade with oak he provides a forest fire of charred wood which is gorgeous in its simplicity.

If you want to surround yourself in a smoky veil here are five of my favorite things.

Disclosure: this review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Mint

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Every perfume lover has one or two problematic notes. One reason can be a strong association with something unpleasant. For me mint is that note. When I smell it I think of dental floss, mouthwash, and toothpaste; none of which conjure up particularly interesting images. I will find myself taking extra time when I receive a new fragrance with a strong mint presence because I don’t want this inherent bias to keep me from missing something good. What has probably been a positive by-product of writing about perfume is I felt the need to give some of these mint perfumes a chance. Over the years there have been a few which have managed to leave the dental behind while making a lasting impression. Here are five which have done that.

Heeley Menthe Fraiche was probably the last of the brand I tried because there was “menthe” on the label. I expected to not like it but I should have remembered James Heeley’s way of finding unique combinations of notes. In Menthe Fraiche before it can start getting too minty he cuts it with sharp mate, lotus leaf, and green tea. This is what mint needed; something to shred it a bit. A very pure cedar provides a greenish woodiness. This is as close as I get to a straight mint fragrance.

One of the great underrated collection is the Comme des Garcons Series collections from 2000-2005. Over seven Series they explored great accords using some of the very best emerging perfumers. Series 5 Sherbet had three entries all done by Bertrand Duchaufour. Comme des Garcons Series 5 Sherbet: Peppermint nailed the chill of the frozen dessert best. By applying sheerer applications of both peppermint and spearmint over similarly light versions of cardamom, and white pepper. The real linchpin is a floral note, daphne odora, which provides a light floral core which is similar to neroli but lemon-tinted while also being sweet like vanilla. A cocktail of white musks provide the chill as it curls away from the scoop.

cartier-roadster

In 2008 Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent wanted to design a modern masculine perfume. Roadster was going to be that fragrance built upon an axis of mint, patchouli, and woods. It helps that she keeps the mint tilted slightly towards the herbal side. Roadster has been one of those perfumes I have gone back and forth upon, because of the mint, until I wore it one blazing hot day. In that heat it all of a sudden shifted in to fifth gear with a roar. Now it is a shank of summer staple for me.

If there was a single fragrance which turned around my thinking on mint it is probably Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Geranium pour Homme. Perfumer Dominique Ropion had been one of the select group of early perfumers putting their names on the bottles for the brand. In 2009, I was excited to see what he would do with geranium. What he did was coat it in spearmint oil. This was a mint which was viscous and oozed over the geranium picking up green facets as it flowed over the flower. Underneath it all M. Ropion used ambrox and sandalwood to form a woody base. The oiliness of the mint won me over and Geranium pour Homme is one of my favorites within the brand.

By now I am a tiny bit more open to mint. When Pierre Guillaume showed me an early version of Mojito Chypre for his Parfumerie Generale Collection Croisiere I was caught up in the boozy revelry. The mint was there but so were all the sweet parts of a strawberry mojito. Sometimes perfume needs to just be fun. In the case of Mojito Chypre the mint is just part of an all-day party.

Even for me I’ve managed to find some pleasure in a note I find difficult. The above five mint perfumes are my favorite things.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Neroli

As we head to the final weekend of summer I always find that I turn to neroli to help me keep the lessening of the sunlight at bay. Neroli the blossom that eventually will turn into bergamot is more thought of as a spring fragrance ingredient. Of course I wear it as the warmth is on its way out. I like neroli perfumes at this time of the year because they have a vitality to them I need with that eventual turn of the season just around the corner. Here are five of my favorites.

The new version of Jacques Fath Green Water has been a constant companion since trying it at Esxence in March of this year. Perfumer Cecile Zarokian held her ground on the high concentration of neroli oil in this reformulation. It is why it is not an embarrassment to compare it to the Green Water of the past. As the spices and oakmoss make their presence known it is the neroli which never gives up the spotlight.

vero rubj

Vero Profumo Rubj reminds me that neroli is a white flower too. Independent perfumer Vero Kern makes this crystal clear by matching it with the queen of white flowers tuberose. This is a throwback floral full of snarling indoles and feral musks. In other words, a lovely untamed beast; give yourself over to it.

My favorite neroli straight no chaser version is Annick Goutal Neroli. As part of the Les Colognes collection perfumer Isabelle Doyen takes her neroli and supports it with pettigrain, heliotrope, and white musks. It is simple and compelling in that simplicity.

One of the more unique uses of neroli I have is Le Labo Neroli 26. Perfumer Daphne Bugey gives you a tidal basin with neroli blossoms floating on top of the water. Mme Bugey uses an over-the-top aquatic accord of calone and salt which accentuates the melon-y parts of calone which the neroli plays off of nicely. As the neroli gains more of a foothold a swirl of white musks and driftwood capture the floral again. I love this for the mixture of sea and floral.

When Atelier Cologne was introducing the world to their concept of Cologne Absolue in 2010 the poster child might have been Grand Neroli. Most neroli perfumes have short lifetimes on the skin. Grand Neroli not only had longevity it also took the neroli into deeper places. Perfumer Cecile Krakower turns her neroli richer by surrounding it with galbanum, vanilla, and musks. This taking of traditional lighter cologne ingredients deep into the shadows has become a bit of the brand DNA of Atelier Cologne this was the alpha to that.

If you’re looking for a way to push back the encroaching night these five neroli perfumes might allow for you to keep the light close a little bit longer.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke