My Favorite Things: Cedar

Where I live we have received the first signs of the upcoming heated days of summer. When it comes to perfume wearing you have to choose wisely. This is the season when the cleaner less complicated fragrances are the ones I choose. For this time of year when I want something woody I begin to look in the area of my perfume collection which holds the cedar-based fragrances. Cedar is often described as smelling like “pencil shavings” or a “hamster cage”. While these are accurate they turn a woody note which provides structure to so many perfumes into something unappealing. Cedar is what I think of as the unobtrusive frame around the more flamboyant perfume raw materials. When it comes to summer though I mostly want my cedar unadulterated. For that here are five I turn to.

Serge Lutens (Shiseido) Feminite du Bois was the perfume which not only put Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake on the map it would also set the stage for many “Bois” perfumes to come from M. Lutens. Collaborating with perfumer Pierre Bourdon the bois here is cedar throughout. What Messrs. Sheldrake and Bourdon do is to dress it up with rose, honey, and spices. This is one of the great masterpieces of perfumery and it all starts with the very plebian cedar.

armani prive bois dencens

Armani Prive Bois D’Encens is one of the only incense perfumes I can wear in the heat of summer. That is because perfumer Michel Almairic keeps the incense very transparent. When it does become recognizable it is that cool slightly metallic church incense. M. Alamiric chooses cedar as the wood because it can also be pitched at the same level. What remains is a sotto voce duet of cedar and incense that never overstays its welcome, especially in the heat.

IUNX L’Eau Sento is Olivia Giacobetti’s perfume of a steamy sauna with its cedar lined walls. There is a palpable humidity as water droplets form on the planks. The same effect occurs with L’Eau Sento as Mme Giacobetti is able to add a watery sheen to the clean woodiness of the cedar. This is one of the perfumes I keep in the refrigerator during the summer. Not for any preservation effect but because spraying this on chilled is one of my favorite ways to beat the heat.

Les Nez Let Me Play the Lion is the flip side to L’Eau Sento. Perfumer Isabelle Doyen has created a dry sauna with a brazier of lava rocks releasing their heat into the surrounding wood. The effect is meant to make you feel like a lion prowling the savannah. Every time I wear it I am meditating in a small overheated cedar room.

Byredo Super Cedar has rapidly risen to inclusion on this list. Perfumer Jerome Epinette layers so many different sources of cedar it forms a woody palimpsest. This has been the cedar perfume I’ve sought out for these first few scorching days. My recent review of it can be found here.

If you’re looking for clean uncomplicated woody fragrances for the summer these are five of My Favorite Things.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased except for Byredo Super Cedar which is a press sample supplied by Byredo.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Licorice

Licorice shares a similarity with lavender. In both cases there is a more common version which is very sweet. Then there is a version with the herbal nature of both raw materials kept intact. The very first licorice perfume was released in 1997, Lolita Lempicka. Since then there have not been a deluge of releases but there are five which I think are worth seeking out.

I have to start with the alpha licorice perfume Lolita Lempicka by perfumer Annick Menardo. Mme Menardo takes licorice through all of its various faces. It moves through stages from herbal lozenge to red licorice whips. It was the answer to those who thought Thierry Mugler Angel was too sweet back in the 1990’s.

Christian Dior La Collection Privee Eau Noire by perfumer Francis Kurkdjian. Eau Noire is primarily an immortelle perfume but licorice plays a vital part in the final moments. M. Kurkdjian wanted an herbal beginning which he uses clary sage and thyme for. In the base he uses a very herbal licorice as the bookend around which to wrap the immortelle. It is these choices which make Eau Noire the excellent perfume it is.

brin-de-reglisse

Hermes Hermessence Brin de Reglisse by perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena. This fragrance is a study in the herbal nature of licorice and lavender together. It is all accomplished in M. Ellena’s characteristic transparent style. It is a marvel that this never becomes oppressively sweet or overtly cloying; it stays right in the pocket all the way through.

Serge Lutens Boxeuses is one of the best perfumes in the entire collection. Rich plum, animalic castoreum, refined leather and a fabulously intense licorice. Perfumer Christopher Sheldrake creates a brooding snarling masterpiece with these four notes. Not for the timid to be sure.

I met independent perfumer Jessica September Buchanan at Sniffapalooza six years ago when she debuted her perfume 1000 Flowers Reglisse Noire. It was love at first sniff. Revisiting it again for this piece it is amazing what Ms. Buchanan elicits from her keynote with a judiciously chosen set of supporting cast. Pepper and shiso capture the greener aspects. Ginger and cacao provide contrast. The base is a gorgeous melding of the licorice into an earthy woody base of cedar, vetiver, and patchouli. It still remains one of the most impressive first releases I’ve smelled from an independent perfumer.

Hopefully these choices have you craving a bit of herbal-tinged candy. Try these five of my favorites.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things- Lilac

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While reviewing the exquisite all-botanical impressionistic lilac of DSH Perfumes La Belle Saison I ended up pulling out my favorite lilac perfumes to compare to it. As I looked at my desk I realized I had the makings of a My Favorite Things right in front of me.

When I lived in Massachusetts our home was surrounded by lilacs and it was the sure sign that winter had passed when the house filled with their smell. When it comes to perfume lilac is a tricky thing to get right as an accord has to be constructed. The other hazard is that one of the earliest spray air fresheners was “French lilac” and no fragrance wants to be compared to that. Here are five of my favorite lilacs.

Highland Lilac of Rochester was created in 1967. I bet you didn’t know Rochester, NY was the Lilac Capitol of the World. The story on the website claims they harvest these lilacs every spring and create each year’s limited bottling. I think there is some natural lilac in here but the great majority is an accord centered around hyacinth, which is probably the most used floral alternative to create a lilac accord. This is a green unctuous floral that is everything that cloud of air freshener was not.

Pacifica French Lilac is another lilac accord coalescing around heliotrope. The perfumer uses ylang ylang and hyacinth to complete the effect. Magnolia leaves provide the green but French Lilac is a full-blown lilac soliflore.

SONY DSC

The next two are examples of perfumers capturing that spring milieu of the lilacs in full bloom.

Independent perfumer Ineke Ruhland’s Ineke After My Own Heart captures a garden with raspberries growing along with the lilacs. Ms. Ruhland finds a balance between the sweet juicy berry and the fulsome lilac. This is my kind of fruity floral.

Probably the greatest lilac perfume is Editions de Parfum Frederic Malle En Passant. It is definitely among the best perfumes composed by perfumer Olivia Giacobetti and that is not faint praise as her portfolio is amazing. In En Passant she captures that moment after a spring rain storm as the sun has returned and is drying things out. The dewy green of the leaves the transparent floralcy as the blooms shake off their cloak of water. The damp soil everything grows in. En Passant somehow manages to be photorealistic and impressionistic at the same time. I always wear it in the spring. It is still one of the perfumes which reminds me of the heights of what perfume can achieve.

My last choice is JAR Jarling. The entire JAR line of perfumes can best be described as quirky. Jarling fits the description better than most as it is a gourmand lilac. In the early going it is a treacly vanilla and almond mixture out of which arises a heliotrope focused lilac accord. What is fascinating about Jarling is after some time the sweet almond and lilac form a plush partnership which I can’t stop admiring when I wear it.

If you need a little bit of spring before it has fully taken hold these five lilac perfumes might help chase the last winter blues away.

Disclosure: this review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Absinthe

I detest the end of February. Almost done with winter surrounded by gray skies, dead tees, and brown grass; it’s enough to drive a man to drink. One of my favorite drinks at this time of year is absinthe. I do the whole ceremony with the spoon and the sugar cube. Absinthe fits my melancholic mood. Absinthe in perfume contains some of my favorite perfumes in my collection. There are many which are discontinued but here are five with which you can encounter the Green Fairy sans hangover.

My friend and colleague Ida Meister introduced me to the independent perfumer Serena Ava Franco. Ms. Franco’s brand is called Ava Luxe and has one of the more distinct aesthetics in all of indie perfumery. Her Absinthe is a perfect example as she uses wormwood essence as her nucleus around which is wrapped lemon, angelica, star anise, and hyssop incense. It is that last ingredient which elevates Absinthe. The herbal incense is pitched perfectly with the wormwood to form a mystical perfume worthy of the name Absinthe.

Absolument Absinthe has the best pedigree of all as it is owned by a company which makes the liquor. Perfumer Pascal Rolland creates a symphony of illicit mood enhancers. He opens with a bit of cannabis before adding some absinthe among a floral heart. It ends on a very sensual mix of musks. It is a wild night in a bottle.

by kilian a taste of heaven

By Kilian A Taste of Heaven: Absinthe Verte is a completely decadent fragrance composed by Calice Becker. The absinthe ignites the rest of the development as it moves into a fabulous lavender and rose heart. The base made of costus, patchouli, and oakmoss carries a different kind of green bite before softening with some ambered vanilla. This is the absinthe for the refined tastes.

All of the perfumes Alessandro Gualtieri created for his Nasomatto brand had challenging aspects. Absinth didn’t thrill me at first because Sig. Gualtieri was interested in exploring the woody part of the wormwood. To do that he added in artemesia, pine, licorice, and a lot of white musk. This does bring the woodiness out but it also creates a camphor-like accord which feels as if your sinuses are being cleared. This Absinth takes you into the dark woods.

Cartier III L’Heure Verteuse is the one where absinthe is used to artistic effect. Cartier in-house perfumer Mathilde Laurent is not going for mystery or mysticism. She just wants to create a memorable lavender perfume. The absinthe is used in the top accord and it is matched with verbena. Mme Laurent fashions a green floral accord where the absinthe again tilts towards the woody. Rosemary and thyme bring it back to the herbal side of things just in time for the lavender to insert itself. Some mastic resin finishes it off.

I’m going to go prepare a drink and maybe give myself a spritz of one of these as I close my eyes and dream of spring.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles of all the perfumes I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Lavender

As we head into the days of the year when spring is close enough to hope for but winter still holds sway I turn to perfume for my jolt of the coming warmer weather. Lavender is a quintessential warm weather fragrance. Conjuring up purple fields at the height of summer just prior to harvest. Lavender in perfumery has been around since the very beginning. My favorites are the ones which show off both the sweet floralcy and the herbal nature. Here are five of my favorites.

Guerlain Jicky was one of the first modern perfumes, created in 1889, and lavender provided the focal point. Aime Guerlain would lay down the formula for the fougere that would last the next one hundred or so years. He married lavender with rosemary in the top. The rosemary is the key as it brings out the herbal almost medicinal nature of lavender. It heads to a heart of geranium before settling on a vanilla base characteristic of Guerlain. That you can still buy this, 127 years after it was created, tells you what a classic it is.

In 1934 perfumer Ernest Daltroff would create the template for the masculine lavender in Caron pour Un Homme. The concept of men wearing floral perfumes was a tough sell. M. Daltroff makes it work by taking a large amount of vanilla to go along with the lavender. This one almost entirely hides the non-floral character. A bit of amber and musk butch things up so any man can be caught wearing this.

The last of the traditional lavenders is Caldey Island Lavender by perfumer Hugo Collumbien, released in 1959. This is the version where the herbal character is displayed at the expense of the floral. That is done by using a mix of amber and musk. With no vanilla around to tilt one’s senses towards the sweet this is the most like the smell you get from picking actual lavender and smelling your hands afterward.

encens et lavande

There are two modern interpretations of lavender by two of the best modern perfumers which show how far perfumery has come since Jicky was released.

Serge Lutens Encens et Lavande was released in 1996 composed by perfumer Christopher Sheldrake. Opening on a rosemary and juniperberry top accord it is the heart where the name comes to life. Lavender is buttressed by clary sage and an austere silvery frankincense. They provide a chilly effect that carries an icy beauty. A healthy amount of amber thaws things out. Incense and lavender go together like peas and carrots.

Hermes Hermessence Brin de Reglisse is what happens when you take the herbal side of lavender to its fullest effect. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena uses licorice as lavender’s partner. This is one of the most unique lavender perfumes out there because with all of the intensity of these two notes it is the addition of orange blossom and hay which round things out into an opaque masterpiece.

If you have never tried any of these lavenders because you think lavender is boring give it a second look I think these five will change that opinion.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Nutmeg

Nutmeg is one of the smells of the Holidays for me but I also realize it is one of my favorite perfume notes for the rest of the year as well. If I really wanted to stretch this point to its breaking point I could say without nutmeg my perfume journey might never have begun. If you want to spritz a little nutmeg on here are five of my favorites.

It was the nutmeg that lured me over to the woman spraying strips with Calvin Klein Obsession for Men. The 1986 perfume composed by Bob Slattery uses nutmeg as the leader of the spices in the heart. I knew when I smelled it wafting to my nose it smelled different than other masculine designed spice perfumes. Mr. Slattery adds in clove, coriander, and sage along with lavender and myrrh. It ends on a traditional woody base of sandalwood and vetiver. It is that spicy heart which still appeals to me almost thirty years later.

The most famous nutmeg perfume is likely Jo Malone Nutmeg & Ginger. At first created as a little present for Ms. Malone’s clients it would be the perfume which launched one of the earliest successful niche brands. Like all Jo Malone fragrances, you get a lot of what it says on the bottle as ginger rides in on the shoulders of neroli and lemon to meet nutmeg embracing cinnamon and clary sage before ending on a sandalwood base note. Everything that is admirable and what made Jo Malone something of a trendsetter is on display right from the start.

Givenchy_Organza

Sometimes I want my nutmeg as a side to some white flowers. My favorite white flower nutmeg combo plate is 1996’s Givenchy Organza created by a committee of Sophia Grojsman, Nathalie Lorson, and Sophie Labbe. Organza takes a green sappy accord and dives right into a heart of luscious gardenia and jasmine. The nutmeg forms a spicy sweet woody base with vanilla and cedar. You might think white flowers can’t be tamed with nutmeg, Organza proves that hypothesis incorrect.

A fellow forum poster on Basenotes gifted me a sample of Frapin Caravelle Epicee. If Obsession for Men started the journey Caravelle Epicee was when I completely fell down the rabbit hole. I frequently describe this 2007 creation by perfumer Jean-Marie Faugier as the hold of a Dutch East India company boat just after it is unloaded. Nutmeg and coriander are the first of many spices which form the olfactory spics ship. Thyme, allspice, pepper, and tobacco form the manifest. The smell of the wood of the ship is infused with patchouli. This is as close as I have to a single favorite perfume.

Carner Barcelona Rima XI composed by perfumer Sonia Constant is one of the softest spicy perfumes I own. It is a soft place to lay one’s head and allow nutmeg, cardamom, saffron, pepper, cinnamon, coriander, and mint to surround you in a spicy haze. You almost don’t notice the equally quiet jasmine and sandalwood but they make Rima XI the complete perfume that it is.

This was bit of a journey down my perfume lover’s memory lane with the scent of nutmeg accompanying me.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles that I purchased of all the fragrances mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Pine

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While many spend the time after Thanksgiving in the US shopping I spend it a different way. The Friday after Thanksgiving is the beginning of Christmas for me. What that means is I leave the shopping mall behind and head to the Christmas tree lot to buy a tree and pine roping to drape around the house. There are many scents I associate with the holiday season but the clean green coniferous smell of pine is with me every day of the last month of the year. In honor of the beginning of the Holidays I am going to name my five favorite pine perfumes.

When I first moved to Boston I was told of this fantastic little perfume shop in Harvard Square called Colonial Drug. It was the definition of a perfume lover’s paradise as Cathy, the owner, had a huge selection of European perfumes you couldn’t find anywhere else. The first time I went in she was busy extolling the virtues of Pino Silvestre to the male customer. Over many years I would see the green pine cone shaped bottle leave the store in a bag because perfumer Lino Vidal made a pine fragrance which did not smell like an air freshener. Sharp sunny citrus dives deep into a pine note surrounded by clove, sage, and rosemary. It all ends up on a cedar and sandalwood foundation. There is a reason this sits on a lot of men’s dressers in the Boston area.

Serge Lutens Fille en Aiguilles is one of the few pine perfumes you will encounter where the lighter nature of pine needles are as evident. Christopher Sheldrake composing under Serge Lutens creative direction uses those pine needles in the top to create an airy coniferous experience. Soon enough a host of resinous notes allow the sap to rise. The final camphor note is like breathing in cold air in the middle of the Christmas tree lot.

christian dior granville

Christian Dior La Collection Privee Granville was a perfume which had to win me over. When I first tried Francois Demachy’s pine perfume it was not what I expected as strong citrus, herbs, and a particularly strong gorse note all seemed to be competing with each other. Over time Granville’s eclectic kinetic quality has won me over and it is one of my favorites of Dior’s exclusive collection. Tart lemon and herbal thyme open things up. Black pepper and rosemary join the pine in the heart. The gorse blows in soon after before sandalwood finishes things up. Over time I realized Granville is a more modern take on the same themes used in Pino Silvestre. My appreciation and affection for Granville probably was an evolution of my perfume tastes without my being conscious of it.

My final two choices exemplify the reason independent perfume can be so exhilarating when the perfumer finds a unique small batch ingredient. Samantha Rader the perfumer behind Dasein Winter sourced a pine essential oil from the Austrian Alps to use as the centerpiece of her first release. By understanding her raw material was something special she wisely did not complicate the experience and only used cardamom and lavender to complement. The lavender really evokes the Alpine milieu in particular. This is the smell of carrying that Christmas tree home in my arms, face pressed into the branches.

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz found a local wildcrafter Eric Bresselsmith of House of Aromatics to source a pinon essential oil infused with fifty-year old pine resin crystals for her DSH Perfumes Seve de Pin. Ms. Hurwitz also keeps it simple but she chooses some notes to be more interactive with the pinon oil instead of framing it. Early on it is a group of green notes to evoke the rest of the forest besides the pine. Once the pine comes out rose and amyris use their floral character to smooth out the rough edges and provide depth. The base is a deeper dive into the resinous as olibanum and labdanum come forward. Seve de Pin is the most photorealistic pine perfume I own. Whenever I want to be in the Holiday mood I just need a drop or two to get me there, even in July.

If you need a little perfume to carry around the pine scentd of the Holidays these five are worth giving a try.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Iris

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One of my favorite fall floral notes is iris. There is something about the dual faces it presents sometimes powdery, sometimes rooty and earthy; with all of the variations in between. I’ve written in The Gold Standard that Stephane Humbert-Lucas 777 Khol de Bahrein is my very favorite iris perfume. As we head in to the heart of autumn here are five more iris perfumes I’ll be wearing.

Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist was my gold standard for iris until Khol de Bahrein arrived. Released in 1994 and composed by Christopher Sheldrake and Maurice Roucel this was the Serge Lutens I sent someone to Paris to bring back for me. This is an iris like no other as the perfumers provide a metallic edge which eventually becomes the foundation for another metallic note incense. This is why I fell in love with Serge Lutens.

When perfumer Yann Vasnier works with creative director DelRae Roth they produce some very fine perfumes. DelRae Mythique is what happens when they take on iris. What they released was a non-powdery iris wrapped in suede. The suede accord M. Vasnier created for Mythique is one of my favorites in all of perfumery. The choice to stay more to the earthy rooty side pays off handsomely.

malle-iris-poudre

When I do want the powdery iris I almost invariably reach for Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Iris Poudre. When skiers talk about ideal conditions they talk about deep powder. Perfumer Pierre Bourdon makes Iris Poudre deep powder of the perfumed variety. It is a remembrance of the day when all cosmetics carried a bit of iris as fragrance. The evocation of the cosmetics counter eventually gives way to a woody softness.

The best iris soliflore I own is Chanel 28 La Pausa. This is iris done in an elegant spare style. Perfumers Francois Demachy and Jacques Polge combined to create this beauty. At its core is a Florentine iris. The perfumers wisely add in only two other ingredients; baie rose and vetiver. The baie rose helps to keep the powderiness a little more controlled. The vetiver brings the earthy character a little more to the foreground. This is meant to be admired like a fine jewel from all angles.

Ormonde Jayne Orris Noir took a while to really make an impression on me. When it finally did after many months I wondered to myself why I ever resisted. Creative Director Linda Pilkington working with perfumer Geza Schoen have the iris play the heart while darkness swirls around it. The iris shows off all of its character with powdery aspects pushing back against coriander and davana on top. By the time incense, myrrh, and patchouli show up in the base the earthiness is what you notice. This is one of the few perfumes with “noir” in the name which earns the name.

With autumn in full swing if you need a floral to add to your perfume wardrobe give these five iris perfumes a shot.

Disclosure: This review based on bottles of each perfume I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Oud

The seasonal rotation has begun as the vetivers, aquatics, and citrus perfumes move towards the back of the shelves and the cold-weather favorites come forward. A nice aspect of this change in perfumes is I welcome back these perfumes like long lost friends. It is particularly helpful in a sector of fragrance as crowded as oud perfumes. There are so many oud releases it is easy to become jaded. It is hard to believe it has only been thirteen years since Yves Saint Laurent M7 introduced oud to the western perfume conversation. Ever since it has been a mad rush to embrace this precious and fractious note. When I was thinking about my favorite oud perfumes I realized it is the ones where the perfumer doesn’t just allow the exoticism to lay there and act weird. These five perfumes are examples of perfumers working to bend oud to their will which is why I think they have all stood the test of time with me.

Very top of my list is the Mona di Orio Oudh Osmanthus. It was the last perfume released prior to Mme di Orio’s untimely passing. It is the best perfume of her career and I thought it was the best new perfume of 2011. She tamed the oud with a multi-layered effect surrounding osmanthus. By early on embracing the faux-oud of cypriol before heading to a mix of genuine Laotian white oud and oud in the base. This is how you make oud something like you’ve never smelled before. It is what I consider to be one of the five best perfumes of the past five years.

It would only be a few months before I found another oud to swoon over. Maison Francis Kurkdjian Oud is also another testament to a master perfumer’s ability to wring new facets out of something as overplayed as oud. M. Kurkdjian’s choices are to first frame it in the clean woodiness of cedar before planting it in the earthiness of patchouli and finally upping the exoticism quotient with saffron.

soivohle oudh lacquer

Liz Zorn is one of those independent perfumers who definitely illuminate the mundane into the extraordinary. The best example of her ability to do that is Soivohle Oudh Lacquer. The core of this perfume is a sinkwood tincture which takes Ms. Zorn a year to make. As the source of the oudh it adds a complexity you will not find in other oud perfumes.The lacquer is a dense chocolate. I couldn’t have told you before trying Oudh Lacquer how much I would like chocolate and oud. Not only do I love it but nobody who has tried to do this since has even come close to the richness of Oudh Lacquer.

Memo Shams Oud required a personal shopper to bring it back to me from Paris early in 2012. Clara Molloy creatively directing perfumer Alienor Massenet make an oud which rides on a sunbeam. An explosive spicy opening of ginger, pepper, and saffron turns greenish with vetiver and papyrus. The oud arises on a platform of birch and balsam. It is the reason I fell in love with this brand at first sniff.

By Kilian Rose Oud is the most traditional of my favorite ouds as rose and oud are the classic Middle Eastern pairing. Perfumer Calice Becker fuses a very European rose with an oud accord to create what I consider to be the best of these rose and oud combinations by a Western perfume brand.

As I was writing this I came to the realization that each one of these perfumes made my top 25 of the year they were released. I think it goes to show that a talented creative mind can make something transcendent even from the most pedestrian of notes.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased of each perfume.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things- Honey

When it comes to the culinary arts honey is one of my favorite ingredients to use. It has so much versatility in the kitchen. When it comes to my sense of smell it can be an entirely different experience. Honey when used as the focal point of a fragrance has a tipping point for me. After a certain concentration it changes from being a bit of viscous sweet sunshine to the smell of a urinal cake. I am not unique in this as the perfume forums are full of the same kind of impressions. That doesn’t mean there aren’t perfumes which are on the good side of the line. Here are five honey perfumes I think stay away from the less desirable aspects of honey in perfume.

The first honey perfume I fell in love with was 2004’s Christian Dior La Collection Privee Bois D’Argent by Annick Menardo. An opaque opening of incense and iris evolves into a heart of honey and myrrh. Mme Menardo creates a gauzy drizzle of resins and honey which eventually finds purchase on a base of suede leather. One of Mme Menardo’s best creations ever.

The small perfume brand which has come out of the Bordeaux vineyard Maison Ginestet has made one of the best honey perfumes. Ginestet Botrytis is composed by perfumer Gilles Toledano. M. Toledano wanted to create a perfume reminiscent of the botrytis fungus which helps concentrate the sugar content of grapes. The perfume named after that is a rich mix of honey and quince most recognizably but there are a host of other candied fruits underneath. It all rests on a white flower infused spice bread accord. The wine snob and the perfume snob both approve of M. Toledano’s interpretation of both.

tokyo milk honey moon

Tokyo Milk Honey and the Moon No. 10 by Margot Elena is one of those amazing bang for the buck fragrances. I tried it for the first time in a promotional rollerball while waiting in line in Sephora. I was back a day later to buy a full bottle. It is a simple construction of sugary sweet on top. Candied violet and honey in the heart leading to sandalwood. It is simply constructed and one of my favorite very sweet perfumes.

The cumin, caraway, and honey opening of Maison Francis Kurkdjian Absolue pour Le Soir by Francis Kurkdjian is just the beginning of what I think is one of the best perfumes of the last five years. Whenever I need to remind myself of the artistry of perfume Absolue pour Le Soir is where I turn. The remainder of this perfume moves through an incense soaked rose down into an intensely woody base of sandalwood and cedar. This is not perfume for the faint of heart. It is perfume for those who love perfume.

I am not sure I have any more words left to praise Vero Profumo Rozy Voile D’Extrait by perfumer Vero Kern. My perfume of the year for 2014 by my perfumer of the year for 2014. I have said it before and I say it again this is the best post-modern rose ever. The reason is the honey which forms the viscous core around which rose, spice, and labdanum are suspended. It is an incredible feat of perfumery.

As I finished this list it occurred to me that for all that I am wary of honey in fragrance I consider four of these perfumes among the best ever made. It is probably the strongest collection of My Favorite Things to date. If you do like honey these are five perfumes which should be on your list to try.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke