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.

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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

My Favorite Things- Violet

Because many of my favorite wetshaving products are violet scented I think I am predisposed to liking any perfume which does violet well. I also find my favorite violet perfumes do especially well in the heat of summer. As the mercury has climbed I’ve found myself wanting to take a violet break. If you want to join me here are five of my favorite violet perfumes.

Comme des Garcons X Stephen Jones signed by Antoine Maisondieu. This is also probably my all-time favorite violet fragrance. What makes that statement a little funny is this is the least violet-like fragrance on this list. M. Maisondieu creates an iris which has been crushed by a meteorite. Hot mineralic facets and the smell of over-heated electronics wrap up the violet and violet leaves in a futuristic take on violet that is among the most worn perfumes I own.

Mona di Orio Violette Fumee signed by Mona di Orio. Violet Fumee was the first perfume released after Mme di Orio’s death. It was a fragrance she composed for her longtime partner Jeroen Oude Sogtoen. She combined many of his favorite smells but primarily this is a violet and tobacco perfume. A beautifully resinous finish of myrrh and casmeran provides some of Mme di Orio’s trademark shadowplay. Like the Stephen Jones above combining the violet with something which smokes provides an interesting platform for the violet to play off of.

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Tom Ford Violet Blonde signed by Antoine Lie. This perfume is often jokingly called Violent Blonde because this is by far the most powerful violet I wear. M. Lie throws subtlety out the window as he layers on orris, leather, vetiver, and baie rose. These are all amplifying notes for the violet which lands with the force of a sledgehammer. I often think how much I like the transparent types of fragrances. Violet Blonde reminds how much I like something a lot less filmy from time to time.

Ulrich Lang Lightscape is one of those transparent kind of violets. Lightscape combines violet and iris in a purple flower fantasia. What always surprises me when I wear Lightscape is it manages to remove the two most problematic aspects of violet and iris, the metallic and powdery qualities, respectively. I have made many samples for people who just can’t believe how good these two notes combine here.

Atelier Cologne Sous Le Toit de Paris signed by Ralf Schwieger. This is the perfume I layer on top of my shaving routine when it has been an all-violet morning. If you want an incredibly authentic violet this is your perfume. Hr. Schwieger allows the violet to form the core on top of which he adds the traditional cologne ingredients of neroli and bergamot and leads to a non-traditional cologne base of leather. This has become one of my summer staples because there is simply no better way to start my day.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Rum

Ahoy Mateys, Captain Colognoisseur is here to invite you for a bit of perfumed grog. I am a big fan of boozy notes in my perfume and one of my favorites is when rum is the source of that effect. There aren’t a whole lot of rum perfumes out there as I realized once I started putting this list together. Even so these five perfumes are some of my favorites to wear when I want to go all piratical.

If there was ever a perfume that sold me on how good rum could be in a perfume it was 2005’s Idole de Lubin by Olivia Giacobetti. This modern version was a re-interpretation of the original from 1962. Idole de Lubin has Mme Giacobetti’s transparent aesthetic on display. That aesthetic is often compared to a silk scarf. This time the scarf has been doused with rum. What is underneath is saffron, ginger, sugar, leather and sandalwood.

By Kilian Straight to Heaven by Sidonie Lancesseur is a Spice Islands tableau of rum, nutmeg, jasmine, patchouli, and vanilla. Mme Lancesseur combines everything into this darkly decadent perfume. This is the complete antithesis to Idole de Lubin in strength as Straight to Heaven is like taking a swig straight from the bottle.

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Amouage Opus V by Jacques Cavallier shows a more delicate side of rum. M. Cavallier combines his rum with rich orris butter. The richness of the orris unexpectedly highlights some of the deeper sweeter facets of the rum. The orris and rum opening of Opus V gives way to a jasmine and oud finish but it is that opening which is hard to forget.

Frapin Speakeasy by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato is M. Corticchiato capturing the speakeasies of Prohibition-era America. This is the smell of smuggled liquor and cigars. The party goers and the polished wood of the bar. It is one of my favorites in the Frapin line for once again capturing a moment in time through a spritz from an atomizer.

I am an unabashed fan of almost all of the Olfactive Studio line of perfumes. I realized when putting this list together that I just don’t give enough love to Still Life. It is probably because it was one of the original releases and it just got lost in the shuffle, but it shouldn’t. Perfumer Dora Arnaud interpreted Frederic Lebain’s picture as a modern cocktail. It consists of a twist of lemon, a dash of pepper, a splash of anisette and a full shot of rum. Mme Arnaud uses a fully heated up Szechuan pepper and it sets the boozy ingredients aflame. Maybe it takes a fire to get my attention.

If you’re busy mixing mojitos or daiquiris on the back deck or poolside and you want to complement the cocktails with a bit of perfume here are five that will go well.

Disclosure: I have purchased bottles of all five of these perfumes.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things- Orange

The smell of oranges is the smell of lazy summer days spent in the branches of orange trees near my home in South Florida as a boy. When done well there is almost no other smell which triggers as strong a scent memory as an orange focused fragrance. One of my five favorites is Diptyque L’Eau de Tarocco but I just included that in the recent Diptyque 101. I’ll give you five more of my favorite orange perfumes.

Probably the very first orange fragrance which triggered this atavistic memory was Hermes Eau D’Orange Verte. It wasn’t the perfume but the bath product which I was using at a luxury resort in the 1980’s. It had no label and I had to find out from the front desk the name. I bought a bottle upon my return home and it is still compelling nearly thirty years later. Perfumer Francoise Caron combines the full spectrum of orange notes on top of green muguet. It all produces an evocation of sitting among the leaves of the orange tree while peeling one open.

It would be twenty years until another orange fragrance would make a dent in my monogamous relationship with Eau D’Orange Vert. Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Bigarade Concentree is arguably the simplest perfume in that collection. It succeeds in the same way an artist’s still life succeeds. Perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena paints in olfactory watercolors a still life of orange. It is given nuance by aldehydes, cardamom, and hay. It is the smell of a fresh ripe orange picked off the tree before cutting into it.

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Roger & Gallet Bois D’Orange is one of my favorite bang for the buck orange fragrances as you can find 100mL bottles for less than $40. Perfumer Dominique Ropion was inspired by the gardens of Alhambra in Spain. M. Ropion takes that inspiration and provides an intense citrus accord led by the orange which is matched by an equally deep floral accord lead by jasmine and rose. There is also a prominent green underpinning to tie all of it together.

Atelier Cologne Orange Sanguine was the first one I tried when Creative Director Sylvie Ganter introduced the line to me a little over five years ago. It is a brilliant orange cologne that has the bonus of lasting a long time on my skin because of the Cologne Absolue concentration. Perfumer Ralf Schwieger evokes that moment when I would bite into an orange and the juice would flow from my mouth over my chin. Using the green floralcy of geranium on top of a sandalwood base it is near perfect. Except the new Atelier Cologne Mandarine Glaciale is now vying for my attention within the brand. The next time I do this list there might be a change here.

Thirdman Eau Nomade finishes my list and this one does not remind me of my youth. Perfumer Bruno Jovanovic uses a fabulous green cardamom in conjunction with blood orange as the nucleus of a cologne which is meant to remind one of a spice market. This is the one I keep in the refrigerator to wear on the most sweltering dog days of summer. It has become the olfactory equivalent of a cold glass of lemonade.

None of these suggestions will provide you with any vitamin C but they will all add some needed energy this summer. Give them a try if you haven’t already.

Disclosure: This review is based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Jasmine

As spring begins to take hold I find I am already looking forward to the summer nights when the jasmine scents the air. Jasmine is one of those ingredients which has multiple faces in perfumery. The reason is there are very few perfumes with a high quantity of jasmine essential oil. It is there in small quantities to flesh out a synthetic source like Hedione. That hasn’t kept it from still being one of the most popular florals in fragrance. I already mentioned that Serge Lutens Sarrasins is my Gold Standard but that is a beast. Here are five more which are a little lest feral.

Jean Patou Joy, I think, was my first introduction to jasmine when one of my parent’s friends wore it to a party and I was fascinated with how she smelled. It would be years later that I found out Henri Almeras took the very best florals of Grasse in rose and jasmine and combined them over a musky base. Joy is a masterpiece because of that attention to quality.

For those of you who think Sarrasins is too much Serge Lutens A La Nuit is a much more genial alternative. Christopher Sheldrake mixes two sources of jasmine and layers it over spices, honey and musk. While it sounds similar to Joy it is entirely something else and it is entirely pretty.

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Calice Becker might have created the most stunning jasmine soliflore in By Kilian Love and Tears. In this perfume the jasmine pretty much stands alone. For most that kind of scrutiny would cause it to wither and die. Mme Becker creates a multi-faceted jasmine from a whole group of different florals and multiple jasmine sources. It smells like no single jasmine; it smells like all of them. It is utterly fascinating to try and dissect. It is much better to just let it whisk you away.

Krigler Juicy Jasmine 30 is a different take on the soliflore. It is a light fun perfume where the jasmine is lifted up by orange blossom, muguet, and hyacinth. Juicy Jasmine 30 always feels like it is taking me to a fabulous garden party.

Le Labo Jasmin 17 by perfumer Maurice Roucel is what happens when you take a bouquet of white flowers lead by jasmine and capture them in sweet sticky amber. This is the richest jasmine I own and the one I most often wear during the winter. It is comforting and warm underneath the jasmine.

If you like jasmine these five should be on your sampling list. If you want someplace to start these are great starting points.

Dsiclosure: I have purchased bottles of all fragrances mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Aquatics

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As it becomes more believable that the snow is in my rear-view mirror I have been looking at my perfume vault. I’ve been considering which warm weather perfumes should begin their seasonal migration and I noticed a change in my attitude. For many years the aquatic perfumes in my collection stayed at the back of the cabinet. Two years ago with the release of two very different takes on this overdone style of perfume I suddenly craved some of the older ones. In the list below you’ll find those two and three others which might make you move aquatics back to the front of the shelf.

The entire class was created with 1988’s Davidoff Cool Water by perfumer Pierre Bourdon. This would launch, literally, thousands of imitators in the years since. None of them have the soul of the original. M. Bourdon created what was meant to be a fougere but instead lived up to its name as a splash of cool water. Still to this day I always get an unsolicited compliment when I wear it.

There were so many bad aquatics that came after Cool Water that I was really taken by surprise by Truefitt & Hill 1805. Created in 1998 by perfumer Mark Zini I didn’t discover it until I started wetshaving in 2003. Truefitt & Hill is one of the venerable houses of wetshaving and when I was getting a professional straight razor shave the barber finished me off with this. After ignoring aquatics for so long 1805 woke me up with a veritable bit of spicy driftwood in the presence of cardamom, nutmeg, and vetiver floating on the water. I’ve always seen this as one of the most sophisticated straight aquatics available.

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Heeley Sel Marin by James Heeley in 2008 would go for something entirely different. Most aquatics go for the actual water. Sel Marin evokes the sea spray and there is nothing like this. Every time I wear this I am sitting in the bow of a speedboat cleaving the waves as the spray comes up over the bow. Mr. Heeley conveys speed and salt spray together. When I want to take an imaginary boat ride Sel Marin is what I wear.

These three were my staples and I wore them but rarely and then like a one-two punch in 2013 the next two perfumes gave me very different visions of this class of perfume.

The first was Maria Candida Gentile Finisterre by Maria Candida Gentile. This is the smell of huge waves crashing against a cliff in a battle the rock is destined to lose. Sig.ra Gentile combines an aquatic accord complete with algae with a rocky flinty accord to represent the cliff. The mix of earth and water makes me love Finisterre more each time I wear it.

Barely a month later Hermes Hermessence Epice Marine by Jean-Claude Ellena would present me a gourmand aquatic. I didn’t know I wanted one of these but working with Chef Olivier Roellinger; known for his spice blends, M. Ellena created a tidal pool with spices floating gently on the surface. Cardamom, cinnamon, and cumin are the mix developed by M. Roellinger and that is what M. Ellena placed into the aquatic matrix. It makes for something I have worn regularly when the heat is on.

If you have tired of the same old aquatics I really encourage you to try the last two on my list. If you haven’t discovered the class this list might save you from wading through the ocean of aquatics for sale. In any case dive right in the water’s more interesting than you think.

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

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Rose

Like all things perfume has its seasons. When it is spring it seems like many perfume brands consider it time for a new rose perfume. Rose is one of the most crowded categories in all of perfumery. While it might be true that there is nothing new, talented perfumers manage to find new ways to interpret this most ubiquitous of notes. As I receive new rose perfumes I have a group which I use as comparators. I’ve already written about what I consider The Gold Standard, Guerlain Nahema, in rose perfumes.  I’ve also lauded Vero Profumo Rozy Voils D’Extrait as the best post-modern rose ever. For this edition of My Favorite Things I’ll add five more worth trying.

Francis Kurkdjian has produced a number of spectacular rose perfumes including his most recent Maison Francis Kurkdjian A La Rose. No matter how many times M. Kurkdjian interprets rose I always go back to one of his earliest takes, MDCI Parfums Rose di Siwa. In this perfume M. Kurkdjian takes rose from dewy petaled ingénue through to sophisticated adult. So many rose perfumes tend to choose one of those and with Rose di Siwa you get both with the mix of Moroccan and Turkish roses in the heart supported by hawthorn and lychee on top and a beautifully sensual musk in the base.

I once described Le Labo Rose 31 by perfumer Daphne Bugey as a rose which is doing the walk of shame after a wild night. Mme Bugey has cumin, vetiver, and oud convince rose to join them for a rowdy ride. By the time it is all done rose is left holding her shoes as she squints into the sunlight wondering where the night went.

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If rose is the most interpreted note in perfumery, oud would have to be a close second especially in the last five years. In eastern attar making rose and oud are the classic pairing. In By Kilian Rose Oud perfumer Calice Becker westernizes that combination. The oud is surrounded by exotic spices saffron, cardamom, and cinnamon. The Bulgarian rose is presented in a very French style to stand up to the oud. Together it makes something undoubtedly eastern as seen by western eyes. One of my most complimented fragrances I wear.

Creative Director Serge Lutens and perfumer Christopher Sheldrake have produced a number of great rose perfumes for the Serge Lutens brand. While Rose de Nuit and Sa Majeste La Rose have more fans it is La Fille de Berlin which is my favorite. M. Sheldrake composes an explosive rose which detonates on my skin every time I wear it. There are many more complex rose perfumes out there but few with more presence.

Last year’s Ann Gerard Rose Cut has risen steadily in my opinion. Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour has created a crystalline rose full of shiny facets like a rose diamond. The rose in the heart is topped by pepper and rum and supported with a base of oakmoss and vanilla. This is brilliant in both aesthetic and composition.

As I said at the beginning this is a list which could go on and on. Give these five a try and you will explore five singular interpretations of rose.

Disclosure: this review based on bottles of the perfumes I have purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Tobacco

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I’m not sure what it is about the dead of winter, dead trees, and snowstorms that makes me want to wear a tobacco perfume. Like clockwork I start wanting to wear them from January to February. I have a lot of them in my collection and the five I’ve chosen could easily be joined by another five or more. If you, like me, are craving a tobacco perfume on these midwinter days here are my favorite five.

Aramis Havana was composed in 1994 by a team of perfumers consisting of Nathalie Feisthauer, Edouard Flechier, and Xavier Renard. Havana was the last of a dying breed as in a sea of fresh perfumes it was a hairy-chested powerhouse. It is a powerhouse with a ridiculously complex tobacco-laden heart that should fall apart under its own weight. The perfumers throw in twelve ingredients to capture a night of rum and cigars in the final days of Old Havana. This was discontinued for a time before returning four years ago essentially untouched. It was one of the great perfumes of the 1990’s and it stands the test of time today.

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While many turn to tobacco and rum when they think of Havana, in 1921’s Habanita de Molinard there is a reminder Cuba is a tropical island. This comes courtesy of a floral heart of jasmine, rose, and ylang-ylang. From out of the florals a tobacco accord rises and curls among the bouquet in the heart. When I also want some flowers with my tobacco I reach for Habanita.

If there is a flagship perfume for the Tom Ford Private Blend collection it very well may be 2007’s Tobacco Vanille. Perfumer Olivier Gillotin takes not only the tobacco leaves but also the tobacco flower. All of that is spiced up with ginger, clove, anise, and coriander. The promised vanilla comes along and completes this ultimate comfort scent. On a frigid night Tobacco Vanille acts as a snuggly cashmere sweater in fragrant form.

By Kilian Back to Black is one of the greatest modern perfumes. Perfumer Calice Becker, in 2009, pulled off the ultimate olfactory illusion. She created a tobacco perfume without using any tobacco. As a result this artificially constructed tobacco accord has more depth and nuance than any tobacco perfume I own. As the early notes begin to assemble on your skin until after a few minutes you are enveloped by the smell of narcotic tobacco, it is all a trick. I think this is one of the modern masterpieces of perfumery.

2012’s Diptyque Volutes by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin has broken its way into my top tier tobacco rotation by adding in a number of my other favorite perfume notes. M. Pellegrin adds immortelle, myrrh, and hay to add different sweet components to pick apart the sweet facets of tobacco. Throughout piquant notes of pink pepper and black pepper add a roughness to all of the smooth sweet tobacco. If you think you have enough tobacco fragrances try Volutes you might want to find space for one more.

There are my five favorite tobacco perfumes, no Surgeon General warnings necessary.

Disclosure: I purchased all of the perfumes mentioned.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Gingerbread

Ever since I was a child gingerbread has inextricably been associated with Christmas. As an adult Starbucks has only confirmed this association with my favorite coffee drink, Gingerbread Latte, only offered during the Holiday season. On Christmas morning the Colognoisseur house will be filled with the smells of gingerbread baking. It should then be no surprise that I will also be wearing a gingerbread focused perfume on Christmas Day. There aren’t a whole lot of gingerbread perfumes and I find I like all of them for the variation the perfumers brought to their interpretation. Here are my five favorite.

Every year Christopher Brosius puts out a yearly version of CB I Hate Perfume Gingerbread. Mr. Brosius has an uncanny ability to bottle real-life smells in perfume form. Gingerbread is unique because it isn’t the smell of the finished product. Instead it is the smell of the ingredients you use to make gingerbread; nutmeg, cinnamon, cardamom, vanilla, and a particularly potent ginger. As I am whisking these ingredients together I am always amazed at how well Gingerbread the perfume captures this. The yearly variations are like the difference from batch to batch of your own gingerbread.

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Pierre Guillaume has a well-earned reputation as one of the best perfumers in the gourmand category. The reason he is so good is he doesn’t just serve up the focal note without adornment. It is precisely the notes he chooses to adorn his central note which turns it into something memorable. Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique is his take on gingerbread and M. Guillaume chooses osmanthus as its partner. The apricot quality of the osmanthus coalesces with the ginger and the leather uplifts the sweeter bread-like qualities. There is also a bit of mate tea to give the overall effect of sitting at a table looking out on the snow holding a gingerbread man cookie over a cup of mate on a December morning.

A more formal version of tea and gingerbread comes courtesy of perfumer Christopher Sheldrake in Serge Lutens Five O’Clock au Gingembre. This is high tea in a salon decorated for the holidays. The pot of Earl Grey tea is steeping right next to cakes fresh out of the oven. The smell of the wreaths and the Christmas tree are underneath it all. M. Sheldrake has created a gingerbread perfume as fragile as a crystal tree ornament. It is so full of subtlety and nuance it catches my breath every time I wear it. Also the more I wear it the more I think this might be one of the best perfumes M. Sheldrake has done in his tenure with Uncle Serge. It is the most sentimental of the perfumes on this list which makes it perfect for the season.

When perfumer Claude Dir was asked to design Bond No. 9 Manhattan there are many smells I associate with NYC but I didn’t expect gingerbread to be one of them. M. Dir has a different view and the heart of Manhattan is a chocolate covered gingerbread paired with jasmine. This heart rises out of a spice filled opening like the ingredients all come together to form the gingerbread. A beautiful sandalwood closes it out. As with the osmanthus in Un Crime Exotique the jasmine illuminates the gingerbread with a different floral contrast.

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One of the nice offshoots of moving is I had to pack all of the bottles of perfume and it allowed me to find a long-lost gem, Dinner by Bobo. Yes it is a silly name but perfumer Sylvie Jourdet serves up a Mad Hatter’s Tea Party of citrus, jasmine, ylang-ylang, patchouli and gingerbread. Surrounding it all is the slightly sweaty smell of the Mad Hatter rushing around as a very light application of cumin and musk over incense and vanilla remind you there is someone else at this party. As I wrote this I did a cursory look to see if this was still available. I think it is and I hope I am not setting off a chase for something impossible to find. I have been enjoying this Dinner a lot over the past two Holiday seasons.

Merry Christmas to all and if you need a gingerbread lift for Christmas in July the five perfumes above should provide that.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I purchased.

Mark Behnke

My Favorite Things: Immortelle

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One of my favorite off-beat notes in perfume is immortelle. It also goes by the name everlasting flower or helichrysum. When asked to describe the smell of immortelle most will tell you it smells like maple syrup. Even though the harvest of maple syrup takes place in the early spring as the sap rises back into the defrosting maple trees I have always associated it with autumn. Immortelle is not one of the most common of notes found in perfumes. When I looked it up in Michael Edwards’ Fragrances of the World I found that there have been 101 perfumes made which contain immortelle. Most of those fragrances use it as a bit of added texture; but for the perfumers who embrace it here are five which give you the most immortelle you can get.

Annick Goutal Sables by Isabelle Doyen– Prior to its release in 1985 I can only find two perfumes which contain immortelle. Mme Doyen takes immortelle and she not only embraces it she adds it in overdose. This much immortelle could have been as treacly as to be unpleasant. Mme Doyen recognizes this and adds a healthy dose of pepper as foil to the sweet and balances it perfectly. Creamy sandalwood, amber, and vanilla finish it off. Sables has become an autumnal rite of passage as I never really feel it is fall until I’ve worn it.

Guerlain Cuir Beluga by Olivier Polge– In 2005 Guerlain invited M. Polge to be one of three perfumers to compose the initial L’Art et La Matiere collection. It was interesting having perfumers whose last name was not shared with the brand, design for Guerlain. M. Polge turned in one of the most un-Guerlain Guerlains with Cuir Beluga. An opening of mandarin and aldehydes full of sparkle and light shifts dramatically to an immortelle and patchouli heart full of depth. The patchouli is really a supporting mote to the immortelle. The sweetness gives way to a supple leather accord in the base. Cuir Beluga does contain the Guerlinade in the base but in many ways that is the only trace of the brand to be found in this perfume.

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Etat Libre D’Orange Like This by Mathilde Bijaoui– This is perhaps the very pinnacle of celebrity inspired perfume as actress Tilda Swinton was the creative director for Like This. It is Thanksgiving dinner in a bottle minus the turkey. From ginger on top through to a pumpkin pie accord matched with the immortelle. The latter reminds me of those sweet potato casseroles with mini marshmallows melted on top. It all finishes with vetiver and musk.

Nez a Nez Immortelle Marilyn by Karine Chevallier– Marilyn Monroe has been a favorite muse for many perfumers. Mme Chevallier under the creative direction of Stephane Humbert Lucas makes one of the most intricate immortelle perfumes I have smelled. They take the traditional beauty of orris and leather and wrap it in immortelle. First in all of its gourmandy maple syrup quality matched with hazelnut and pinch of raspberry on top. Then later the immortelle returns and now it has a slightly salty dried flower quality as the syrupy character is dialed way down. A judicious use of ambroxan helps enhance the late arriving immortelle.

Arquiste Infanta en Flor by Yann Vasnier– Arquiste Creative Director Carlos Huber sets a time and place for each of his perfumes. Infanta en Flor is set in 1660 as the infant Maria Teresa of Spain is offered to French King Louis XIV as a peace offering. This perfume captures the innocence of the infant as it opens with a halo of orange blossom. It leads to a leather heart where the immortelle more than holds its own as a complement for the animalic leather. The base is a mix of musks, benzoin, and tonka. The leather and immortelle heart of this is something I would like to see more perfumers try as the foundation for a perfume.

If you have never tried any of these perfumes give yourself over to the potential pleasure you will get at discovering a new note. If you have already come to enjoy immortelle as much as I do hopefully there is a new one on the list for you to try.

Disclosure: I purchased bottles of all the perfume reviewed.

Mark Behnke