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

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