New Perfume Review Aether Arts Perfume Holy Hemp!- The Making of a Perfumer

The winner of first new perfumes received in 2015 were the three new perfumes by Amber Jobin for her Aether Arts Perfume label. It has been a winning year for Ms. Jobin as last year she won one of the inaugural Art & Olfaction Awards in the Artisan Category. There has been no perfumer who has started with quite this much momentum in years. Not only were these the first new perfumes I would start 2015 with they show the nearly fully formed artist Ms. Jobin has become in just two short years. I am going to review all three of the new perfumes today and tomorrow. I’m going to start with Holy Hemp! because it follows on her previous exploration of the use of the cannabis note in her other perfumes A Roll in the Grass & Burner Perfume No. 5-Incense Indica. It also is very illustrative of why Ms. Jobin has stood out among the newer independent perfumers.

Particularly for a lot of the new independent perfumers who send me samples that I don’t end up reviewing the main reason is they have combined a bunch of nice smelling ingredients into something that smells nice but has no soul. Ms. Jobin has spent time studying perfumery under the tutelage of Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. What that means is really understanding not just how to build a perfume around a specific note but how to shape that note to achieve a desired effect by altering the concentration and/or the accompanying notes. This process requires patience and a clear vision. Ms. Jobin seems to have both of these attributes.

amber jobin

Amber Jobin

Her first cannabis perfume A Roll in the Grass concentrated on the way cannabis smells when it is smoked the skanky smoky smell was front and center. Ms. Jobin paired it with a fresh cut grass accord as contrast and it made the name of the perfume a double entendre. In Incense Indica Ms. Jobin imagined the sticky concentrated smell of the buds as a substitute for frankincense or other resins. She allows the resinous quality to rise from out of the smoke and Incense Indica pivots beautifully about a third of the way through its development. Holy Hemp! is the smell of the entire plant as not only the leaves and the buds but also the stalks. There is a wonderful vegetal quality underpinning the rest of what is a very luminous green perfume.

Holy Hemp! opens on an herbal note of Holy Basil also called Tulsi. The Holy Basil adds that vegetal foundation I was speaking of. Ms. Jobin bleeds in just the right amount of galbanum to support that accord of green and growing things. She chooses to add Cananga which is a fruity floral oil obtained when the flowers which produce ylang-ylang oil are distilled. Cananga is a much more transparent version of ylang-ylang as it is both less floral and a bit fruitier. In Holy Hemp! it provides a focal point to find the fruity facets within cannabis. Once you’re led in that direction by the Cananga you almost can’t help but smell it. This all comes to an end with a balsamic base.

Holy Hemp! has 8-10 hour longevity and very little sillage because it is at extrait strength.

Holy Hemp! completes a trinity of cannabis perfumes by Ms. Jobin; but most importantly it shows a young independent perfumer working with an assured artistic aesthetic rare within this community.

Duisclsoure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews DSH Perfumes The Cannabis Culture Collection- It’s 4:20

The word collection when it comes to fragrance has been so overused that it has become meaningless. Except for the few perfume brands which actually understand the concept that a collection of perfumes should have some common theme or ingredient running through the different entries. One perfumer who continues to produce collections which are everything I could want from something called that, is Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Her latest collection The Cannabis Culture Collection examines marijuana from four very different perspectives.

DSH

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

As marijuana begins the long journey towards becoming legal in the United States there are two states which have voted to get ahead of the rest of the country, Washington and Colorado. Ms. Hurwitz lives in Boulder, Colorado and wanted to make a collection capturing all there is to smell about the cannabis culture which is slowly emerging into the light. The four fragrances capture different parts of the culture. The growing of it in controlled conditions in The Green House. Finding it in the wild among other growing things in Agreistic. Harvesting the buds sticky and redolent in I Love You Mary Jane. Finally smoking it up on a walk through the Colorado pine forest in Rocky Mountain High.

If you are in your mid-50’s to 60’s you came of age in an era when there were many amateur underground cannabis growers. Most of these were a rack of a few plants growing under an electronic grow-light in a small windowless room usually in a basement. Whenever I would walk into one of these I would be struck by an intensely sharp green smell paired with damp potting soil. The Green House is Ms. Hurwitz’s evocation of that accord. She uses a softly green accord to capture the sharp green quality while also evoking the humidity of the artificial growing environment. The soil accord is paired with a bit of patchouli to give it some texture. This is cannabis as it is seen by the one who grows it in secret.

I’ve also done my fair share of hiking and it was always a funny moment when I would stop for lunch among a field of wildflowers and see the distinctive seven lobed leaf waving among the color. For Agreistic Ms. Hurwitz imagines a field of lavender studded with cannabis here and there. Ms. Hurwitz chooses to use a fougere architecture for Agreistic but it has some very interesting twists. A mix of acerbic tomato leaf with juicy plum opens into a fougere heart of lavender, hay, and oakmoss. Just as you might be leaning back into the olfactory field of purple floral stalks you pillow your head on a stand of cannabis. This is a much more expansive accord than in The Green House as in Agreistic it feels like part of a natural mise en scene. This is cannabis out of the basement and in the open sunshine.

i love you mary jane

I Love You Mary Jane is the experience of picking through tight sticky buds of cannabis. If you’ve ever done that then you know the smell your fingers have after handling the buds? That is exactly what I Love You Mary Jane smells like. Ms. Hurwitz uses a fabulous assemblage of notes to form this accord most of them fruit. Grapefruit, blackberry, mango, apricot, are matched with rhubarb and blackcurrant bud. The grapefruit, blackcurrant bud, and rhubarb comprise a narcotic sourness over the lusher fruits. A bit of floralcy comes through with osmanthus and lily before patchouli brings this home. This is cannabis as it is being prepared to be smoked.

The first three fragrances deal with the smell of the growing cannabis plant. The final entry, Rocky Mountain High, is the pungent smell of it being smoked amid the high-altitude pines of the Rockies. Ms. Hurwitz has worked with some local distillers and one of those Eric Bresselsmith supplied her with a juniper oil. This is paired with chrysanthemum and together they wrap a hemp nucleus. To get the sort of stinky smell of the smoke Ms. Hurwitz adds a bit of natural skunk to add that level of reality to it all. Around all of this is a full suite of coniferous notes. This is cannabis being enjoyed in one of Mother Nature’s most spectacular vistas.

All of The Cannabis Culture Collection have 6-8 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Once again Ms. Hurwitz has produced an intriguing collection which allows a perfume lover to explore cannabis from multiple points of view. I think many will find one of them to be their favorite. I have to say that I really like all of them but if pressed I Love You Mary Jane is my favorite. Just remember it is 4:20 somewhere.

Disclosure: this review was based on samples provided by DSH Perfumes.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Reviews Aether Arts Pefume Burner Perfume No. 5: Incense Indica- Radical Self-Expression

The yearly festival known as Burning Man is a consistent source of inspiration for the participants. As one who attended the early Burning Man events out on the playa it is stunning to see that it has grown from a couple thousand to tens of thousands. Burning Man was always a moment for the participants to find out something about themselves as part of a temporary community. Even as it has become larger there are always signs that it still inspires on an individual basis. For evidence of that you need look no further than Boulder, Colorado based independent perfumer Amber Jobin and her Aether Arts Perfume line. Ms. Jonin creates a new perfume for each Burning Man she attends. For last year her Burner Perfume No. 4; John Frum was one of the best new perfumes of the year and it won one of the inaugural Art & Olfaction Awards in the Artisan Category. Ms. Jobin is one of the rising stars in independent perfumery and it was with interest I waited to see what this year’s Burner Perfume would be.

Amber Jobin's custom perfume offering at Burning Man, 2014

Amber Jobin at Burning Man 2014

Burning Man has a theme every year and Ms. Jobin designs her perfume to fit that theme. For 2014 the theme was “Caravansary: The First Information Highway”. Ms. Jobin was drawn to the idea of “Imagining all the precious and exotic cargo that passed along the Silk Road.” She realized this was a good opportunity to make an incense perfume. As she thought about it she wanted to make a different incense perfume. She chose an ingredient which is “a plant that shares many of the same components, cannabis.” All of this is what Burner Perfume No. 5: Incense Indica became. It seems like as marijuana has started to become legalized it has become more common as a perfume ingredient. Incense Indica is one of five cannabis based perfumes I received just in the last six weeks. That coincidence has also illuminated, to me, the versatility of it as a core note. Ms. Jobin does use it in place of a traditional frankincense in a typical incense perfumer design.

Incense Indica opens with opoponax, choya loban and cannabis all rolled together in a magnificent olfactory spliff. Ms. Jobin captures not only the narcotic depth of the cannabis but also the green sticky resinous quality, too. It is that combination which makes cannabis such an interesting note to build upon. The choya loban adds a cloud of smoke over the early moments. Often smoky notes can overwhelm. Ms. Jobin uses it as a distinct opaque haze. All of this turns decadent with honey as it picks up on the cannabis and sets it glowing. Myrrh adds to the sweetness quotient.. Then Ms. Jobin lets a fully indolic jasmine sambac out to search out all of the deeper skankier noes within the cannabis. The last stage is gorgeously animalic and greenly herbal on a cedar and sandalwood base.

Incense Indica has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Incense Indica shows cannabis to be a fully functional perfume ingredient and Ms. Jobin has used it well by skillfully using the right notes to fully explore all of the fragrant potential within. The jasmine and cannabis pairing is the one which really grabs ahold of my imagination. One of the principles of Burning Man is that of Radical Self-Expression with these series of Burner Perfumes Ms. Jobin lives up to that in all of the best ways.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Aether Arts Perfume.

Mark Behnke