Hans Hendley for American Perfumer Bloodline- American Vitality

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I have a friend who has a woodworking hobby. He enjoys working with woods most people have never heard of. I know when I visit, I get an education on a wood new to me. The scent of that workshop is magical. My friend works on small wooden creations using rare materials. All of that came to mind when I tried Hans Hendley for American Perfumer Bloodline.

American Perfumer Shop

Bloodline is the third special edition from Dave Kern’s shop American Perfumer. Mr. Kern is asking different American perfumers to create one-of-a-kind fragrances. Bloodline comes from Brooklyn-based Hans Hendley. Mr. Hendley has been selling perfume since 2014. His is a line I do not have extensive experience with. There was a set of four releases in 2015 which I had samples of but never reviewed. My favorite of those was Bourbon. Just from that one example there are some definite connections to Bloodline.

Hans Hendley

Mr. Hendley does what always thrills me from the independent perfume community; he works with small batches of exquisite ingredients for Bloodline. The pulsing heart of Bloodline is a red cedar oil his father distilled from their home in Texas. That might not thrill you, cedar is a common perfume ingredient. This is not that. This oil comes from the Eastern Red Cedar which is closely related to the juniper tree this gives it an unusual scent profile. What Mr. Hendley does is to take his family derived gem of an oil and surround it with his own tinctures and unique distillates. It turns Bloodline into a testament to American vitality in perfume.

Right from the beginning the red cedar holds prominence. It acts as a sentinel standing tall at the central axis of Bloodline. To enhance those juniper characteristics Mr. Hendley uses a tincture of white pine fatwood along with an artisanal distillation of pinyon pine needles. This creates a densely faceted woody accord. To tease out the inherent sweetness of the wood Mr. Hendley turns to another tincture of his own of vanilla bean combined with tobacco. This provides a deeply narcotic foundation to everything. It delves deep in the earth as patchouli and oakmoss provide the final touch.

Bloodline has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Bloodline is one of the best perfumes of the year. It seems to be a clear labor of passion for Mr. Hendley in paying homage to where he came from. To take a piece of his Texas home into his Brooklyn atelier to produce Bloodline; is there anything more American Perfumer than that?

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by American Perfumer.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for American Perfumer Colorado- High-Altitude Heart

One of many things I learned while I was managing editor at CaFleureBon was the breadth of creativity in American Perfumery. Editor-in-Chief Michelyn Camen has been the most tireless supporter of these national treasures through her series on CaFleureBon called Profiles in American Perfumery. Over 130 posts where the perfumer speaks in their own words. I had always wondered if there was enough for someone to open a store dedicated to American independent perfume.

Inside American Perfume in Louisville, Kentucky

The answer came this past September with the opening of American Perfumer in Louisville, Kentucky. Owner Dave Kern opened a shop dedicated to showcasing the best of American independent perfume. When I looked over what he chose to fill his shelves it was obvious he had gathered brands from every part of the country. What I was hoping for, was over time Mr. Kern would collaborate with some of these artists for limited editions exclusive to the store. It turns out Mr. Kern was way ahead of me. He was going to do this right away.

When I asked him about how he chose who to ask to do the first two he answered, “When I started to reach out to American perfumers about the AMERICAN PERFUMER concept two years ago, Dawn and Maria both quickly emerged as friends, advisors and confidants. As two people that I had tremendous respect for, their immediate encouragement, and enthusiasm for what I was proposing, gave me great confidence that I was onto something.” The Dawn is Dawn Spencer Hurwitz of DSH Perfumes and the Maria is Maria McElroy of aroma M and House of Cherry Bomb. Mr. Kern continued, “Launching the Limited Editions with them was always the plan. Practically speaking, Dawn and Maria are quality assurance. I knew they’d make beautiful, interesting work and get it done on time. That said, in every way, they exceeded my expectations.”

Dawn Spencer Hurwitz

Over the next two days I am going to review both gorgeous limited editions which show off the heart and soul of American Perfumery. I start today with Dawn Spencer Hurwitz for American Perfumer Colorado and will follow tomorrow with Maria McElroy for American Perfumer Desert Flower.

Like many of the best perfumes they start with a simple query. This one began with Mr. Kern asking Ms. Hurwitz “what Colorado smelled like.” Ms. Hurwitz is based in Boulder, Colorado which makes it easy for her to answer that question. For those who are fans of Ms. Hurwitz’s perfume she has been showing us what Colorado smells like in perfumes like The Voices of Trees, Mountain Sage, or Rocky Mountain High. Colorado fits in that continuum as you breathe in the high-altitude milieu on the slopes of the Rockies.

Ms. Hurwitz opens Colorado on a top accord primarily of spruce. To keep that from becoming too generic in its piney-ness Ms. Hurwitz cleverly supports it with a sunbeam of neroli and a softening of the terpenic sharpness with softer leafy ingredients. This blunts the pine needles from getting too sharp right off the bat. As we gain altitude we pass through a stand of clean woods of cedar and sandalwood. Ms. Hurwitz winds strands of jasmine and immortelle through the woods to capture the wildflowers in bloom. The immortelle adds a richness to these otherwise straightforward woody ingredients. Once you reach the highest altitude all you have left are the sentinel pine trees overseeing the valley. The base accord is a superbly realized mixture of three sources of pine combined with balsam. This is that breath of chilled air carrying the scent of the trees along with it. A subtle filament of cade swirls though as if woodsmoke from a cabin far below has risen to the peak.

Colorado has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.

If you are a fan of any of Ms. Hurwitz’s perfumes which feature pine, Colorado is an essential piece of that series. They are among my very favorite styles that Ms. Hurwitz produces. I have always found the perfumes from Ms. Hurwitz to display the heart of an artist at work. In Colorado she shares the love of the place she lives with a perfume that soars over her personal American landscape.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Dawn Spencer Hurwitz.

Mark Behnke