Over the last fifteen years there has been a revolution in the way the traditional building blocks of perfume have been altered through the different ways of extracting them. Supercritical fluid, headspace, fractional distillation, enzymatic digestion, and a bunch of proprietary effects to each oil house. What this has meant is perfumers have a vast array of effects to choose from for even the most used perfume ingredients. It can make for a new perspective on the familiar. One ingredient which has been significantly differentiated by these processes is patchouli.
Fifty years ago, patchouli was the scent of the hippies during the Summer of Love. Strong, or overbearing, depending on your feeling about it there was one way to get it, as an essential oil. Come to the present day and the shelf which holds patchouli has an array of altered versions. That means the rougher edges can be softened or made more prominent. One of the new perfumes from Diptyque celebrating their 50th year of making perfume, Tempo, is made up of three different extractions of patchouli.
Givaudan perfumer Olivier Pescheux took advantage of his company’s plantation of sustainable patchouli in Indonesia. By having a consistent source, it allows for the company to experiment with different extraction methods. M. Pescheux has taken three of those methods to be combined as the keynote patchouli accord for Tempo. When I have been exposed to these methods I have always enjoyed comparing it to the original essential oil because they have odd little nooks and crannies for perfumers to insert other ingredients to replace what is missing. M. Pescheux does a wonderful job at choosing some interesting choices for those substitutes.
From the first moment I sprayed on Tempo the patchouli is front and center. Early on it feels like a version where the earthier qualities are minimized. It is soft and to replace that M. Pescheux steps forward with violet leaf. This provides a different kind of grounding through a green type of floral. A fuller patchouli starts to become apparent at the same time I also detect the appearance of pink pepper and clary sage. It is a strengthening but not overwhelming more like half an octave. At this point it is still a soft patchouli. The real strength shows up later as a very green leafy patchouli is made edgy with a shot of mate. Mate when it gets sharp usually bothers me but in this case, it gives Tempo a bit of bite which I found I wanted after the softer two-thirds of the development.
Tempo has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Tempo is a perfume for patchouli lovers, I would be surprised to see it change anyone who is not fond of the note into a fan. If you do enjoy patchouli Tempo provides a fascinating effect as the three extractions of patchouli form a kind of triple decker with enough space for other things to make it more complex.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Diptyque.