New Perfume Review Areej Le Dore Atlantic Ambergris- It’s The Real Thing

Back in the 1970’s Coca Cola came up with a slogan “Coke, it’s the real thing.” I think of it a lot in reference to perfumery. Especially with synthetic alternatives for raw materials like musk, oud, or ambergris. Perfumers can be magicians in forming an accord which performs the illusion of the real thing but once you experience it you always know where the gaps are. Because of that I obtained real samples of musk, oud, and ambergris. When it came to musk and ambergris I thought you have one kind you’ve got them all. At least in the case of ambergris I should have considered my oud experience. My little precious case of ouds covers different geographies and years of aging. My first clue my education in real ambergris was lacking came courtesy of Areej Le Dore Atlantic Ambergris.

White Ambergris via Pat Lillis of Celtic Ambergris

I have a tiny pea shaped amount of solid ambergris which sits in a sealed vial like a black stinky pearl. When I open it for a sniff it is briny with a pronounced funk to it. I also own an ambergris attar from Amouage and it is what I expect a tincture of that odiferous pearl to produce. I thought my knowledge base was complete. When I read the review of Atlantic Ambergris on Kafkaesque there was a primer on the spectrum of ambergris to introduce the review. Kafkaesque turned to Pat Lillis of Celtic Ambergris to provide the explanation for what causes the different scent profile for any chunk of ambergris. If you’re interested I urge you to go read it. The short form is the longer a chunk spends floating in the ocean the more bleached it gets providing a softer scent profile while the chunks that spend more time on shore in the sand get blacker, and funkier. Russian Adam obtained a quantity of white ambergris, from Mr. Lillis, as the keynote of Atlantic Ambergris.

Russian Adam describes the scent profile of the white ambergris in Atlantic Ambergris this way, “It’s aroma is pristine, fluffy, silky, slightly powdery, sweet and earthy, with a bottomless oceanic depth that is truly unique.” I agree with that statement entirely but what really struck me was the last part of it. Growing up in S, Florida there were days where I was out on the ocean water skiing or just leaning over the side of the boat as it headed home at speed. There was a smell of the ocean that went beyond sea spray to something with more weight to it along with a briny depth. As the white ambergris rises I was vividly reminded of this smell.

Atlantic Ambergris is a Russian Adam perfume which means it is full of other interesting notes besides the white ambergris. He chooses to take his unique keynote and float it upon a sea of spices; cardamom, clove, and nutmeg. This is a powerful wave of spices which are meant as contrast to the deep ocean quality of the ambergris. I am a fan of all three of these spices and I am given full servings of all of them. As the chunk of ambergris approaches the shoreline the wind brings the smell of the pines and the tropical flowers of jasmine and ylang ylang. This all transitions into a base accord which I think is funnily enough Russian Adam’s concept of an oud accord. From a perfumer who has consistently used exquisitely sourced ouds it seems like he didn’t want to step on the beauty of the ambergris. This gives an oud-like foundation which because it is an accord he can tune it to exactly the desired effect.

Atlantic Ambergris has 16-18 hour longevity and average sillage. Also this is the version of Atlantic Ambergris released in October of 2017

If you’ve never smelled the real thing, when it comes to ambergris, Atlantic Ambergris provides an opportunity. I know that there is a wide world of ambergris to explore now but it will be hard to be better than Atlantic Ambergris.

Disclosure: this review is based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Areej Le Dore Inverno Russo- Hidden Objects

When I received my Areej Le Dore sample set of the most recent four releases I knew these were perfumes I was going to have to spend time with to try and write about them. I was introduced to the brand via blogger Kafkaesque which had me ordering a sample set of the new releases as soon as I could. I initially wrote about Flux de Fleur in November 2017. Having read the review from Kafkaesque and having a different experience I chalked it up to being such a dense construction you can get fixated on a different set of ingredients than another experiencing the same perfume.

With the bitter cold temperatures of the end of the year I thought I’d give the one named after winter a try, Inverno Russo. One of the things perfumer Russian Adam does with these perfumes is use the most individual of ingredients. Thanks to Kafkaesque he has shared those ingredients. It is also why these are kind of like vintage wines. Russian Adam may make it again but whether the co-distillates or the oud obtained can be replicated probably makes each unique to its batch. For clarity this review refers to the release in October 2017.

What I notice first upon wearing Inverno Russo is the co-distillate of peach blossom and osmanthus absolute. It forms a pivot point around which rose otto and gardenia form a unique floral accord. There is the fruity nature of the co-distillate followed by the spicy rose and the indolic white flower. Spices come along to give the rose a bit more prominence. Then the musk arrives. This is real musk, legally obtained by Russian Adam. It is probably the first time many who try this will encounter the real thing. I have always noticed a kind of fattiness to the real musk grains I have. Russian Adam takes that and uses synthetic civet, tonka, along with a mixture of ouds to provide an animalic chocolate accord. It is musky, but it is also bizarrely gourmand simultaneously. The chocolate begins to fade with the woods and the musk remaining throughout the last hours.

Inverno Russo has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.

As I read through the other reviews of Inverno Russo it again seems like we are all wearing a different perfume. I link to Kafkaesque’s as an example. Then I think I’ve finally hit on why that is so. One of my favorite games to play on my tablet is what is called “hidden object”. You are given a scene and asked to find a list of things within it. Based on where your focus is that is the order you fill out your list. Inverno Russo was kind of a perfume version of that where I “found” the peach blossom and osmanthus co-distillate first before finding the rest. I am guessing others found other things first. These are fabulously dense architectures within which you can get lost; just leave a thread of hidden objects behind you so you can return to where you started.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Areej Le Dore Flux De Fleur- Indian Street Vendors

When I first discovered the world of independent perfumery I entered the acquisitional phase where I bought samples of anything which sounded interesting. My guides for this were the internet resources that existed but primarily the blogs. They were going even further afield to find things that were interesting. That still applies today as the bloggers I read still introduce me to something new. One blogger who has been bringing into the light some of the most dedicated indie perfumers is Kafkaesque. After a brief sabbatical Kafkaesque returned a few months ago with a number of series on some lines I had not heard of. The stories on Ensar Oud and Feel Oud illuminated the dedicated artists behind these brands. Kafkaesque shows through these profiles the passion these men have for their fragrances. There are links within the sentences above and I highly encourage a visit to read about these singular creatives. Because there was now a stoked curiosity when Kafkaesque announced that perfumer Russian Adam of Feel Oud was releasing four new perfumes in the Areej Le Dore line I purchased a sample set immediately.

What is so fascinating about perfumers like Russian Adam is they aren’t looking for mainstream success they are only focused on making fragrances you can’t find anywhere else. One way this is achieved is using exquisitely sourced natural materials. This results in small batches of each perfume being made and if there is a second version a particular ingredient might be altered because of availability. To make it clear to future readers all comments here are on the versions released in October 2017. Also all information about the perfumes comes from the Kafkaesque blog.

This set of four Areej Le Dore releases remind me of perfumed mazes. Just as I feel as if I am finding a path I am familiar with things shift kaleidoscopically and I’m heading down a different path. This makes this a difficult line of fragrance to review because I am reasonably certain that the density of the architecture allows for different experiences dependent upon which fixtures you focus upon. To bear this out I haven’t read anyone else’s experience who has published online to be the same as mine. (Kafkaesque's review is here) There are similarities but I reiterate that I think it is just because there is so much to experience none of us are up to the task of capturing it all. I’ll end up writing about all of them after the New Year but I wanted to make sure I highlighted my favorite of the four new releases before the end of the year; Flux De Fleur.

Russian Adam has created an interesting take on incense and white flowers. He has ended up creating an incense that evokes the cheap incense sticks sold on the street. These are draped with floral garlands of jasmine and tuberose. Surrounding all of it is the street vendor milieu of a large city in India.

Flux De Fleur opens on a crystalline candied grapefruit paired with incense. When I use “cheap” to describe it what I mean is this is not the typically silvery pure frankincense we usually encounter in high-end fragrances. It is described in the note list as “dissolved green and black frankincense” which has the effect of blurring that precision of high quality incense into something more opaque. With the sweet candied nature of the citrus it is an engaging accord. This also carries more power than my description might suggest. As the jasmine and tuberose begin to appear the incense embraces them wrapping them up in a resinous envelope. From here there is a layering of spices which harmonizes with the incense. As mentioned above Russian Adam works with some amazing sources of oud. For Flux De Fleur he uses a 10-year old Cambodian oud along with Sumatran oud soaked in coconut water. With the florals dominating, the ouds provide a dark almost gourmand layer. It might be the power of suggestion but I swear I catch a whiff of a Mounds candy bar in this phase. The final phase is around a Shamama attar which provides an ambery nucleus for some real musk and castoreum.

Flux De Fleur has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

This is another of those reviews where my words are inadequate which I will end up saying three more times as I finish all the reviews of the new releases. One thing I want to communicate especially about Flux De Fleur is despite being full of power it is not a “wall of scent” it is more muted than you might suspect reading the above. It is a predominantly white floral incense perfume but the supporting characters are all memorable additions in the time they spend with the main ingredients. Flux de Fleur is magnificent in its depth while not ever becoming overwhelming.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples I purchased.

Mark Behnke