Catching up with the Monegals: Agar Musk, Cotton Musk, and Mon Patchouly

I never expected to be regularly writing about perfume for this long after I started twelve years ago. From the beginning my interest has been in trying the latest perfumes. I’ve always enjoyed the rush of encountering the new. The downside of that is an early decision on a brand can keep me from seeking it out. Especially over the last year or so I have been learning that attitude has kept me from enjoying some great perfume. Sometimes I get a second chance as I have with the Ramon Monegal perfume collection.

Back in 2010 when Ramon Monegal debuted here in the US it was another of these multi-perfume debuts. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is my antipathy towards this marketing choice. Even back then I wasn’t going to spend valuable time while in NYC concentrating on one brand. So I looked at the names and decided on two which seemed to have my favorite ingredients. Impossible Iris and Cuirelle promised me iris and leather. I got a fruitier floral than I liked and a weird gourmand. I walked away that day thinking the beautiful inkwell bottles were the best thing. I probably tried one or two over the years but none of them made an impression.

Now we come to today. Sr. Monegal reached out and offered to send me a set of samples. I thought it was worth the effort to give them a second look. It is a confirmation of a couple of things I have always believed.

Ramon Monegal

One is when faced with large debut collection it is just as easy to find the ones you won’t care for as the ones you do. In the sample set were three that were likely on that counter the day I walked away disappointed. Looking again eleven years later these three were much better examples of the style.

I am going to do three short reviews of those today. Tomorrow I am going to do a review of two more recent releases which I think bear a similarity.

I probably shied away from Agar Musk because the whole agarwood/oud thing had become tiresome. A weekend in NYC was going to have me smelling oud over and over. This comes to the second benefit; I have different tastes now than I did then. This time the rough-edged medicinal oud hit me in just the right spot. This time there was a leather accord which harmonized with the oud. This is just the assertive oud I have come to really enjoy.

Cotton Musk surprisingly gave me a favorite floral where I didn’t expect it. Sr. Monegal combines rose and gardenia in vibrant duet. Over time incense, and vetiver insert themselves between the petals. The base is those promised laundry musks sweetened with vanilla providing some grounding.

If only I had chosen Mon Patchouly all those years ago. From first sniff this is the kind of patchouli I like. This flows through the florals of geranium and jasmine into a full spectrum patchouli at overdose. It is all the elegance of great patchouli given life through incense and oakmoss. Of everything Sr. Monegal sent me this is the one which changed my initial opinion the most.

I believe I have become a better observer on perfume over the years. Which is why when Sr. Monegal gave me this opportunity it changed my mind. I need to be more diligent in trying the new even if I think I know the brand. Thankfully, I can remedy that tomorrow as I review Faisa and Flamenco.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Ramon Monegal.

Mark Behnke

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