Of all the questions I am asked about perfume, “What is your favorite book on perfume?” is one of the most frequent. My answer has always been Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I’m not going to recap the plot except for one thing, there are lots of beets. I’ve been waiting for a long time for a perfume that gives beets their due. Diptyque Kyoto is it.
Diptyque is pulling out all the stops celebrating this 60th anniversary year. For the fall they are releasing a limited-edition Grand Tour collection. Along with Kyoto, Venise is the other. A lot of times when perfume brands go all out for their anniversaries, they can lose what made them last so long. Creative director Myriam Badault has overseen a set of releases this year which have done a great job of showcasing what makes Diptyque remain relevant as they get their AARP card.
Kyoto is inspired by Japan. As of late inspired by Japan has become equivalent to rolling out cherry blossoms. It has almost become a perfume caricature. Which was why I was pleased to see perfumer Alexandra Carlin go in an entirely different direction.
I’ve never visited Japan. If I use the last thirty years of perfume inspired by it there is an efficiency which sets apart the best. Kyoto is an example. Mme Carlin uses three keynotes in rose, vetiver, and incense. The fourth ingredient is beetroot. It acts as a catalyst pulling together the three ingredients through a unique scent profile.
A spicy Turkish rose opens things. This is a sultry swoosh of piquant petals. Vetiver comes next with its green grassiness out front. It adds a significant amount of freshness keeping the rose from becoming too overbearing. The final keynote, incense skirls through the rose and vetiver in austere silvery spirals. For a few minutes these pieces are present but nothing special. Then the beetroot changes everything.
Beetroot is a fascinating scent profile. It has a soil-like earthiness akin to geosmin, but way less intense. It also has that sweetness that beet sugar comes from. This is also markedly sweet but also much lighter than other choices. Here the sweetness grabs the rose adding texture to the floral. It also coaxes the earthy part of patchouli out from behind the grassiness. The incense just adds a resinous veil throughout.
Kyoto has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
Diptyque has been one of the brands which has been consistently doing transparent without becoming boring. Now in their 60th year the rest of the perfume world has caught up. I’ve been waiting for a perfume to use beetroot in this way. I wonder if I should let Mr. Robbins know?
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.