There are only a tiny few perfumers who have earned enough trust with me to hold a spot during the final weeks of December. Dawn Spencer Hurwitz is one of them. One reason I will always do it is she has been producing a Holiday perfume for nineteen years. Ms. Hurwitz has found the scent of the season in so many ways she has very often provided new perspective to a part of them for me. That is true of her non-Holiday perfumes, too. They provide the kind of insight that can only come from an independent mindset. For this year she looks at the origins of the most famous symbol of Hanukkah in DSH Perfumes MaccaBees (Holiday No. 19).
Dawn Spencer Hurwitz
If there is one thing people who aren’t Jewish know about Hanukkah it is the menorah with its candles burning bright. Half of my family by choice is Jewish. Their actual families always welcomed me; along with my irritating questions. I always liked when Hanukkah was early because it felt like I could enjoy both parts of the Judeo-Christian Holiday Season with my best friends. The years when it is together, like this one, I felt like I missed out on something. Not really it was just more intense. I always enjoyed watching the beeswax candles burn when they got low. Casting warm flame colored light upon the metal of the menorah. There was a comfort to it all. That is the type of perfume MaccaBees is; a contemplative comfort fragrance.
The name comes from the 200 BC revolt led by Judah Maccabee against the Romans in Judea. The new rulers had seized the temple; turning it into one dedicated to the Roman gods. The Maccabees revolted taking back the temple. During the rededication the menorah only had enough oil to burn for one night but instead burned for eight nights in total. This is the foundational event for Hanukkah and the menorah as its symbol.
Ms. Hurwitz has worked previously on making perfumes based on ancient Egyptian formulas. There is a touch of that here as she relies on some of those traditional fragrant oils from the time period. The name with the capitalized “B” in the middle is to clue you in there is some honey trapped in those beeswax candles. It flows together into a classic Holiday perfume.
It is the candles we start with. The beeswax is given a gentle coating of honey. The overall effect is more candle than honeycomb. Ms. Hurwitz finds a lovely replacement for a sweet viscous liquid as she uses the maple syrup quality of immortelle. Immortelle is a much easier sweetness to control. It also carries a slightly smoky quality which captures the swirls coming off the flame tip as they rise away. This is all built upon a foundation of resins. Myrrh, oppoponax, frankincense, and oud. This forms that warmly contemplative accord to finish things.
MaccaBees has 10-12 hour longevity and is a skin scent as an oil.
Ms. Hurwitz was reminding us of her past eighteen Holiday scents on her Facebook page. As I looked back, I realized MaccaBees might be the most traditional of them all. There is everything right in finding a perfume which makes remembering the reasons why we celebrate.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by DSH Perfumes.