When it comes to aquatic scents they are almost always set at a beach on the ocean. Perfumers have explored every variation, and then some, of this. It has always seemed curious to me why so few have tried to make a freshwater version. I’ve spent my share of time next to lakes and streams as well as beaches. There is a scent to both places. It is up to the independent perfume community to satisfy my desire for this. One who has already provided it previously is Shawn Maher. He is back with a different take in Maher Olfactive Orris Forest.
The previous aquatic by Mr. Maher which I enjoyed was Chatillon Lux Admiral. That was a perfume of the Mississippi River which flows through his hometown of St. Louis. For Orris Forest he turns inward to the smaller creeks that feed the larger.
In the accompanying Scent Notes post for Orris Forest Mr. Maher is inspired by childhood visits to his grandmother. She lived outside of the city in a place where the country has overtaken the urban. He tells of the joys of youth climbing hills and stomping through the brooks. The ingredient which provided the stimulus to send his mind back was orris butter. It is an unusual association and one I have never made. Mr. Maher saw the nucleus of a contemporary fougere in it.
To do this he focused on the carroty-earthy nature of orris, which is the way I see it. He looks at that and sees the foundation for a fougere accord. To fully form that he uses a set of ingredients to create a watery lichen on wet stone scent profile. He lists a dozen pieces but violet leaf and cypriol are the linchpins. He uses a couple of orris synthetics to ground the natural material more firmly in the earth. When it comes together this is the scent of my hiking boots hopping from green encrusted stone to the other across a brook. Once I reach the other side Mr. Maher delicately inserts the berries, flowers, and woods. There is a hint of raspberry. A more present set of florals in jasmine and lavender. The woods come through a richly terpenic pinon oil. This calls back to a similar undertone in the opening accord closing the loop.
Orris Forest has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
Mr. Maher has now made his second iteration of a freshwater aquatic. This is as fresh and clean as any one set at the beach. I prefer being reminded of crossing a flowing stream from one stepping stone to the next surrounded by an entirely different aquatic perfume experience.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Maher Olfactive.