December is always a difficult month for me as a perfume blogger. I try to make sure I squeeze in reviews of all of the fragrances I haven’t yet written about that I am considering for year-end honors. Which means other new samples get short changed a bit as I am very focused on that task. That’s why I am thankful for the quiet of January. It allows me to give some of those late arriving perfumes some attention. One of the casualties of the end of year triage is if a brand hasn’t been as interesting lately that new release is likely to be delayed in my trying it out. Reminiscence Patchouli Blanc is the beneficiary of that delay.
Reminiscence is one of those brands which seems to sporadically produce a really good perfume. Their original Patchouli, released in 1970, is one of the great patchoulis as well as being one of my favorites. Over the ensuing 45 years this has been a brand with some real diamonds among the trivial. Many of them have been different interpretations of patchouli. Perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin made the last Reminiscence perfume I really liked Vanille, in 2012. Which made me happy to see M. Pellegrin as the perfumer behind Patchouli Blanc.
According to the press materials Patchouli Blanc is meant to be a collection of “white” raw materials. I know many see different raw materials as different colors but only the opening and closing keynotes are anything I would describe as white. What I liked about Patchouli Blanc was M. Pellegrin’s effort to soften the patchouli into something more approachable.
Patchouli Blanc opens with a roar of aldehydes. This is something I would consider white. The star anise that M. Pellegrin adds to the aldehydes does not read white to me. Because of the licorice quality I think of it as black. Which actually sets it up as a nice counterbalance to the aldehydes. M. Pellegrin chooses hawthorn as the heart note to arise from among the aldehydes and anise. To keep this from being too strident he begins the softening effect with a mixture of synthetic ionones adding a powdery effect. Again this doesn’t read white it comes off more similar to pink. Where the white does return is in the use of one of the fractional patchouli distillates. This fraction has removed many of the earthier qualities of patchouli. Using distillation to clean it up from its head shop reputation. This patchouli fraction is a continuation of the softness started with the ionones. A bit of sandalwood provides some woody depth but it is the ionones and the patchouli fraction which form the very soft foundation of Patchouli Blanc.
Patchouli Blanc has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
M. Pellegrin does a very creditable job in cleaning up and softening the character of a note as well-known as patchouli. Patchouli Blanc is definitely a whiter shade of patchouli.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received from Reminiscence.