My Favorite Things: Rum

Ahoy Mateys, Captain Colognoisseur is here to invite you for a bit of perfumed grog. I am a big fan of boozy notes in my perfume and one of my favorites is when rum is the source of that effect. There aren’t a whole lot of rum perfumes out there as I realized once I started putting this list together. Even so these five perfumes are some of my favorites to wear when I want to go all piratical.

If there was ever a perfume that sold me on how good rum could be in a perfume it was 2005’s Idole de Lubin by Olivia Giacobetti. This modern version was a re-interpretation of the original from 1962. Idole de Lubin has Mme Giacobetti’s transparent aesthetic on display. That aesthetic is often compared to a silk scarf. This time the scarf has been doused with rum. What is underneath is saffron, ginger, sugar, leather and sandalwood.

By Kilian Straight to Heaven by Sidonie Lancesseur is a Spice Islands tableau of rum, nutmeg, jasmine, patchouli, and vanilla. Mme Lancesseur combines everything into this darkly decadent perfume. This is the complete antithesis to Idole de Lubin in strength as Straight to Heaven is like taking a swig straight from the bottle.

opus v

Amouage Opus V by Jacques Cavallier shows a more delicate side of rum. M. Cavallier combines his rum with rich orris butter. The richness of the orris unexpectedly highlights some of the deeper sweeter facets of the rum. The orris and rum opening of Opus V gives way to a jasmine and oud finish but it is that opening which is hard to forget.

Frapin Speakeasy by Marc-Antoine Corticchiato is M. Corticchiato capturing the speakeasies of Prohibition-era America. This is the smell of smuggled liquor and cigars. The party goers and the polished wood of the bar. It is one of my favorites in the Frapin line for once again capturing a moment in time through a spritz from an atomizer.

I am an unabashed fan of almost all of the Olfactive Studio line of perfumes. I realized when putting this list together that I just don’t give enough love to Still Life. It is probably because it was one of the original releases and it just got lost in the shuffle, but it shouldn’t. Perfumer Dora Arnaud interpreted Frederic Lebain’s picture as a modern cocktail. It consists of a twist of lemon, a dash of pepper, a splash of anisette and a full shot of rum. Mme Arnaud uses a fully heated up Szechuan pepper and it sets the boozy ingredients aflame. Maybe it takes a fire to get my attention.

If you’re busy mixing mojitos or daiquiris on the back deck or poolside and you want to complement the cocktails with a bit of perfume here are five that will go well.

Disclosure: I have purchased bottles of all five of these perfumes.

Mark Behnke

Amouage 101- Five to Get You Started

Amouage is an ultra-luxe perfume brand which was founded in 1983, in Oman, to create modern perfumes in the Omani tradition. The original two perfumes created for the brand by perfumer Guy Robert, Gold Man and Gold Woman, would set the brand DNA for the next thirty years. Amouage really transformed itself in 2006 when it hired Christopher Chong as creative director. Mr. Chong has made Amouage into one of the most consistently artistic of any perfume house you can name. The fact that Amouage doesn’t make perfume for the lowest common denominator is something to be commended. I often refer to many Amouage releases as graduate level perfumery. Even though I believe Amouage puts out some of the most spectacularly intricate fragrances it doesn’t mean there aren’t some good introductory courses in Amouage perfume before taking on the more advanced offerings. Here are the five I would suggest starting with.


Christopher Chong

Jubilation XXV by Bertrand Duchaufour was one of Mr. Chong’s first releases in 2007. It is in my estimation one of the finest incense perfumes ever made. M. Duchaufour takes everything he had learned about making incense perfumes and creates a modern masterpiece. Jubilation XXV caresses you with a swirl of resinous smoke that comforts.

Reflection Woman by Maurice Roucel is fresh the Amouage way. Most fruity florals which can also be described as fresh are light. Reflection Woman is not light but it also not as powerful as most of the other Amouage perfumes. M. Roucel takes an aquatic green accord and mixes it with violet and watermelon. The notes complement each other quite nicely.

Memoir Man by Karine Vinchon-Spehner was the pine fragrance I had been waiting for. Mme Vinchon-Spehner starts with an absinthe top surrounded by herbal notes. A fabulous camphor laden heart carries into a mix of vetiver, oakmoss, and sandalwood. This is all kept surprisingly light like walking through the woods on a winter’s day.

Opus V by Jacques Cavallier is part of the Amouage Library Collection it replaces rose with orris as the partner of oud. It works so seamlessly you wonder why it isn’t used more. M. Cavallier also uses a very boozy rum accord with the orris early on before letting ambroxan turn it austere and dry by the end.

Homage Attar is one of the easier to find attars by Amouage. This is what Amouage stood for when they were founded to revive the Omani tradition of perfumery. Amouage has a selection of incredible attars which are straight distillations of an essential oil into an existing woody base. In the case of Homage Attar it is rose distilled into a base of oud and sandalwood. Attars are among the most concentrated forms of perfume there are and a drop or two goes a long way. Attars also wear very close to the skin making this a perfume that exists for you and those you allow to get close. If you’ve ever been curious about attars this is the best place you could start to explore them.

These are the introductory perfumes but if you find you like these great pleasures await you in the advanced levels.

Disclosure: This review was based on bottles I own.

Mark Behnke