Colognoisseur Best of 2021 Part 3: The Top 35 New Perfumes of the Year

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To begin with the context of the list, I tried 621 new perfumes since January 1, 2021. That is about a third of all new perfume released during the same time frame. The list below is the best 5.6% of those I got to try. As you see in the title it has expanded a bit from the usual Top 25. I found that when I looked back, I had a tight list of 35 I was pleased with. I decided to make them all worthy of the main list with no Honorable Mentions this time around.

The Top 10 (Perfume of the Year candidates)

10, Diptyque Kyoto– The best of the four perfumes in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the brand. The magic of beetroot, and perfumer Alexandra Carlin turns this into a stunning fragrance.

9. Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Synthetic Jungle– Perfumer Anne Flipo turned in a sappy green thicket of a perfume.

8. Zoologist Chipmunk– Creative Director Victor Wong and perfumer Pia Long create a modern interpretation of those classic woody masculine perfumes of decades ago.

7. Azman Two Minutes After the Kiss– You might think there is nothing new in an oud-rose perfume. Perfumer Cristiano Canali will make you think again.

6. Masque Milano Lost Alice– Creative Directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi team-up with perfumer Mackenzie Reilly for a gourmand inspired by Alice’s Tea Party.

5, Francesca Bianchi Luxe Calme VolupteFrancesca Bianchi lives on the edge in her perfume making. This time it is the edge of sensual passion in this year’s sexiest fragrance.

4, Puredistance No. 12– Creative director Jan Ewoud Vos told me to give perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer’s perfume time to mature. When it did a magnificent powdery chypre was there to enjoy.

3. Rubini NuvolariAndrea Rubini and his creative team including perfumer Cristiano Canali take you for a drive on an F1 track all the way through the checkered flag.

2. Amouage Material– Creative director Renaud Salmon and perfumer Cecile Zarokian turn in the most audacious gourmand of the year using the tritest of ingredients, vanilla. By turning it inside out and back again they define something entirely new.

1. Amouage Silver Oud– All the reasons are in yesterday’s Perfume of the Year post. The short version: M. Salmon and Mme Zarokian made me care about oud again.

The Rest of the Top 35 in Alphabetical Order

Aesop Eremia– The apocalypse has never seemed so appealing.

Aftelier Perfumes Joie de VertMandy Aftel uses a vintage anise hyssop in a hymn to green.

Anatole Lebreton Racine Carre– This perfume is the answer to, “What is the square root of licorice?”

April Aromatics Wild Summer Crush– The exuberance of the summer and the possibilities of love explode on my skin with joy.

Chanel Paris-EdimbourgOlivier Polge is creating his own niche at Chanel with the Les Eaux. This is the best of them, so far.

Chris Collins African Rooibos– The best tea-inspired perfume of 2021.

Comme des Garcons Ganja– Everything Comme des Garcons has done well for thirty years, and counting is right here.

Diptyque Venise– This reminds you that Venice is not just water and canals. It is also the gardens on the islands.

DS & Durga St. Vetyver– I hear Jimmy Buffet in my head every time I wear this.

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris– Sometimes things are simple. Geza Schoen adds iris to Iso E Super. It is as good as it gets.

Freddie Albrighton Mabel’s Tooth– The most fun I had with a perfume all year from a new independent perfumer.

Hedonik Divine PerversionFrancesca Bianchi’s leather line has a perfume to match.

La Curie GeistLesli Wood finds the wood smoke hanging in the pine trees.

Laboratorio Olfattivo Vanagloria– This is a version of a vanilla throw blanket from Dominique Ropion.

Maison Crivelli Lys SolabergNathalie Feisthauer takes you to summer in the Great White North as the lilies bloom.

Maison Crivelli Hibiscus Mahajad– Perfumer Quentin Bisch creates a red-colored gemstone floral.

Milano Fragranze Diurno– The best of the new line by creative director Alessandro Brun. Perfumer Julie Masse uses a brilliant Amaretto accord to call up the echoes of the Lost Generation.

Naomi Goodsir Corpus Equus– Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour forms a horsehair leather fragrance.

Parfum d’Empire Mal-AimeMarc-Antoine Corticchiato can make perfume from anything, including weeds.

Phoenecia Perfume Oud Elegance Rose and Oud Elegance Incense– Perfumer David Falsberg gave two visions of no BS oud. Both are enhanced by the ingenious use of a hyraceum tinctured alcohol.

Sarah Baker Loudo– This combination of a cherry cordial and oud was as compelling as it got.

Scents of Wood Plum in Cognac– This was the perfume which made Fabrice Croise’s concept come to gourmand life under perfumer Pascal Gaurin.

Shalini Fleur JaponaisShalini and perfumer Maurice Roucel make a delicate artistic perfume.

Tom Ford Private Blend Ebene Fume Rodrigo Flores-Roux wakes up the echoes of the early days of the brand.

Zoologist Snowy Owl– At the end of last year I eagerly awaited this collaboration between Victor Wong and perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Snowy Owl was even better than I could have imagined.

That’s a wrap for 2021. I’m looking forward to what 2022 has in store.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Comme des Garcons Ganja- Sticky Buds

I have a close friend who has a thermidor of fine cigars. She doesn’t smoke. She has them so she can take one out to feel the texture on her fingers, the smell through her nose. She has a quite a collection of tobacco perfumes which I have helped her grow over the years. I don’t share her love of tobacco, but I have a similar attitude towards marijuana. Now that there are legal dispensaries I really enjoy going in and smelling the different offerings. The deeply herbal green sappy scent of the different breeds of cannabis all has their own scent profile. They also have a sticky tactile touch when you buy a spiky bud and roll it in your fingers. That leaves a different scent on my fingers. There are many perfumes which have sought to capture this. The latest is Comme des Garcons Ganja.

Christian Astuguevieille

Over the last three decades Comme des Garcons and creative director Christian Astuguevieille have sought to give fragrance enthusiasts a different perspective. Their appreciation for finding the beauty in the unusual is what has made this brand the premier creative perfume brand of this time period. Ganja is another example of that. Perfumer Caroline Dumur was tasked with the job of realizing it.

Caroline Dumur

What has always made this brand so interesting is they rarely try to create just a photorealistic recreation of their focus. They also don’t go into a fully abstract rendering where the wearer is filling in the blanks in their perception of it. Their signature is to find a middle ground between reality and imagination for their perfumes to reside in. Ganja might be the best they’ve ever done at this.

It opens with a funky sappy green accord consisting of cumin, mate tea, black pepper, and mastic resin. This is the reality of that scent I get when opening a container of cannabis buds at the dispensary. Mme Dumur finds a fabulous balance of the sweatiness of cumin, the sharp green edges of the mate, the tickle of the black pepper and the sap of the mastic resin. This could have been a perfume with just this. Except that is not where this brand exists.

The base is that abstraction of marijuana to act as contrast. Here she uses frankincense, patchouli, and guaiac wood. The richness of the resin and patchouli form an imaginative bud where the guaiac wood and some of the elements of the earlier accord provide the sticky sap.

Ganja has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

I haven’t enjoyed a cannabis inspired perfume like this in many years. The journey from real life to abstraction is fascinating. It is everything I have come to expect from the perfumes of Comme des Garcons.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I received from Comme des Garcons.

Mark Behnke