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 Diptyque Kyoto- Paging Tom Robbins

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Of all the questions I am asked about perfume, “What is your favorite book on perfume?” is one of the most frequent. My answer has always been Jitterbug Perfume by Tom Robbins. I’m not going to recap the plot except for one thing, there are lots of beets. I’ve been waiting for a long time for a perfume that gives beets their due. Diptyque Kyoto is it.

Myriam Badault

Diptyque is pulling out all the stops celebrating this 60th anniversary year. For the fall they are releasing a limited-edition Grand Tour collection. Along with Kyoto, Venise is the other. A lot of times when perfume brands go all out for their anniversaries, they can lose what made them last so long. Creative director Myriam Badault has overseen a set of releases this year which have done a great job of showcasing what makes Diptyque remain relevant as they get their AARP card.

Alexandra Carlin

Kyoto is inspired by Japan. As of late inspired by Japan has become equivalent to rolling out cherry blossoms. It has almost become a perfume caricature. Which was why I was pleased to see perfumer Alexandra Carlin go in an entirely different direction.

I’ve never visited Japan. If I use the last thirty years of perfume inspired by it there is an efficiency which sets apart the best. Kyoto is an example. Mme Carlin uses three keynotes in rose, vetiver, and incense. The fourth ingredient is beetroot. It acts as a catalyst pulling together the three ingredients through a unique scent profile.

A spicy Turkish rose opens things. This is a sultry swoosh of piquant petals. Vetiver comes next with its green grassiness out front. It adds a significant amount of freshness keeping the rose from becoming too overbearing. The final keynote, incense skirls through the rose and vetiver in austere silvery spirals. For a few minutes these pieces are present but nothing special. Then the beetroot changes everything.

Beetroot is a fascinating scent profile. It has a soil-like earthiness akin to geosmin, but way less intense. It also has that sweetness that beet sugar comes from. This is also markedly sweet but also much lighter than other choices. Here the sweetness grabs the rose adding texture to the floral. It also coaxes the earthy part of patchouli out from behind the grassiness. The incense just adds a resinous veil throughout.

Kyoto has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.

Diptyque has been one of the brands which has been consistently doing transparent without becoming boring. Now in their 60th year the rest of the perfume world has caught up. I’ve been waiting for a perfume to use beetroot in this way. I wonder if I should let Mr. Robbins know?

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample provided by Nordstrom.

Mark Behnke