One of the things I appreciated about all the Libertine perfumes I tried was the way independent perfumer Joshua Smith seemingly constructs them. Every one of the eight perfumes I tried had a strong spine of three ingredients. Mr. Smith would then flesh them out by adorning them with interesting supporting notes. The three perfumes I am reviewing today; Libertine Smoked Bloom, Libertine Troubled Spirits, and Libertine Sweet Grass all stand tall.
Smoked Bloom is all about illuminating the two faces of osmanthus. I adore the apricot and leather nature of this floral ingredient. Mr. Smith adds amplification to the top and contrast to the bottom.
It starts with a dried apricot finding another voice coming from the osmanthus. There is a high-low effect as the apricot comes off as desiccated and concentrated while also having the lighter quality which comes from osmanthus. While this is nice it is Mr. Smith’s choice of bay leaf which changes it. The pungent spice adds an interesting harmonic to the early moments. As this evolves the leather part of osmanthus begins to appear as vetiver beckons it. This is the foundation of 70’s powerhouse fougeres given a floral tint. Sandalwood provides the base note for Smoked Bloom to finish on.
Smoked Bloom has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Sweet Grass is my favorite of the eight I tried. Some of it is because it was the biggest surprise. I saw hay and tobacco with the name and expected a festival of dried leaf sweetness. I got something delightfully different.
It starts with the sunny powdery floral puffballs of mimosa finding the coumarin of tonka bean to begin the dried grass vibe. There was an earthy piece of the top accord I couldn’t identify. According to the note list Mr. Smith used boletus which are a species of mushroom. This is the gentle scent of garden soil combining with the mimosa and tonka. The real sweet grass shows up as hay and tobacco form the center. This is the conjunction of sweetness which comes from being dried out. It fits ideally with the top accord to form a sunny narcotic uber accord. Much later it seems like there is a bit of musky sweat which finds its way into the final stages.
Sweet Grass has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Troubled Spirits is the most straightforward of the Libertine perfumes I tried. This time the spine is all together at once as the scent of a barrel aging alcohol is conjured.
Right away a sturdy oak is given some softness via vanilla. A bright amber forms the contours of the barrel accord. As much time as I have spent walking through aging rooms this accord is reminiscent of it. There is a bit of rose and much later patchouli that peek out but this is really all about the barrel.
Troubled Spirits has 14-16 hour longevity and average sillage.
The two that I didn’t review, Soft Woods and Fin de Siecle are also fine examples of Mr. Smith’s style of perfume making as he assays fir and rose, respectively. This is an impressive beginning to his perfume career. One I expect will continue rising on a strong spine of creativity and ingredients.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Libertine Fragrance.