New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn Ume- Plum Dragon

I have been an admirer of the entire multimedia effort Stephen Dirkes has constructed for his Euphorium Brooklyn brand. I have found his style of perfume to have its own distinctive personality which seems to be closely attuned to mine. Which was one reason why upon receiving the new Spring release, Ume, I knew this would be no pale floral.

Steven Dirkes (Photo by Tal Shpantzer via

One part of the multimedia I adore is the ongoing tale each new release tells us about the three men from the Euphorium Bile Works in Brooklyn circa 1860. They are Christian Rosenkreuz, Etienne Chevreuil and Rudolph Komodo. Over the first few releases we were introduced to each member of who I refer to as the Bile Works Boys. Now that we have moved past that it has become about their encounters outside of the factory. For Ume the factual event of the arrival of the first Japanese Embassy in 1860 is woven into an accompanying tale. The poet Walt Whitman wrote this as part of a fuller work he composed for this visit; “The box-lid is but perceptibly open’d-nevertheless the Perfume pours copiously out of the whole box.” Mr. Komodo a.k.a The Dragon takes his current female companion Sra. Bustello to meet the envoy and the poet. They end up receiving both at the Bile Works a few evening later. After a typical night of sensorial exploration, the envoy brings the evening to a close as he recites the story of “The Plum Blossom and The Butterfly”. A reminder that words are every bit as hedonistic as the more obvious ways. Mr. Dirkes translates that into a deeply sensual perfume centered around plum. As Ume tells its own tale of the plum blossom early in the spring.

Rudolph Komodo

Sra. Bustello and the Japanese Envoy connect over honey covered plums. Mr. Dirkes also provides sweetness enhanced plums in the opening of Ume. His choice is to use a lot of apricot. I think this is a great choice a high concentration of honey runs the risk of becoming unpleasant. Apricot does not, as it provides a capable honey substitute to saturate the plum in sweetness. That is all I perceive in the first few minutes before the apricot-plum begins to make room for some other things in the room. Which is mainly a lilting green tea and a tart spike of yuzu. This becomes entwined with spirals of incense snaking throughout. Simultaneously the clean woody lines of Hinoki provide a temple-like feel. Moss brings us back to the chilled earth still not quite thawed. Icy accords tussle with the soil.

Ume has 10-12 hour longevity and above average sillage.

Ume is the kind of spring floral I need after months of trying the lighter ones. For me spring is the sensual practice of feeling the grass in my barefeet. Inhaling the growth just beginning. Ume may be the story of the Dragon and the Plum. It is also a poem to the sensual pleasures of midnight in the early spring.

Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Euphorium Brooklyn.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn Chocolatl- Cocoa Komodo

One of my favorite new brands of 2015 was the delightfully off-beat multimedia circus Stephen Dirkes is assembling at Euphorium Brooklyn. I have likened it to a serial novel being told via perfume. The story is of the three men who founded the Euphorium Bile Works in 1860; Christian Rosenkreuz, Etienne Chevreuil, and Rudolph Komodo. We are now at the part of the story where each of our protagonists gets a chapter to themselves. Petales was M. Chevreuil’s and 100 Tweeds Hr. Rosenkreuz’s. Which leaves the latest release, Chocolatl, to focus on Mr. Komodo.


Rudolph Komodo

Part of the fun of this is to go to the website and read through the story there which accompanies each new release. I will relate a condensed version here. This is the story of Mr. Komodo’s love of chocolate from his childhood in Indonesia to his time in Amsterdam where he observed the Dutch cocoa ceremony. He would eventually travel throughout Central and South America refining and expanding his knowledge of chocolate. At the end of this time in a rundown villa in Mexico City the foundation of the euphoria-inducing Komodo Effect was begun. It is the Komodo Effect which makes the perfumes produced by the Euphorium Bile Works boys the creations they are.

Chocolatl came from days spent at the Bile Works “in an opiatic haze” being covered in cholcolate while “receiving honeyed fruit massages and spiced incense stimulation.” Once Mr. Komodo returned to reality the foundation of the Komodo Effect was in place.

Despite the fun being had in the text the perfume is also described well within the prose of “fruit massages” and “spiced incense” and of course the chocolate. It makes Chocolatl a rich spicy gourmand.

Chocolatl opens up with both black pepper and Szechuan pepper. It has the nose tickling quality of the black pepper married to the simmering heat of the chili pepper. Added to all of this is the green sappy fruitiness of blackcurrant buds. Here is your fruit massage with the warm friction of the pepper matching the cassis. The spiced incense starts with cardamom, cinnamon, and clove. The resins chosen are benzoin and copahu balm. It is a well-matched set of notes which form the desired accord with the proper amount of “stimulation”. It takes a while to get to the star of the show but the chocolate does show up. It is given a swirl of caramel as complementary sweetness but it is the bit of animalic castoreum which accentuates some of the deeper facets of the cocoa in the base.

Chocolatl has 14-16 hour longevity and moderate sillage.

Chocolatl is perhaps the most comforting of all of the seven Euphorium Brooklyn releases so far. It also has that delightfully off-kilter construction I have enjoyed without going too far into the weird. It makes Chocolatl the part of the story where the Komodo Effect is coated in cocoa. Euphorically so.

Disclosure: this review was based on a sample provided by Twisted Lily.

Mark Behnke

Editors’ note: For those in the New York City on February 12th, 2016 at Twisted Lily they will be having a Euphorium Brooklyn event titled Voluptuary. Stephen Dirkes will be on hand from 6-9PM. Besides showcasing Chocolatl they will also be a set of 3X 8ML bottles of Clilice, Petales, and Chocolatl in a special Voluptuary Set. These are three of the best in the collection so it is a great introduction to the brand. Stop in at the Twisted Lily website for more information at this link.

New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn 100 Tweeds- Sometimes You Get the Bear….

I continue to be enchanted with Creative Stephenr Dirkes as he adds to the story being told with perfume for his Euphorium Brooklyn brand. In this version of a perfumed penny dreadful chapter six entitled 100 Tweeds has just been released.

Mr. Dirkes has been telling the fanciful tale of the men who founded the Euphorium Bile Works in Brooklyn circa 1860. The three men; Etienne Chevreuil, Rudolph Komodo and Christian Rosenkreuz are our protagonists. The first four perfumes released were stories of them together. Now the next three are clearly going to be the “backstory” of each of the Bile Works boys. 100 Tweeds is the story of how Hr. Rosenkreuz needed to leave his native Bavaria and find a new life in the New World.

The story is told in much more enjoyable detail on the website but here is the Cliff’s Notes version. While working in his study on the edge of the Schwarzwald he sends his only daughter out to walk in the forest. He insists she wears her tweed hunting jacket. Not knowing tweed was a natural attractant for bears the obvious tragedy was set into motion. After the death of his daughter Hr. Rosenkreuz was obsessed with making a tincture of tweed. Not just one tweed but all tweeds. 100 Tweeds is that story.

100 tweeds milieu

100 Tweeds is the most challenging of the six Euphorium Brooklyn releases to date. Mr. Dirkes really does capture the smell of a cedar chest with 100 versions of tweed jackets hanging within. For the first time a Euphorium Brooklyn release is tilted much more towards an avant-garde edge. The previous five had their moments but 100 Tweeds is unusual from beginning to end.

The early moments of 100 Tweeds is that musty sort of closet smell overcrowded with woolens. This accord hangs very heavily over the first half an hour or so. I’ve never had a cedar lined closet full of clothes but this accord is much of what I imagine it would smell like. The heart is an evocation of the Bavarian countryside in the Schwarzwald. Calamus is chosen as the nucleus of the heart and it is surrounded by all sorts of herbal and green effects. Hemlock, ivy, celery seed, and parsley seed create a very pungent heart note which again will push many who try this right to the edge of their tolerances. The base starts off slightly contemplative with a honeyed tobacco which is trampled in short order by cypriol, cade and a peat accord. Here is the heath brought to life in all of its peaty glory.

100 Tweeds has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage. This is also an alcohol formulation as was Suedois and Petales.

100 Tweeds is going to be a chapter to get through that I won’t be eager to return to. Mr. Dirkes makes 100 Tweeds challenging at every turn. For a project such as Euphorium Brooklyn it is a little surprising it took six releases to finally fully embrace the odd perfume notes and fold them into the story. If you’ve been following along 100 Tweeds should be experienced just so you don’t skip Hr. Rosenkreuz’s chapter. Under no circumstances should 100 Tweeds be the one used to introduce the line as it stands outside on its own. Waiting to see if the bear is on its way.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn Petales- The Scent of Past Love

As I have related in my previous reviews for the brand Euphorium Brooklyn I have been thoroughly enchanted by Stephen Dirkes’ multi-faceted project. Of course front and center have been the fragrances which in conjunction with the ongoing saga of the three fictional perfumers of the Euphorium Bile Works at the turn of the last century have made this so much fun. I have also mentioned that this feels like the olfactory version of a penny dreadful novel being doled out in installments. Another interesting facet is that  Mr. Dirkes’ has been adding in different types of visual art to go with each new release. Taken all together it has made for one of my more enjoyable experiences this year.


Photo by Tal Shpantzer from the "Petal Series"

Petales is the fifth release for this year and Mr. Dirkes also collaborated with artist Tal Shpantzer. Ms. Shpantzer’s Petal Series provided the visual cues for Petales. Of course one of the Bile Works boys would also have to be involved. This time it is a story of Etienne Chevreuil.

The story goes like this. After a fall from a horse at age 14 M. Chvreuil came down with a bit of amnesia and a heightened sense of smell. As he would live his life he would associate each love of his life with a specific floral smell. As scent is so closely tied to memory on the occasion of his 50th birthday he composed Petales to contain a memory of all of his past loves.

What this makes Petales; is an extremely overloaded floral perfume which also becomes quite animalic by the end. The sheer amount of floral notes form a bit of cacophony early on but they eventually sort themselves out especially as the more resinous and animalic qualities insert themselves into the narrative.

Petales-woman_tal shpantzer

Photo by Tal Shpantzer from the "Petal Series"

Early on it is like a botanist’s fantasia as lily, lavender, orange blossom, geranium, hyacinth, and probably a couple I just miss within all of the concentrated flower power. If that wasn’t enough add in grapefruit, anise, and petitgrain. This is a bit of a sledgehammer lacking some subtlety in the early going. Much as a promiscuous young man is trying all of the flowers available in the garden. It isn’t until rose, iris, and jasmine finally wrest control that Petales begins to settle down into a more serially monogamous style. The indoles are very strong with the jasmine used and it sets up the base quite nicely as the chypre components of moss, vetiver, and balsam come together to form a very animalic foundation. A soft application of musk brings home the humanity of love looked back upon.

Petales has 1-14 hour longevity and average sillage.

Petales is not as easy to wear as the four earlier Euphorium Brooklyn releases have been. I wore it for the first time in warm weather and the opening’s kineticism was right on the edge of annoying. Wearing it a second and third time on cool fall days it wears much easier. I think for some the sheer overstuffed nature will be unsatisfying. I’m not sure I’ll be reaching for Petales that often myself. One reason is I think it captures the inherent moroseness that comes with looking backward. This time M. Chevreuil left out the euphoria inducing Komodo Process to replace them with the tears of what has passed. It makes Petales something worth experiencing.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn Suedois- Lady Nightengale’s Lovers

When it comes to year’s end wrap-up I already know that one of my favorite new lines for this year will be Euphorium Brooklyn. The line created and overseen by Stephen Dirkes is as much fragrance brand as an ongoing story. What has made this so pleasurable for me this year is the level of passion which winds throughout this project. Mr. Dirkes is creating the olfactory equivalent of a Penny Dreadful serial complete with eccentric characters, outlandish scenarios, and fragrances to match.

Earlier this year the first three installments introduced us to the perfumers of the Euphorium Bile Works in Brooklyn. Those first three releases were each tied to one of the personalities. Cilice was the story of Etienne Chevreuil. Wald was Christian Rosenkreuz. Usar was about Rudolph Komodo and his mysterious Komodo Process said to put the euphoria into Euphorium. With each of these there is an extended story on the website. This is what Mr. Dirkes is after; a multi-media artistic effort. It has been very successful to date with me and I was expecting to have to wait for a new chapter but Mr. Dirkes is going to keep giving me chapters to enjoy as there are three more coming before the end of the year. Chapter Four is called Suedois.

Suedois is said to be the first perfume collaboration between the three men of the Euphorium Bile Works. It was inspired by their realization that each of them had had relations with a Swedish opera singer identified in the story only as Miss Lind. The time frame is right for it to be Swedish Nightengale Jenny Lind and so I am making that leap as throughout the story our objet d’amour is only called Miss Lind. Upon her visit to New York in 1852 the three men invite her to visit them where they present her with the perfume made for her called Suedois. Each perfumer has created a phase meant to remind Miss Lind of her time with each of them. After the perfume was presented to Miss Lind it is clear The Komodo Process was strong with this one as the next morning Miss Lind’s attendant found her and the men unconscious in a state of blissful dishabille.

Jenny_LindDaguerrotype  of Jenny Lind c. 1850 by Poly von Schneidau

Suedois the perfume is different from the first three releases as it is now a traditional alcohol based eau de parfume instead of the oils that the first three were. I think this was a very good choice by Mr. Dirkes as Suedois is a much better perfume for being more diffusive in an alcohol formulation. I think as an oil this would have been much too quiet to describe the wanton moment of that night with Miss Lind.

M. Chevreuil is up first as he is responsible for the “Fleur Seudoises” accord on top. It consists of citrus at first as petitgrain eventually gives way to a set of wild flowers. M. Komodo buries his euphoria inducing process underneath a “Peau d’Espagne” accord of spice infused leather. The spices are cardamom, clary sage, nutmeg, and anise. These spices take the animalic aspects of the leather accord and make it something exotic, maybe a little bit dangerous. This is also where M. Komodo’s “Cendana” sandalwood accord really takes hold. It is there throughout the perfume as the spine it is constructed upon but it has a really delightful subtlety throughout. The heart notes somehow display it at its best. The base is by M. Rosenkreuz as he sets the scene with a “Bayerische Crème” gourmand accord. Heavily smelling of raspberry and vanilla it comes off as a decadent berry crème brulee on my skin.

Suedois has 10-12 hour longevity and way above average sillage. This is one to be cautious on how much you spray. On one day I applied my usual six sprays and I felt as if I was the one discovered unclothed by Miss Lind’s attendant. I found half that to still be quite potent.

Suedois is the most complex perfume from Euphorium Brooklyn so far. It is also my favorite as it comes the closest to matching the fanciful prose attached to it. I am just starting on the next chapter, Petales with 100 Tweeds yet to come. Like the 19th century readers I can’t wait for each new chapter from Mr. Dirkes.

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

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Euphorium Brooklyn Usar- Komodo Mind Trick

As I mentioned in my review of the first two releases from Euphorium Brooklyn, Cilice and Wald, the backstory is as fun as the perfume. Owner and taleteller Stephen Dirkes is the mind behind all of this.

To recap, Euphorium Brooklyn is the recreation of three fragrances from the Euphorium Bile Works. Cilice and Wald were done by Etienne Chevreuill and Christian Rosenkreuz, respectively. The heart of all of these perfumes was something developed by the third perfumer Rudolph Komodo. Called, obviously, The Komodo Process it was meant to put the euphoria in Euphorium. M. Komodo was also known as the Dragon and is represented on the crest with the familiars, stag and bear, of the other two perfumers.  That is the overview but there is more when it comes to the fragrances.


Rudolph Komodo (via Euphorium Brooklyn website)

The third release is called Usar and it carries the least amount of story to its inspiration although what is there is still mighty amusing. M. Komodo must have decamped to the islands of the South Pacific to help devise The Komodo Process. For Usar he combines many of the notes found in that area of the world.

Usar is the most assured composition of the three releases but it is still exceedingly simple. Unlike Cilice and Wald there is more of a progression and a very rudimentary pyramid. On top of that pyramid is a tart lime matched with ginger. It is fairly classic opening stanza accomplished with workmanlike efficiency. The heart is centered on raw sugar cane. I have always loved this mix of watery sweetness mixed with the crushed green and woody nature of the outside of the cane. There is a healthy dose of this in the middle of Usar and this was the closest I came to having The Komodo Effect take me over. The base is also a very traditional earthy mix of vetiver and cypriol.

Usar is a perfume oil and has 10-12 hour longevity and minimal sillage.

As I mentioned in the first review these are competently done styles of perfumes with only Usar having something approaching a recognizable development. I found the whole thing enjoyable. This is what Mr. Dirkes is attempting here and the words plus the fragrances coupled with my imagination made me chuckle with pleasure. Maybe it is all a Komodo Mind Trick but I really don’t care because I had fun.

Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I received with purchase.

Mark Behnke