Green Fairy Rises

L’HEURE VERTE: Combining botanicals and other spirits like aniseed, grande wormwood, and fennel, this age old concoction has been attributed to artists, hallucinations and legality for eons. I searched near and far for various perfumed potions that may include absinthe, the infamous aphrodisiac as a featured ingredient, and cast my net wide. Ending up with these eight strange perfumes, I want to go over one at a time. These range in nuanced works – from herbaceous to psychedelic to floral in various respects. One thing that must be said, there are no copycats here, each of these perfumes is fully and quantifiably its own unique recipe. Maybe the star here is an ingredient that offers a passageway into a world of magic, mystery, and alternate realities? Sweet Green Dreams! And with that let’s have a closer sniff, shall we?……

Absinthe-Minded (Anka Kus, Australia, 2019): Fortified with Sweet Fennel, Anise, Absinthe, Wormwood, Patchouli, Wood notes, Cashmere Musk, Oakmoss, Amber this seems formidable from the start. And what I get is a gorgeously well-rounded licorice swizzle stick type accord, dry and semisweet. It’s got an invigorating hue, with just a perfect dash of something uninhibited and zesty. That moves fairly quickly into a softer, brushed wood maintaining the bright spices that fade a touch into the heart here. Something mysterious yet of mentholated type essences slowly emits its way into the sphere of this enchanted fragrance. Though this is in repose somewhat, it is one of the closest of this group to ‘the real thing’ – so watch your ears 😉 This gradually evolves into something floating way deep into cerebral recesses, maybe a lil’ tipsy, and wholeheartedly beguiling. (88%)

Al Misk (Ricardo Ramos, Spain, 2017): The composition here consists of Bergamot, absinthe, copaiba, Magnolia, mace, black pepper, Tibetan musk, Gurjum balsam and GuayacĂĄn wood. At first it’s a balance between something that may remind you of soft skin (like a baby) — yet the deeper I fall into its vortex I begin getting bizarre swirls of blondes and golds running closely alongside rich balsamics that break the tension, or make it. The floral note is delightfully sheer and aromatic. This seems secretive and a bit like something the Cheshire cat dragged in. Yet its got a smooth allure, and an arduously blended base that seems concocted by two shakes of magic and lots of fragile gradations. It’s got a green dusky musk that is like a bubble inside a bubble, each with its own cellular structure, but everchanging in coloration and scale as the sands move through the hourglass. It’s got risk and reward. (89%)

Forbidden (House of Matriarch, USA, 2011) Though our featured note/accord is only one of its many splendored things, this work of high perfumery takes the green fairy and flies. Perfectly set for our current season this beguiling fragrance has ravishing tendrils that sprawl with East Asian essences – as I ponder I am getting a stealthy combination of Nag Champa, alongside perhaps a deeply embedded rose and/or violet accord. There is something dusty, earthy, amid the sweet dispersive essences here. They say this is “Rooted in layers of historically feared and even outlawed essences….” This reminds me of some of the hallucinatory works by Nadia Z (Switzerland), and though bold, not as heavy, but definitely as psychotropic in the way the absinthe is time-released. This takes me back to a record shop I frequented for years in Portland, OR, they always had a powerful incense by the counter, good time memories, sounds and smells. Forbidden is also purported to include snake leather and sweet baked earth, which allows for a sense of grounded recoil. In other words, this is a fragrance that morphs upon your skin based on mood, time of day and other environmental factors. Completely Intoxicating. (86%)

Geisha Green (Aroma M, USA, 2013): This comes as a roll-on which lays out the following notes – “absinthe sweetened with black currant, mandarin, violet, softened with amber and tonka bean”. This one is rounded, almost Rubensesque so to speak. There are fruits and flower but stop at mid-tonal sweetness. This shines like well-oiled skin in Summertime, radiant. This comes off leaning toward the feminine, super silky, and for all its notable ‘green-ness’ oozes in shades of amethyst and plum. This has the vaguest relationship to an amaroidal accord, though you have to breathe this in for a good fifteen seconds before reaching that climax. It’s not until the dry down that the nostrils are presented with something one step removed from perhaps a fennel/licorice vibe, but for my nose this is more violet than anything else. (81%)

IlluminĂ© (Nancy Meiland, UK, 2014): By far the most conceptual of the batch we are looking at, some of the notes listed are: chlorophyll, aromatic herbs, Calabrian bergamot, mandarin absolute, herb of absinthe, Jamaican ginger, white flowers, rose, jasmine, musk and vetiver. This brings the cool open air aspect into the ring, alongside a delightfully pungent spicy ginger/citrus combo. The star of our article plays second fiddle, but that’s alright, as this way it can be a bit of hide/seek and gives the note a chance to offer a bit of patience to real lovers of evolving, hybrid perfumes like this. The scent of orange oil is lustrous and exotic. That only aids and abets the tingle of green that rears its peculiar face in a rather unorthodox way, as something charmingly herbaceous rather than overly enigmatic. This is by far the cleanest take on ye olde green fairy on this list, a perfect match for the whispering florals. (89%)

Patchouli Absinthe (OK Fine, USA, 2020): I’ve really grown fond of what these gents do with old liquor barrels in the American South, and they describe their offering as including “Blonde Woods, Sage and Lavender herbal nuances and creamy Tonka which is then aged for 76 days in a French Absinthe seasoned American oak barrel to smoothly spice the scent with Star Anise, Fennel, Vanilla and Amber Woods. For me I get a honeyed tobacco accord at the top. But after the dust settles that magical distillation which originated in Switzerland begins to gently coat and soothe. The botanial herby green infuses this entirely with the soft, friendly yet substantial balance of vanilla/tonka. I am getting a creamy beeswax/sweet tobacco thing going-on even though there is supposedly no trace of either. That is the power of perfume, to provoke you, and make you imagine things, or is that the absinthe? (88%)

RĂȘve Vert (Euphorium Brooklyn, USA, 2020): This is our only incense entry (that is to become perfume in not-so-distant-future). Made of featured notes: Fennel, Star Anise, Juniper Berry, Wormwood, Bitter Herb, & Himalayan Fir, this is exciting to burn in Wintertime. I have not burned incense since I was in my late 20’s, and even went the extra mile by purchasing a USB powered lighter to activate it. I have to say that this is far less intense than I would have expected, but, in a way, that is to its benefit. You see it sort of slowly imparted a combination of pleasing resinous botanicals + gentle herbaceous spirits (the fennel is creamy) into the sphere of the studio – reminds me of a sage smudging I had done years ago after learning someone had died in my previous art space. This is not the case in my current setting, but this gives off a waft of seasonal forest-like aromatics. I could easily imagine drifting into la la land with a fragrance like this parfuming my personal space. It most definitely whets my appetite about what this may be like in liquid form, but it’s like soft snowflakes landing on my forehead as sugarplum fairies dance a haunting boogie woogie, the effect is subliminal. Oh, I guess it’s working…. (84%)

Wolfsbane (Parfums Quartana, USA, 2016): After I looked at the note breakdown I was immediately thinking ‘secret magic potion’, with lots left to the unknown. Those notes include: Angelica Root, Fig Leaf, Cumin Seed, Ginger Root, Absinthe, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Tuberose, Tobacco Flower, Castoreum, Benzoin, Sandalwood, Spiced Black Plum, Vetiver, Deer Tongue, Black Truffles. But how does it smell? Oddly enough, at first atomization I got two notes unlisted: vanilla and fig (well it does have the leaf). But it only takes a matter of ten seconds and this starts spinning like a kaleidoscope and all that jazz, full tilt boogie. By a football field this is the most reminiscent of an intoxicated altered state. It’s not that it is particularly ‘boozy’ per se, it’s more something far beyond the exterior. In some way this reminds me slightly of the now sadly defunct SP Parfums Cassis, but this takes the whole brew into the realm of magick. I normally am put off by anything associated with black currant or plum-adjacent works but this pulls off the star of our show with a heap of illogical wonder. And, the animalic is alive and well in this cryptic elixir. (86%)

Every month of 2021 we will feature a piece focusing on a singular note/accord. Let us know your suggestions for a fragrance that might fit – drop your thoughts in the box below. Happy New Year!

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