An Odyssey of Spice: Ginger. What a strange looking thing, am I right? Is it a fruit, is it just for Thai cuisine? I think not. Did you catch our previous ginger teaser that featured three additional fragrances kissed by this wondrous note? By far, it’s one of our favorite accords on the planet. Aphrodisiac or oddity it certainly makes a dent on your sensory perception every last time it hit your nasal passages. It’s like an invisible tickle that came from the rainforest. But it is also quite precarious when it comes to perfume. Honestly though, ginger can also go into this strange artificial space that can be cloying, though when its spicy, or candied or even immersed fully into a tropical fragrance that takes you to those sunny shores without a care in the world — that’s when things are on point.
It’s been used for centuries to heal a tummy ache, and its red variety has been known to be a bit of an aphrodisiac. It’s funny, I didn’t expect to locate many works touched by the wonder of ginger – but in the end we are looking at sixteen fragrances released from 1995 to the present. Keep in mind that ginger sometimes pops louder in some of these vastly different concoctions than in others, some essences are more noticeable at the top and some fall into the base, and I attempt to put these aspects into some perspective in this overview. Originating in Southeast Asia, when this herbaceous plant is seemingly dialed in this rooted rascal, this radical rhizome can take you on a journey of no return, or down an unintended path — you have been warned! 😉
Bee (Zoologist, Canada, Extrait de Parfum): An enriched hive, this has more than just a taste o’ honey, this is the entire ecosystem, smoke from the keeper and all. I get this accord that reminds me of toasted marshmallows, and I can make out the ginger, but its as though its moreso a ginger enhanced, spiced honey. Another ingredient here that I find incredibly ingenious is how the perfumer incorporated Royal Jelly – something I used to imbibe as a teenager, always curious about ancient Eastern medicine. Of course, this by-product or secretion comes from the queen bee herself. There is a bouquet of sweet florals like orange blossom and broom, that any bee would be happy to feast upon as well. Consider this a true dedication to the world of our buzzing friends who make the world go ‘round. It’s also one of those perfumes that could easily become an intimate seducer to all wearers, with or without a stinger. Additionally it’s woody, warm + wonderful.
- Nose: Cristiano Canali (2019). 86%
Notes: Orange, Ginger Syrup, Royal Jelly Accord, Broom, Heliotrope, Mimosa, Orange Flower, Benzoin, Labdanum, Musks, Sandalwood, Tonka, Vanilla
Black (Folie A Plusieurs, France, EDP): The fragrance made for installation excites me as an artist whose most critically successful work has been in this sphere. All I can say is that if you have not yet tried this extremely exciting and unconventional brand, you really should take a second (or first) look. The ginger in this provides a wide-breadth boost but is secondary to the overall dark and industrial feel it projects. But it’s there to keep the void from closing, it is an active ingredient, as they say, which keeps the stimulation of the woodland notes active. That and it’s fusion long with vetiver makes this incredibly natural and fresh amid the otherwise stoic bark. I first tried this last Fall, and have to say, now that I’ve returned it’s even more impressive, a bit of a gateway to a world of fragrance that doesn’t necessarily have to perform a ‘function’ but rather capture the dramatic essence of living life a little larger. Impeccably inspired by Gaspar Noé’s 2009 flick “Enter the Void.” My portion may need to be replenished soon as this is likely a signature scent for 2021.
- Nose: Lucas Sieuzac (2018). 92%
Notes: vetiver, cypriol, styrax, clary sage, leather accord, cedarwood, ginger
Classic Green (Banana Republic, USA, EDP): ice bright and zingy citrus highlights at the top with that familiar edge of ginger heating up the proceedings just so. This is the oldest selection in this overview, and this is my introduction. It does not come off as some long lost vintage, in fact it seems so fresh and in the moment, a breath of light much needed these days. It’s easy to see why this is still on the market. This has a distinctive green-ness given its name, a touch of herbal aromatics and a laidback tea note that is adrift, a daydreamer. This is a back to basics fragrance for anyone who loves a splash of Summer year round. This is a perfect beach perfume, super casual, tossled hair and all, and ends with a breath musk that is just dynamite.
- Nose: Jean Claude Delville (1995). 85%
Notes: Basil, Ginger, Petitgrain, Green Tea, Musk, Cedarwood, Cashmeran
Dark (Neandertal, UK, EDP): Oh yes, the ginger is present at the tippy top, yet diversified with some citrus and a dose of piñon. A great and odd pairing that sort of makes sense on paper, in practice it comes off vivid yet a tad removed and reflexive. It’s a strange Asian/Middle Eastern fusion, full stop. This is a strange (and wonderful) perfume. There are green aspects as well as those wooden tones that are somewhere in the recesses. This is for a sophisticated night out on the town, yeah – remember those? The wood shavings come through a bit clearer in the heart met with some unique marine notes, sea salt or oceanic detritus, yet it remains fresh rather than low tide like. The spices bring out a leather accord that somehow seems as though it doesn’t fit into this scene, however now I’m horseback along the shore – so yes, this is one of those fragrances that has several chapters to flip through, but can likely be read as easily back to front or vice versa. It’s free, spirited and a touch of musk to take you riding in the wind….
- Nose: Euan McCall (2015). 88%
Notes: Tomato Leaf, Pink Pepper, Pine, Ginger, Grapefruit, Incense, Seaweed, Caraway, Geranium, Leather, Amber, Agarwood,, Patchouli, Labdanum, Musk, Sandalwood, Vetiver, Tobacco
Joorie (Kajal, France): Like Zoologist’s ‘Bee’ this also contains special honey-based elements but to my nose this simmers rather than oozes, and comes of right away like an effervescent and lightly spiced birch beer. Oh, this one has my attention because it is oh so subtle, but the small shifts, as the notes build, are incredible. The use of clove with ginger and nutmeg is impeccable – one of the best introductions to a perfume I’ve experienced in a while. They have dialed down the clove in such a way, infused with orange blossom to bring out its tea like qualities (think an exotic chai). And though the ginger is only a part of this spice trio, its integral to the entire flow from here on out. The florals are also gentle and though there are also a trio I only get the aforementioned blossom to be honest. It’s where this travels to that will continue to drive the wearer from mild to wild as this warms into a deep honey-vanilla musk that is so sensual in the end. It’s a seducer, slow and sure.
- Nose: Alix Miral (2018). 89%
Notes: Nutmeg, Cloves, Ginger, Lemon, Pepper, Bergamot, Ylang-Ylang, Rose and Orange Blossom, Honey, Tonka Bean, Vanilla, Musk, Patchouli, Cedar
Live In Colours (The House of Oud, Italy, EDP):With the most beautiful vessels in the biz THOO has so much going for them when it comes to cultivating and captivating compositions. Here we have a perfume that is pure citrus heaven for starters. Clean, crisp, fresh. Once the brightness mellows a touch I get a green almost unripe and slightly peppery ginger, just cut from the greenery. Ooo, it’s a natural wonder the way in which this is infused widely. This has a hint of something I tried from Mäurer & Wirtz a while back, however the alcohol content in this is not as present. Unlike other fragrances from this house, nutlike so many other citrus fragrances, the trail of juice and zest dries into rind and shadow after a half hour or so. You are left with a green-ness now with a bit of a resinous tone. This utilizes hinoki which I always feel engaged with, here its so subtle, almost between balsa, drift and sandal woods. This retains an organic feel from end to end which is rare and quite comforting.
- Nose: Maurizio Cerizza (2018). 87%
Notes: lemon, grapefruit, red fruits, ginger, pink pepper, musk, hinoki wood, amber
Mx. (Eris Parfums, USA, EDP):This is oh so subtle, and you can’t go wrong with much from the mind of Mr. Antoine Lie. The Indian ginger in an accord with frankincense, to me, has the essence of licorice. This one just smolders and lingers and levitates. It’s the spice blend with just the right amount of saffron (meaning not too much) that makes this such an understated masterpiece. The woods are soft, serene and a little haunted actually – so bring a friend! This has a haute couture stylish factor, but is unafraid of the big bad wolf and all that casts shadows in dim dar woods. It moves from subtle to sophisticated to sensual, all in less than a few hours! It’s moreso like sweet dreams of the magic fairytale side of the forest than the actual nature itself, but the note of birch is what gives reason to my rhyme about licorice, as this is like a fizzy lifting drink for the spirits and your skin. I’m almost out, I need to be replenished, stat.
- Nose: Antoine Lie (2017). 90%
Notes: Indian Ginger, Madagascar Black Pepper, Saffron, Ethiopian Olibanum, Australian Sandalwood, Virginian Cedarwood, Haitian Vetiver, Indonesian Patchouli, Laotian Benzoin, Russian Birch Tar, Venezuelan Cacao, Castoreum
Oud Abramad (BDK Parfums, France, EDP): Ooooooud. This starts with the enchanting and piquant mixture of saffron, cardamom, cumin, and ginger with the whispers of agarwood courting the entire background. It’s alive! This combination creates a sort of bourbon meets tobacco like accord, though neither can be found in the larger note breakdown. It is described as “a bridge between East and West” and that fits this fragrance to a T. This allows the wearer and those who love them to dive really deep rather than the perfume shooting out from the body, this is far more luring, exploring the internal. The spices are those you might find in Morocco or India, and amid this blend there’s a hint of rose that’s demure and yet its coloration helps balance the heart of this. There’s an animalic side to this as well, however, very much behaved and just hints of skin, like an R rated striptease that’s cut off halfway. There’s a genuinely strange incense that has a floral tint, but the spice stays fairly aromatic, smoothing out as it dries down softly.
- Nose: Mathilde Bijaoui (2019). 84%
Notes: saffron, ginger, rose damascena, cumin, Indonesian oud, guac wood, cistus, Somalian incense, castoreum, Singaporean patchouli
Pays Dogon (Monsillage, Canada, EDP): Like many of the works by this house, incredibly fresh and lifelike. A near-perfect blend of woody spices and green accords. The ginger is dry and speckled, paired with various pepper – so apropos. It’s quite the outdoorsy scent, bracing, airy and daring. The Indian incense mingles with one of my favorite things on the planet, my beloved hibiscus. If you have never had a tea or drink made from the flower you are missing out on something that cannot easily be described in any other way save for its riches of mystery and beauty. It has a slight astringency, likely boosted by the ginger here. It’s giving me all those late Spring/early Summer feels. The green note of vetiver is like a kick to the system, a chlorophyll-induced bloodstream that really further bolsters the muted accords already present and bring up the woody base features that only become more and more intensified into the dry down…and you into a dream state. Just say yes!
- Nose: Isabelle Michaud (2017). 88%
Notes: green oasis, black pepper, pink peppercorn, ginger, hibiscus flower, guaiac wood, cypriol, sandalwood, patchouli, vetyver java, date
Psiche (V Canto, Italy, Extrait de Parfum): Made up of nineteen notes, this is a fragrance to be contended with right away. This has a unique pulsation, and sparkle. The ginger here is from Nepal and it part of a warm brew along with blue lotus and an enchanting white florals. It’s like stepping into a tropical greenhouse of wild lilies and orchids, everything is humid and dialed in just so. The ginger slips into the mix, never being greedy for the spotlight here, its becomes an integral part of what gives the composition its initial punch, but it’s mellower and blends so well with the citrus here. I’m getting a sweet taffy like accord from the layers of herbs, flowers, fruits and roots. The added benzoin lifts this up to eye level and separates the olfactory experience into a woody, warm mix that is like sweet vanilla marshmallow. There is something subliminal going on as I’m falling into a sensory coma of sorts. The sillage is real with this one.
- Nose: Paolo Terenzi (2020). 83%
Notes: Magnolia, Nepalese Ginger, White Lily, Blue Lotus, Bergamot, Sorrento Lemon, Sicilian Orange, Ambergris, Tahitian Vetiver, Siamese Benzoin, Italian Lavender, Red Berries, Cedarwood, Birchwood, Sugar Brown, Vanilla Bean, Tonka Bean, Oakmoss, Musk
Spicy Calabria (Maison Sybarite, France, EDP): Soft, slightly sweet and understated. This turns its lights on with a very calibrated ambient sense of lightness. It’s citrus and ginger – a bit of a humming aphrodisiac. But, oh how this builds slowly like the ocean moving through its tides. It’s what I may refer to as a poetic perfume, with pauses and breaths, and a sly side. The ginger offers a sense of liveliness here, it’s not quite a Jamaican ginger blast, it’s more of a fine mist with a tingle to it. But what makes this special, and my first overlap of oud and ginger which seem to make for a most perfect couplet. Seductive, saucy and slightly stupefying. After it picks you up and stimulates your senses Spicy Calabria will send you into a sedative state after a while, with a passionate patchouli chaser that only further animates all the previous accords. For a water-based perfume, don’t let it fool ya, this is a powerhouse.
- Nose: Laure Santantoni (2019). 90%
Notes: Bergamot, Ginger, Limette, Wormwood, Orris, Oud, Black Pepper, Patchouli, Cedarwood, Labdanum
The Tycoon (St. Giles, UK, EDP): I loved watching the lil’ tiny bubbles in the bottle as this was atomized. It’s effervescent, with that dry bite of ginger zest and some incredible galbanum to intensify the bitterness. The whole front end it punctuated by another of my favorite citrus on the planet, pomelo – but to my nose I get the more acid side of the fruit, the twang, rather than the juicy sweet/bitter combo. These all melange incredibly well, especially if you like fragrances with a touch of the grays and a sour punch. But these are underpinned by uplifting spices that bring a bit of tea time to the table – a common trope in fragrances that feature ginger, but this is far from average. This oozes resinous-ness to a fault, and once the proceedings go into this realm its the point of no return my good people. This ‘Tycoon’ is up to something suspicious, a bit of a thriller in the making right here actually. It’s a distant cousin of a fougere. There’s something that reminds me of spice drops and clove cigarettes, but it’s not cloying or too omnipresent, but it does form a cloud of mysterious haze that you will need to get through in order to enjoy the earthy/woodsy final act. PS: If they are not in stock at presstime they assured me they will be again very soon.
- Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour (2017). 87%
Notes: Pomelo, Galbanum, Lemon, Ginger, Black Pepper, Nutmeg, Celery Seeds, Tea, Cypriol Oil, Magnolia, Oakmoss, Castoreum, Patchouli, Labdanum
Trayee (Neela Vermeire Creations, France, EDP): At first this seems to have a bit of an alcoholic bite, and quickly it turns into a mulled mix of black currant with an incense-adjacent ginger that seems to float into the ether fairly quickly. There are other notes here that don’t seem to flesh out and others that seem misplaced (basil, cardamom), but what does rise to the surface is a whole lotta lipstick traces. For me, unfortunately, I have a strange reflex when it comes to anything currant oriented in perfume, it’s just a note I cannot get on board with, that said, I can look beyond it in this concoction. Though what lays beyond it doesn’t seem to attest to the note breakdown all that much, this is more of a morph of everything, and I’m only getting an intermediate lounge scene in the afternoon. Cocktails and heartbreak, red rouge and being ghosted at the bar. This one’s for a rainy day upon the blue moon.
- Nose: Bertrand Duchaufour (2012). 76%
Notes: blue ginger, elemi, cinnamon, ganja accord, blackcurrant absolute, basil, jasmine sambac, Egyptian jasmine, cardamom absolute, clove, saffron, Javanese and Haitian vetiver, incense, Mysore sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber notes, Laotian oud palao, oak moss
Treffpunkt 8 Uhr (J.F. Schwarzlose, Germany, EDP): This is toted as a ‘fruity’ fragrance but don’t let that send you salivating over this one. Oh, it’s quite good, it’s not that, it’s just that the fruits are dried and their sweetness is concentrated. Instead of coming through like a ripe and cute fruit basket this is more whimsical and flowing. The ginger and mango seem a likely pairing, and as such this comes together in a striking herbaceous way – likely due to the swirls of vetiver. There’s likely much more in this fragrance that what they allow to be known, as I am sure there is some form of incense to back this up, and likely cedar, but it’s in no list you will tap into on Google. The star here is likely the floral essences of amaryllis, a subtle yet brilliant stem that appear like these gorgeous pink and red lillies, but they are only a distant relation. They, too, offer a sense of distance, cool aloofness in their aromatic nature. Hmmm, this keeps you thinking.
- Nose: Veronique Nyberg (2012). 83%
Notes: Mango Flavor Accord, Fresh Ginger, Sage Clary, Naked Lady, Vetiver Heart
Viridian (Deep Field, USA, Natural Perfume): Such a great shade of green. Now we are talking ginger, like an exotic Hawaiian varietal with a floral luminescence and incredible depth. This natural perfume oil has that breathy menthol quality with the heat of ginger, rather than its usual chill. This is my favorite from the house thus far, it just takes its sweet time to reveal itself, through the prized comforts of evergreen and a slice of ouzo. If you are looking for something you have not yet gotten your nose on, this is a highly recommended trip down a fresh new path. This glistens from the inside out, as if spruce trees suddenly were able to bear fruit. A conundrum I could get used to. I would never think of evergreen and palms in the same landscape, but somehow this has brought the sunnier side of the deepest of balsamic conifer scenes. It’s the age-old two great tastes taste even better together, or opposites attract, or something like that. Dark and warm are not normal compadres, but Deep Field has developed a masterstroke for those who beat their own drum. Honestly, you may have to pry me away, I cannot get my nose off of this one.
- Nose: Russell Weiss (2020). 91%
Notes: white spruce absolute, silver fir cone, bitter yuzu, ginger, cardamom
Walk On The Wild Side (Orlov, France, EDP): If this is ‘made for women’ then I am taking a walk on this wild side! Actually to my nose this is completely neutral of gender implications, that said this is the softest (but broken in) leather perfume bathed in soft spice (ginger and saffron) with a most understated balsamic undertone. This comes off like a romantic stroll through a misty sun shower to be honest. There’s a dash of pepper, and a creamy musk that cradles the entire fragrance in an open air blush of citrus floating in the wind. The ginger is less fiery and more filtered, permeating throughout. This is sexy and elegant no matter who dons it, and though there are faint florals this best harnesses the relationship between leather and lace, of sultry citrus and a serenading spice. This speaks to me in a voice that is suggestive, offering a long-lasting, evocative ambience.
- Nose: Jordi Fernández (2020). 88%
Notes: Italian bergamot, cypress, pink pepper, saffron, ginger, iris, fresh jasmine, white amber, caramel, Haitian vetiver, leather accord, musks