This month’s One Note Wonders is a focus on the Boozy side of perfume. Alcoholic spirits are rising and we tried our best to capture something from most categories that found their way to our studio. Some of these may be quite intoxicating, but I assure you, that whether in moderation or full tilt, when incorporated into perfume you will likely not be pulled over in traffic for wearing any of these, unless the authorities are enchanted as we were and just want to kindly ask where you found the fragrance in question! This is our second to last focus on a singular note, next month watch for a wake-up call with our feature on Coffee & Tea! I hope you enjoy some of these as much as we did putting this spotlight together. Away we go…..
Architect’s Club (Arquiste, France, EDP): Warm and milky and silky and sleek. I get a hint of an accord something like gin with a citrus twist. Spicy and vaguely herbal, this is a cocktail for thought. It’s less overly ‘boozy’ and more of mixologist’s artful rendition of a contemporary Cosmopolitan perhaps? With its refined wooden essences this would fit in well at the country club, or in this case amid the descendants of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Zaha Hadid or Philip Johnson to name a few. This has a minimalism and a clean feel with the lightest floral flourish and the undeterred earthy-spice, spelled dreamy quality that can only come from a note like cypriol. It’s that latest midpoint into the drydown that is well worth the wait. Raise your glass! * Special Thanks: Tigerlily Perfumery
- Nose: Yann Vasnier (2014)
- Rating: 88%
Notes: juniper berry oil, angelica root, bitter orange, lemon sfumatrice, Italian bergamot, French clary sage, lavender, pink peppercorn, pepper wood, cardamom seed oil and absolute, coriander seed oil, nutmeg oil, black currant buds absolute, iris absolute, wood from Paraguay, oakwood extract, cedar wood and cypriol oil
Bourbon (Hendley Perfumes, USA, Extrait de Parfum): I’ve held off much too long on this. It’s like seeing the deep, rich golden amber color come to life in 3D. I am getting dark spices and tart, dried citrus. Embellished with all those intoxicating aromatics that you’d get from unstopping a bottle of the best single malt, without smelling like pure booze, no, this is in the fantasy realm of spirits elongated and shapeshifted into something ultimately wearable. You’ve heard of a splash of pure whiskey, or a shot, well, this is a celebration of the finest spirits unlocked on a new plain, heavenly micro-molecules made of musky resins, gently spritzed on the skin, transporting the wearer to an alternate reality. The overall impression is smoky and bitter sweet with a rustic blend of vanilla and wood hues that are fortified. Gorgeous and intense, use in moderation.
- Nose: Hans Hendley (2015)
- Rating: 89%
Notes: Bergamot, orange zest, toasted oak, cognac oil, bourbon vanilla, benzoin, tonka bean, labdanum, guaiacwood, castoreum, oakmoss, musks
Blonde Oud / Rye – ORO (OK Fine Fragrances, USA, EDP): Another gorgeous presentation from the southern makers that age their perfumes in oak barrels like fine wines and spirits. In this case they have blended oud with rye. Personally I am unfamiliar with rye, except in bread form. But like others in their line-up I’d happily bathe in this. It’s whispers of sun-soaked woody tones and a hippy semi-sweetness that is irresitable. They managed to infuse two of my favorite notes in perfume with an already yummy recipe, olibanum and ginger. These notes mix and mingle in a brand-new, yet timeless laidback style. It also reminds me of antique books for some reason. This is as open-minded as a perfume gets. The longer you wear it, the better it gets. This has a seductive side that purrs like the jungle cats do.
- Nose: Steven DeMercado (2020)
- Rating: 92%
Notes: Blonde Oud, Ginger, Sandalwood, Juniper Berries, Olibanum, Rye, Oak
Dark Rum (Malin + Goetz, USA, EDP): OK. At first I get some sort of honeyed-fruit sensation, it’s warm and almost with a tropical side. The deeper I dive the creamier this becomes, I am getting something that sort of resembles a virgin piña colada, a little bit pineapple and maybe even banana. This actually doesn’t feel alcoholic at first, but melanges into a light and frothy mixed cocktail about midway through, but only just. It’s pleasant as many gourmand fragrances can be, and not overly sweet, maybe a little pucker too. And as this quiets down it becomes quite a ravishing perfume in the drydown stage where the lithe, fleshy leather accord is at half mast. Of all those focused on today, this seems to be the least fitting for this category, and don’t let it’s name fool you, its not any dark rum I’ve ever come across, not even close. Still, it’s more than halfway decent!
- Nose: Malin + Goetz (2013)
- Rating: 85%
Notes: plum, bergamot, leather, rum, milk, patchouli
Escensia (Artisan Parfums, USA, Natural Perfume): This flutters between citrus, florals and something kinda minty. In terms of boozy-type accords I get this impression of a fermented and roasted tea that’s been steeped for ages, very leafy and a glazing of resins. Time seems to slow, almost like the intricate power and that eventual haze of hootch. Somewhere in the distance there is a singular rose with this light and faded dusting of its inner essence. When this emerges in the heart of this perfume it offers a sense of centeredness, balancing the koyaanisqatsi of daily urban living. The wisps of rose manage to finagle their way through the earthy funk embedded elsewhere, braiding in and around the marvelous lemongrass, which is a standout here. It’s a fantastical foray into green flora that coil around your senses.
- Nose: Ixchel Leigh (2007, reformulated 2018)
- Rating: 84%
Notes: Organic Bergamot, Galbanum, Palo Santo, Rose Geranium, Lemongrass, Sandalwood, Violet Leaf, Bois de Rose
Fleur de Caramel (Velvet & Sweet Peas Purrfumery, USA, Natural Perfume): This is all vibration and light. My senses pick up something akin to real butterscotch, I mean the olde-fashioned churned boozy elixir. It’s like topaz with a sunbeam peering through. There, too, are white florals, they act as a cushion of clouds and are secondary to the oozy boozy center that is resplendent (I’m almost blushing using that word). What really lifts this a notch above is the included note of white ginger lily, it’s a complete knockout! The floral is soft, lush, almost tickles. A living, breathing, breathy fragrance of nuanced breadth + butterfly kisses. Maybe it has something to do with my sweet tooth (teeth)? Nah, this is simply a celestial work of artisan perfume – bliss out to all the femmes and fellas.
- Nose: Laurie Stern (2012)
- Rating: 86%
Notes: Caramel accord, cognac, frangipani, jasmine, tuberose, white ginger lily, sandalwood
Gin (Commodity, USA, EDP): Oh, such a nice refreshing lift. This is like a gin and tonic with a twist and a bite. It glistens with the zest of ginger and lime, and will bring the chill just when you need it most. So far this has been the only in this spotlight which has that pick-me-up, and I’ll be asking for a double next round. This hits the nasal passages like an unexpected laser light slashing through the dancefloor while one of your favorite boogie tracks is at full tilt. For a split second I got this bracing peppery accord and the dazzle of smoke and mirrors. If you want a night out on the town, even during times of lockdown, turn to this tall concoction with just a dash of darkness for good measure.
- Nose: Olivia Jan (2013)
- Rating: 87%
Notes: Juniper Berry, Grapefruit Juice, Lime, Ginger Leaf, Freesia, Labdanum, Patchouli, Smoky Oak, Musk
Gin & Tonic (Demeter Fragrance Library, USA, EDC): Honestly, at first I get what seems like that Springtime waft of honeysuckle in the air. Then it reminds me of a hairspray my mom used when I was a teenager. And that energy all dissipates and begins to reveal the glisten and gleam of a juniper berry hybrid, the seashore and something slightly of amber. For Demeter this is one of the stronger of their collection, sort of along th same strength as their natural Sage spray. This definitely brings a sense of relaxation, of a sudsy bubblebath to watch all your troubles just melt away into the bathwater and down the drain. They have certainly incorporated citrus into this and it sits really well from the mid to the softly fading dry down. If you like a gentle herbal perfume that has hints of treebark and citrus you will dig this.
- Nose: Demeter (1997)
- Rating: 82%
Notes: juniper, tonic, citrus
Ice Wine (Kelly + Jones, USA, EDP): So, I’ve only ever had ice wine once at an Oregon vineyard, and I loved it. It was a bit sweeter than I like my wines – but how does this compare? While there are clear intimations of stonefruits and something of a currant-like accord, what rushes over my sensory capacitors is a patina of smoky musk, and its as if its a breathing entity. This has a big ole blush to it, but its the outer skin that comes through, and you will notice this if you’ve ever engaged in a glass of grappa. It somehow masterfully balances its inherent sweetness with the same effect driven by incense, and though I get woody timbre, I don’t seem to be weighed down by its typical balsamic quality. This is quite a stylish varietal though you will not come off smelling like a wino (sorry, I had to!).
- Nose: Kelly Jones (2019)
- Rating: 87%
Notes: Frozen Musk, Iced Stonefruit, Charred Oak, Warm Honey
Norwegian Wood (La Folie A Plusieurs, France, Extrait de Parfum): As I peeked at some of my notes from last Autumn, I am sticking with my description of this as a ‘ghostly’ perfume. Altogether, it’s by far, the most subtle in this grouping yet has this sense of longing, of urgency and promise. Based on literature, it would be hard to shelve this volume for too long as once it escapes the bottle and into your system you might take more than a simple second glance. You see, by combining the invisible lipstick traces of a chilled shotglass and white woods with the tendrils of an aged oak barrel vintage — this composition yields more mystery than most of Agatha Christie’s most treasured short stories. More about inducing memory from afar than the rush of the now. This perfume is like the exhale from one of the deepest breaths musterable.
- Nose: Mark Buxton (2020)
- Rating: 85%
Notes: Whiskey, Rose, Cashmere, Amber, Frankincense, Sandalwood, Oak, Musk
Orgasmo (Hilde Soliani, Italy, EDP): I’m pleased to say that this is my very first time trying this particular house, and why not start with a bang! This doesn’t disappoint. What I get right away is that gorgeous amaretto note which reminds me of cherries and almond and all things Italian. I am suddenly imagining pizzelles, marzipan, and cherry cordials. Soliani has been touted the queen of the gourmand (and if she hasn’t I just did) for good reason. This reminds me of my favorite cocktail growing up, amaretto and OJ, what a classic combination – and yet this has a creamy, milky, buttery side to it which is sumptuously inviting, and which pushes your minds eye into overload. Those who want to smell edible, I dare thee — orgasmically delicious! * Special Thanks: Smallflower.com
- Nose: Hilde Soliani (2013)
- Rating: 89%
Notes: almond, amaretto liqueur accord
Velours Boise (Jacques Fath, France, Parfum): This has the quality of familiarity, but one step removed (or added?). Spiced florals have a decent bandwidth here, not to mention the tea leaves that seem to drift from the skies above. Though when you break it down the pivotal frequency to this illustrious perfume is the bourbon which is dashing, refined, enigmatic. Of course it wouldn’t be as swelling and elusive without the aiding and abetting role of the light smoke of various trees and a pearl-clutch-worthy dose of patchouli. I find myself drifting into the fuzzy corners that this projects, descending into a vortex of no return. Who needs drugs when you have this velvet rope? The opening is not half as sexy as the heart of this perfume that has that time-released tease that is rare in fragrance. Inadvertently saved the best for last, the most rare vintage to my senses is thus, just by chance and by way of the alphabet. All that and it conjures being by a subliminal fireplace in a far off scape with a handsome stranger. Sensationally sensual. If you haven’t tried this, it’s a Notetaking must!
- Nose: Luca Maffei (2018)
- Rating: 93%
Notes: Bergamot, Davana, Mate, Cloves, Elemi, Nutmeg, Immortelle, Whisky CO², Carrot seeds, Patchouli, New Caledonia Sandalwood, Armenian Woods, Gaïac Wood, Ambroxan