Let’s talk about note categories, with love, hate, and grey zones! Although I’m still occupied with some family medical things, I’ve been working on a project that actually involves the issue of notes to a small extent. I will be doing an interview series with various perfumers, many of whom are self-taught. One of the things that I’ll be focusing on is: their individual process of learning about both the science and methodology of perfume making, and the handling of notes. There are questions on the ingredients that they initially loved, those they may have once found challenging to work with, and any notes that they might still find tricky to use in perfume-creation, perhaps because of the material’s innate characteristics or how it interacts with other elements.
Back in 2013, I started out my Questions discussion series on the precise issue of favorite and least favorite notes, as well as those that fall on a gradient in-between. My then-unnumbered Vol. 1 post sought to have you pinpoint not only the notes that you felt strongly about, but those in the grey zones: notes which straddle the line and where it’s all a question of their treatment in a perfume. Perhaps it’s an aromachemical, or perhaps it’s something like juniper, cucumber, strawberry, or fenugreek.
It’s easy to know the aromas you either love or despise — like tuberose, oud, amber, soiled underwear, or the way costas root can turn into dirty hair and urine if not handled carefully — but figuring out the less obvious ones that lie between the two extremes is a lot more useful or interesting, in my opinion. For example, do you enjoy the smell of carrots, gin and tonics, or mangos (separately, not together) in your fragrance? Do you like smelling of peppermints or Red Hot candies when you go to work? Is salty sea water nice but chlorine/calone an issue, or are both ingredients far from your personal cup of tea? Speaking of tea, do you like it in perfumery? I’ve concluded that I only like black or creamy Chai tea notes, and really dislike green or jasmine ones, though I will put up with whiffs of them if they are small and muted.
The blog has many more readers than it did in early 2013, so I thought it might be useful to revisit the issue of notes. For one thing, it might be helpful for you to have your individual breakdown at the forefront of your mind when I start posting some of the interviews over the next few weeks and you hear what the perfumers think about various notes. For another, some readers may not have thought about categories at all, and may find it to be a useful exercise in general. Even readers who answered Vol. 1 the first time around may discover some benefit, as people’s tastes change or develop over time. Mine have. I certainly have far more things listed in the various categories than I did back then, and many of the original elements have switched places.
There are six different categories:
- Notes you love passionately. In essence, those which make you sit up just a little bit straighter when you see them on a perfume list.
- Notes you really like a lot.
- Notes you neither like or dislike. True and genuine indifference as to their appearance in a perfume.
- Notes that depend on how they are handled, their quantity, or their treatment in conjunction with other elements. In other words, potentially problematic notes that might fall into the Dislike column unless they are treated well. Also, if there are notes that you may not like as a soliflore or in large doses but that you enjoy in small quantities, then this would be the category for them as well.
- Notes you really (or generally) dislike.
- Notes that you hate with the searing passion of a thousand burning suns!
Categories #3, 4 and 5 are the ones I’m most curious about. What straddles the line and what gets pushed over into some dislike? Are there things to which that you are truly indifferent, or that you like but are hardly going to get excited over? I’m curious about how clear-cut things are for you.
When thinking of your list, you may want to consider the following general categories in order to find ingredients frequently used in perfumery: fruit; food; citruses; drinks including alcoholic ones; things in your spice cabinet; chypre; fougère; oriental; leather; gourmands; abstract scents; and aromachemicals. Don’t hesitate to give an explanation for any notes about which you’re uncertain and why.
So, this is my personal list, though I’m sure I’ve forgotten a few things:
1. Notes you love passionately. Essentially, notes which make you sit up just a little bit straighter when you see them on a perfume list:
Mysore sandalwood (only Mysore); labdanum amber; ambergris; smoke; frankincense; spicy patchouli (not fruity purple patchouli); whiskey; boozy rum or cognac; Tolu balsam; Peru balsam; tuberose; Stargazer lilies; gardenia; orange blossom; lilac; heliotrope; hyacinth (may go in the Really Like column); peaches; apricots; tart Morello cherries; and oakmoss.
2. Notes you really like a lot:
Leather; suede; tobacco; benzoin resin; styrax resin; jasmine; ylang-ylang; davana flower; champaca flower; carnation; honeysuckle; mimosa; orchids; cherry blossom; chocolate; cocoa powder; honey; cloves; saffron; cardamom; ginger; cinnamon; nutmeg; almond; hazelnut; plum; orange; blood orange; mandarin or tangerine; rum raisins; hyacinth (may fall in the Love column); tonka beans; coumarin; hay; Chai lattes; vanilla creme anglaise sauce; meringue; marzipan; gingerbread; champagne; wine; and coffee.
3. Neutral notes, ones you neither like nor dislike:
Black tea; anise/fennel; osmanthus flower; lily-of-the-valley or muguet; tiaré flower; geranium; linden blossom; daffodils/narcissus; peony; star anise; castoreum; civet; hyraceum; salt; black pepper; tarragon; rosemary; verbena; sage; earth; peat; rosewood; birch tar; cade; cedar; fir; pine; Cashmeran wood; oud; pomelo fruit; mango; apple; sweet cherries; cranberries; plum puddings; mineral accords; petitgrain; neroli; milky notes; cream; beeswax; hemp; rice; and wheat.
4. Notes that depend on how they are handled, their quantity, or their treatment in conjunction with other elements.
Rose (so long as it’s not a soliflore note, or else it goes in the Dislike column); iris (same); vetiver (same); jasmine tea (same); green tea (same); galbanum; juniper; celery; myrrh; guaiac wood; green Australian sandalwood; lavender; clary sage; cannabis or marijuana notes; magnolia; immortelle (not keen if it’s solely heavy maple syrup); frangipani/plumeria (may belong in the Dislike column); marigold or tagetes; freesia; rose geranium; powdery notes; orris root (due to the powder issue); ambrette seed musk; gasoline; medicinal camphor; eucalyptus; rubber; latex; fur; horse accords; costas root (think dirty hair, sweat and urine if not handled carefully); oleander (see “powder” issues); coconut; grape (has to be a small nuance); Red Hots cinnamon; peppermint; black licorice; basil; cumin; mint (can’t be a lot, or it goes in the Dislike column); Chili, Szechuan, or pimento pepper; fenugreek; curry; chamomile; thyme; coriander; bay leaf; lime; carrots; passion fruit; grapefruit; bergamot (quality matters a lot for this one); rhubarb; cassis (black currant); banana; pineapple; tomato; tomato leaf; kiwi; pumpkin; fig; lychee; mushrooms; black truffles; overly sweet caramel; parchment or papyrus paper; dust; ink; green grass; yerba maté; lipstick notes; shaving cream; BBQ; BBQ meats; vodka; and root beer.
5. Notes you dislike in fragrances:
Gin; aldehydes; soliflore roses; soliflore vetiver; dried roses; potpourri; violet ionones; violet leaf; plumeria/frangipani; tea other than black tea; “Baie rose” or pink peppercorns; fruity patchouli; angelica; lemon; raspberry; watermelon; melon; very sugary cupcake or creme caramel vanilla; butter; popcorn; makeup powder; baby powder; stale sweat; grape jelly/jam; suntan oil; cypriol (nagamotha); hedione; Kephalis; “metallic” notes; asphalt; ashtrays; vinyl or plastic leather; blood; feces; cat urine; petrichor; cucumber; and strawberry (may belong in the passionate Hate column).
6. Notes that you hate passionately in fragrances:
Clean white musk; laundry detergent; fabric softener or drier sheets; soap; calone; aquatic notes (but I like salty sea water); chlorine; ozonic notes; dry cleaning accords; shampoo; hairspray; rubbing alcohol and antiseptic disinfectant; ISO E Super; Norlimbanol; Ambermax; Trisamber; Ambroxan; plastic; burnt plastic; burnt rubber; crusty underwear or dirty genitalia smells; and mildew.
So, what about you? I realise it will take you some time, so think about it, see what elements in my categories strike a chord, and then let me know. In the meantime, have a lovely weekend.
I have to address #6 and get it out of the way.
Aagh! Hit post by mistake, I was so eager to get #6 out of the way. Calone, melon, anything rubber, some chemical note in many white florals that smells to me like hot plastic, very much ISO-E super, ozonic notes, chlorine notes, earthy notes that smell like fungus, marine notes. Also most strawberry and peach notes. Hate them on my skin. Loathe them. Also pear notes. And apple. Had no idea how much I loathe fruit notes until I began writing about them. Also anything bloody-metallic, which reminds me of operating rooms. So sorry, I have to go think about something else for a while, and then might be able to post about things that I love, like, or can tolerate.
Oh, my word, the rising wave of loathing that seeped out from your words…. I shouldn’t laugh, but the last sentence was very funny. 😀 You poor thing, though. I had no idea that fruity notes were such an issue for you, and genuinely no notion at all about your deep-seated hatred for peach. (I’m grinning, as I love peach so much in chypres.) That said, I completely share your feelings on strawberry in fragrances. If you hate apple notes, then Naomi Goodsir’s Or du Serail must be a rare exception for you or is the note very muted there? I did know, though, about your dislike for fungus and earthy notes (see, e.g., Chypre Mousse, though I was always surprised that you liked the musky truffle in Black Orchid).
Bloody-metallic, I’m guessing Secretions Magnifiques was a trauma for you…. 😉
Here goes (I love questions/categories like this):
1) Notes you love passionately. In essence, those which make you sit up just a little bit straighter when you see them on a perfume list.
ambergris, civet (careful, though), tonquin, hyraceum, mysore sandalwood, orris root, tonka, agarwood/oudh, attar mitti/petrichor, saffron, ambrette seed, labdanum, benzoin, myrrh, hojari frankincense, styrax, amber, tahitian vanilla, vanilla madagascar, jasmine grandiflorum, heliotrope, cedarwood atlas, oakmoss, tuberose, rose otto, broom/genet, hay, bee balm, beeswax
2) Notes you really like a lot.
Vetiver, patchouli, cardamom, caraway seed, opoponax, tolu balsam, peru balsam, geranium, rose damask, rose maroc, jasmine sambac, helichrysum/immortelle, nagarmotha, sugandha kukila, palo santo, cedarwood himalayan, frangipani, michelia alba, clary sage, black spruce, tobacco, bran, blood orange, cognac, ylang ylang
3) Notes you neither like or dislike. True and genuine indifference as to their appearance in a perfume.
bergamot, pink pepper, elemi, guiaicwood, carnation, chrysanthemum…not many in this category! i’m a love or hate kind of perfumer 🙂
4) Notes that depend on how they are handled, their quantity, or their treatment in conjunction with other elements. In other words, potentially problematic notes that might fall into the Dislike column unless they are treated well. Also, if there are notes that you may not like as a soliflore or in large doses but that you enjoy in small quantities, then this would be the category for them as well.
Costus root (love it when it is done well– civet might also go in this category), Champaca, Neroli, Lavender, Hyacinth, Osmanthus, Pink Lotus, Melissa, Narcissus, Choyas (Ral, Loban, Nakh), Birch Tar, Seaweed, Artichoke, Mushroom/Cepes, sweet orange, pink grapefruit, orange blossom, absinthe, mugwort, massoia
5) Notes you really (or generally) dislike.
licorice/anise notes, aldehydes, a lot of aroma chemicals/synthetics, clean notes, water/aquatic notes, ozonic notes, lemon.
6) Notes that you hate with the searing passion of a thousand burning suns!
Eucalyptus, camphor, tea tree, cloying gourmand notes, banana, clean/white musk, too much smoke/leather so that it smells like a barbecue.
So lovely to see you here, Abby. I loved the depth of your list. I also smiled at your “I’m a love it/hate it” comment. The way the florals are scattered between the categories interested me, like champaca, orange blossom, or hyacinth in #4 It Depends, versus carnation in the Indifferent category, jasmine in the Like category, and frangipani, tuberose, heliotrope in the Love category. (I never expected Frangipani to trump orange blossom, ylang-ylang, rose or jasmine!)
What I’m curious about is patchouli (#2 Really Like category). You put Camphor in the Passionately Hate category, but does patchouli never take on a camphorated, green-black edge on your skin?
Good questions Kafkaesque!! I LOVE jasmine grandiflorum but sambac can occasionally be overly sweet on my skin (I have the same issue occasionally with champaca). I would almost describe it as strident or harsh. It’s almost so sweet it ventures into bitter territory, which I know sounds contradictory. I adore neroli and orange blossom when they work in a blend and on my skin. But in large doses, or lower quality oils, can become sharp and bitter in a way I dislike. As for frangipani, I have a plumeria tree right next to my jasmine plant. The jasmine is always in bloom, while the plumeria only blossoms every few weeks, so it’s a treat when a flower opens up and infuses the air outside my window. It’s sort of like scarcity has driven up the appeal for me 😉
Your comment about patchouli is interesting especially because I have read you mention it in your blog before. I have to say I have never gotten a camphorated edge from patchouli, whether on my skin or sniffing it an undiluted distillation or in dried leaf form. I would describe my favorite patchouli as spicy– not fruity but earthy, roots, damp leaves and soil. Ultimately patchouli is a warm, cozy, sexy note for me, while camphor is cooling, mentholated, and almost like a moth ball cough drop (!). I associate it with medicine, eucalyptus, and tea tree, head colds, insect repellant, sickness, etc., and I haven’t been able to shake that association. I wonder if not detecting camphor in patchouli has to do with my nose, my skin chemistry, or both! Fascinating.
This patchouli business has me so interested. It never turns blackened and camphorated on your skin, or even a bit minty either? Lucky devil. What about tobacco, leather, smokiness or booziness? Those are the parts of spicy patchouli (as opposed to the vile purple-hued fruitchouli kind) that I love so much.
Have you ever tried Patchouly Indonesiano by Farmacia SS Annunziata? That is the most hardcore patchouli I know, and it has such an intensely darkened, blackened start that it actually has diesel-like, oily nuances. It goes far beyond the usual woody, earthy aspects of patchouli. I would be fascinated to see how it works on you and what you detect. Please give it a try if you can. Consider it as a scientific experiment of sorts. LOL 😉
It never turns blackened and camphorated on your skin, or even a bit minty either? No to blackened or camphorated. Once in a blue moon I get a touch of mint, but it’s very faint (I’d like to keep it that way).
What about tobacco, leather, smokiness or booziness? Yes, any mint plays second fiddle to tobacco in the form of warm earthiness, almost like embers in a pipe or smouldering ash. Now, tobacco absolute, betel leaf, and other sources of tobacco notes can turn minty on me– not quite mentholated but smooth and cool, like a wintergreen rather than a eucalyptus or arctic peppermint. I get booziness and leather sometimes, but more like something fermenting in a forest, under damp foliage, or a musty snifter glass with whiskey or cognac– comforting but not sweet.
Off to hunt down a sample of Patchouly Indonesiano by Farmacia SS Annunziata to get on with the experiment 😉
Ha, I love people willing to engage in scented experiments for my terrible, undying curiosity. 😉 😀 I can’t wait to see how it turns out on your skin. BTW, I grinned at your reaction to mint being very faint on your skin: “I’d like to keep it that way.” Heh. You know, most varieties of vetiver (or perhaps all vetiver when at high doses) end up having the mint note BLOOOOOOOOOOOOM on me, like exploding waves of it. *shudder* Skin chemistry is a very odd thing.
I don’t think I should do this. I often don’t know what it is that makes me dislike a perfume, though I have gotten better at speculating. I know that there are agrochemicals that disagree with me but I don’t know which ones they are. I cannot smell ISO Super – I tried Molecule 01 and got nothing. I think it was Guerlain Idylle that caused my eyes to water to the point of needing several kleenex for all the tears. Prada Candy made me physically nauseous and Thierry Mugler Violette Angel caused a sneezing fit. Some perfumes I can taste in the back of my throat. I have never had a problem with older scents, natural scents, and vintage scents.
Thank goodness I found out that smell is genetic. I wondered why I only occasionally got from a perfume what others did. From reviews and comments, it seems that my experience is often in the minority. My skin often tends to pick up the strongest note/s and the others are lost. Lostmarc’h Iroaz is all marine, no rose. AbdesSalaam Attar Night Blossom is a dark patchouli with no tuberose at all! La Chasse Aux Papillons is a straight tuberose. I already mentioned Cuir d’Ange – raw leather. Other perfumes do strange things. LesNez The Unicorn Spell – green beans. Violette Fumée is rubber from beginning to end, awful. I have never smelled skank (in any of its manifestations) in any perfume, new or old. It’s not there for my nose or on my skin.
The good news is that there are perfumes that love me and I love them back. And there are a lot of *likes* and *likes a lot*. They make it all worthwhile.
I’m glad that you DID answer, Maya, because I found your comment to be revealing despite not having categories of notes. It helps me to better understand how things work on your skin. Plus, I found it interesting how you’re anosmic to certain things like animalic skanky notes or ISO E Super, or how your skin amplifies some base notes to the point of drowning out everything else.
I imagine it must be incredibly frustrating not to have clear guidelines on how various things will work on your skin, or never to know from one scent to the next how it will turn out. At least, I would be frustrated. I sympathise, but I’m also happy to hear that you’ve found some fragrances that are passionate loves and likes. I hope the MPG Jardin Blanc will be one such scent for you. 🙂
It is very frustrating. It’s always a surprise. I have hopes for MPG Jardin Blanc. Thank you. I really like Cuir Fetiche from the same house. It’s a pretty, soft, floral leather on me – no whips. 😉
I got the same thing from Night Blossom – patchouli patchouli patchouli PATCHOULI was that tuberose? nope MORE PATCHOULI.
And I get the raw green beans in The Unicorn SPell as well, but they were gone in ten minutes. Pity, I rather liked them.
Thanks for letting me know! I love perfumes but sometimes feel like I’m sitting alone in the corner. LOL love and identify with your experience with Night Blossom. I kept waiting, in vain, for the tuberose.
Hi Kafka – what an interesting set of questions….but I’m going to buck your system I’m afraid and say that all smells intrique me – there are no perfumes that make me physically sick or have me curlling up my toes. I’ve been a qualified aromatherapist for about 15 years now and so so so much depends on SKIN! and our own personal chemical reactions to each fragrance is so very different. I didnt appreciate this until I started blending for people and I realised that what I personally liked smelled so different for each client. I “smell” people every day in my work and everyone smells different – underneath the deodorants and the perfume and the food and don’t forget medication…..if we take any drug that so alters our chemistry and most people unfortunately are on some sort of medication. Also whether or not we have pets at home – a lot of my friends are very “doggy” and altho I love animals – my god they SMELL – even the clean ones give off a huge amount of pheromones – not always pleasant!!
My own personal favourites in fragrance are in order Mysore Sandalwood – I have tiny bottles for a vast amount of money that I can still order from my supplier but its not quite as good as it used to be! Patchouli – I still have old bottles of Patchouli that I have hoarded – it gets better with keeping….Peru and Tolu Balsam, Damask Rose, Frankincense, Benzoin (the old original stuff smelled like the inside of an ancient apothecary…Wonderful!! – can’t get it anymore!! Apricots, almonds,citrus especially Melissa (lemon balm -literally a balm for the soul) all leather and smoke, amber narcissus.
I’m not indifferent to anything because with the correct blend it can be heaven – sorry Kafka but I must remind you of your initial loathing of Lavender and yet you did a 180 degree turnabout with SL Fourreau Noir – but I suppose I dislike on my skin – any synthetic fruit – and that covers a lot of modern (hideous) shopping mall store scents – it just smells unreal and for me thats a deal breaker.
I love lots of smells in the world like petrol (sorry gasoline) tar, smokey garden fires and rotting leaves but I don’t necessarily want to go out or stay in and smell like it. So that brings me to my final point which is – what do I want to leave in a room after I’ve left it or what impression do I want to give to others when I stand near them or what essence do I want to catch from myself when I turn around and for me that has to be something that smells of luxury, opulance, sex, desire, LOVE and beauty but never ever money!!
Really interesting juxtaposition of issues, Katie! I think the key point is not whether smells intrigue or appeal to one in the wild (so to speak) or in terms of daily experiences, but whether one wants them emanating off one’s skin? You may be fascinated by all the aromas you encounter as an aromatherapist or the “smells in the world,” but a sentence in your final paragraph is more the subject of the post: “I don’t necessarily want to… smell like it.”
Putting all that aside, I very much enjoyed reading your list. And you may have a point that anything can be heaven with the correct blend, but then, it is a *BLEND* that you’re talking about and not a soliflore. I doubt I would ever wear a lavender soliflore or a hardcore ISO E Super scent. Some things are simply too much of an issue for me. But I very much respect your open mind to everything, and loved your thoughts about smelling of things that evoke opulence, beauty, sex, desire, and luxury. I very much agree.
I find I have a dislike for lavender, which reminds me of so very many generic mass-market men’s frags. After two tries of SL Gris Clair I gave the bottle to a friend. Also cumin in large doses is a definite no for me. Serge Noire was for me a one spray and give away blind buy
Heh, lavender….:D 😀 You know, so many people rave about Gris Clair, even those who don’t normally like lavender. I tried it and was disappointed. There was SO MUCH clean musk that the fragrance really *did* take on the vibe of generic, mass-market, commercial scents. I wonder if that was the problem for you as well? I had planned to do a review for Gris Clair a while ago, but that initial foray put me off to such an extent that I’ve rather avoided it since, I’m afraid.
Have you tried SL’s Fourreau Noir? It was the first (and thus far, ONLY) lavender scent that has brought me to my knees, and I was a hardcore lavender phobe for decades. Fourreau Noir has incense, patchouli, and ambered warmth. It’s a very different kettle of fish to Gris Clair. A few people who hate lavender have actually fallen for that one as well. Perhaps, if you’re not too traumatised by the note, you can order a sample? Nicolai’s Amber Oud is also a really nice treatment of lavender because the vile plant is drowned out by tonka creaminess. There is patchouli and amber as well, but it’s a less interesting, dark, complex scent than Fourreau Noir. I hope you give the latter a try.
I can’t say that there are any notes I always like (1) or always dislike (6)–although, I suspect that crusty underwear would be an Always Dislike, should I ever unknowingly encounter same.
My Usual Likes (category 2) are: iris, leather, incense, orange blossom, neroli,bergamot, orange citrus, lemon, lavender, labdanum, ambergris.
My Usual Dislikes (category 5) are patch and vanilla. Usually gak, but just once in a while, one works for me.
My Can be Good or Bad(4): Vetiver, cumin, fruit and most florals (rose, tub., jasmine)
My indifferent (3): everything else
Interesting, James. I had no clue that lavender was one of your Usual Likes. I would actually have thought Mimosa would be one of those for you. Perhaps even Jasmine, in the like column. Speaking of lavender and leather, as well as neroli and labdanum, have you tried Bogue’s Cologne Reloaded? If you haven’t, I think you should get a sample.
A fun and interesting exercise…very difficult to try to make a full inventory. I’m sorry if this comes off like a laundry list but this is what I’ve come up with:
1. Rose, vetiver, galbanum, iris, salt, ambergris, moss, mushroom, some musks, orange, bergamot, jasmine, leather, ‘green’
2. Sandalwood, cedar, frankincense, balsams, aldehydes, amber, patchouli, plum, peach, apricot, lily of the valley, benzoin
3. I can’t even think of what exactly I am indifferent to, but I like james’ comment above “everything else”
4. Violet, heliotrope and ambrette are a few that spring to mind. Pine is another. I thought I disliked tuberose until I met Moon Bloom, same for lavender until I tried Nicolai Parfumeur’s Amber Oud. Who knows what will surprise me next?
5. Burnt sugar, vanilla, immortelle, marshmallow, red berries, pear…they don’t smell bad to me necessarily but are unwearable…too cloying
6. Violet leaf, narcissus, both smell like “gas station bathroom” to me!
Laundry lists are the point! 😀 Interesting about the “green” notes being a Passionate Love, but violets or violet leaf aren’t. Equally interesting, the violet leaf smells like a bad gas station bathroom on you. Urinous with diesel vibes? Someone last week actually said that narcissus (which I like to call “daffodil”) smells like diesel on their skin, which fascinated me enormously. It really was the first time that I’d heard that, but I wonder if it’s the same way on you or if it is purely urinous?
PS — so happy to hear that Moon Bloom and Nicolai’s Amber Oud worked so well for you!
I probably need to answer these in phases because I know if I do it quickly I’ll forget something. I will start with #4, the “it depends” notes because you may be surprsed at some of mine. Vanilla. Yep, vanilla because if it’s a sugar bomb I despise it. Civet and castoreum because I love some fragrances where they’re front and center (Bal a Versailles for one), leather, oud. In their more refined forms I can do them. Lavender, ah it can smell like feet, medicine or a pretty herb garden. It really depends. Others; pumpkin, peach, cloves, tobacco, jasmine and white flowers generally, ginger, orange blossom, earth, tomato, cucumber, berries (except blueberries which I like a lot and blackberries which always go fecal on me) Whew. I think that’s it.
I actually knew that you hated the sugary, burnt sugar or frosted icing versions of vanilla. What I had no idea about was that lavender smells like feet on you sometimes! 🙂 Haha. Cumin can go that way on me, btw.
I know we’re talking about the #4 “It Depends” category, but I’ll briefly mention category #1 and the notes that I always associate with you, Vicki: heliotrope, violets, and greener scents (not just the violet ones).
Yep, heliotrope, violets, and greens are in my category #1. Also linden, ivy, chery blossom, peony, saltwater and lilies of all kinds. Lilacs in the spring, violet leaf anytime. My #2 like a lots are carnation, lemon, lime, grapefruit, oranges, rose, daisy, daffodil, bourbon, gin, amber, green patchouli, green tea, fig
And blueberries, apricot, grass, incense, woodsmoke, fall air, moss
Hmmm, this IS fun, but I’ve got some thinking to do and will get back to you later with my….list. 😀 I enjoyed Secretions Magnifique. :/
Ok, if I picture myself reading notes on fragrantica and observe my emotional reactions along your 6 categroies than the following could come out:
1. Love: Ambergris, abstract rose or rose if not soliflore, iris(root), violet, mysore sandalwood, passion fruit, peaches, vanilla, oakmoss, neroli, peru balsam and tolu balsam, resins, labdanum, osmanthus, massoia (Santal Massoia, I love you…), chamomile.
2. Like a lot: Incense, benzoin resin, jasmine tea, lilac (I actually love lilac but crave it only during spring), linden blossom, fennel, cumin, chilli, lily-of-the-valley, lavender, licorice, black tea, clary sage, orris root, powdery notes, vetiver, immortelle, grapefruit, limette, bergamotte, tonka, geranium, virginia cedar (the atlas cedar is in 4.), heliotrope, mimosa, anise, green notes, orange, mandarine, plum, almond, caramel, cherry, champaca, frangipani, tiare flower, fig, rhubarb, cardamom, coriander, dark chocolate, marron glacé, dates, guaiac wood, mint, beeswax, sand, salty notes, ginger, rosemary, pine tree, tobacco, sea water, smoky notes, ambrette, saffron
3. Rather indifferent: Soliflore roses, freesia, magnolia, narcissus, carnation, orchid, lotus, whisky, rum, green tea, cassia, apple (it’s my favorite fruit, so that’s strange that I am completely indifferent about apple in fragrance), grapes (my second favorite fruit), cranberry, blackberry, cannabis, fig leaf, nutmeg, lemongrass, yuzu, lemon verbena, roiboos tea, palm leaf, lychee
4. Dependent on how they are handled: Patchouli, clove (if it’s too much I dislike or even hate it), honey (same), coconut (same), violet leaves, angelica, tuberose (it’s often in the dislike category but I love Tubereuse Criminelle and like the one from Mona di Orio), jasmine, orange blossom, lily, gardenia, eucalyptus, oud, (water)melon (it’s made from calone I guess, if it’s not overused I think I am ok with it), aldehydes, ISO E Super (a tiny dosis is fine, haha, I guess I can’t even smell a tiny dosis…), musk, mango, citrus, birch tar, suede, atlas cedar, ylang-ylang, hiacynth, strawberry (like it in Cartier’s Panthère), rice (it goes more in the dislike category but I love Fils de Dieu, so it’s probably steamed rice which I like and sweet rice which I don’t), tomato leaf, wheat, cinnamon, pepper (black and red), milk, black currant, grass, coffee (haven’t found the perfect one yet, would like to know which aromachemicals are used to generate the note), cucumber (I would love to smell an authentic cucumber fragrance but I gues it’s like with the coffee note, you can’t get it without using loads of aromachemicals???), hay, cacao pod, bay leaf, clary sage
5. Dislike: Clover, ozonic notes, strong leather notes, petitgrain, civet, fern, green pepper, white chocolate (or at least I guess white chocolate is why I can’t appreciate Coromandel), papyrus, mushroom, ink (fortunately, I don’t get ink from Encre Noir pour Homme), dust, watercress, mate, banana, metallic notes, pencil shavings (you can’t read that at fragrantica but it’s an aroma I smell a lot in modern fragrances), amaretto, vodka,
6. Hate: This is tough, concerning aromachemicals I am too much of a dilettante, I can’t really name them. I would like to train my nose, for example I really like javanol, I guess I don’t like ambroxan (since by Kilian’s Vodka on the Rocks was such a scrubber on me and contains lots of it).
When I hate or can’t smell a fragrance than it’s nearly always due to a weird combination of notes and not a single one: I hate ELdO Rien but apart from the leather note I like all its (listed) notes, similar with Bandit or Cristalle.
If something smells insipid or moldy eg. like old water from a flower vase than I think it’s often a weird use of hyacinth, a note I usually love but am cautious about.
This comment is way too long (!!!) but I enjoyed writing it and am looking forward to read these notes at the end of the year – I might suddenly like tuberose…
I love long comments! And you should definitely keep your list so that you can see how your tastes change over the coming years, and if any of the notes switch categories.
A few things about various comments. “Pencil shavings” is frequently the way some people experience cedar. It’s definitely a nuance or undertone of the wood. So, you may not see that smell listed on Fragrantica, but I would bet that it is the result of cedar on your skin, especially as cedar is very popular in modern fragrances. As for Encre Noire, that is famous for its extra-high quantity of ISO E Super. Fils de Dieu has a very milky, coconut-y rice note on my skin, so perhaps that in combination with Yuzu and lemongrass kinda helped?
As for being indifferent to notes in perfume that you love in life, I think that happens quite a bit. I don’t mind maple syrup on pancakes or very sugary vanilla frosting on desserts, but I don’t actually want to SMELL of it. At least, not if it’s hardcore as some immortelle or vanilla soliflores can be.
BTW, I know exactly what you mean about the old, stale, fetid water in a flower vase. That was an issue for me in a few scents, like Carnal Flower and Guerlain’s Mahora. And, like you, I’m looking for the perfect coffee scent, too. (Also, marrons glacé are one of my favorite sweet things to eat!)
I spend an enormous amount of time smelling perfume elements as well as perfumes, and yet I still have very strong reactions to most of the scents. There are MANY perfumes that just make me feel ill, give me a massive headache, or otherwise send me screaming into another room lol – On the other hand, when I love something, I tend to adore it passionately.
That said, I can change my mind based on a specific perfume or sometimes, something about my perception just changes somehow, as with orange blossom.
1) Notes you love passionately. In essence, those which make you sit up just a little bit straighter when you see them on a perfume list.
Oakmoss, orange blossom, tuberose, peach, tobacco, labdanum, ambergris, booze/whiskey, violet flowers, osmanthus, salt, civet, saffron, plum, apricot,
2) Notes you really like a lot.
Gardenia, jasmine, leather, lily, vanilla, tonka/coumarin, heliotrope, rose, benzoin, tolu balsam, peru balsam, fir, orchid, carnation, soil/dirt/earth, smoke, ambrette, neroli, peat, honey, beeswax, juniper, anise, coriander, elderflower, cepes/mushrooms, cardamom, fur, patchouli, cloves, nutmeg, ylang,
3) Notes you neither like or dislike. True and genuine indifference as to their appearance in a perfume.
Linden, apple, black pepper, pink pepper, green pepper, violet leaf, almond,
4) Notes that depend on how they are handled, their quantity, or their treatment in conjunction with other elements. In other words, potentially problematic notes that might fall into the Dislike column unless they are treated well. Also, if there are notes that you may not like as a soliflore or in large doses but that you enjoy in small quantities, then this would be the category for them as well.
Coconut, musk, cassis/black currant, raspberry, lavender, iris, chocolate, coffee, immortelle, curry, sharp green notes, mint, vetiver, plumeria, cannabis, muguet, oud, bergamot, orris, incense, kaffir lime leaf, petitgrain, tarragon, mimosa, tagetes, davana, champaca, grape, wine, fig, fenugreek.
5) Notes you really (or generally) dislike.
Aldehydes, aquatic notes, powder, melon, strawberry, shampoo, geranium, eucalyptus, low quality sandalwood, carrot, banana and most things overtly tropical, freesia, pumpkin, pie/pudding, celery.
6) Notes that you hate with the searing passion of a thousand burning suns!
White musk, soap, plastic, metallic notes, Iso E and other peppery/alcoholic type notes,
Heh, I love how short the answers to the #3 Indifferent category are. I found it interesting that muguet, davana, and champaca went into the #4 It Depends category, since you do like both greener flowers (violets) and the more heady, rich, creamy ones (ylang-ylang, jasmine). I had always thought Muguet was a big Love for you, or at least a Usually Like. I also had no idea that incense, mimosa, or vetiver might be potential issues for you! Thank you for answer, my dearest Cacomixtle. I’ve learnt a lot.
I have no idea how you pay attention to and remember all these bizarre details, Kafka! I’m always so amazed when you can so accurately predict what I (or others) will love. 😀
I adore Muguet in certain perfumes, but in others it all seems to come off sort of soapy and astringent… this might just be the sort of standard composition Muguet ends up in, rather the the flower itself though. I adore the smell of the flower by itself without reservation, I’m just so picky about the green, often “fresh” compositions it ends up in I think. There’s something similar with champaca, I love the flower itself without reservation, but don’t always enjoy the way it’s typically used.
I despise that powdery, dusty church incense that seems popular these days, but love it when it can be taken outside the cathedral doors lol
And yes, I’m a bit afraid of vetiver. I don’t mind it at all in a mix, but I’ve yet to find a vetiver dominated perfume that I absolutely love.
I’d have to get back to you in a week (at least) to give a full accounting of my taste!!
I find it really hard to categorize and I’m afraid I can’t quite do it. I LOVE some iris and violet fragrances, but a good many of them I can’t stand. . .so yes, it does depend on how it’s handled. So, I would not put either of those in the #4 category! And then there’s lavender and clary sage; I use the EOs in household products a LOT but do not want to wear them. I have no idea what category that would put them in! Ai yi yi!
A fairly general, off the top-of-my-head list:
1. Rose, labdanum, violet, frankincense, myrrh, oud, almost all resins and woods, orris root, honey, tobacco, benzoin, saffron, lapsang souchong tea, oakmoss, galbanum, cognac, whiskey, wine.
2. Vanilla, geranium, peru and tolu balsam, berries, cannabis, mushrooms, peat, cinnamon, pepper, carrot, cardamon, thyme oh, patchouli (which is edging into the #1 category lately) . .tomato leaf, coffee, moss, vetiver (LOVE “straight up”),
3. Bergamot, neroli, yuzu,. licorice (but love the scent for eating!), fennel, anise, coconut, musk, pear, peach, chocolate, “regular” black tea, beeswax, orange blossom, petitgrain,
4. Gin, orange, lime, lemon, apple, salt, ginger, green tea, juniper, leather
5. Trisamber, jasmine (might be allergic), narcissus (love in nature!) clove, gingerbread
6. Ylang ylang & tuberose (again, I may be allergic both of those), most white flowers, ISO E Super,”white musk”, all aquatic and ozonic notes, “too much” of any aroma chemical, really!
I most certainly have an allergy to many flowers in nature; I love the smell of lilacs, stargazer lilies, and narcissus, but can’t bring them inside or my eyes puff up! Indolic flowers really make me ill and I’ve just learned to stay away from “white flowers” in perfume. but I can appreciate their smell indeed. Saying I “hate them” feels so wrong!!
I love “medicinal” notes, but notes that remind me of cleaning products, and ESPECIALLY baby wipes, and laundry detergents? Hate ’em. Blech!!!
Lavender and clary sage aren’t even on the list, as you can see. I ADORE anise and fennel in cooking (and the aroma). . .I am having trouble separating cooking, nature, and perfumes here. Frankly, I pretty much love the smell of everything, ‘cept too much of the “fake” stuff. Dryer sheets? Gawd. I find their odor can ruin a stroll, as people have their dryers vent out in the street (arrgh!!).
I’ve left much out, but there it is. Always interesting, my dear Kafka (and all the the other people who’ve commented, too)!!
I’ve learnt so much about your tastes. I had no idea about violet, vetiver, tomato leaf (of all things!!), or galbanum ranking so highly for you, or gingerbead ranking so low. So, are orange blossoms a rare exception to your avoidance and dislike of white flowers in a fragrance? We’re definitely at opposite ends of the spectrum in that regard, as I love the white ones and despise the roses, while you passionately adore rose but loathe the white ones. lol But don’t take that comment to mean I don’t understand the big impact of allergic reactions. That must be very tough, and I truly sympathise. It must be especially difficult as you love some of the scents in nature, like stargazer lilies, but can’t have them around you or in the house. Well, at least a few flowers work for you! 🙂
I forgot I can wear some white lily scents (and love them)! Combine them with incense and I LOVE them! But, yes, unfortunately allergies do play a big role in what I can wear. I love flowers in nature but can’t have many of them near me. Night blooming jasmine, honeysuckle (mmmm)!! I do passionately adore roses, as you know, but hmmm, I am not sure you do “hate” them as much as you say!! And btw, I love the smell of gingerbread (and the taste), but in perfume? Not at all. Just like I would not want to wear bacon or sausage, perhaps.
As for orange blossom, I forget it’s a white flower. Ha! I have most nostalgic love for the smell of orange blossom water. Do I wear it? Nah. I really like deep, dark fragrances.
Oh, this is a great topic!
I feel the same way about strawberries as you do about gingerbread. I enjoy eating them, but I hate how they are in fragrances and I certainly don’t want to smell of them. It’s always so terribly gooey and just like Smucker’s jam. Jam is fine on toast, but not wafting out in waves from my skin. lol
My apologies for lack of editing! Uh boy!! Can I blame my computer? A little bit, but that would be dishonest. :-p
This was an interesting exercise, as my strong interest in perfume is fairly recent. I thought about each note you listed and, if I had an opinion, put it in one of my categories. Then I looked up the notes of my favorite (and least favorite) perfumes to add anything I may have missed. I plan to keep this list as a reference to compare my future tastes against.
1) LOVE – boozy rum, whiskey, vodka, champagne, peaches, oakmoss, saffron, honey, cloves, ginger, plum, rum raisins, tonka beans, anise, pomegranate, jasmine, woody iris, lily of the valley, rose (don’t know enough yet to differentiate types)
2) LIKE A LOT – tobacco leaves, leather, birch, cinnamon, nutmeg, black tea, peony, gardenia, cassis, coriander, fig, aldehydes, bergamot, raspberry, powdery iris, neroli, civet
3) NEUTRAL – orange blossom, freesia, green tea, pear, juniper
4) DEPENDS – amber (I never know before I sniff – sometimes a favorite, as in Ambre Russe), sandalwood (I like as part of a musky base, but I dislike “santal”-heavy perfumes), vanilla (not too sweet), coffee, almond, hay, black pepper, cedar (sometimes too hamster-cagey), pine, vetiver (only as a musky base with a floral top), lavender, green grass, lipstick notes, makeup powder, eucalyptus (my favorite home scent), incense
5) DISLIKE – grapefruit, bright orange (unless paired with clove for a pomander effect), watermelon, lemon, apple, cotton candy, sugary caramel, mint, curry, pineapple, fabric softener, clean white musk
6) HATE – cumin, shaving cream, hairspray, stale sweat, ashtrays, urine, cannabis, medicinal camphor, rubber, coconut, banana, mildew, dirty female skank
This is my first time commenting, but I read all of your reviews with great interest. Thanks so much for the time, thought and beauty you put into this blog.
Welcome, Dottie! So lovely to see you here, and thank you for coming out of lurkerdom! 🙂 I really appreciated your list, as it let me know more about your tastes. I grinned at how the boozy notes started your list for Category #1 — welcome to the club. Have you tried Naomi Goodsir’s Or du Serail, Nobile’s Rudis, Viktoria Minya’s Hedonist, or Roja Dove’s Creation-E? Those have some lovely boozy elements.
It’s interesting to me about the Amber. I wonder if you prefer a particular treatment of labdanum, or how you feel about ambergris (like Dior’s Ambre Nuit or Profumum’s Ambre Aurea). I’m guessing the more benzoin-type of ambers might skew too fluffy and sweet for you. Then again, you like rum raisins, so perhaps something like Ambre Narguilé might work for you. How do you feel about spicy, brown patchouli? It has some camphorated elements, but it also has boozy, woody, tobacco, leathery, and smoky undertones as well, depending on how it’s treated.
What a lovely list of scents! I have not tried any of those boozy ones yet. The Or du Serail sounds heavenly; I love the smell (but not the taste) of calvados. I remember being excited while reading your Rudis review (I’m a single malt lover) but then decided it may be too masculine for my tastes. I also remember reading about Hedonist. Your description was scrumptious, but I was worried the honey would be too sweet. I’ll know soon enough, as I just ordered a sample from her site. In fact, all the ones you mentioned are now in my sample cart!
I am not sure what my deal is with amber. In my limited experience, my reaction to amber is strong one way or the other. As I mentioned, a favorite is Parfum d’Empire Ambre Russe. After reading your review, I knew I would love it and ordered a sample. The rich booziness is really what won me over immediately, followed by the spicy smokiness of the dry down. I briefly smelled Tom Ford Amber Absolute on a scent card and it reminded me of Ambre Russe, but without the wonderful booziness. I’m also a fan of Ambre Narguile, where the amber is a small part of the blend of dark rum, rum raisins, cinnamon, homemade caramel, dried cherries and sweet almond extract (to my nose, at least). Occasionally, I’ll get a whiff of cedar that reminds me too much of my childhood pet hamster. Also, I wish it would settle into my skin more; it’s almost too bright. Despite these particular-to-me shortcomings, I plan to buy a travel set once my generous sample is depleted. If money were no object, I would have Ambre Narguile piped into my home constantly.
As for ambers I have not enjoyed, I must admit that Serge Lutens Ambre Sultan does not work for me at all. The initial spray is sickly sweet to my nose. The sweetness largely dissipates as the kitchen herbs take over, but the overall affect unsettles my stomach. L’Artisan L’Eau d’Ambre immediately repelled me with its particular ambery scent (granted, I dislike everything I’ve smelled by L’Artisan). Likewise with Prada Amber. Oddly, I’ve been buying my husband Prada Amber Pour Homme for years and I love it on him. Those two are very different to me.
I noticed that three of my favorite perfumes that I do not consider amber scents contain amber in their bases: Bois des Iles, Coco, and Mitsouko. Not sure what this means about my relationship with amber.
I don’t know enough about spicy, brown patchouli to say what I think. Is that the kind in Coromandel? Because I strongly disliked that one! It felt sharp and searing to my nose. Pretty sure I had to wipe it off eventually.
Oh my, apologies for writing so much! There is much to learn, but it is all so pleasurable. Thanks again for the recommendations.
First, never apologise for writing too much — to ME of all people! LOL. In case it hasn’t been clear by now, I am rather… er.. fond… 😉 of details and specifics. 😀 Second, Coromandel might not be the best way to encounter spicy, proper patchouli. For one thing, that is an extremely strong, powerfully projecting fragrance. For another, it has other elements which might be responsible for making the fragrance as a whole come across as “sharp and searing.”
Someone with your tastes should explore patchouli in totally different contexts, and my suggestion is to start with Jovoy’s Psychedelique: very boozy, brandy/cognac patchouli cut through with amber. It’s a gorgeous, very elegantly cozy fragrance, Dottie, but it is also unfortunately a very soft one that clings too much to the skin after the lovely beginning, so it is best for those who love discreet fragrances. Still, it is a good introduction to patchouli. Another one might be Oriza’s boozy, cognac-y Horizon or Serge Lutens’ Borneo 1834. The latter is quite chocolate-y at times with some spices and woods.
Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan isn’t my favorite either. I would be curious what you thought about the Ambre Aurea that I’ve already recommended, but also Maitre Parfumeur’s Ambre Precieux. I’m wholly addicted to that one as a comfort scent. As for Bois des Iles, Coco, Mitsouko, I don’t think any of them are true amber soliflores, despite containing a modicum of the note in the base. You see, labdanum was often a traditional accompaniment to the chypre elements of oakmoss and patchouli. Part of the stuctural tripod legs of the base, if you will. It doesn’t mean that there was enough to ever make those fragrances a real amber. Bois des Iles is a superb example of a sandalwood or woody fragrance. Coco used to be an oriental (I haven’t tried the reformulated version recently to know just how badly they’ve massacred it), but Mitsouko is definitely a chypre.
TF’s Ambre Absolute definitely isn’t boozy, so you’re right that about! It’s more smoky, incense-filled amber, imo. BTW, I had to laugh at your reaction to the L’Artisan line. It’s not one that have ever done much for me, with the sole exception of the discontinued Safran Troublant that dies an extremely quick death on my skin.
Since you love cloves, ginger, and a few other things on your list, you may want to order samples of Musc Ravageur and L’Erbolario’s Meharees. I don’t know where you’re located but, in the US, Surrender to Chance has samples of both. Going in a different direction, I would strongly recommend getting a sample of (vintage) Yvresse/Champagne if you can (it won’t be hard if you’re in the U.S., as STC has it, I think). I think you might love the champagne, peach, oakmoss opening, and you can find the fragrance on eBay at prices that are still more affordable than most current, modern niche fragrances. For iris and some of the notes in your Really Like column, you may want to consider Neela Vermeire’s Ashoka. For rose, her Mohur, particularly in Extrait form, as that also has iris, violet, leather, spices, and some sandalwood in the base. It’s a very wistful, romantic rose in EDP form, and more lush or vibrant in Extrait form. Definitely one that a rose lover should try, just as her Ashoka is one for those who love iris (and fig).
I hope that helps a little, Dottie. It’s been such a pleasure to get to know you and your perfume tastes better.
Thank you so much for sharing your wealth of knowledge! This is such fun. I ordered samples from LS, TPC and STC of these ones: Victoria Minya Hedonist, YVS Yvresse, Dior Ambre Nuit, L’Erbolario Meharees, Neela Vermeire Ashoka, , Profumum Ambra Aurea, Naomi Goodsir Or du Serail, Nobile 1942 Rudis, Oriza Legrand Horizon, Jovoy Psychedelic, and Maitre Parfumeur Ambre Percieux, plus Grossmith Saffron Rose and Ginestet Botrytis (two I’ve been wanting to try). Whew, I will spend the next several weeks figuring out which ones I love. I’m also curious to find out how I feel about patchouli. I could find the Roja Dove only in extrait form, so he will have to wait (probably for the best, given the price!).
I plan to sample the Serge Lutens Borneo 1834 in person at Barneys. The only SL I own is Five O’Clock Au Gingembre. I sampled Musc Ravaguer and found it a lovely, soft, spicy gingerbread fragrance that tragically began emitting small wafts of skankiness after a couple of hours. Like, unwashed lady smell. I discovered this while sitting in the audience of a play, feeling extremely self-conscious. I certainly got more than the soft kitten. Since this result is so uncommon, I wonder if perhaps this particular scent was coming from elsewhere in the theater. When I have some time at home, I’ll sample again. 🙂
I had to laugh at your predicament with Musc Ravageur during the play. Oh dear, “unwashed lady smell” — lol. I would have felt uncomfortable, too. There are a few explanations for what may have happened: you sampled a pre-reformulated version; your skin chemistry went a bit wonky with the ambrette seeds or the civet; your past experiences with civet or ambrette have not involved “unwashed lady smell” emanating out; or your baseline definitions or tolerance for civet are a factor. I checked back at your initial breakdown of notes and saw that civet was very high on your list. Has it never created a urinous or deeply skanky, animalic aroma on your skin?
I think Ambrette may have been the issue, as it is used to create a warm musk, skin aroma and, sometimes, a fur one. It is part of Musc Ravageur, and an even bigger part of fragrances like the polarizing Musc Koublai Khan from Serge Lutens, Musc Tonkin from Parfums d’Empire, and, if I recall correctly, probably MFK’s Absolue Pour Le Soir as well. You seem well experienced with civet, but perhaps ambrette is new to you and also works weirdly on your skin?
With regard to the samples you ordered, HURRAH! For L’Erbolario’s Meharees, you may want to read my review first, as there is a very synthetic component to the fragrance’s opening that you should be aware of first. Most people don’t seem to have issues with it, perhaps because most people aren’t as attune to synthetics or don’t care about them in general. I don’t know your feelings on synthetics, but you may want to read the review first. One of the reasons why I suggested that fragrance to you is because a few people find similarities to Ambre Narguilé, which you love. Now, don’t expect the quality of Meharees to be ANYTHING close to Ambre Narguilé or Musc Ravageur. It simply isn’t possible for a €20 fragrance, as compared to those which are so much more. But if you keep your expectations low, perhaps you will be happily surprised.
In general though, I can’t wait to hear what you think of the various scents. Some won’t work for you, some will, but hopefully, you’ll enjoy the process of trying and discovering. And, hopefully, you’ll find at least one fragrance that works well on your skin chemistry and that you adore. Fingers crossed! 🙂
I spritzed my Coromandel sample again last night and immediately remembered why I could not wear it before. To my nose, it’s as if Chanel instructed the perfumer to create the most beautiful scent possible around the main accord of Icy/Hot (icy to dull the pain; hot to relax it away!). The result feels luxurious and high quality, but the center is Icy/Hot, even after two hours of wear. (Is this what you would call camphorous?) I’m perplexed reading the glowing reviews by others. Obviously, most do not have the same reaction.
Icy/Hot…. really interesting. I can’t say that is something I’ve heard before regarding Coromandel, and I really would love to know if the patchouli is the cause. “Icy” isn’t something that comes to mind when I think about the camphorous aspect of patchouli, and I know others describe the note as “warm” and “cozy,” but we all filter impressions and notes through different mental lens, so sensory/olfactory interpretations can be very subjective things. It would be really interesting to do a small experiment with other patchouli scents to see if the same “icy” impression occurs with them. I’ve given you a few names in an earlier response, but I would completely understand if you lack the enthusiasm for further scientific inquiry after your Coromandel experience. LOL. 🙂
I’m replying here to your comment above, since that string is now exhausted of “reply” buttons. 🙂 Must be the ambrette that’s problematic for me. I’ve never had a problem with civet, but ambrette is new. I don’t think I’ve tried another perfume with that note. Good to know!
I’m wearing my sample of Ambra Aurea now. Mmmmmmmmmmmmm!
I’m so glad to hear that an early test of Ambra Aurea was positive and that you liked it!
Thanks for launching this fun and useful exercise! After a long time going over various notes, this is what I’ve come up with.
1) Love passionately:
Carnation, aldehydes, violet, mimosa, orange blossom, ylang ylang, Peru balsam, Tolu balsam, civet, opopanax, benzoin
2) Notes I really like a lot:
Leather, tobacco, oakmoss, wet soil, incense, rose, sandalwood, amber, jasmin, heliotrope, almond, vanilla, root beer, iris, tonka bean, orris root, white chocolate, cinnamon, frankincense, balsam fir, nutmeg, cloves, galbanum, castoreum, mandarin orange, dried fruit, gingerbread, macarons, crème brulée, glazed chestnuts, hyacinths, lilac, honeysuckle, sweet pea, lilly-of-the-valley, cardamom, chai tea, ginger, peach, plum.
3) Notes I neither like nor dislike:
Musk, bergamot, hay, rum, vetiver, tarragon, black current, linden blossom, bay leaf, myrrh, caraway, sage, saffron, lily, gardenia, dark chocolate, ambergris, beeswax, honey, apricot, rum, anise, osmanthus, cherry, geranium, coriander, pepper, rice, fennel.
4) Notes that depend on how they are handled, potentially problematic:
Lemon, patchouli, lavender, pine, fig, carrot, mint, raspberry, tuberose (only in small doses), mushrooms, all teas except for chai, cherry, cedar (only in small doses), red berries, blackberry.
5) Notes I really dislike:
Cotton candy, apple, melon, passionfruit, strawberry, watermelon, tomato, banana, pineapple, coffee, popcorn, butter, curry, eucalyptus, camphor, tiare flower, suntan oil, coconut.
6) Notes I hate with a passion
Clean musk, fruity patchouli, aquatic notes, cucumber, meat, rubber, metallic notes, blood, feces, urine.
Thank you for a great blog. I’ve been a regular reader ever since I discovered it a few months ago when looking for a review of Rubj and finally found someone who had the same reaction to the cumin!
Rubj…. *shiver* Let’s not talk about Rubj, and focus on happier things instead. First, welcome to the blog, and thank you for coming out of lurkerdom, Lilly! 🙂 You have some great things in your Love/Like categories. (BTW, I adore marrons glacé or iced chestnuts!) How interesting that Civet is in the Passionate Love category. That’s uncommon. LOL. Have you tried anything with hyraceum? For example, Bogue’s Maai or Masque’s Montecristo?
As for the more delicate flowers that you love (lilac, hyacinth, etc.), I would recommend Puredistance’s Opardu if you haven’t tried it already. A simply astonishing, head-turning opening for the first 20 minutes, though it sadly didn’t continue on my wonky skin throughout. And you may like Puredistance’s Antonio, too, for the galbanum, aldehydes, and other florals. Some of Oriza L. Legrand’s florals might work for you too, like the new civet-y, aldehydic Marrions-Nous, the heliotrope Heliotrope Blanc, and perhaps the Violettes du Czar. Out of curiosity, you’ve probably tried Chanel’s Coromandel, right? If so, do you like it? It has the white chocolate, creamy chai, spicy patchouli, and incense notes that seem to be high on your list.
Thank you so much for your recommendations. Yes, civet is in the love passionately category – I know it might seem strange, but from my list of passionate loves I’m sure you’ve figured I adore vintage fragrances. A couple of years ago I had the opportunity to attend a conference on animalics as a base in perfumery and to smell some vintage fragrances that used them. And oh my, there is just nothing like the depth of those scents! It was only when I smelled vintage Shalimar that I understood the amazing masterpiece it is. Anyway, that said, I am totally against animal cruelty, but I do long for something that would replicate that extra dimension given by animalics.
I had never even heard of hyraceum, but I’ve looked it up and it sounds fascinating. I’ve jumped on your suggestion of Maai and just ordered a sample! On the other hand Montecristo sounds iffy to me after reading your short review as I could not stand it if it has a urinous aspect or cumin. I forgot cumin on my list of notes, but it is a note I have a lot of trouble with and can only stand in small doses… As for Coromandel, well, I’ve tried it many times – on paper – but hesitate to put it on my skin because patchouli is just not my thing – at least not in such large doses.
I’m curious, does civet never turn urinous on your skin? It can on mine and, I think, on many people depending on quantity or treatment. If urinous aspects are an issue, I don’t know what you will think about hyraceum, as it does have that aspect to me. Then again, I think civet can have it too. I suppose we should probably define what exactly and precisely is encompassed by the term “animalics.”
How do you feel about honey, by the way? That can also turn urinous on some skin or at high doses. The wonderful Absolue Pour Le Soir is a warm, slightly animalic scent but not one I can wear in the very hot summers here because it makes the honey go a bit sharp on me and take on a urinous aspect, too.
With regard to patchouli, is it the purple-hued, very sweet, fruity kind (fruitchouli) that is the issue for you, or even the more traditional, brown, spicy kind that has undertones of smoke, tobacco, woodiness, spices, earthiness, coziness, and even chocolate on occasion? If it’s both kinds that you dislike, then, yes, you should stay away from Coromandel. 🙂
Now you’ve made me curious! Does civet turn urinous on me? Goodness, I hope not!!! Anyway, to put my mind at rest, a couple of hours ago I applied some vintage My Sin to one arm and vintage Shalimar to the other – no urinous smell, thank goodness – at least I can’t detect any. I’ve also been wearing Cuir Mauresque all day, and it might be a little bit dirty, but not urinous.
I’m not familiar with Absolue Pour le Soir but I will try it when I get a chance. I haven’t tried that many scents with honey so I can’t really judge how my skin reacts to it.
As for patchouli, I certainly hate fruitchulis – and with a passion! But I’ve also been under the impression that I disliked the other kind of patchouli as well, the one you describe so gorgeously! Again, you’ve piqued my curiosity! I have no patchouli perfumes, but I have a wax sample of Lutens Borneo 1834. I applied a bit a few minutes ago… oh my goodness! It’s just what you describe – the chocolate, the earthiness, the coziness. I think what has made me hesitate with Coromandel is the patchouli along with all the spices – it’s just too overpowering. For example a patchouli I really disliked when I tried it is Portrait of a Lady – it smelled overwhelmingly like a musty cellar for the first half hour or so – although it later quieted down to an inoffensive rose – very strange.
But my tastes are always changing – I would never have thought I would find Borneo 1834 so beautiful – so I will definitely give Coromandel a try.
Oh, and many thanks for the Oriza L. Legrand recommendations. I have a few samples from that house, but none of the three you mentioned. They sound lovely – will definitely try them.
Lilly, I advise caution with regard to Absolue Pour Le Soir (APLS) and you. You may want to read my review first, since it has cumin and I don’t know how low your tolerance level is for it.
As for Patchouli, YAY on piquing your interest and making you possibly reconsider! For Coromandel, I would actually recommend applying it via dab on your skin, because spraying on paper will just make the scent (and the patchouli) BLOOM. Plus, Coromandel is a strong fragrance in general, and even more so for a mere eau de toilette. Dabbing makes a difference as opposed to spraying. And lord knows, how things are on paper are often NOT how they are on skin! I hear so many people realise that with some surprise, but it’s true. The skin can tame some notes, or make them bloom, or do something else entirely — but one never knows until one tries in away from the blasted mouillettes. For me, smelling a fragrance on paper really limits the nuances that I can detect too. I have to put things on my actual skin!
With regard to Portrait of a Lady, my reaction to that fragrance was: UGH. Now, granted, I seem to have tried the reformulated version but that one had nothing but gooey, purple patchouli. The dreaded, loathed fruitchouli, in effect. In your case, I wouldn’t be wholly surprised if it was the combination of the aromachemical Ambroxan (which is in POAL) with the patchouli that did something terrible on your skin. My suggestion is to please not take POAL as representative of what patchouli is supposed to smell like. It isn’t. My God, actual, real, proper patchouli is SOOOOOOOOOOOO much better than the crap note in POAL. Same goes for the terrible fruitchouli versions in things like Coco Noir, most modern Guerlain women’s fragrances, Black Opium, Lola, and almost every mainstream fruity-floral that you can find in Sephora. Horrible, horrible stuff. *shudder*
Great post, made me really think about notes- I love, love, love iris and orris root, but not always. If it’s too dry and musky dusty musty I don’t like it. In fact, I’m not sure there is anything I like no matter how it’s handled. Even my favorite notes can be ruined by the notes that I hate. I also love most green notes, citrus notes, orange, lemon, bergamot. ,
I also love one you hate, violet and violet leaves and green stems and grass scents.
Generally like a lot: rose gardenia, jasmine and ylang, rose, amber, ambergris, spice, incense, sandalwood, cedar, other wood notes. Natural peach and apricot are good, same with apple.
Blackcurrant can be nice, or it can be awful if it’s too sweet in a fragrance. Aldehydes are sometimes ok, depends on how they are used.
Things I always hate- oud, plastic, animalic gunk, mildew, musty dry smells-ugh! And, like the person above, I hate most of all things that smell like blood and the metallic, ferrous smell that blood products have. I’ve had too many surgeries in my life- don’t want anything that smells medicinal, camphorous, bloody, like body parts, like antiseptic, hospital or bathroom cleaners or rotten mildewy stuff like oudh, triple shudders!!!
Thanks for playing, Ricky, and letting me learn more about your tastes. How do you feel about tuberose, since you like gardenia, jasmine, and some of the other big white flowers? Does orange blossom work for you? Heliotrope? In terms of iris, how was SL’s Iris Silver Mist on you? Too stony cold or musty? Have you tried SHL 777’s Khol de Bahrein and, if so, did you like that?
I’m totally with you on the antiseptic (ISO E Super!), but it’s interesting that loathe oud and put it in the same category with antiseptic, medicinal or hospital scents. I’m guessing it is the synthetic oud that is the biggest problem, since the ones in fragrances like Montale (but also some mainstream scents like M7) often come plastered with ISO E Super. That’s often what gives the oud a pink bandaid-type, peppery and/or antiseptic, rubbing-alcohol vibe.
Ha, I’ve learned a lot about the trickiness of notes during the last 8 years, when I followed my parfum passion more systematically – a bit a never say never thing…
1. Heliotrop, almond, tonka bean, dark chocolate, earthy vanilla – all these without sweetness, no sugar please. Vetiver, hesperides, oud,
2. Frankincense, Tolu balsam, suede, soft smoke, cumin, saffron, black tea, labdanum, juniper, iris, whisky, rhum, cognac, herbs, benzoin
3. I don’t really care about fruit notes – some of them will follow in the categories below. Further marine and ozonic notes, because they in usual turne out strange on my skin. Plus ylang-ylang.and tobacco, milky notes
4. I can handle orange flower in the back, not in dominating amounts (catpee effect). The same with patchouli (without the catpee effect though). And in general I need a tender hand and a nose with knowledge for white flowers. The same for roses and honey, plus musk
5. Hevy wood notes, melon, strawberry, carnation, cloves, pepper (both pink and black), cinnamon (strangely, I love it when cooking…), rubber, plastic
6. TUBEROSE (I don’t hate it, I simply get really bed nausea from it – not just in parfum, but friom the real flower too. It simply makes me sick…)
Heh, I knew Tuberose would be in the last category for you! I also knew of your dislike for cloves, but not for carnation. I didn’t realise that citruses would rank so highly. In your Passionate Love category, in fact!
So, marine and ozonic notes are things you’re indifferent to, or not? I got confused because you said they usually turn out strangely on your skin, but you put them in the category where you’re neutral or indifferent to them.
Well, I think I might be “anosmic” to those marine/ozone (salty) notes too 🙂
I can love or hate something I’m able to experience, but in fact I don’t get them, they are not really present on my skin (or turn out something else and rather unappealing). I left out Iso E super crappy too, because I don’t really know how it smells.
As of carnation, I don’t like its soapiness…. 🙁
BTW, I enjoyed your “questionnaire” very much – an excellent idea, thank you ! I filled it in early morning today and kept thinking about it the whole day
Yay, I’m so glad you liked the questions and, even better, that you thought about them the whole day. That’s EXACTLY what I had hoped would happen for a lot of people, because really clarifying one’s feelings about the less obvious notes (ie, not rose, amber, oud, vanilla, etc.) also ends up subconsciously training one’s mind to think about what one’s smelling as one smells it. So, in effect, it helps educate one’s nose and mind together. Or, at least, that was the hope and goal. 😀
Maybe I should be embarrassed, but I can’t stop thinking about these questions (to some extent). I tend not to make love/hate lists or categorize, so this was difficult for me. Afterwards, I thought things like “How did I forget almond (which I like) or hay (which I ADORE)!?” Well, if I had listed every perfume note, the list would have gone on for pages on end!
The bottom line is that I do love all smells. ALL smells. I love the smell of freshly spread manure. I love the smell of stinky cheese and even stinky socks that have been on a clean body. I have even (yes indeed) enjoyed the smell of the laundromat venting its horrible odors on a frigid winter day, and the potato product factory that’s near me when it’s had a “burn day.” I like the smells of hot asphalt on a hot day, sulfur, and skunk. Dog and animal poop? Nope. I have to draw the line somewhere!!
I loathe rose, my favorite note, in perfume, when it’s weak and watery, fake, or simply done poorly. The same with all the notes I adore.
Context is everything. There are hundreds of smells I would not wear on my body that I love and dozens of fragrance notes that I love that, done poorly, I wouldn’t want to smell more than once, never mind wear.
No reason to be embarrassed, I’m enjoying your enthusiasm. Yes, context is everything, and one can like a lot of smells in nature or in daily life but NOT want them in one’s fragrance. That is why the questions were specific to notes in perfumery, as opposed to what aromas people liked in general. 🙂
So, I’m curious, you like all smells but “draw the line” at “dog and animal poop.” Does that mean that human poop is fine? 😉 😀 (I’m teasing you.)
Are we not animals? However, it admit I meant to write “human!”
As I had written, I do love the smell of freshly spread manure (mostly cow), and I really love the smell of sheep poop mixed with the smell of sheep. Now, THAT smell is one I could wear, but I’m not sure anyone else would appreciate it. And then there’s castoreum, which I DO like if used sparingly.
I did get all confused on the issue of “perfume notes” vs. other scents. I get altogether too enthusiastic and go off on tangents. . .such is my mind. Alas, I have trouble reining myself in!!
Beloved Kafka: Love this query!!! I’ll post the answers as soon as I figure them out! What a GREAT QUESTION!!! I’ve never really put my perfume preferences to paper. Should be an interesting journey. Thank you for alloing us to participate! Have a great Day!!! 🙂
Thank you, my dear. I hope you will find it informative in understanding better your perfume tastes, as well as the common strands in fragrances that you love and hate. I think analysing notes on a deeper basis, beyond just the obvious ones, can be informative in general because it trains the mind to think about the details of what one is smelling, instead of just focusing on the big outside bouquet. So, in that way, it helps to hone one’s nose more because one is preparing the mind to smell beyond just the basics. At least, that’s my hope. 🙂
And more on the “context is everything. . .” issue: I just put on some AG Ambre Fetiche, which I adore, but I didn’t put “amber” as a note in my LOVE category because it’s an accord, not a note (as you know).
What do I love? Labdanum (which is there) and vanilla. BUT, vanilla is in my #2 category. . .so is geranium. I realize I adore vanilla, geranium, and cinnamon when they are combined with other notes (especially labadanum). Just drench me with labdanum and call it a day! :-p
And, we’re having yet another snowstorm where I live so I’ve too much time on my hands to think about these things!! Cheers!!!
That’s a very interesing exercise! I’ve been thinking about it for some time, as I noticed that I developped a certain affection to a few notes and became more picky to a few others. For now, my list would look like this:
1. iris, orris root, carrot, chocolate, cacao, boozy notes, patchouli, cold frankincense, myrrh, tuberose, gardenia, lily, rice, oak, coffee
2. lime, violet, hyacinth, carnation, osmanthus, orange blossom, jasmine, frangipani, ylang-ylang, fig, fig leaf, dried fruits, immortelle, hay, tobacco, wheat, galbanum, vanilla, chai/black tea, caramel, milk, honey, papyrus, fir/pine/cypress, sandalwood, vetiver, amber/labdanum, benzoin, opoponax, mastic/lenstique, elemi, suede, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon, clove, anise/licorice, guaiac wood, butter, petrichor,
3. most citrus, apricot, peach, plum, mimosa, lily of the valley, almond, lilac, caraway, bay leaf, ginger, pepper, pink pepper, violet leaf, tomato leaf, ambrette, angelica, artemisia, clean musk, Iso E Super, soap,
4. Most Fruits (when they feel natural, which is not usual),
Coconut (like the oily type a lot, but not fond of suntan lotion or extremely articficial in feeling),
Lavender (like it in Lutens and Rêverie au Jardin a lot, but don’t like in typical men’s cologne),
Rose (like soliflore or woody/patchouli, can’t take it when it’s too sweet like in some oud or berry combo),
Mint (like herbal interpretation or in Nuit Etoilée, don’t like toothpaste mint),
Cumin and Oakmoss (subtle touch would be lovely),
Tonka (don’t like the type in conventional men’s cologne),
Saffron (like it in Safran Troublant a lot, but some interpretation can be too sharp),
Aldehyde (like the mineral type in Laine de Verre, but not fond of the retro type),
Metallic/Sea Salt (depends on the particular composition),
Lotus (when the aquatic aspect is under control),
Oud (like in Midnight Oud, not sure about hardcore or very sweet rose combo),
Leather (love in Cuir Ottoman, Cuir de Lancôme and Cuir d’Iris, struggle with very hardcore/rubbery or too animalic)
5. Green Tea (they just fall apart next to a real cup of Chinese green tea), fruity hard candy, Tiaré (I find it extremely loud), Civet/Castoreum or other very animalic elements (maybe small amount, I’m still learning…), Currant leaf (usually quite sharp), aquatic notes (not very interested),
6. I guess… feces.
I’m so glad that you’ve been intrigued by the question, and have been thinking about it. 🙂
I know precisely what you mean about the sort of saffron that was in Safran Troublant versus the more typical kind. That was a really gorgeous, dessert-like handling of the note. A lot of fragrances with saffron use something called Saffraleine. I don’t know if Bertrand Duchaufour did so for Safran Troublant and just handled it well via other elements, but other saffron fragrance can definitely have a sharpness to them that is, imo, due to the Saffraleine.
I had no idea that iris was so high on your list! And carrot, too. That one is rare for a Passionate Love category. Good for you! Now, I have to ask, have you tried Neela Vermeire’s Mohur in either version? It has a REALLY nice carrot note, in addition to iris, rose, violet, spices, Mysore sandalwood and more. The rose isn’t too sweet, and it’s definitely not jammy; the oud is not significant, hardcore, sharp, or synthetic. If you haven’t tried it, you should. I think you might really like it.
This was an educational process Kafkaesque, thank you. Oke…a brave attempt, with the proviso that one of the most important things I have learned so far in my perfumed travels is that my preferences, likes, dislikes, loves are in flux. So I don’t trust myself (yet) where this list is concerned:
.I Notes I love passionately, sandalwood (I haven’t smelled Mysore I am afraid); Tolu balsam, Peru Balsam, Frankincense (Olibanum), incense, Cardamon, Woods, Amber, Ylang-Ylang, Orange, Orange Blossom, Cedar, Vetiver, Geranium, Benzoin, Bergamot, Honeysuckle, Lily of the Valley, Fig leaf, and …Hamamelis obvioulsy but alas it has never been captured in a perfume.
2. Notes I like a lot; Iris, Dried fruit, Champaca, Fig, Soft leather, Patchouli, Neroli, Plum, Cinnamon, Labdanum, Lemon Balm, Ginger, Litsea, Grape fruit, Frangipani, Mimosa, Osmanthus, Jasmin, Tonka bean, Spicy Notes, Styrax, Myrrh, Opoponax, Cypress, Tabacco, Coffee, Freesia, Honeybush, Nutmeg, Bay leaf, Greens/Grass, Hay, Hyacinth, Citrus, Petitgrain
3. Indifferent: aldehydes, Oud, Tuberose, Salt, Iodine, Iso, Oakmoss, Tea (green and black), Booze
4. Depends how they are handled: Rose (lovely in the garden, alone she often turns sour on me), Water notes, Powder, Musk, Violet, Cumin, Clove, Coriander, Mango, Peach, Apricot, Honey, Coconut, Vanille. Lavender, Camfor, Peppermint, Immortelle, Tiare, Milky notes, Pine, Apple, Pear, Cherry, Narcissus, hazelnut, almond,
5. Dislike: Mushroom, Linden (love on a tree, turns catpee on me), Metallic notes, Melon, Lipstick note
6. Really Dislike Burnt Rubber, Calone, Sour sweat, dirty underwear, blood, Mildew, Sulfur (rotten eggs), Stinky water, Fishmarket.
Very favourite scent, not in a perfume, dog’s paws and ears.
Ps Kafkaesque, if I am missing a note that you think is absolutely worthwhile to discover can you let me know in your reply? Thank you!
I’m glad you gave it a go, Hamamelis, but I first have to say that I would LOVE a fragrance that smelled like His Teutonic Majesty’s paws! So, I know exactly what you mean! Not the ears, but the paws, and I know the exact notes that would help replicate the smell to a degree. In fact, I’ve actually asked two perfumers what they thought about the idea: grass, leather, muskiness (via ambrette seeds), a delicate floralcy (via purple hyacinth), damp earth, and a bit of sweetness with warmth and a touch of urinous civet. God, I would love a fragrance that smelled like my German Overlord!
Er…. back on the real topic: You did a great job of analysing notes, thinking about your tastes, and breaking things down, so you should trust your own abilities more. You’ve clearly come a long way, Hamamelis.
As for notes to explore in the future, Cypriol or Nagamotha is hugely common in woody scents, especially these days and especially in some supposed “oud” fragrances. I’m not keen on it, but it might be worth exploring just to expand your perfume knowledge. One flower I love a lot is Davana which is has the richness of something like Champaca but has a fruity aroma that usually translates as apricots. A deeper apricot than the sort in Osmanthus. I know Apricot is in your “It Depends” category, while Osmanthus is in your Really Like category, so I don’t know how you’d feel about Davana. I suspect it’s going to come down to skin chemistry. Szechuan or chili/pimento peppers are also something that I’ve noticed in a number of fragrances these days. It was a big part of Amouage’s Journey Man, so while you’re in Oman try to sniff that one just to explore the note a little. I don’t think you’ll like the fragrance very much, though. It has a definite fieriness to the opening.
Interesting question, thanks. I’ve been pondering this all day, and some of my answers have rather surprised me:
1. love. incense, amber, hay, tobacco, smoke, leather, lavender (but not thin and nasty lavender), oakmoss, lily, galbanum, tonka beans, frankincense, ambergris.
2. like. narcissus, carnation, lilac, hyacinth, violet, foresty-leafymouldy-earthy-truffly smells, sandalwood, cedar, bitter orange, almond, vetiver, jasmine, tuberose, civet, ISO E Super (sorry!), ink, aldehydes, beeswax, cloves, bergamot, honey.
3. maybe, probably, it depends: iris (not the searing cold of ISM), vanilla (not in a sweet shop cakey eat-me mix but can be true love otherwise), lemon, rose (can go thin and sour on me), apricot, peach, plum, patchouli (not syrupy), nutmeg, yang-ylang, camphor, orange blossom, coffee, bay leaf, ginger, anise, magnolia, oud, cumin, geranium, violet leaf.
4. no thanks: milky tea smells, juniper/gin, rum, cinnamon, gingerbread, white chocolate, fig, blackcurrant, fir/pine, lime, grapefruit, tangerine, banana, cherry, apple, strawberry (huh… not a fruit salad lover you think?) and things i really like in plants but not on my skin: freesia, bluebells (the fragrances are too wan, without that rich peppery undertone you get from a faceful of bluebells), sweet pea, lily of the valley, cherry blossom, apple blossom.
5. no no no no no: passion fruit (oh god, never, ever again), totally-tropical-mixes, laundry clean musks, shampoo smells, melon, pear.
HAHAHAHAHA at “no no no no no: passion fruit (oh god, never, ever again)”!!! 😀 😀 Hilarious. I feel for you, hon, I really do. I know what it is like to be deeply traumatized by a fragrance and by a particular note in specific. (How do you think my ISO E Super issue started? Heh.) Speaking of ISO E Super, you may want to try the source of my nightmare, Ormonde Jayne’s Montabaco as it has that… that… note…. in abundance, but also some other things from your favorable categories. You can look up my review if you want but for convenience now, here are the full list of notes via Fragrantica: orange absolute, bergamot, juniper, clary sage, cardamom, magnolia, hedione, rose, violet, tea notes, tobacco leaf, iso e super, suede, sandalwood, moss, tonka, and ambergris.
Anyway, I’m glad the questions made you think but, most of all, that you were surprised by your answers. My main goal in doing this was to have people learn something about their perfume tastes beyond just the obvious notes that they know they love or hate. 🙂
I have to say that your review is not exactly making me rush out and fight for a sample to test, despite the attractive cluster of notes 🙂 If I get down to London at any point I think I may have to take a wander and sniff at one of the OJ stores to find out.
(as an aside: I recently sent my niece a whole bundle of samples, from cheap and cheerful to treasures. She was feeling down, and I thought it would be fun for her to play with scent. She fell head over heels in love with two of them and really likes another. The syrupy clones her 19 year old peers are wearing? Not a bit of it. The like? Yohji Homme. The true loves? Bois des Iles and L’Heure Bleue. I’m so proud!)
HA, I was trying to be open-minded and … er… generous… about Montabaco for your sake since you said you love ISO E Super a lot. I think there are better ISO E Super creations in the Ormonde Jayne line, like the beautiful Tolu or Ormonde Woman. Even Nawab of Oudh, though that is a very pricy one.
As for your niece, hurrah for sophisticated tastes. Bois des Iles is a superb fragrance, as is L’Heure Bleue.
I tried to do this without reading everyone’s comments (difficult!). I admit that I’m often bad at discerning notes so it is very possible that I might not like something, but in reality I really like it in combination with something else or else I just don’t recognize it very well. My list is pretty short so far : )
Passionately like – amber, sandalwood, woods (can I be any more vague?), narcissus
Like a lot – lemon, lemon blossoms, bergamot, leather, violets, frankincense, ocean/ocean air
Neutral – musk
Depends – tuberose/white flowers, damp forest air, forest trees like pine, eucalyptus, incense, oud
Dislike – rose, tomato leaf, powder, rubber, kerosene, fragrances that make me think of food that may entice me to eat more than I should (chocolate, sugar, cake), bananas, tropical fruit, ISO E
Dislike passionately – can’t think of any
It may be short, my dear, but it’s a start and THIS is the way to really teach your mind to focus on what your nose is smelling. You see, it’s your mind that processes the information sent to it by the nose, so teaching your mind to think about the notes — and not JUST the obvious ones that your mind already processes as a “Love” or “Hate” — is key. It’s all about training to look beyond the basic bouquet and to have your mind ready to absorb the details. One way of doing that is to think about notes other than the ones you’ve already mentally categorized. So, that’s why I think an exercise like this is really helpful. Or at least, I hope it will be, even if it’s down the road. 🙂
If you’re interested and have some time on your hands, what you may want to do with regard to the clumped-together “Wood notes” categories is this: take out the woody fragrances that you love passionately, go to Fragrantica, and check out the notes in each one. Is there a particular sort of wood that is common to all of them, like cedar? You might be surprised to find the common element is something else altogether. Same thing for florals with white flowers, so you can learn to separate out tuberose from say, jasmine. Or you could go through reviews of amber fragrances, to learn how to recognise the labdanum sort from ambergris or the general mixed-amber note that some places just list as “amber” but which is usually a mix of labdanum, benzoin, and vanilla. (Fragrantica often just lists “amber” without always specifying what sort it actually is. And there is a big difference between labdanum amber, ambergris, and the sort of fluffy, benzoin-ish amber accord found in many mainstream fragrances, not to mention all those which really include a synthetic aromachemical instead!)
You may want to look up some of the exercises in my Beginner’s Guide that is linked at the top of every page. Of course, all of this is if you’re interested. No obligation or requirement at all. 🙂 I certainly don’t want you to feel as though note-detection were a chore. lol. Anyway, I hope some of helps a little.
Thank you Kafka – your comments are very helpful. I’ve wanted to spend some time learning notes better, but I am easily distracted by new releases and whatever else may be going on at the time. I am embarrassed to admit that I did buy a study kit awhile back, but have not made the time to actually study it (ugh, my fault) so it is something I want to do. I’ve saved this – and hopefully will be able to compare it at a future date when my ability to detect notes is a little better. Thank you!
You’re very welcome, Sandy. 🙂
#3 Neutral – anise, licorice, black tea, bergamot, iris, carrot, celery, bread, rice, calones, pepper of all types, rosemary, cranberry, nuts except almond which I like a lot. Musk, cade, juniper
#5 – dislike – cumin, indoles, aldeydes, cocoa, marshmallow, raspberry, strawberry, pineapple, aromachemicals, mint, coffee, melon, mango, black patchouli *and* fruitchouli, white musk, dryer sheet
#6 loathe – balsam, rubber, asphalt, chocolate, rubbing alcohol, blackberry, super skank, barnyard, sour milk milky notes, butter, sugar bombs, cherry cough drop cherries, grape cough drop grape
I was interested to see “Balsam” in your Loathe category. I’m curious as to how you define the term, or what you mean by it? You’re referring to things like Tolu or Peru balsams, right? The dark resins often used in the base? The reason why I ask is that a number of fragrances that you love include balsams. Opium, Youth Dew, Bal à Versailles, and several others all have hefty streaks of balsamic notes in their base. So does Chypre Mousse, actually, now that I think of it.
Hmmmm, I don’t know how many varieties of balsam there are but it could be a specific kind that isn’t Peru or Tolu. I don’t know the name of the variety that gives me screaming headaches but I know it’s very sharp and medicinal smelling. Or maybe balsam really is a category #4 for me, not a “truly despise”
1) Frankincense, myrrh, jasmin, orange blossom.
2) Amber (especially labdanum. Although I think this may be in the first category), honey, violet, heliotrope, woods (especially my beloved cedar. I also really like pine), benzoin, spices (cinnamon in particular. And cloves!), dark chocolate, civet (I think), tonka bean, vanilla, leather, smokey notes, tobacco.
3) I’m not sure about this category. I’f I’m indifferent about a note, I’d rather have them in a perfume, so they would fall into the ‘dislike’ category. Therefore, I’m renaming this category the “on-the-fence category”: notes I’m still figuring out whether I like them at all in a fragrance or note. So it’s not exactly the same as the fourth category:
Musk, bergamot, ylang-ylang, fruits (especially plums and peach, orange, blackberry, fig, grapefruit), birch tar, chypre fragrances and oakmoss. Patchouli, tuberose. Tolu balsam. Tea. Oud.
4) Gourmand fragrances, marzipan. All-florals fragrances: I tend to dislike them, especially when they are too watery, but I can enjoy them if it’s centered on beloved notes (for instance, I LOVE Lutens Fleur d’Oranger), vetiver (it better not be too green). Rhum, cognac, wine and champagne I can appreciate if it’s not too overwhelming. Beeswax. Lavender. Milky notes. Medicinal notes, eucalyptus. Pepper.
5) Rose. White musk, aldehyde, mint (although I sometimes like it on other). Citrus. Soap. Overly green fragrances (think sharp and pungent). Aldehyde. Watery fragrances (unless it’s burning hot outside, and even then…). Strawberry *snorts*.
6) ISO Super E, when I can detect it. Anise (it reminds my of those blasted pastis drinks). Gin, vodka.
I’m still figuring out my tastes, so obviously this will be subject to change.
Heh at the snort over strawberry 😀 and the dislike of roses. 😀 I’m curious if you’ve tried Jardins d’Ecrivains’ George? Orange blossom with myrrh, leather, tobacco notes, and some of the others on your list. And for heliotrope with cedar, there is Carner Barcelona’s Tardes, though that has quite a rose note, imo, due to the geranium. That one I’m less sure about for you than the George. I do think you might like Oriza’s heliotrope fragrance, though.
I thought it was interesting about you and Anise. You know, I had the longest difficulty with pastis drinks. I mean, YEARS of disliking Ricard and Ouzo. Then, suddenly, something changed, so it makes it easier when I detect the note in perfumery, but I understand completely how difficult it is to shed the association. There is a stage in Serge Lutens’ La Myrrhe where it smells COMPLETELY like a Ricard pastis with some water in it. Have you encountered that? It’s actually very strange to me how Lutens brought out an anise side to myrrh in general. Anise is not what most people would think of when considering myrrh, but a number of bloggers think myrrh has that undertone in general. For me, La Myrrhe was the only time I encountered it in quite that way. So intense, and so noticeable. In conjunction with the very aldehydic opening, it made La Myrrhe quite a rollercoaster ride for me.
Strawberries in perfume makes me think of kid stuff. I mean, I love eating them, but its smell is usually so poorly recreated. Eh.
I’ve never heard of Jardins d’Ecrivain! Hmmmm, I’ll have to take a sniff at it. Do you know if I can find it at the Jovoy boutique in Paris? I’ve been meaning to pay them a visit. 🙂
As for pastis, it doesn’t help that I can’t drink alcohol. At all. I can take maybe a sip or something and enjoy it, but after that, all flavours are completely drowned in the taste of alcohol, urgh. It’s so frustrating.I can appreciate the smell of some drinks, but pastis is not one of them. So you see, I loathe it in more than one way.
So Ricard AND myrrh? RICARD AND MYRRH? Oh, boy. I’m so torn. Well. I know I’ll still try La Myrrhe, but I’ll definitely proceed with caution. I haven’t been able to come back to the Lutens boutique, as I’ve been incredibly busy lately, but I shall visit it. Soon. 🙂
Your reaction to the news of Ricard and Serge Lutens’ La Myrrhe was priceless. Absolutely hilarious! The all-caps horror… 😀 I’m grinning away.
I can’t remember if Jardins d’Ecrivains is sold at Jovoy. You can look up my review for details and precise sales information, but I know Marie-Antoinette in the Marais has the line, because that is where I bought my own bottle of George. 🙂
Apparently, it is! 🙂 I didn’t know about the Marie Antoinette boutique, I’m bookmarking their website asap. I shall try to visit them soon, too. 😀 God, I have so many places to go, so much stuff to try. Not that I’m complaining, mind you.
George sounds AWESOME! I just read your review. I didn’t realize it was meant to refer to George Sand! What a fantastic woman. I’m giddy with excitement, now. I am grinning! Hopefully, I won’t get the medicinal, mentholated opening though.
I love Marie-Antoinette. It’s my favorite perfume shop in Paris, because it feels like you’ve come to a friend’s cozy parlour to have tea, chat, laugh, and just occasionally spray on fragrances in-between. Antonio is an utterly adorable man who is energetic and filled with life, great warmth, and a true passion for fragrances. He also has a habit of generously giving perfume samples…. He has a wonderfully curated range of lines, too. From Parfums d’Empires to Oriza L. Legrand, Mona di Orio, some Tauers, and so many other brands — all crammed into a cozy space. He probably won’t remember me, but I will always remember him. I truly insist or beg that you go there sometime because both he and the shop itself are SO worth it!!!
I didn’t know it either, that I enjoy iris and carrot that much. 😀 I tried Iris Silver Mist out for fun, but was seriously impressed. Later I tried a few other iris fragrances, and seemed to enjoy most of them, be it rooty or powdery or buttery. It’s my catnip for the moment, I guess. 😛
I didn’t know about Saffraleine, maybe it’s indeed because of this aromachemical. I had thought I didn’t like saffron as a dominant note until I met Safran Troublant. How different interpretations can influence our perception and preferences to certain notes, is really intriguing!
I haven’t yet tried Mohur, but the descripton sounds delicious! ☆ω☆ I’ll sure check it out!
I hope you’ll let me know what you think of Mohur when you do. As for Iris Silver Mist, it’s a revolutionary and utterly avant-garde creation, in my opinion. It’s not to my personal taste as an actual perfume, but it is unquestionably impressive and brilliantly done, so I completely agree with your reaction to it. 🙂
I’m kindof a newbie at this, so I don’t always know the names of what I smell. But I’ll give it a shot.
1. Notes you love passionately: Smoke, incense (the less sweet the better), amber, vetiver.
2. Notes you really like a lot: Wood. I wish I could be more specific about which kind(s), but I don’t know all the names yet. I do know I like oud, cedar, pine, fir. Aldehydes. Oakmoss. Peach. Orange. Lemon. Grapefruit. Honeysuckle. Honey. Pepper (any kind). Cumin (which I read as cumin, not BO). Lavender. Juniper. Musk.
3. Neutral notes: Heh, now you’re asking me to think about something that, by definition, I don’t think about 🙂 I can’t really say. Lots of white florals seem to fall into this bin for me.
4. Notes that depend: Rose, patchouli, jasmine. I flat out adore the jasmine that appears for only a moment at the beginning of CBIHP Where We Are There Is No Here, but most jasmines — dislike. I think I’m poisoned by the star jasmine that is omnipresent here in California, which is icky sweet. Myrrh.
5. Notes you dislike: Vanilla. Iris. Ambergris and castoreum, both of which explode off my skin like a nuclear mushroom cloud, and overwhelm any other part of the perfume. Tomato leaf. Violet / violet leaf. Laundry fresh.
6. Notes that you hate passionately: “Powdery”. “Sweet”. Cocoa. Chemical Bath. Green tea.
7. Notes I *really* want to like, but am convinced that I just haven’t yet found the right one yet: Tobacco (often too sweet). Mysore sandalwood (too sharp). Leather.
8. Notes I can’t find any interest in trying: Cannabis — I grew up in the 70’s. Been There, Done That, No Need To Smell Like That Again.
Thank you for playing, Pixel, and for coming up with a list even if you’re not feeling confident about your ability to single out notes. For a “newbie,” I think you did very well! 🙂 With regarding tobacco fragrances and finding most to be too sweet thus far, have you tried Serge Lutens’ Chergui? If that didn’t work for you, there is La Via del Profumo’s Tabac which is a dry tobacco, much like the leaves being put out in the sun as opposed to the sweeter, fruity sort of pipe tobacco that is in many fragrances. Chergui is not pipe tobacco, either, and has hay, but it may skew a wee bit sweet on some skin because of the other notes in the base.
In terms of dry, cool incense and/or smoke, you may want to give Naomi Goodsir’s Bois d’Ascece a sniff, especially as it has some woods, too. It’s an austere, almost bone-dry scent focused on campfire smoke. Perhaps that would suit you since you don’t like sweet fragrances. 🙂
I have tried Chergui, and it was great up until the dry down, which was (you guessed it) a bit too sweet for me. There were tobacco farms around the town where I grew up… perhaps LVdP’s Tabac will mesh better with those scent memories. Funny, I have fond memories of my uncle’s pipe smoke, I just don’t like it on ME.
And I will try Bois D’Ascece too. Thanks!
I decided that if I keep dithering over my list, I will never get it posted. I read your list and some comments, then created my own 1st draft list, moved things around, added more notes and then finally looked at my list from last year. Well, one particular note FELL FROM GRACE — orange blossom…from LOVE to It Depends. I blame Arabian OUd Ghroob and I think my infatuation for orange blossom was how it was used in L’AP Seville a l’Aube. My LOVE list is also now more exclusive than before.
In any case, here goes:
1. Love passionately – iris, carnation, heliotrope, orris, vanilla
2. Really like a lot – amber, benzoin, coumarin, labdanum (except “goaty”), tonka bean, tobacco (pipe), leather (except barnyard), suede, birch tar, hay, resins, caramel, chocolate / cocoa, coffee, tea, black currant / cassis, cherry, grapefruit, lemon, lime, orange, plum, rhubarb, tomato leaf, gardenia, immortelle, linden, narcissus, neroli, orchid, peony, tiare, fir, pine, carrot (except boiled), lemon verbena, grass, honey, beeswax, ginger, saffron, root beer, cognac
3. Neither like or dislike – aldehydes, almond, bergamot, galbanum, musk, oakmoss, geranium, hyacinth, osmanthus, ylang-ylang, yuzu, black pepper, pink pepper, licorice, flour, paper, rice, salt, apricot, mango, pumpkin, Iso e-super
4. Depends – ambergris, civet, patchouli, apple, fig, melon, peach, pear, strawberry, cucumber, olive, mushroom, most flowers (honeysuckle, jasmine [except the indolic type], lavender, lily, magnolia, mimosa, orange blossom, rose, sampaquita, tuberose, violet), frankincense, myrrh, oppoponax, cedar, oud/agarwood, sandalwood, other woody notes, earthy notes, cardamom, mint, rosemary, sage, vetiver, bubble gum, brandy, gin, rum, baby powder, band-aid, rubber, smoke, turned soil
5. Really (or generally) dislike – banana, coconut, celery, indolic jasmine, cinnamon, fatty butter, gasoline, petroleum, lipstick,
6. Hate with the searing passion of a thousand burning suns – LOTV (although I like its treatment in Ubar), cumin, calone, marine notes, seaweed, cistus, blue cheese, blood, barnyard leather, cement, musty, wet basement, lead, metal, goaty labdanum, boiled carrots, urinous notes
Heh at the Orange Blossom “falling from grace” and the reason therefor. *grin* I think it’s fascinating how your list has changed from 2013 when you first answered. For one thing, it’s a lot more detailed now. For another, you’re more particular or, as you put it, “exclusive” about your absolute favorite notes. But WOW, that one has shrunk ENORMOUSLY!!!
A few comments on various entries. First, “cistus” (Passionately Hate) is the same as labdanum (Really Like, unless it’s goaty). 🙂 Second, bubble gum is in the “It Depends” category? I didn’t expect that. Also, I had no idea that cinnamon was such a negative note for you. Finally, “lipstick” is a “Really Dislike” note??! But orris root is in your “Passionately Love” category and orris root often smells of lipstick (or violet-scented lipstick)!! Personally, I think your trauma at the hands of Malle’s Lipstick Rose is behind this. LOL. (For what it’s worth, I share in the trauma, though it’s mostly because of the fragrances’s heavily synthetic nature.) That said, I do think you might like the new LM Parfums’ Epine Mortelle. It’s not out in NY yet, but you should read my review because I think you might find the note combinations and gourmand qualities intriguing.
Oh no. I have to move a few things around! Reading your detailed reviews helped me get a little bit more precise. Plus I’m one year older as a perfume enthusiast 🙂
Good call on Cinnamon — it should be It Depends. And I probably meant orris butter or just plain orris. I am starting to tease out the lipstick scent and thinking that the lipstick is more in the background than in your face (e.g. Cuir Cannage has some lipstick scent and it doesn’t bother me…even Atelier Cologne Silver Iris which I wore today has that lipstick vibe as well and I LOVE Silver Iris.).
As to cistus, I thought that was the unwashed hair smell (shudder) and perhaps that’s called something else and not cistus.
Bubblegum — CdG Red Carnation smells like bubblegum and I love it. There’s a LUSH scent that smells like it too – the Smell of Freedom I think but it’s not handy right now for me to go sniff.
LM Epine Mortelle sounds fantastic! I imagine that OsswaldNYC would have it. I’m due to have a sniffa with dear Daisy, no date set yet as it’s just crazy at work!
It’s definitely Costus Root that you hate and were thinking of. Beyond a doubt. lol. 🙂 As for Epine Mortelle, as I said, no, it is not in NY yet. Osswald’s does not have it yet. They will eventually or soon, but they don’t right as of right now because I asked a few days ago. Given your hectic schedule at the moment, by the time you come up for air and can visit with Daisy, things may have changed. I really want you to try it, though!
I would’ve replied earlier, but I ended up with a severe cold that put me in bed until early today. I’ve managed to put together a list.
1. Mysore sandalwood, labdanum amber, ambergris, tobacco, leather, suede, tolu balsam, peru balsam, benzoin, styrax, rum, whiskey, cognac, rose(not soliflore), civet, castoreum, oakmoss, hyraceum, incense, pine/conifer
2. Oud, patchouli, carnation, birch tar, cade, cashmeran wood, coumarin, tonkin beans, orange blossom, saffron, apricots, plums, opoponax, cloves, cumin, cardamom, tuberose, ylang, absinthe
3. Apples, pear, black cherries, lilies, vetiver, ginger, black pepper, bergamot, cocoa powder, chocolate, jasmine, lilac,
4. Anise/fennel, geranium, lavender, lemon, ambrette seed, aldehydes, mineral notes, hot pepper, costus root, violet leaf
5. Peppermint, black licorice, watermelon, gardenia, baby powder, pineapple, grapefruit, cucumber, gasoline, tar, lime, toffee, grape jellies, raspberries, strawberries
6. White musk, fabric softener, bubble gum, laundry detergent, shampoos, fecal, urine, musty
I’m sure I missed a few as I am still learning!! 🙂 Now I need to make my way thru your latest reviews….
OCD alert: champagne= champaca
tonkin beans= tonka
Also, I forgot ISO E Super and calone; aquatic notes for #6. As for the other aromachemicals-I’m not sure what they smell like.
One interesting thing to note is that I’ve had only one allergic reaction to an edt, Joop homme, that when sprayed on my skin caused me to break out in hives! Plus gave me a headache.
First, I’m glad to hear you’re feeling better. Second, given how much you LOVE roses, I don’t think you meant to say that you love roses that aren’t soliflores. [“rose(not soliflore)”] But I did know what you meant. What was interesting to me were the notes you listed for “It Depends” and “Really Dislike” categories in #4 and #5. We’ve never talked about the grey-zone notes for you, and rarely about things that you dislike.
What was also interesting to me was being that you don’t like tar notes, when you list leather and birch in the positive categories. Birch is often a key way of recreating a “leather” aroma, but it’s often birch tar. Does birch not have a tarry nuance or undertone to your nose and on your skin? The next time you try a leather fragrance with birch, you may want to sniff deeply, close your eyes and focus, because you may be surprised.
Thanks Kafka! I’m feeling much better, now if old Mother Nature would kindly send warmer weather my way..the windchill is about 7 bloody degrees!!!
Anyway, my original list did include tarry notes. I knew I forgot an important note. Sorry for the confusion with rose/soliflore. I had a bit of trouble with #4 & #5, particularly #4. If you had asked me to list Love, Like, and Hate- that would have been simple. It’s those more nebulous(to my nose) notes that still elude me. Lol I had fun doing this. Very cool. Thank you. 🙂
You didn’t forget to include tar, Don. 🙂 You just included it in a negative category instead of a positive one. But never mind, you just rest up and stay WARM!!
Oh boy, where has my brain
gone?? I’ve got so much going on. Ok. I’m under a pile of blankets;cozy and warm. 🙂
Heh. You Evil Scent Twin, you. 😉
1. Tuberose, rose, narcissus, galbanum, green notes.
2. Aldehydes, jasmine sambac, gardenia, spices other than cumin, medicinal notes (band-aid oud, menthol, camphor), grapefruit, lime, blackcurrant, benzoin, tonka bean, myrrh, frankincense, juniper berry, pink pepper, peony, lilac, warm “skin” musk, styrax, violet, lily.
3. Freesia, the generally-described “woody notes,” citrus notes including bergamot, sandalwood, anise/licorice, vanilla, cedar, violet leaf, tobacco, iris/orris root, alcoholic notes other than gin/juniper, which I like. I don’t mind most fruit notes, although berries tend to be too sweet for me. I don’t even mind the dreaded “shampoo” accord. I probably wouldn’t choose to buy it, but I can tolerate light-fruity-floral “shampoo” far better than I can “soapy.” That said, aldehydes don’t smell like soap to me. Orange blossom frequently does.
4. Vetiver, orange blossom, jasmine grandiflorum, cumin, and (you knew this was coming) patchouli. Hay, carnation, hyacinth, almond, heliotrope. Done right, I really enjoy the last five, but often something goes wrong with them. The first five are far more often problematic.
The patchouli issue gets its own paragraph. If you’d asked me this six or seven years ago, I’d have stuck it in the burning-hatred category because I hated it so much. Having sought out some essential oils and smelled more scents with patch in them, I’ve been able to narrow down to the type of patchouli used. There seem to be three major effects that patchouli can produce, and I actually like one of them. The modern “clean” heart note patchouli, which is now in lots of mainstream fragrances – it forms a big part of Coco Mademoiselle – I tend to find a little bare and screechy, but if the florals are good enough I can tolerate it. Traditional patchouli smells brown and dusty to me, dirty not in the sense of outdoor dirt but in the sense of uncleanliness. Musty-dirty-dusty, I hates that stuff. I mean, I hates it. Thief! Baggins! We hates it forever! What I do like? I have a bit of 20-year-old patchouli EO that smells wonderful – a brown-tinged olivey green sort of smell, medicinal and pungent and very, very smooth. Sometimes it can smell a little sweet, too, but in a crushed-leaf way. That stuff I like, and I especially like it combined with rose. I still haven’t wrapped my head around “spicy” patchouli because I think the stuff you like is what I would call “earthy, dusty and dirty.” It’s not a head-shop reference for me personally; I was a sheltered child of the small-town South, and I still have no idea what marijuana smells like.
5. Birch tar, lavender, geranium, elemi chocolate or cocoa notes. Play-Doh accord. I don’t LIKE Calone or white musk, but I don’t recoil from them as I would the stuff on my Searing Hatred list.
6. Clary sage, tolu and peru balsams, dusty patchouli, Karanal, metallic or bloody notes, cooked meat smells. It may be guaiac wood that can go very sharp and acrid on me, the way that wet wood ashes smell, and I hate that. Perfumery linden does not smell like the blossoms to me; instead it smells like toilet cleanser, very harsh and unpleasant. But Guaranteed Mals Repellant consists of a combination of heavy proportions of balsamic notes plus that dusty patchouli, a la Tabu, Youth Dew, Opium, and Obsession. I despise those. Instant nausea at the overwhelming vileness.
Whoops. Fig leaf goes in Category 5, maybe overlapping with No. 6. (shudder) Fig fruit I am indifferent to (No. 3).
Fascinating about the rare patchouli exception to your usual feelings about the note, Mals! I do agree with you on the modern, “clean” version in most mainstream fragrances feeling “a little bare and screechy,” though I’ve found that supposed “patchouli” usually manifests itself as the ghastly fruitchouli. (Refined and cleaned up to the point that it skews purple in hue, and it’s always gooey sweet with a scent profile that is primarily fruited. It has little to do with actual, real, original patchouli, as I see it.)
We have more of an overlap in the Really Like category than I had expected, though it’s a highly relative thing as we are indeed “Evil Scent Twins.” 😀 😉 What surprised me, though, was to see “band-aid oud” in that category. First, I would NEVER have associated you with oud! Second, that “band-aid” note is commonly the medicinal, antiseptic aspect of ISO E Super(crappy). I think you may like ISO E Super, woman! lol
What surprised me most of all is that Styrax is in your Really Like list but its siblings — all milder, less tarry, less smoky, less dark balsamic resins than styrax– are in your Passionately Hate category. Are you sure about Styrax?
The “band-aid” stuff lasts less than 10 minutes on me, right at the beginning of so-called “oud” scents (Montale, By Kilian, and… um… something else I can’t remember). Then it’s gone. Poof. I might not be so happy with it if it persisted.
I listed styrax because it’s in several fragrances I really enjoy, and which don’t seem to have the tolu/peru balsams (incidentally? I have a sample of peru balsam on its own that I don’t LIKE but which doesn’t actually trouble me) too: Cuir de Lancome, Dior Cuir Cannage, Memoir Woman, Coty Chypre (the old stuff, not the 80s rerelease), Balenciaga Rumba, Le Labo Patchouli 24 (YEAH, I got suckered into trying that one). So maybe I’m wrong about styrax, or maybe it’s a question of dosage.
I mean, styrax does smell smoky to me… but it doesn’t have that OMG I’M GOING TO HORK sweet, inedible, gooey-musty effect that the other balsams do. Gooey and musty don’t sound like they go together, but somehow that’s how the other balsams strike me, and it’s just instantaneous revulsion for me.
I think I like opoponax, though.
Interesting, especially about the opoponax (aka myrrh). Does myrrh never go musty or dusty on you? It frequently does on me, hence its inclusion in the “It Depends” category on my list.
I’m not sure-for-sure. In my memory, opoponax smells different than myrrh, but I don’t know that I’ve smelled a great deal of opoponax-heavy scents. And I haven’t smelled it on its own, either. But at least two of my all-time favorites contain it (Le Temps d’une Fete and vintage Emeraude).
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