The scent hit you with the force of a tornado from the moment you pushed open the door. Even at the very threshold of our classroom, you were plunged into a maelstrom of aromas. Sparkling citruses danced a brisk Foxtrot with green herbs; dark spices intertwined in a slithering tango with lush floralcy; ripples of golden warmth ran over a hint of desert dustiness here or a whisper of geranium there — they twisted and turned in the air, alone and together, a multitude of invisible forces spinning out to touch you, to suffuse your body, to stampede up your nose with the force of an invading armada before quickly flittering away. A wave of woods, both spicy and aromatic, vibrated in the air, set at a lower frequency than the rest, but caressing you nevertheless.
The molecules may have been invisible, but they carried as much weight, heft, and impact as anything solid in the classroom. They felt like an introduction to the lesson we’d be learning, a welcoming committee or advance guard that enveloped our senses far before we ever sat at our tables. It’s a testament to the sheer force and intensity of concentrated essential oils that the scent maelstrom had somehow managed to escape from the hundred of closed bottles in that room, transforming the very air around them into a tantalizing promise of things to come.
The classroom itself was the ultimate promise and tease. A medium-sized suite, it had a brick fireplace and chimney at one end and a small kitchenette to the side. Boxes and boxes lined the walls in all directions, each filled with additional perfume essences, jars of animalics, chunks of resinoids, incense-burning materials, and further treasures that AbdesSalaam would carefully unveil during the course.
In the center of the room, five wooden tables were placed at angles to each other, each covered with a portable wooden organ consisting of five rows. The tables held two sets of six, small, brightly coloured plastic clips to hold mouillettes (or paper scent strips), along with 2 large notebooks, scissors, a stapler, a Scotch tape dispenser, labels, a metal container filled with beige wooden strips for perfume sampling, and a booklet of finer, higher-quality, white mouillettes. Each of those was honed into a pointy, triangular end intended to fit inside the small aperture of an essential oil dropper.
It was the organ, however, which commanded attention. There were five rows, their contents organized by type in the way that made the most sense for AbdesSalaam, though he repeatedly emphasized that the method is an individual choice, not a rule set in stone, because each perfumer sorts things in the way that best works for them. In our case, the very top row was for spices. The second row was for flowers, though technically, the floral bottles began at the very far end of the first row with Broom. Most of the core, mainstay florals were there, along with a few unexpected entries like “Violet Leaf,” or the citrusy Neroli in lieu of orange blossom. The end of the second row lead into the Woods, which continued onto the left side of third row, before transitioning into Resins at the right-hand side. The same sort of fluid transition occurred in the fourth row where the rest of the Resins (Peru Balsam and styrax) segued into herbs like Mint, Palmarosa, Clary Sage, and Rosemary. The final, fifth, and bottom row was split between “Specials” on the left (Hay absolute, Coffee, Calamus, Valerian, etc.) before leading into the citruses. If something was missing that you were curious about (like Helichyrsum or Immortelle Absolute, in my case), all you had to do was text AbdesSalaam on WhatsApp, and he would bring it for you the next day.
AbdesSalaam strongly believes in the value of having a portable organ, and the artistic benefits of mobility. He thinks perfumers should just be able to pick and go, and to take their materials to places for new sources of inspiration. He has a whole blog post on how to make (or have a carpenter make) a portable organ that you can cover, fit into your suitcase, and travel with. (A YouTube video giving more technical details on making an organ is linked or shared within.)
Simplicity is a virtue in his book, and nimbleness goes along with that because, for AbdesSalaam, the whole world is a source of inspiration for a perfumer. Or, rather, it should be. He believes you should have the convenience, agility, and freedom of having your materials wherever you go, free to turn to them to make perfume when inspiration strikes you or, equally important in his book, to be able to share the beauty of natural perfumery with those around you (and to indoctrinate or teach them the love of scent).
AbdesSalaam’s personal organ may be portable and pared down to the “essentials” with about 144 ingredients, but it still left me quite awed when looking at it up close. It was far bigger than our own “mini” ones, so much so that I couldn’t fit even all the rows into a single shot. Here is a small portion of AbdesSalaam’s organ:
The organ beckoned with the lure of a siren, but AbdesSalaam’s lesson that day was on “learning how to smell.” It was not going to be about how to identify specific notes, perhaps because AbdesSalaam believes smell detection is a personal thing, that “you smell with your mind,” and the sum total of your past experiences, and your individual olfactory memories, as well as your cultural and ingrained scent heritage. (See, Part I for AbdesSalaam’s theories and philosophy.) What he wanted us to learn now was a qualitative approach on a technical basis, and the ultimate key to good perfume-making: “The quality of your perfumes depends on the quality of your ingredients.”
Recognizing good and bad quality in your materials can teach you the differences in scent, its layers, and its nuances but, really, how do you recognize quality to begin with? The way that AbdesSalaam showed us was to compare grades of the same distilled material, thereby teaching us to recognize the very best quality or type around. Some of you may be asking what exactly is distillation to start with? Well, basically, you take a massive quantity of some raw material, say, a ton of flowers, and force a small amount of essential oil out of it, either by way of steam or water. I’ll go more into that if I cover the class Distillation day, but here is a photo of a chart in Julia Lawless‘ book (see Part I of the blog series) on the various methods of extracting different sorts of aromatic products, followed by one diagram I found online that breaks down the distillation process in an easy manner:
Within each distillation, there are grades. Steffen Arctander, the author of the ultimate bible on perfume materials, Perfume and Flavor Materials of Natural Origin, explains a bit further:
Distillation is carried out in rather small stills since the flower material would suffer considerably by the weight and pressure of a heavy charge of flowers. The distillation of the oil (or, the collection of condensate) is usually interrupted, the first distillate being collected separately, and then a second distillate being collected over a longer period. Finally, a third distillate is collected over a period of 24 hours or evermore.
The first batch (or First Distillate) refers to the immediate output of essential oil that is released or put out in the first hour, while Second Distillation is the yield later on, when the drip has slowed down. The First Distillate yields the most concentrated burst of oil. I may have my figures off by a percentage or two, but I think it’s something like a 40% output. Subsequent batches would have a lesser amount of collected “condensate” or oil, and therefore be weaker in nature.
At this point, AbdesSalaam brought out a stack of those finely honed, needle-tipped paper strips or mouillettes that I had mentioned earlier, and carefully tucked the ends of the stack into a bottle. He let only a small amount of oil cover the paper, the length of a long hyphen (–) at the very most. The oil spread slowly, seeping upward, but not a lot is needed. AbdesSalaam handed each of us a strip, and told us to write “Ylang #1” on it. Then, he repeated the process with another stock of strips and another bottle. He told us to label this strip “Ylang #2.”
Throughout this time, AbdesSalaam continuously emphasized that one must ensure that the amounts on all mouillettes that we use for comparative purposes are equal. This is critical in maintaining a sort of scientific consistency and baseline, because how can you compare how something that smells if one strip has three times more material than the other? If one has a speck of oil comparable to a long hyphen in length, while the other has enough to span even a quarter of an inch (which Salaam says is far, far too much), then the smaller amount will obviously seem different, possibly inferior or weaker.
Once the two grades of ylang-ylang had been handed out, AbdesSalaam asked us to sniff each in turn, and also told us how to sniff. He said that one should not put the strip right up to one’s nose, touching the nostrils, and thereby possibly leaving traces of the oil on them or on the skin. Instead, he said we should hold the strip about 1.5 to 2 inches away, sometimes running it horizontally across in the air, and occasionally twirling the strip away from the nose (as if to briefly clear the senses) before bringing it back for another sniff. He wanted us to do this with each strip (which he suggested taping or stapling together at 120 degree angles to form a very wide “V” shape for ease in twirling and sniffing), then to give our impressions.
Ylang #1 was SPECTACULAR! Granted, I’ve always liked ylang-ylang to begin with, but, from the very first sniff, Ylang #1 was practically the definition of “heady” and, for me, “intoxicating” as well. Its scent was heavy, deep, and thick with bold, utterly narcotic floralcy. It oozed rich, buttery custard and sweetness, laced with spiciness and, later on, with that tell-tale banana undertone that I think all good ylang-ylang has.
Ylang #2 felt like a pale shadow in comparison. The same aromas were there, but they were weaker, thinner, less complex, and less deep. The custardy and buttery qualities were the faintest dabs in the far background. However, AbdesSalaam said that, over time, the differences between the two would not be so noticeable but, to me, there was consistently a huge gap between the two and I always preferred Ylang #1.
I mentioned something to that effect a while later to AbdesSalaam who merely smiled, walked over to a table in the corner of the room, and then returned to spray me from a mysterious bottle. I took a sniff, and reeled back in amazed delight. Holy Mother of God, what was this amazing perfume?! A quick burst of cognac booziness was immediately followed by waves of lush, sensuous, and heavy ylang-ylang, rapturously heady in its golden richness. Floral sweetness vied with balsamic spiciness and custardy smoothness, while vanilla ran through its base like a thick river, underscoring the ylang-ylang’s innate custardy aromas. For a brief moment, the black tang of very indolic jasmine danced at the edges next to something vaguely woody, but both disappeared quickly. My reaction and the look on my face must have been a little like the infamous Meg Ryan diner scene in “When Harry Met Sally” (you know which one!) because my classmate and table partner, Manuel, took one look at me and turned to Salaam. “I’d like to try some, please!” One sniff later, he closed his eyes raptly to murmur “Ohhhhh!” before opening them wide to say, “Fabulous!”
It was Tasneem (also known as “Tasnim“), a ylang-ylang soliflore that has rapidly become one of my favorite AbdesSalaam creations. It’s far from being a complicated scent, but soliflores almost never are. Their very definition involves the showcasing of one central note, using everything else as a background chosen to subtly amplify, accentuate, and further glorify the star element. And this ylang soliflore may be the best one I have ever smelt, to the point that is slowly pushing aside the glorious, more complex Tawaf out of first place as my favorite AbdesSalaam scent. It is very much like a floral equivalent of a “comfort scent,” those simple, easy, frequently sweet (and for most people, usually gourmand) fragrances that feel like your favorite cashmere sweater. (In comparison, I think Tawaf would very much be your hottest, sexiest, or slinkiest outfit for a night out or for a date.)
I may review Tasneem in far greater detail once this blog series is over, along with five other AbdesSalaam fragrances that caught my attention during the class, but I have to say this now: if you are a fan of hardcore ylang-ylang fragrances, especially those with some sweetness and vanilla in them, then you should order a sample immediately. Tasneem is like falling into a bath of golden, buttery, spicy, floral custard that oozes narcotic indolence and snuggly, sweet comfort through every pore. I find it so addictive! (For full details on pricing, sample options, and nutshell blurbs on the other 5 fragrances that intrigued me, see the end of this post.)
The kicker was a surprise: Tasneem is made with Ylang #2! Not the spectacular Ylang #1, but the one I had curled my lip at with disdain a short while before. I almost felt like apologising to poor Ylang #2 for my criticism (though I still wonder obsessively about what Tasneem would be like with the #1). Still, the lesson that Tasneem represented was, in part, that the differences between the very top grades of a distilled oil really aren’t so enormous at the end if the quality is there. That issue of quality is linked, in turn, to the suppliers that you use to obtain your materials. (On the last day, Salaam had us compare different grades of materials from suppliers to further underscore this lesson on quality.) According to Salaam, some suppliers try to cheat you, claiming their oil is of a better quality or grade than it actually is, so he thinks it’s essential to try the very top grade and highest quality in order to teach your nose to spot inferior products. Otherwise, your products will suffer because, again, “the quality of your perfumes depends on the quality of your ingredients.”
In general, the age of an essential oil makes a difference to its scent. That is particularly true for woods. For example, a 5-year-old sandalwood will be better than an oil that was only distilled 2 years before. Like wine, the oil deepens, recomposing over time to reflect more facets and layers. However, there is an exception to the “older is better” rule: citruses. They are bolder, richer, and deeper initially, then fade over time or turn. They simply don’t keep.
We learnt this lesson for ourselves firsthand when AbdesSalaam did another two-strip comparative test, this time for lemon. Regular readers know that I’m not particularly enamoured of citrus notes or fragrances, but AbdesSalaam’s Lemon #1 was simply amazing. I actually wrote that word in all-caps in my notes, followed by two exclamation marks — and I think that says something coming from someone like me. It was a brilliant and sparkling bomb of zingy, zesty lemon that made me think of an explosively intense lemon sherbet, only the concentrated depths of this “sherbet” had a surprising lift to it. In contrast, Lemon #2 was practically flat and pale. It was not only a shadow of Lemon #1, but almost translucent in both feel and body, comparatively speaking. As it turns out, Lemon #1 was 6 months old, distilled just this February, while Lemon #2 was 6 years old. Bottom line, for citruses, younger is definitely better.
After this, AbdesSalaam moved onto incense to teach us the difference between the Omani and Somali varieties. He said that, in general, Somali frankincense turns into a liquid when burned, then evaporates completely leaving nothing left behind. It initially smells good but then turns black and smells “bad.” In contrast, Omani frankincense never turns into a liquid, always remains solid, and never takes on a harshly burnt odor when burned. The only thing that changes is its colour, its milky paleness turning first yellow, then brown, then black, but it never smells charred or unpleasant.
AbdesSalaam did the two-strip comparison test again, and I have to say that I recoiled at the Somali frankincense essential oil. It was harsh, excessively soapy, with all the woody, musty, and dusty church aromas that I usually find with myrrh in blended, semi-synthetic, finished perfumery. This Somali incense oil was pure Catholic High Mass, liturgical, Avignon-style incense, under a cover of soap and a blanket of dustiness, then concentrated to the umpteenth degree. Anyone who’s read this blog for any amount of time knows my loathing for soapiness and my unease with Avignon-style, High Church scents. So, I grimaced with every whiff of Strip #1, and did so whenever I smelt the paper for the next three days because this damn thing simply would not die. It just went on and on, oozing Vatican liturgies, but growing harsher by the day.
I know a huge chunk of my regular readers are hardcore incense fans, adoring every dusty atom that is exuded, so I humbly ask you to forgive me for my barbarism and Neanderthal lack of appreciation. Mea Culpa. You would have loved this part of the course and, in fact, I thought of about seven of you in particular because your eyes would have rolled back in ecstasy at Strip #2 with its high-grade, Omani frankincense oil. It would have been your own Meg Ryan/Sally moment.
Strip #2 was very different, and the best way I can describe it is: Cate Blanchett in a grey Armani Privé haute couture dress (versus a Hell’s Angel biker wearing leather and Doc Martens boots that he uses to stomp you with). No wonder Amouage used to stick to Omani incense, choosing the “Silver” variety for some of their most famous creations and attars. (Now, the incense notes in some of their scents definitely feel synthetic.) Here, AbdesSalaam’s Omani oil was fluid and smooth, with a momentary touch of sweetness at the opening, instead of being abrasively pungent and aggressive. Strip #2 felt like a refined, quieter, and gentler take on High Mass where the altar boys are clad in streamlined soft grey, not blindingly soapy white. The degree of dust was much less, while the musty ancientness was milder. After a few minutes, the Omani strip bloomed in strength, and started to reflect additional facets. It took on a strongly lemony top, followed by aromatic cypress, green, and resinously woody layers. There were hardly any facets like that in the Somali incense. Instead, it began to manifest a profoundly tarry quality, in addition to a surprising medicinal touch. However, it had enormous longevity, lasting for days in ever harsher form on the strip. The scent of the Omani oil, in contrast, disappeared from the strip by the next morning.
To me, the most fascinating thing about Omani incense is the trees it comes from, namely those in Salalah in the Dhofar region of Oman. Salalah is considered to have the best incense of all, and its trees have a really surprising “skin” that covers their branches in flaps. AbdesSalaam showed us photos from a two-part Basenotes report he made after taking a trip to Oman with Trygve, the owner of Enfleurage, an essential oil boutique in New York. Trygve apparently specializes in high-end incense, and spends a lot of time in Oman. She showed AbdesSalaam around in 2011 or so, and you can read his report on Basenotes. (Part One and Part Two.) There are some lovely photos in Part One, and AbdesSalaam kindly sent all the ones of the trees for me to share with you, plus one or two extras not shown on Basenotes. (Click on each photo to open in a new window in full size.)
After the incense, AbdesSalaam turned his attention to the issue of descriptions. He said that it is easy to determine whether you like or dislike something, but when trying to describe what it actually smells like, we are often driven by memories and a sense of location in our attempts to give words to a scent. He then had us smell a few essences and asked us to describe them. Often, he gave his own description at the end. Here are a few examples of what we tried, and how we tried to describe their aroma:
Valerian: God, I thought this one was hideous, and I didn’t enjoy it one bit, even though I was the one to choose it. It opened with piney and eucalyptus-like notes that quickly turned goaty, leathery, fecal, and musky (as well as musky, unwashed goat hair). After that, I found it heavily redolent of a barnyard filled with goat droppings and stinky, aged, fermented cheese. I can handle true, authentic Middle Eastern oud (especially the Indian Soufy kind) which often manifests some cheesy and barnyard aromas, and I love smelly French cheese as well, but I recoiled from the Valerian more and more as it developed. (I think it was the goaty aspect.) AbdesSalaam’s description: “dirty, old socks.” Like the sort of stinky socks that have sat untouched at the bottom of a gym bag for too long.
Broom: Everyone in the group loved this one. It opened with sweetness and honey, followed by nuances of hay and chamomile flowers. After a while, it developed a sort of green touch to its floralcy that made me think of walking through a canyon with wild flowers and wild herbs. There was even a whisper of a sage-like note to me, but AbdesSalaam thought it smelled “buttery” after 10 minutes, while Matthew detected osmanthus and Manuel thought it resembled apricots.
Blackcurrant: I thought the oil opened with tart tanginess, similar to cassis and passionfruit, with a touch of berry-like sweetness. Zenobie, however, thought that it smelt like licorice. After 3 or 4 minutes, the bouquet shifted dramatically, turning sharp, then sour, before ending up as urinous. I thought it smelled like cat pee, to be precise. Salaam’s description: “mouse urine.”
One thing I should note is that — just as with blended, semi-synthetic, finalized scents — the materials smell very different depending on how and when you’re sniffing them. I found the same essential oil could have quite a different profile when sniffed from the top of the bottle versus on a paper strip or on the skin. And how something smells on a scent strip after a minute will obviously not be the same as after 10 minutes, 2 hours, or longer.
The quality of the oil adds yet another wrinkle to the situation. Take the oakmoss that I mentioned in my initial overview post upon my return. The oil truly confused and astounded me because, as I noted, I normally never deal with essential oils and this aroma was worlds away from the “oakmoss” that I’ve known my whole life in blended, diluted form, whether in the (now vintage) classics that I grew up with or in more modern manifestations. There was none of that vibrant greenness that is occasionally mineralised and dusty, frequently a touch earthy, but almost always plush and… well, mossy. The note in famous scents like vintage Mitsouko, Bandit, Femme, Champagne, or even modern (pre-reformulation) Jubilation 25 from Amouage and MDCI‘s Chypre Palatin — that is the “oakmoss” I know. But the aroma in Salaam’s vial visually verged on the black, and smelt like black licorice with a leather undertone that was almost tarry. I still can’t get over it. As I said, out of 7 people, several of whom were accustomed to both essential oils and oakmoss essential oil, only 1 person recognized the scent blindly.
What I didn’t mention earlier but found interesting was how the oil’s aroma changed, not only on paper but over time. On the scent strip, it grew even more leathery and tarry as it developed, taking on a quality almost like raw tobacco. Then, after a while, someone, possibly AbdesSalaam, said the scent smelled like seaweed, and they were absolutely right! The black saltiness of licorice had turned into something distinctly evocative of kelp. Astonishing. Now I understand why Marc-Antoine Corticchiato of Parfums d’Empire suggested using seaweed or algae as a way to counter the EU/IFRA oakmoss restrictions and likely upcoming total ban. (Technically, it would be on two molecules in oakmoss, as my post linked right above discusses, but the widespread effect would be the same.)
Back to the oakmoss in the class, our widespread confusion undoubtedly had to do with quality, one of the themes of this post. AbdesSalaam exposed us to the highest quality, richest ingredients as a way of teaching us. Upon my return home, I dug up a small jar of oakmoss sent to me by a friend. It was an extracted solid, I think (or it had turned so thick as to become almost a solid over time). It had an intensely dark green colour and some of the qualities of AbdesSalaam’s oil, but the leathery earthiness and licorice-y blackness were enormously weakened, so much so that it might have been diaphanous in comparison. This one actually did smell vaguely of green mossiness. Not hugely, but just enough such that it could possibly be identifiable with a bit of thought and focus.
Obviously, the oakmoss aroma will smell differently once blended and diffused through alcohol in a finalized scent, but the larger point is that that finalized product will have a different level of mossy richness, complexity, nuance, or boldness, depending on the underlying oil’s quality. In that way, the differences in the concentrated oil relates to one of AbdesSalaam’s central points in his perfumer’s creed, as taken from the Guerlain quote that I talked about in Part I: “never cheat on the quality,” because your perfumes will only suffer if you do. So your first job as a perfumer-to-be (or simply as a perfume lover who wants to better their nose) is to know your materials, and you can only start to do that if you know them in their purest, truest, and best form.
I haven’t addressed the rest of the subjects on the first day of class nor our afternoon introduction to perfume blending, but I will end this post here because I know there is a lot of information to process. Plus, I don’t want to make this post longer than it already is. In general, I’m afraid I completely under-estimated how long it would take me to cover the seminar’s core parts, even with the plan of discussing only the most important or interesting segments. My original goal was to have five parts to this series, but that will now be impossible unless each subsequent post were basically quadruple the length of this one — and that won’t happen!! (The last three have all been far too long as it is.) I am trying to be as concise as someone with my OCD can be while still explaining technical terms — like First Distillate or even distillation, for that matter — for those unfamiliar with them. Unfortunately, even if I were the succinct sort, the sheer quantity of information is staggering, and little of it can be referenced in passing without an explanation.
There are a few solutions. One option is to have more than 5 parts, but also to skip the theoretical discussions, whether they were briefly covered in Part I or not. So, things like ethics, archetypes and olfactory language, the language of perfume, AbdesSalaam’s six points to give you “the brain of a perfumer,” and psycho-aromatherapy would all go. [Update To Clarify: Don’t worry that you’d be missing out, because everything on that list except for the Six Points is covered in the texts discussed in Part I. You can either read that summation of the concepts/theories, or read the linked texts in full. Most of them are about 2 pages in length at most. The only thing I would be doing is skipping Salaam’s detailed elaboration of his theories in class, and the Six Points which is mostly another philosophy. At its core, it’s primarily about sharing and spreading the love of natural scent, as well as making scent a constant part of your daily life. He simply explained ways that could or should be done. Again, almost everything else has been discussed in Part I, with source links provided for you to read Salaam’s own words.] Another series option would be more drastic and would involve cutting everything but the animalics and the methods of perfume blending/perfume creation, in large part because each of those subjects is large enough categories to warrant two posts apiece.
I shall muddle through it and find what works best for me, my endurance levels, and my time constraints. In the meantime, thank you for reading. I hope you found “Smelling with Salaam” (my alternative title for this post) to be informative. And aren’t the incense trees in Salalah astonishingly beautiful and cool?! How many of you now want to go to Oman (after you visit AbdesSalaam in Coriano)? I certainly do.
Next time, in Part IV, I’ll talk about how to blend and make perfumes, while Part V will be about the language of perfume and the secret messages sent by its archetypes, as well as olfactory marketing and bespoke perfumery. Part VI will cover the animalics and what they smelt like. Part VII will conclude the series with a look at perfume psycho-aromatherapy, distillation, final thoughts, and information on the next perfume seminar.
Tasneem/Tasnim is exclusive to AbdesSalaam Attar, and its price starts at €38 for a 15.5 ml bottle. There is also a Mignon Discovery Coffret which is available for any five fragrances, each in a glass 5.5 ml bottle. The price depends on which perfumes you pick, as the choice is up to you. The 5.5 ml bottle of Tasneem is €15. For American readers, Surrender to Chance sells Tasneem starting at $6.99 for a 1 ml vial. Obviously, the Mignon pricing of €15 is a better deal, especially at the Euro’s rate these days. As a side note, I will be reviewing Amber Rose, Amber Chocolate, Oasis, Acqua di Angelica, and Grezzo (d’Eleganza) after my series ends, probably in a compilation review post. They all caught my attention and nose for one reason or another during the course, especially the ambers, so if you’re interested in any of those, you may want to wait for the proper breakdown before you order the Mignon Set. However, if you’re in a rush, the following is an extremely limited description. Chocolate lovers should definitely consider Amber Chocolate which I think is deliciously cozy. It’s a comfort scent that I love to wear to bed. Non-Gourmand amber lovers should consider Amber Rose, though I should warn rose lovers that the flower is not front-and-center at all on my skin, and that there is far more of a leathery undertone from castoreum than rose on me. Oasis may appeal to those who love lemony, very green, fresh, white florals. What struck me with this one was the way the fragrance rang out with the crisp clarity of a bell. The complex Angelica is very well-named because it opens with an angelic lightness that feels extremely spiritual. The silvery start has a green herbal sweetness that is almost romantically floral. That is layered with cypressy woodiness and a hint of lemony incense, before eventually turning into cool, contemplative Church incense with woods and some powderiness. (The drydown was not for me, but incense lovers will love it.) I haven’t re-tested Grezzo, but recall it from a passing, quick wearing as an incense and herbal twist on the classic cologne style. Dry, somewhat austere, and cool, it crossed the traditional cologne category through a hint of a dusty rose, along with a drop of possibly vanillic sweetness. Out of those 6, my personal full bottle choices would be Tasneem and Amber Chocolate in large sizes, followed by Amber Rose in a small size. For all of these, the sillage is generally soft to intimate, especially after a few hours, but that is typical for natural fragrances. Longevity varies. You may have to bring your nose right to the skin to detect some of them after a few hours but, if you do, you may be surprised by the lifespan of several of them. For more specifics and details, you’ll have to wait for the proper review in about 10 days to 2 weeks after I’ve tested them thoroughly. As a side note, the Tasneem, Oasis, Angelica and Grezzia 5.5 ml Mignon minis are listed on the Mignon page linked above, but you will find the Amber Chocolate and Amber Rose minis listed on The Private Collection page because they are not part of the “Scents of the Soul” line. They cost €15 and €18, respectively.