Let’s Play Questions #10: Notes, Love & Hate – 2016 version

Source: imgkid.com

Source: imgkid.com

Welcome to 2016, everyone! Instead of delving straight into reviews, I thought it might be a useful exercise to start the year by thinking about specific notes, taking stock of how we feel about the raw materials in perfumery and, more importantly, the extent to which our tastes may have developed or changed. Last year, in Questions #9, I asked you to think in detail about note categories, with love, hate, and grey zones. Whether you’re new to niche perfumery or a veteran, I think such analysis helps you to look at perfumery with a more critical eye, to really think about what you’re smelling, and to pinpoint your tastes with greater precision.

Galbanum via en.wikipedia.org

Galbanum via en.wikipedia.org

None of us are static creatures and the more we explore perfume in depth, the more we grow and the more our tastes become finely attuned to what we really love, find challenging, or dislike. I know my own tastes have changed somewhat since I gave my answers in Questions #9, even if it’s merely a switch in categories, like the way galbanum (shudder) or jasmine tea moved from “it depends” to dislike. The differences are even starker as compared to what I listed the very first time I talked about notes back in 2013 with my then un-numbered post Vol. 1 post because there are a far greater number of materials that one becomes exposed to over time beyond the basics. (I’d never heard of something like Buchu back in 2013, let alone smelt it as I did in 2015.)

Oud (Indonesian variety) via religmuseum.com

Oud (Indonesian variety) via religmuseum.com

I know a number of you have also changed in your tastes, whether it’s the wholesale new love of a particular note (like amber) or a greater tolerance — even passion for — the stinkiest, rawest, most animalistic sides of a note you previously found challenging (like oud or hyraceum). So, as 2016 begins and we explore new fragrances on the blog, it might be useful for both veterans and novices alike to take stock of where they stand and how they feel about the elements of perfumery.

As I wrote back in Vol. 9, I want you to focus most of all on notes 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 all too easy to focus on things you either love or despise — like tuberose, oud, sweat, 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 cucumber, carrots, gin, or mangos (separately, not together) in your fragrance? Do you like smelling of peppermints or cinnamon 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.

Cucumber. Source: eatingwell.com

Cucumber. Source: eatingwell.com

There is no obligation to post your answers, though it would be wonderful if you did. Just think about it. It will probably take you a while anyway to ponder how you feel about the wide range of notes present in niche perfumery. For those of you who did this exercise last year, if you’re interested, you can look up your answers in the comments to Vol. 9 to see what you wrote back then and see if anything has changed for you.

There are six different categories:

  1. Notes you love passionately. In essence, those which make you sit up when you see them on a perfume list.
  2. Notes you really like a lot.
  3. Notes you neither like or dislike. True and genuine indifference as to their appearance in a perfume.
  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. 
  5. Notes you really (or generally) dislike. 
  6. Notes that you hate with the searing passion of a thousand burning suns!
Photo: Alamy. Source: The Daily Mail.

Photo: Alamy. Source: The Daily Mail.

Categories #3, 4 and 5 are the ones I’m most curious about. What straddles the line where it depends either on how the note is handled (like me with lavender) or in what quantities it is present, and when does it gets pushed over into true dislike almost irregardless of circumstances? Are there things to which that you are almost always indifferent, or that you like but are hardly going to get excited over? There are always rare exceptions to the rule, but what is the “rule” in general? I’m interested in how clear-cut things are for you from one category to the next, and in what may have changed over time for regular readers. I’m also hoping to learn more about the tastes of newer (or new) readers.

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; things in your spice cabinet; drinks including alcoholic ones; materials common in chypres, fougères, orientals, leathers, or 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 2016 list, refined since last year, with new additions (Creosote, for example), more caveats added, and a lot of things moved up or down in category:

source: colourbox.com

source: colourbox.com

1. Notes you love passionately. Essentially, notes which make you sit up when you see them on a perfume list: 

Labdanum amber; ambergris; Mysore sandalwood (only Mysore); spicy patchouli (not fruity purple patchouli); rum; cognac; whisky/Scotch; Tolu balsam; Peru balsam; tuberose; ylang-ylang; hyacinth; lilac; heliotrope; lilies; orange; blood orange; mandarin or tangerine; peaches; apricots; tart Morello cherries; chocolate or cacao; cocoa powder; frankincense (if not soapy); and oakmoss.

Tonka beans. Source: Fragrance-creation.com

Tonka beans. Source: Fragrance-creation.com

2. Notes you really like a lot:

Tobacco; suede; benzoin resin; styrax resin; jasmine; davana flower; champaca flower; mimosa; carnation; gardenia; honeysuckle; orange blossom; cherry blossom; daffodils (unless it skews more to narcissus, then it depends); orchids; smoke (if it smells natural and not aromachemical); cloves; ginger; cinnamon; nutmeg; almond; hazelnut; rum raisins; tonka beans; coumarin; hay; honey; Chai lattes; vanilla creme anglaise sauce; meringue; marzipan; gingerbread; champagne; wine; port; and coffee.

The civet. Source: focusingonwildlife.com

The civet. Source: focusingonwildlife.com

3. Neutral notes, ones you neither like nor dislike:

Saffron; cardamom; Lapsang Souchong or black tea; anise/fennel; star anise; immortelle (but I’m not keen on it if it’s solely heavy maple syrup); osmanthus flower; neroli; petitgrain; geranium; lily-of-the-valley or muguet; narcissus; peony; linden blossom; tiaré flower; civet; castoreum; hyraceum; tarragon; sage; rosemary; verbena; cedar; fir; pine; Cashmeran wood; rosewood; peat; earth; Flouve/grass notes; pomelo fruit; mango; apple; cherries (unless it smells like Maraschino cocktail cherries); plum or plum pudding; prune; cranberries; mineral accords; salty notes; milky notes; cream; beeswax; hemp; broom/Genet; rice; and wheat (unless it’s Cream of Wheat or like porridge).

Source: parisgallery.com

Source: parisgallery.com

4. Notes that depend on how they are handled, their quantity, or their treatment in conjunction with other elements.

Leather (depends on if it’s too abrasively aromachemical); birch tar (same); cade; rose (so long as it’s not a soliflore note, or else it goes in the Dislike column); iris (same); vetiver (same because quantity really matters, but “mint” vetiver goes in the dislike column); Angelica (same); oud or agarwood (depends on if it’s too aromachemical or too much like blue cheese); lavender; clary sage; black pepper (unless overly synthetic, in which case it’s a Dislike); juniper; myrrh; guaiac wood; green Australian sandalwood; marijuana, opium or hashish accords; magnolia; marigold or tagetes; rose geranium; powdery notes; orris root (not keen if it’s powdery but like it if it skews to “violet”); ambrette seed musk; fur; horse accords; gasoline; medicinal camphor; eucalyptus; Buchu; costas root (think dirty hair, sweat, and urine if not handled carefully); oleander (see “powder” issues); coconut; grape (has to be a small amount only); Red Hots cinnamon; peppermint; mint (can’t be a lot, or it goes in the Dislike column); black licorice; cumin; Chili, Szechuan, or pimento pepper; fenugreek; curry; dill; thyme; coriander; basil; bay leaf; lemon; lime; chamomile; carrots; passion fruit; grapefruit; bergamot (quality matters a lot for this one); cassis or black currant; raspberry; pineapple; kiwi; lychee; fig; cantaloupe melon; banana; tomato; tomato leaf (must be a minor note and not too prevalent); pumpkin; rhubarb; cucumber; celery; mushrooms; black truffles; parchment or papyrus paper; dust; ink; green grass; yerba maté; lipstick notes; shaving cream; BBQ; BBQ meats; goat cheese (but Gorgonzola blue cheese is a Dislike); barnyard (depends on how much poop there is and if it feels like “hot” cow dung); artemisia or wormwood (okay in small doses, otherwise it goes into the Dislike column); rubber; latex; vodka; root beer; popcorn; and seaweed.

Jasmine tea via benefits-green-tea.com

Jasmine tea via benefits-green-tea.com

5. Notes you dislike in fragrances

Galbanum (unless in the tiniest quantities); aldehydes (same); jasmine or green tea; synthetic or green-skewing violet flower (but orris “violet” is a Like); violet leaf; soliflore roses; dried roses; soliflore or minty vetiver; plumeria or frangipani; potpourri (roses or spices); freesia (it’s always synthetic and smells like plastic or hairspray); Gorgonzola or blue cheese; gin; sugar; overly sweet caramel; very sugary cupcake or creme brulée vanilla; “Baie rose” or pink peppercorns; fruity patchouli; watermelon; makeup powder; baby or Talc powder; general powderiness; butter; grape jelly/jam; suntan oil; hedione; asphalt; ashtrays; vinyl or plastic leather; blood; feces; cat urine; “metallic” notes; petrichor; cypriol or nagarmotha (may belong in the Hate column); Creosote tar (same); and strawberry (same).

Source: Tumblr. Original artist unknown.

Source: Tumblr. Original artist unknown.

6. Notes that you hate passionately in fragrances:

White musk; laundry detergent (Tide); fabric softener or drier sheets (Bounce); soap or soapiness; rubbing alcohol and antiseptic disinfectant; ISO E Super; Javanol “sandalwood”; Norlimbanol; Guaiacol; Ambermax; Cedramber; Trisamber; Ambroxan; Kephalis; overly smoky woody or woody-amber aromachemicals; plastic; burnt plastic; burnt rubber; chlorine; calone; aquatic notes (but I like salty sea water); ozonic notes; dry cleaning accords; cleaning product aromas (e.g, PineSol or Mr. Clean); hairspray; shampoo; stale sweat (cumin); crusty underwear or unwashed genitalia smells (cumin); and (iris’) 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, consider what you used to like years ago (or perhaps wrote in answer to Vol. #9 last year), and then let me know. I’m particularly interested in learning if your feelings about certain notes have changed and, if so, in what way.

120 thoughts on “Let’s Play Questions #10: Notes, Love & Hate – 2016 version

  1. Happy New Year dear!!I just wanted to be the first here, but this is one of my favourite topics here so I’ll stop by later after I’ve read everything thoroughly..

      • Lately as I’ve been trawling for perfume samples I’ve been dismayed to find WHITE MUSK listed more and more, even from expensive niche brands who know better, then I’m not sure if I am just assuming white musk will obliterate all those other notes that made me look closer in the first place. Does having white musk always ruin it? This is what tends to confuse me. Oh well…here’s my list:

        1. Ambergris; Labdanum Amber; Mysore Sandalwood; Balsams Tolu & Peru; Resins Styrax & Benzoin; Omani Frankincense; Oakmoss; Leather; Suede; Pipe Tobacco; Tobacco Leaves; Rum; Whiskey; Cognac; Patchouli

        2. Beeswax; Honey; Hay; Coumarin; Virginia Cedarwood, Birch Tar; Cade; Rosewood; Mahogany; Pine Needles; Balsam Fir; Laurel; Vetiver; Peat-y; Coffee; Real Oud; Tonka Beans; Carnation; Geranium; Rose (no longer number 1); Cardamom; Cinnamon; Coriander; Bay Leaf; Basil; Cumin; Raspberry( only for leather); Ylang; Tuberose; Geranium; Carnation; Jasmine; Candied Fruits a la Lutens; Tea Roses

        3. Bergamot; Orange Blossom; Vanilla; Black Pepper; Black Tea; Petigrain; Mandarine Oranges; Licorice; Metallic Notes; Rosemary; Sage; Thyme to go to Scarborough Fair [paying attention Kafka??] ; Juniper; Artemesia/Wormwood; White Woods; Cashmeran; Narcissus; Mints; Cassis; Sassafrass; Eucalyptus; Galbanum;

        4. Florentine Iris, Gardenia; Hyacinth; Ambrette Seed; Fenugreek; Mimosa; Hydrangea; Cabbage Roses; Vodka; Yerba Maté; Costus Root; Lavender; Aldehydes; Lemon; Lime; Grapefruit; Lilac; Pineapple

        5. Fruity Patchouli; Watermelons/Melons; Jellies; Butter; Sweet Cream; Sugary Toffee; Creme Brulée; Strawberries; Baby Powder; Vinyl/Plastic; Latex; Pink Peppercorns; Feces; Urine; Old Socks;

        6. MUSC BLANC (I wondered if a different spelling helped, but NO!); Laundry Detergent; Fabric Softner; Shampoo; ISO E SUPER; Stale Sweat; Sour Milk; Yeasty Genitalia aka Crotch Rot; Bubble Gum; Isopropyl Alcohol

        I’m sure there are glaring omissions, but right now I can’t think of anymore. I can tell you how much my tastes have changed since 2014: back in ’14 I first tried Boudicca Wode by Geza Schoen and thought it was wonderful, but now I wouldn’t touch the stuff! : D

        • Good Lord, Don, your dislikes are truly frightening. Can you really name scents that have notes of stale sweat, sour milk, or yeasty genitalia? I thought I’d smelled some bad ones, but I am an amateur compared to you.

          • Lol yes, some of the ouds, real and synthetic. Fortunately a rarity for me, FeralJasmine! I tried to keep #6 as short as possible. 😉

          • Speaking for myself, Vero Kern’s Rubj was totally the scent of dirty socks and crusty/unwashed panties or genitalia on me. *shudder* And I’ve tried more than a few fragrances that wafted the smell of stale sweat and bad body odor. The culprit in both cases was cumin. And iris was responsible for a strong mildew note in one fragrance and, in another, combined with some unlisted notes, it managed to smell exactly like sour milk and a baby’s head. “Baby’s head” was actually the perfumer’s explicit, express intention for his iris fragrance but, man, it was just like milk gone bad on me.

        • With white musk, it is probably a mix of quantity issues and body chemistry but far too many perfume houses go overboard with the note, imo. MFK is one that really loves the “clean, fresh” genre as a general aesthetic, though it’s hardly the only one. And, to my dismay, the Middle Eastern houses are opting more and more for a heavy amount of clean musk in their fragrances, too. Other people have noticed the same trend, so it’s not an isolated thing unfortunately.

          With regard to your list, it was a lot of fun to read and I did notice the change in status for roses. I didn’t know tuberose, pine, carnation, and patchouli were ranked so high for you! I shall definitely keep that in mind. 🙂

          • My sense of smell has evolved over the last 12 months. But really I have always loved pine, and so many fragrances I’ve smelled over the last 2 years have had higher percentage of patchouli. In fact I don’t think I told you I did go on a “patch” finding mission months ago: ordered some samples that were considered heavy on it. As for carnation and tuberose, I am liking them quite a lot too.
            My poor rose slipped! I had to face the facts that although rose is so common, it is never dark, dirty nor ever spicy enough for me.
            I, too, have been seeing white musk in middle eastern perfumes: that is not a good sign.
            I have been looking into Rasasi’s Boruzz line: watched some Youtube reviews last week. Speaking of Arabia, I must comment on.your new AJ Arabia post since I’ve smelled them….:)

  2. Happy New Year!
    I thought I’d come out to play, as this is a fitting topic for me at the moment. I’ve been going through my (way too) large collection and trying to come to terms with weeding out Those That Should Move On. Thinking about notes like this, might just prevent me from taking to drink at the mere thought of it. Here is my list on first ponder:

    I love: amber, ambergris, musk such as civet, castoreum (NOT white musk in any way, shape or form) bergamot, cedarwood, sandalwood (like you, it must be Mysore), orange, lilac, vanilla, tobacco. As a tea merchant I want to love tea in perfumes but have never yet smelled one that does the leaf justice.

    I like: chocolate, patchouli, jasmine, mimosa, Tonka, carnation, osmathus, narcissus, lily of the valley, spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and clove.

    On the fence: iris, geranium, leather, “nutty”, “salty”, “smoky”, lemon, vetiver, aldehydes, mild incense

    Dislike: rose, tuberose, gardenia, hay/grass, most herbs, menthol, violet

    HATEHATEHATE: overly heady florals, all fruits, mints, sugary/candied, powdery, soapy, overly burnt smoke/incense, anything that smells remotely like my laundry room…

    • Heh, I can feel your stress over the collection downsizing through your words. It must be a very difficult task. What fascinated me about your comment was the issue of tea and your difficulty in finding olfactory verisimilitude. I’m sure you must have tried everything with a tea note by now, but I’m almost tempted to ask the tea perfume lovers on the blog for help in finding you something authentic. (Forgive me, I’m one of the heathens who doesn’t drink tea and sticks to coffee instead, so this is not my area of expertise.)

      While I’m sure you’ve tried all the tea fragrances around, I must ask, have you tried the new Aftelier Vanilla Smoke? The tea lovers in the perfume/blogosphere apparently find the Lapsang Souchong note to be incredibly authentic. On my skin and to my nose, it smelt a lot more like the smoke from a log-burning fire with only the barest actual “tea” facets but, as I said, I’m not a tea drinker. Plus, skin chemistry is a very personal thing. Perhaps on your skin, the result might prove to be more authentic, even to your expert nose? It’s worth a try, anyway. 🙂

      • I have tried many tea perfumes, but I’d love to hear other recommendations so I can either revisit or try new. I’ve tried Vanilla Smoke as I LOVE vanilla and I really like it, but *still* found the tea aspect out of sync with my expectation. It *is* a good rendition of the almost tarry aspect of Lapsang but there’s something I cant quite put my finger on. I think it has something to do with the actual brewing process of tea. The fragrance develops (depending on the degree of fermentation) through the heating process when the amino acids and saccharides react to the heat. When you inhale the steam, this is what you get and I feel that is this that isn’t captured in a perfume – its that heat and “steaminess” if that makes sense? (Or I’m just being too anal – I’m okay with that too ;-))

        • I don’t think you’re “being too anal” at all. You’re approaching the issue from the perspective of an expert in the area, so you’re obviously going to see more nuances or aspects that the average person wouldn’t notice at all. 🙂 Alas, as I said before, I don’t drink tea and I also don’t recall reading any reviews of tea fragrances that would cover that “steaminess” quality you love.

          I did read some very positive remarks about one of the new Bvlgari tea scents, the Eau Parfumé Thé Bleu, if I recall correctly, and I have the vague memory that it’s partially about Oolong tea (?) but I don’t know if that would really sway you much. For one thing, Bvlgari makes largely synthetic fragrances, and I think you’re going to need a lot of natural or absolute oil in order to convey the true depths of a tea note to suit you. To be more photorealistic, if you will. Have you tried Providence Perfume Co.’s Osmanthus Oolong? Again, it may not have that sense of heat and steaminess that you’re craving, but the fragrance has a very rich, leathery and multi-faceted tea accord from 3 different types of tea leaves: red Rooiboos, green, and black teas.

  3. Fun fun fun!
    Can’t live without: ambergris, vetiver that is ‘polished’ and smells more golds brown than green, cocoa powder, petitgrain, Arabian rose, oakmoss, bourbon, cognac, frankincense, blood orange, Tasmanian boronia flower, dark honey, rum, sea salt
    Love: castoratum, vanilla, lemon, orange blossom, flouve, Mysore sandalwood, jasmine on others, fig, cashmere wood, thinks bean
    Like: tobacco, coffee, lavender, cardamom, anise, Peru balsam and benzoin resin
    Depends on composition and balance: all white flowers-champaca, tuberose, lily of the valley, lily, etc..iris heliotrope, cinnamon, cumin, our, pomegranate.
    Detest: powder, white musk, sweet fruity over the counter scents, ISO Esuper.

    Majorly currently in evolution: labdanum Amber and real patchouli- never thought I’d turn into a patch head but I spent today with Ambra Nera, Horizon and Psychedelique up and down my forearms!

    I’m sure there are other notes I’ve left out but the week and work starts up again tomorrow and it will be a tsunami – this was my last vacation activity before early bed. Great post! Will read #9 during a lunch break this week.

    • How wonderful that patchouli is a new, potential source of appreciation, Paskale! I’m so impressed by your olfactory evolution over the last year, and the shifting landscape of what you explore, like, or have grown to love, especially the amber! Watching as your tastes change and hearing your sudden love for certain things always makes me smile. The woman who loathed amber in all forms less than 8 months ago and who found things like Ambre Sultan to be oppressive has become one who now loves Ambra Aurea which makes Ambre Sultan look like a thin, sheer veil.

      I think we still have to find you a perfect vanilla, though, right? (I’m still looking for my Holy Grail vanilla and haven’t found it after years, so it may be a while for you, too. lol.)

      BTW, wouldn’t Neroli be on your Passionate Love list? It’s different from orange blossom technically. I always associate neroli with you and, to me, it seems like you appreciate the greenness, piquancy, and freshness more than orange blossoms.

      Also, as another question: jasmine only on others and not on yourself?

      • Can I gush again what a fun mentor you are? I’m also enjoying reading the dialogue with everyone else 🙂
        So – Neroli yes! yes and yes. BUT depends how it’s balances. For example, Atelier Cologne Grand Neroli smells like airplane complimentary soap to me. ha ha. I forgot yalng-ylang and leather in the depends category too… Phul-Nana won my heart on the orange blossom category and you know how much I looked. Orange blossom started me on this whole quest amongst other things.
        Jasmine: oh jasmine. Indolic, fresh, green, any jasmine. Sweet Jasmine Brown, A la Nuit, Grand Bal, …. But. I just never reach for them. I love them so much and have FBs…but they’re just not ‘me’. My mother is jasmine. Turns out I’m more oriental-amber (I thought was woodsy which also works sometimes). And my being drawn to rose still surprises me (looking at you Tobacco Rose! smells so much like an arab dessert round the edges). I just never reach for the white florals even when I love them (sigh: Moon Bloom….every blue moon!). I don’t know why. Perhaps one day a post on our idealized self-perceptions and what we think we want to project, what we associate to scents, and how that interacts with all the Attar posts knowledge you shared in 2015.
        Patchouli 🙂 Full run of Horizon today – the silage / longevity are ok on me but on the faint side. Which coming from low-intensity me, is saying something. Jovoy tomorrow! But patchouli has gone from my hippie teen years (enuf said) to something I associate with sexy, classy, edgy all in one. Go figure.
        Vanille: I enjoy my decant of Indult Tihota more and more. Aftelier Vanilla smoke was lovely but too light. Farmacia Vaniglia di Madagascar was my FB in this category – sometimes I do crave that kind of sweet – esp in the Fall – it was my go to bottle. And Gothic-I as the winter has set in (patchouli and vanilla!). But, I wouldn’t call any my holy grail just yet. We both have to keep searching.
        Overall, The more I smell, the more I discern and I’m soooooo glad I have kept the majority of my samples to revisit. That should be a rule. I used to give my dislikes away to girlfriends and then I stopped. I’m still on a serious learning curve.
        and Ambregris wins (your fault!)

        • I wanted to jump in here Paskale, and say this *is* the fun I mentioned, especially this evening where I’m under my comforter because it’s a frigid 10° F! I told myself not to read everyone’s list until I’ve made mine; however, I cheated. I don’t want mine to be an Iliad. :/

          • -22F in Canada…. I think that affects my new found love of patchouli as discussed elsewhere re: temp and scents!!!!

        • See, I always think of Phul-Nana as more of a neroli fragrance, at least in its opening hour or two. One reason may be the predominance of the geranium which makes the floralcy skew very green on my skin and far more to the piquant neroli side than the more floral aspect of orange blossom. As for Atelier Cologne fragrances, a good number of them smell like soap to me because of the massive amounts of clean musk they use. It’s as though their brand aesthetic and their desire to have a “cologne” bouquet only in concentrated form makes them inject clean, fresh notes into everything. Sooner or later, that takes over and makes the entire fragrance smell overly soapy and clean on my skin.

      • Seems like we must be sitting next to each other on the Dream Vanilla train. My trip has been 30 years in the making and although some have come close, none have done the humble vanilla bean complete justice. Le Labo Vanille 44 made a good attempt. I have a veritable box of samples that are shamefacedly sitting in the drawer marked “NO!!” …

        • I’ve heard many raves about Le Labo’s Vanille 44, but I’ve never tried it due to the exclusivity issue and my cheapskate side. Something about having a vanilla fragrance be so expensive and so hard to access for most parts of the year rubs me the wrong way, I guess. Plus, Le Labo’s general aesthetic is always too sheer, diffuse, and light for my personal tastes, so that is one more factor which puts me off when taken in conjunction with everything else. So, I’m rather glad to hear that the fragrance didn’t bring you to your knees and merely qualifies as a “good attempt” in your eyes.

          • Have either of you tried the Vanillary perfume sold by LUSH? I realize it’s not fancy pants like all these brands ya’ll are talking about but maybe it could be worth looking into. I *love* it, although I would note that the solid and liquid perfumes smell pretty different. I usually prefer solids or oil perfumes because something in spray perfumes tends to give me killer headaches (the alcohol, maybe? I don’t know, I just know that it’s incredibly rare for me to be able to stand a spray perfume), but I actually like the liquid perfume better in this case. I think it’s a richer vanilla with more sillage.

            The little teeny company Solstice Scents also has some nice vanillas, although take all of this with a grain of salt because I am a poverty-ridden perfume newbie and right now I only know brands that sell oil perfumes costing less than $20 for 5mL. Looking at some of the perfumes on this site is giving me a heart attack. First, expensive, and second – I can never seem to smell anything in spray perfumes anyway so I’m not really tempted to look into them further. I got sent a whole load of designer samples from Sephora and to me they all smell like powder. So, yes, the ingredients in these little indies might not be that great, but if it’s any comfort I’m actually quite good at picking out notes in oil perfumes. So maybe it would be worth looking into. Also, Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Lyonesse and Dorian are pretty vanilla-based, but I doubt they would serve as a Holy Grail vanilla.

  4. 1. love: orris, cassis, oakmoss, osmanthus, sandalwood, labdanum, styrax, rose, galbanum (what can I say?), birch tar, cade, salt, anise, massoia bark, carrot seed

    The first eight could sniff straight up all day, the second eight are my favourite treasures in a blend.

    2. like: neroli, lavender, vanilla, tonka bean, vetiver, violet leaf, jasmin, cocoa, benzoin, pelargonium (rose geranium), cedar, fir, immortelle, earth/dirt, saffron, daffodil

    I really like these, and from time to time they migrate up to #1

    3. ok: bergamot, petitgrain, lemon, ylang ylang, incense, leather, spices, mint, herbs

    These neither make nor break a scent. Sometimes I even love them. All good.

    4. problematic (off/on): oud, patchouli, powder, big amber bases, tuberose, hyacinth

    These are all love/hate. They make up some of my favourites and scents I can’t stand.

    5. dislike (generally): civet, castoruem, heady (lily) florals, fig anything, most musks, water notes, cucumber

    These can ruin a scent for me, although I have some definite exceptions.

    6. hate like fire: white musk, sharp aldehyde, cheap patchouli, iso super e bombs, one particular synthetic amber musk compound I could smell from space

    I will silently hate the person wearing these next to me in the theater. I would rather smell BO.

    • Heh, your galbanum comment made me grin. It’s perfectly okay, I can live with others loving galbanum passionately. 😉 😀 Joking aside, I related to and sympathised with your feelings about that one musky amber aromachemical that you “could smell from space.” I’ve been there many times before!

      What intrigued me was the patchouli issue: what would be examples of fragrances with a patchouli note that you love vs. patchouli that you hate? I’m curious as to whether there is a certain type of patchouli or certain facets of patchouli that are appealing/unappealing, or if it’s an issue of dilution. For example, with another reader, the undiluted, uncut, pure labdanum form of “amber” was an issue, but the diluted, benzoin and vanilla-heavy mixed accord was okay and the ambergris style of amber was super. It would be interesting to see if patchouli is a bit of the same story for you, and to pinpoint what forms you may enjoy.

      • it’s definitely a concentration issue, but there is also a quality or type issue. I love Le Labo Patchouli 24, Lush Karma, and like Altelier’s Mistral Patchouli. Darker Patchoulis have me running for the hills. I ordered some high quality unblended samples when I was getting essentials for oils for epsom salts, and found the lightest patchouli quite nice.

  5. Dear Kafka, now that we are in 2016 time for evaluation! I looked at my comments last year and your responses, below:

    “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?”

    In addition to jasmine and gardenia, I have also really learned to appreciate tuberose this year. In the past I associated it only with Fracas (yikes, that stuff takes my head off) and its ilk. Since then I’ve tried and loved some beautiful tuberose scents like Teo Cabanel’s Lace Garden, Isabey’s Fleur Nocturne, which has gardenia and tuberose and I’ve really smelled a lot of neroli. I’ve found that I love a good neroli; Van Cleef’s California Reverie is one of my favorites and Kilian’s Prelude to Love has lovely neroli notes. I’m really enjoying it now.

    My love of iris and orris has not waned and I’m learning to appreciate many different blends of scent with iris. I originally hated Lutens Iris Silver Mist. I described it once as uprooted iris laid on a cold steel autopsy table. Since then I’ve learned to enjoy the “spare” and chilly iris perfumes as well as the creamier and warmer ones. I still do not like super dusty irises or irises with what I consider too much musc (I’m looking at Houbigant Iris de Champs as I say this). A new iris I tried is Ormonde Jayne Vanille Iris. Thought it would be gourmandy and I would hate it but it’s creamy and chilly at the same time in the opening with warmth coming in with the vanilla. The vanilla does not dominate and it’s quite well done I think. But as with all Geza Schoen’s perfumes, it doesn’t have any longevity, 3 hours max. I’m thinking of getting their super perfume, the 50% version. We shall see….

    Finally, as to my nemesis, oud/oudh, you mentioned last year that synthetic oud was likely my problem as it can smell antiseptic, like bandaids, etc. I’ve thought about that quite a bit this past year and I have smelled some real Middle Eastern scents with oud that I liked pretty well. Oud is still not my favorite and I really hate the oud in Montales and Manceras, ugh! But I am realizing that the quality of the ingredient has much to do with the scent and with whether I like it or not.

    Also, in smelling some scents with galbanum that I used to love, like Must de Cartier, Aliage and Jacomo’s Silences, I’ve realized that I don’t like galbanum anymore either. Or maybe I don’t like it as it is formulated and used now. I still think the green scents I mentioned did not have that biting bitterness that they have now back in the 70’s. I remember them as fresher and tart, different from galbanum I smell now.

    Finally I’m exploring angelica now. Love Angelique Noir by Guerlain, finding some other angelica scents to smell like the weeds I always thought they were-lol. Take care and thanks so much for re-visiting this subject!

    • I LOVE seeing how your fragrance tastes have changed, Ricky. This was wonderful! I had to smile at your description of the sorts of iris scents that you still struggle with because, after I wrote my list, I kept thinking about the one iris fragrance that smelt like mildew to me. (Don’t ask me which one because I’ve intentionally blocked it out of my mind. Gah, mildew notes!)

      With regard to Ormonde Jayne’s Vanilla Iris, perhaps the longevity issue is a result of all the ISO E Super molecules blocking out the nose receptors? That happens a lot with fragrances that are heavy with ISO E Super like the Ormonde Jaynes; people become anosmic to them, can’t detect the fragrance after a while, or it seems to disappear. Then again, the Ormonde Jayne line is very sheer and light. I thought Vanilla Iris was extremely gauzy in feel and weight. (I also detected something similar to the “chilliness” you describe, though I found it more of that sparkling, citrusy, ISO E Super and Hedione-ish note that Geza Schoen loves to use. I must say, there wasn’t as much iris on my skin as I had expected, and far more of that Ormonde Jayne signature accord of crisp/brisk/citrusy/chilly brightness. But that’s neither here nor there.)

      Back to your note list, you’re absolutely right that quality makes a huge difference as to notes and how appealing they might be. And I think that is especially true for agarwood/oud. I’m so pleased you had the chance to explore some real ouds and to see how they differ from the garbage fake sort in Montales. Most of all, though, as a hardcore tuberose lover, I’m really happy you’ve grown to like the flower in a few fragrances. Tuberose may be the most polarizing flower out there, so I know it’s not an easy note to love. I’m curious, have you tried Hiram Green’s Moon Bloom? I don’t know if that may be a little too much tuberose for you, but it has won over a number of people who usually hate the note passionately.

      • Dear Kafka, I have a sample of Moon Bloom. It’s been recommended by many tuberose lovers so I’ll be making that a priority. Got all discombobulated with travel over Christmas holidays. I’ll let you know how the sampling turns out. 🙂

  6. Kafkaesque, interesting and fun to find myself thinking about this again, after months of concentrating more on other things.

    Love dearly:
    Any good true vanilla, especially CO 2 extract, good gardenia, Lily, orange blossom, and tuberose notes, heady white florals in general, Jasmine ( love most J. grandiflorum notes,) Labdanum, ambergris, good animalics including many musk notes, civet, etc, sandalwood if it’s Mysore, most spice notes especially nutmeg

    Evolving likes: aged patchouli, laconic milk and cream notes (currently obsessed with these most delicate of animalics, and they are very hard to find in a good form,) honey notes, smoke notes if subtly handled, yellow florals and particularly golden champa if just a touch is used, tobacco notes

    Take or leave, depending:
    Leather. There are leather notes that I love and others that actually hurt my nose.
    Cumin. I can only tolerate very small quantities
    Cannabis: seemed like suddenly this note was all over, and I have sniffed scents in which it’s very well used (Trayee comes to mind,) but mostly don’t like it.
    Most fruit notes: mostly a dislike but there are exceptions, like the peach in Kiste and some blackcurrent notes. Enjoy some plum notes. Also, French mass-market perfumes seem to use fruit notes better than American department store fumes. Maybe I’m evolving with regard to fruit notes, too, now that I stop to think about it.
    Citrus: generally a hate for me, but the orange flourish in vintage Opium never fails to stir me

    Hate intensely:
    Melon. Hate melon notes more than ever. HatehateHATE.
    Soap, bleach, laundry musk, and other Fresh Clean scents
    Blood notes
    Aquatic and ozonic notes. Why can’t somebody make a scent that really smells like a salty ocean breeze?
    Some aromachemical that is used a lot and smells exactly like pond muck on me. Many perfumes that I otherwise like fade to the pond muck scent within a couple of hours. The worst-case scenario for this one was the Tauer gardenia. Many people loved that scent, but on me it smelled mostly like a dirty aquarium.
    Another aromachemical, used in lots of florals, that smells like hot plastic on me. All the Inekes that I have tried are full of it, there’s some in Carnal Flower, and in fact it crops up all over. If I knew what it was, I would never sample anything that contained it.
    Bitter green notes.

    Probably a lot more than you wanted to know!

      • Thanks for your details feraljasmine. Your post reminded me that creamy-milky notes are definitely on my evolving exploration list in te like range. I tried multiple scents for sea air and settled on Profumum’s Aqua Sala. And finally, although I too am not into fruity overall I really enjoyed plums, and Bombay Bling and think you’re right about French vs American treatment of the notes because I’d wear the yellow melon/cantaloupe note in parfum de Therese to my wedding day.

        • When I next order samples I’ll try some Parfum de Therese and see what a French melon note smells like. Have you found a cream scent that you like?

          • Only Lumiere Blanche by Olfactive studio. It’s the massoia bark and cashmeran wood combo that rings creamy to me and its in my top three ultimate comfort scents. It’s Sunday pyjamas in a bottle. But otherwise no and would be happy to hear your suggestions.

    • No, it was a wonderful amount of detail and I loved reading it. Plus, there was the added bonus of a mystery: the “pond muck” aromachemical in florals. I’m so intrigued and curious, and I simply must discover what this is! Can you describe it more? Is it more watery, green, or both? Is it like the unpleasant scent of floral vase water after a few days, or more purely aquatic and icy? If it’s the former, I smelt something like that in scents that have galbanum but also in those using narcissus. However, I’ve also smelt it in fragrances with tuberose (Guerlain’s Mahora is one) and gardenia scents. Then again, there are all those florals that are simply chilly in style, like Jean-Claude Ellena’s L’Eau d’Hiver. Carnal Flower has a chilled watery greenness, too, though that one resembles a florist’s air-conditioned shop.

      With regard to the hot plastic note in florals, I experience that with freesia 3 out of 5 times. The rest of the time, it simply smells like bad floral hairspray. It’s one reason why, whenever I see “freesia” on a note list, I automatically lower my expectations. By a lot. It’s such an artificial, lab-made, unpleasant note.

      As for the leather, it sounds to me like you share my sensitivity to the increasingly powerful, abrasive, overly smoky aromachemicals that are used more and more to create that perception of “leather.” Except it doesn’t really smell of leather, does it?

      BTW, I had no idea that melon was such a hated note for you. I shall definitely keep that in mind for the future! Also, as a final comment, I don’t think the Tauer Gardenia was loved by many people. It certainly wasn’t loved by the vast, vast majority of readers on this blog, while comments on other sites showed a great split in opinion. I think the Tuberose is more appreciated than the Gardenia, but all the Tauer florals seem to be very polarizing Love it/Hate it fragrances. Personally, I disliked both of them, but the Gardenia most of all. Urgh.

      • “Old vase water” describes the pond-muck note precisely. I have given away most of the scents I had that contain it and don’t recall what most of them were, but I will keep an eye out for any that contain it, so that we can figure out what it is.
        And in fairness I am not sure that I have ever smelled a good melon note. Mostly I notice it when passing dept. store perfume counters where it seems to be used with aquatic and laundry musk notes, for a trifecta of yech.

  7. Thanks for the opportunity to actually write down all the notes and to really think about what I liked and disliked.

    I love: Patchouli, Vetiver, Amber, Birch Tar, Cade, Tobacco

    I lIke: Sandlewood, Woods in general, Coffee, Anise, Star Anise, Honey, Fir, Pine, Smoke, Incense, Rum

    I am indifferent to: Tea, Bergamot

    Depends on how they are handled: Vanilla, Rose, Lemon, Tuberose, Animalics such as Civet, Castoreum and sometimes honey.

    I generally dislike: Carnation, Fig, Blood

    I really don’t like: Tagette, Sugary notes, Fresh Accords, Melon, Cucumber

    It has been an amazing process for me to be able to list notes and to be able to list them into likes and dislikes. This has been an evolution that has happened over the past 2 to 3 years. I thank you and your blog for helping me. I love fragrance and I love discovering more about my likes and dislikes. It will be interesting to see where I am next year. Happy 2016!

    • I’m so pleased that you found the exercise useful, John. I think it’s a really helpful way of learning not only the specifics of what one likes and what one finds to be challenging, but WHY one might feel that way for some things. Like, for example, does a person really dislike all amber orientals or green fragrances, or is it really one specific note to which they’re reacting and have issues? If so, that tells them what to avoid and what they shouldn’t completely rule out.

      Plus, knowing more about note specifics saves one a ton of money. If a fragrance’s note list contains too many notes from the Challenging/It Depends category, the fragrance itself is bound to present some issues. Same if a fragrance has even one note from the Hate It group. All of that certainly helps one avoid reckless blind-buys of full bottles, let alone wasting money on expensive samples that are heavily hyped but whose actual note list means you may not like the scent at all.

      Anyway, onto your note lists: I’m impressed you included tuberose in the “It Depends” group because a lot of people (of both genders but especially guys) rule it out completely. As for honey, have you tried Xerjoff’s Mamluk? That is an intensely honeyed fragrance. Peety might be one to contemplate testing because it has honey, tobacco, spice, and some florals, but it can be animalic and musky so I don’t know if it would a guaranteed bet. Also, have you tried AbdesSalaam Attar/La Via del Profumo’s Milano Caffé? That has bitter expresso coffee, vetiver, patchouli, and some tobacco-ish and woody undertones. I could go on with a huge list of vetiver/birch tar fragrance recommendations but many are listed in my Fragrance Recommendations post from a few months ago, so I won’t repeat the names here.

      In any event, it was great to learn more about your tastes. And I’m so glad that you’re slowly coming out of lurkerdom! 😉 I hope you’ll continue to share your thoughts or tastes, John. Don’t hesitate because you think you aren’t an expert or have nothing to contribute. None of us are professional noses, and all our opinions have validity. Plus, how do you know that your thoughts or feelings on a scent (pro or con) won’t help someone else who is in a similar place in their perfume journey, or someone who needs help in deciding whether a particular fragrance will suit their taste? So don’t ever feel you have nothing to contribute. At the very least, you’ll make your perfume journey more fun for yourself by talking about it with fellow fragrance lovers. 🙂

      • Thank you for your reply and thank you for encouraging me. I will contribute more. I know that it will help me in my fragrance journey as well as helping others.

        One of my favorite fragrances is Jovoy Private label. I love the patchouli vetiver combo there. I know you think it’s a little much but I also love the peppermint candy aspect. The sweet earthy combo I find very appealing. I love to just pick up the bottle and smell it sometimes, I find it truly to be truly wonderful.

        I recently purchased Masque Milano Monte Cristo. I love the honey aspect and the animatics also. This fragrance was part of my evolution. I would have never purchased a fragrance with animatics in it before but I think this is a great scent. It is interesting how when I spray a small amount, I get more of a tame honey fragrance but when I spray more I get more of a “feral” animalic fragrance.

        I have La Via Profumo’s Milano Cafe and Tabac. I prefer Milano Cafe but being from North Carolina I can’t help but love Tabac. It reminds me of my grandfather and my uncles. They were all tobacco farmers.

        I recently tried Reverie Au Jardins Marlowe. I liked the tuberose there. I did not get a sample and I regret it. I must order one soon.

        Thanks again

        • Tabac is a fantastic tobacco fragrance, John! It seems to be a huge hit with a number of people who are in your particular shoes, people who have a strong connection or family background in Carolinas’ tobacco world. I’ve had several people write to me seeking a tobacco fragrance that recreates the smell from that world and their childhood instead of the sweet, fruity aromas of pipe tobacco. I always recommend that they try Tabac, and they always write back overjoyed at how it fits their memories perfectly.

          As for Montecristo and its nuances changes depending on how much you apply, I think that holds true for a lot of fragrances and regardless of genre. How much one applies, whether one sprays or dabs, and also the weather — those are 3 things that I’ve frequently noticed make a difference to the nuances or undertones that come out. For animalic fragrances, I think they become sharper and more feral in the heat but also when one applies very large quantities of them. Cumin seems to operate in some similar ways. In contrast, a fragrance that most people wear in winter, Chanel’s Coromandel, is even better, imo, in the summer because the patchouli really blooms in beautiful ways.

  8. I am fascinated to read each comment but I can’t pretend to isolate notes to the degree that I have been reading about. I find that my preferences often change so I am reluctant to list any. Okay, I think I will always love patchouli, sandalwood and iris/orris. But see here–now I am tempted to modify them by adding “but not with oud” or “especially with rose”. Slippery slope… My nose likes coffee, tea and spices. There is a note that always comes off as dirty ashtray, but I don’t know what it is.

    • Hey, you did a great job, Queen Cupcake, especially if you’ve never sat down before to think about specific notes, how they may work in conjunction with other things, and/or what sorts of things come with modifiers. You came up with caveats, and that’s great because it is one additional step in how you’re analysing and assessing your perfume tastes. 🙂 All that matters is that you’re thinking more about what you’re smelling and how you’re feeling about it, because that will refine your nose far more than you would imagine. If we actually become conscious of those olfactory molecules wafting past our nose instead of merely assessing the overall bouquet in a generalised fashion, then you’re cementing a mind-nose connection that will CONSCIOUSLY process elements or nuances. That, in turn, will make your mind more aware of what exactly you’re sniffing — and the mind is where it’s at in terms of having a nose because you need to create a conscious mental rolodex of what you’re sniffing in order for your nose to register those smells when you encounter them before. (That’s why writing down what you smell in full sentences helps to cement the olfactory memory in your mind, much as it would do for school homework.)

      Anyway, the bottom line is that, unbeknownst to you, doing this exercise even briefly means that you’ve already started the process of being able to better isolate and identify notes. That, in turn, will help you have a better nose and to better appreciate the nuances of fragrances. So, thank you for indulging me with the game, and for sharing some of the things that you like or find to be a “slippery slope.” 🙂

  9. Thank you! This is such an interesting thread. There are definitely perfume notes I prefer over others but this past year was about struggling with Iso E super, which has practically ruined Lalique Encre Noire for me and I am also wrestling with it in Terre D’Hermes. It is quite interesting to me that I had no problem initially with this and all of a sudden had a problem with this. There is also a cedar note that I have problems with and has ruined Pharrell Girl for me and this note seems to be in a lot of mainstream perfumes. I adore smoke, turpey notes, camphor. I love white florals and bitter herb notes. I have recently been enjoying Papillon Anubis and Olympic Orchids Dev 1. I have found myself absolutely craving Tauer Lonestar Memories and I often add a small spray of Lush Lust to enhance the thread of green jasmine. It is interesting to see that I am in a small group of people that love the smell of marigolds, handled so beautifully in the opening of vintage Halston perfume.

    • The ISO E Super issue is a really interesting one for me, as you might imagine given my personal difficulties with the note. I went through something similar in being perfectly fine with the note and then, suddenly, BOOM! It became a major problem, almost literally overnight, and thoroughly ruined a lot of fragrances for me. For me, the trigger was a fragrance with a monumental, very intentional overload of ISO E Supercrappy: Montabacco by Ormonde Jayne. It was a deluge of ISO E Super to a degree that I had never previously encountered before,and it did something fundamental to my nose, triggering a new and unexpected sensitivity overnight. It was like a light-switch had been flicked off in both my nose and brain from the sheer quantities of the stuff.

      What I find most interesting about your case is that you loved and wore a fragrance know to have one of the greatest or perhaps THE greatest quantity of ISO E Super ever made, Encre Noire, and you did so right from the start with no problems at all! So, in your case, there was no sudden traumatic experience or overnight conversion from a new fragrance. You’d been wearing or enjoying Encre Noire without any problem before. (Terre d’Hermes also has a walloping amount of ISO E Super in it.) So WHAT exactly triggered the sudden change in you? I would love to figure out what happened and why. Perhaps the simple answer is that your nose is developing further? The more things one sniffs while consciously aware of the notes, the more one fine-tunes and refines one’s olfactory abilities. Sometimes, that means that one simply becomes more sensitive to aromachemicals — and your new cedar aromachemical difficulty could indicate that as a definite possibility as well — but it’s not always the case for a lot of people that I see or read about. Perhaps the answer is a combination of factors, but I would love to determine or know if there was a specific, very concrete trigger which caused the change from one day to the next. In any event, I really appreciate you taking the time to share your experiences, Katy, since I’ve gone through something similar and I still struggle with that bloody note.

      • I honestly think you develop
        a sensitivity to it over time. Almost like filling a piggy bank. You smell it finite number of times and the bank is full or the switch is thrown. I think the nose and brain connection becomes a more learned instrument by smelling more things. I got interested in and acquired some essential oils and my understanding of how things smell evolved exponentially. Iso e super is an interesting molecule. The radiance of it bothered me a little bit at the beginning of my perfume journey and I compensated by going a little lighter with perfumes containing this note but it balloons! I feel enveloped in a smothering cloud no matter how little or what part of the body I apply it to. It is a damn shame! I miss the boozy vetiver of Encre Noir and Terre D’Hermes is just beautiful, mineral orange blossom with such a sense of terroir. Maybe I will try applying just to my shins, as far from the nose as I can get!

        • I am happy to report that I have had some success in taming that dragon Iso E super. I layered Encre Noire with hydro distilled organic El Salvador vetiver essential oil and unscented body lotion. The vetiver essential oil subdued it and made it actually bearable to wear. I think physical changes to the body can also trigger changes in smell perception and preference. Thank you everyone for such a lively and interesting discussion. Dear Kafka, kiss the hairy German for me!

      • I think that physiological changes occur too which change our reactions to scents. Over a year ago I had a surgical mishap and a huge blood loss and was hypotensive and hypoxic for a while, and as I recovered I noticed strong changes in my sense of smell. Cumin, a note in some of my favorite scents, became so aversive that I couldn’t bear even a touch of it, and even now I can only take a little bit. Melon and aquatic notes, never favorites, became loathsome. Some of the stronger aroma chemicals like Iso E super started leaping out at me when they hadn’t bothered me all that much before. Some pleasant scents, like a dog’s fur in the sun, became even lovelier. Animalics musks became more appealing. I can’t posit a physiologic mechanism for this, but I do find it interesting.

        • Great point! My 2 pregnancies changed everything. Down with what sharp green and aldehydes the first time and greater ability to detect notes, in perfumes and in life, second one increased my need for and appreciation of vanilla and my hunt for naturals. Both eradicated my ability to tolerate aroma chemicals. I was told I’d go back to normal but have maintained my heightened sense of smell and continue to practice (can you tell from my post number that I’m really not into being back at work!?)

        • Hi FeralJasmine. I had hypotension this year too resulting in a bad fall and a leg broken in 3 places. I had to be put back together by the trauma surgeon. For a good while after the surgery my nose seemed to be craving things I had never loved before. I craved strong sweet vanillas and what I usually consider sickeningly sweet gourmands. I even bought Black Opium and drowned myself in it for about a month after the surgery. After 6 weeks, though, my olfactory senses seemed to start leaning back toward what used to be my “normal,” but some things still smell different. Maybe I had low blood sugar and that is why I was craving vanilla sugar bomb scents, who knows? But after the surgery I was more open to a good classic Middle Eastern oud and found some that I liked. I think any major body changes or traumas affect our minds and our olfactory senses. THank goodness I can still smell! And I’m very happy that we have both recovered so we can enjoy life and perfume again. :-))

          • Indeed, and congrats on your recovery! I find the changes in scent with physical change pretty interesting, and if anything I enjoy good scents even more than before, but my perception of “good” has changed some. The occasional sharp craving for animalics has been a surprise to me, and some good ones are now off limits because of the amount of cumin that they contain. I’m hunting for new ones.
            Incidentally, in the scent-phobic environment of the hospital, I was surprised by how the scents of the nurses’ lotion, hair products, and skin stood out. And when my surgeon checked on me after a day in the OR, he was wearing clean scrubs but reeked of blood anyway. A little decent perfume would have helped out .

        • The Hairy German would like you to know that his fur and his paws always smell like perfection, in the sun or otherwise. 😉

          • No doubt! I am warmed by any mention of him, after the health issues that he’s had. If he has any animalic musks to suggest, I’d love to hear.

  10. Looking forward to reading you in 2016, my dear Franz – wishing you a healthy New Year, with lots of joy and fun !
    Oh, I love to play, so here we go (tried to downsize – with not much success…) :

    1. “amber”, earthy vanilla (aka vanilla without sugar), tonka, almond, heliotrop, iris, tolu balsam, hesperidic notes, cumin

    2. boozy notes (cognac, whisky, juniper, rum), taif rose, frankincense, suede, natural smoke, saffron, cinnamon, tea, herbs (rosemary,sage, basil, verbena, lavender, etc), pine, fir, smooth santal, vetiver, myrrh, ambrette seed, cocoa

    3. geranium, patchouli, berries, cherry, daffodil, narcissus, apple, rice, osmanthus. angelica, carrot, tomato leaf, magnolia, aquatic notes. caramelle, champaca flower

    4. agarwood (I put it in this category, because I love it if it’s a good quality oud, but more and more hate the bed ones), coconut, pineapple, passion fruit, quince, plum, rhubarb, peach and apricot, figue (I mostly have problems with fruit notes though: I rarely find them smelling naturally…), galbanum, aldehydes, gardenia, salty notes, muguet, cucumber, mimosa, jasmine (depends a lot on the raw material and the way of usage – can be love or hate…)

    5. ylang-ylang, lily, tobacco, styrax, honeysuckle, honey, lokhum, red pepper, milky notes, anis, tiare flower, cade, licorice, melon, cassis, eucalyptus, camphor, metallic notes, synthetic leather notes, civet, sugar, carnation, violet, strawberry

    6. Tuberose, orange flower, peppermint, spearmint, cloves, gasoline, tar, plastic, indolic notes (or urin, blood, sweat, …)

    • Happy new year, Mi’Lady! Thank you for your list which had a few surprises for me. Several things I knew already (cloves, heliotrope, tuberose, orange blossom, most florals being a negative in fact, especially when indolic, etc.) but some other things surprised me. Either I’d forgotten, or some of your note preferences have changed. For example, I would have thought you would like galbanum or tomato leaf since you enjoy green fragrances. Violet is so green, too, unless it’s the orris sort that somehow creates a floral “violet” facade. And, somehow, I really thought tobacco, leather, and oud were higher on your list. I didn’t realise tobacco was such a huge dislike. That said, you’re completely right about the quality of oud making a major difference, especially if it’s purely synthetic in nature. Also, I had no idea that cumin was such a huge love for you! I shall endeavour to remember the finer points of your list and to see if I can find a few fragrances this year that will suit you. 🙂

      • I’m sure some of my opinions were changig/shifting with time.
        Well, I would love my grean fragrance, but I’m still looking for the ONE (a plush green forest ?). In fact both, tomato leaf and tobacco have aspects I find strongly irritating
        And you’re right : galbanum is there together with oud and jasmin – can be a favorite or a complete hate, depending on the hand of the parfumer…
        While I love soft smooth leather, recently I experienced some awful ones (I’m looking at you Hermes !), leather easily turns into burnt platic on my skin. Just like violet, I love it in the forest (just outside our fence) – but I still have to find a fragrance where I’d like that note.
        Ah, cumin is for sure one of those changing/shifting notes, my note of the moment

  11. 1. Labdanum amber, ambergris, Mysore sandalwood, dirty musks, oakmoss, vanilla, semi-sweet caramel and/or butterscotch, dark roasted coffee beans, gardenia, orange blossom, mango, pineapple, myrrhe.

    2. Tobacco, smooth (plush) leather, hard leather, cinnamon, benzoin, Tonka bean (not too much), white chocolate, the milky rice in Fils de Dieu, and…. Ta Dahhh….patchouli (except 70’s hippy patch), rum.

    3. Vetiver, grass.

    4. Rose, immortelle, lavender, iris, oud, coconut, frankincense, oudy leathers.

    5 and 6. I dislike these notes vehemently at the moment, so I have to lump 5 and 6 together–Galbanum, licorice, tomato leaf, rosewood, pine, lemon, bay leaf, oregano, rosemary, thyme.

    I’m sure I’ve forgotten some favorites and some hates, but this is what I can think of for now. I feel I’ve come a long way in the past 3 years. I can detect more notes in perfumes, and I’m exploring beyond my amber comfort zone. I’m reacquainting myself with perfumes that put me off years ago (thanks for suggesting I keep stuff I dislike so as to try again at a later date).

    • I knew a number of these, but not others. I had no idea that vanilla, caramel or butterscotch were such huge, massive Loves for you, Ed! I always thought that those were fragrances you bought for your relatives or friends, not that you yourself loved the notes so much. I also had no idea that mango and pineapple were passionate loves for you as well! Good heavens, there were a lot of surprises in your first category and far before I got to the rest of your list.

      The white chocolate note is clearly a reference to Coromandel, LOL! What about regular chocolate? The patchouli moving up is a nice surprise, but I was most interested to see that vetiver is merely a “Neutral” now. It was once a “Depends” or Dislike note, so this is quite a change. I thought you liked frankincense more? What is it about myrrh that makes it a passionate love, while frankincense is merely a “It Depends” note?

  12. This was a fun exercise! A change from the last year would be how much more picky/finick-y I am about fragrances. I’ve become more aware of notes & which ones are my kryptonite (I can sniff out lavender or violet in just about anything….I don’t care how deeply buried they are, I can’t stand them). I have very few notes to which I’m indifferent, but the “depends” category has grown immensely. There are many fragrances that have helped open my nose to accepting a previously hated note (e.g., gingerbread in Martine Micallef’s Nasreen, for instance).

    1. Love: Dry dusty vetiver, bitter orange, lime, mandarin, galbanum, leather, smoke, peach, isobutyl quinoline, osmanthus, cumin, black truffles, aldehydes
    2. Like: Ambergris, cardamom, pepper, birch tar, castoreum, oak moss, raspberries, ginger, carrot, juniper, labdanum, benzoin, styrax, saffron, coriander, white woods
    3. Indifferent to: lemon, suede, cinnamon
    4. Depends on how they’re handled: Iso-E Super, oud, clove, tobacco, iris, rose, ylang, frankincense, patchouli, carnation, bergamot, orange, heliotrope, nutmeg, rose geranium, muguet, tomato leaf, musk, sambac jasmine, tarragon, clary sage, gingerbread, chamomile, cocoa
    5. Dislike: sandalwood, fir, pine, honey, civet, anise, tea, tuberose, tagete, plum, dried fruits, tonka, almond, chai, orange blossom, eucalyptus, myrrh, coconut, cassis, rhubarb
    6. Hate: caramel, chocolate, violet, lily, lilac, peony, hyacinth, cade, coffee, whisky/rum/cognac/booze, wine, mint, melon, cucumber, strawberries, grape, marzipan/dessert-like accords, hay, lavender, rosemary, basil, mango/guava/pineapple/tropical fruit, lychee, daffodil

    • Welcome back, Sandipants. It’s nice to see you again. I thoroughly enjoyed reading your list because it seems as though we’re Evil Scent Twins, note wise, and that’s always a lot of fun. I also smiled a bit at seeing “black truffles” juxtaposed next to aldehydes, thanks to the whole black/white thing and the very different style/category of notes.

      There were a few surprises on your list for me, though that may be because I don’t know your tastes well. I somehow had the vague sense or feeling that you were a huge rose lover? Perhaps I’m mistaking you with someone else, or perhaps this is one of the changes of which you spoke? Has rose now become an “It Depends” note, or was it always that way?

      As for lavender being your kryptonite, I was interested to see that clary sage fell into your “It Depends” category. On my skin, clary sage tends to have quite a bit of overlap with lavender, though it also has soapy, herbal cream, and leathery undertones depending on how it’s been handled. I assume the occasional lavender overlap is why clary sage falls into the “It Depends” list, but does the note typically skew into other aromas on your skin far more often than the lavender?

      • wow! you have a FANTASTIC memory! yes, i am a self-avowed rose ‘ho, but i don’t enjoy it as a soliflore. but i don’t enjoy any floral as a soliflore.

        clary sage toes the line, for sure, but i relied on it heavily to scent port-a-johns @ burning man. that was my project one year @ the festival: to scent different port-a-johns with different essential oils & to leave a note with the combination on the door. clary sage had a wonderful calming presence, & it smelled “clean” to me. i forget what i combined it with….maybe rose geranium to tone down the diva?

        i read clary sage as herbal, too but not as shrieky as lavender. to my nose (& on my skin), lavender reads at a very high pitch, which i dislike immensely. even though i’m not good at identifying separate notes generally, i can nose out lavender even in pretty complex perfumes. most fragrances tend to read “sweet” on my skin, which drives me bananas (in a bad way).

        we are scent-opposites…true! and i love that! it gives me great perspective when i read your reviews!

        • I absolutely LOVE your Burning Man story and idea! That is utterly fantastic, ingenuous, original, and funny. I can only imagine some of the scent combinations with Eau de Porto-Potty…. 😀 😀

          As for scent differences, at least we’re united in our hatred for too much sweetness!

          • hehehe! glad you like that idea, too! i think that port-a-potty scenting project was my gateway drug that helped bring me back down the fragrance rabbit hole. i had so much fun doing research on which essential oils blended best. there were people who began to recognize me with my little box of essential oils & would wait to use the port-a-potty after i refreshed the fragrances or would leave me little thank you notes in the the johns. if i ever went back to the burn (not likely, but IF), i’d probably take it to another level with more complex blends.

  13. New here!

    Lavender (clean—like the flower, not the absolute I’ve smelled, which smelled dusty); citrus, in general, bergamot specifically; deep green, earthy scents like vetiver, which I love; foresty scents; peony flowers blooming

    Woody/cedar/fir (smells of hiking in the woods); bois de rose (just getting to know and appreciate); iris; incense (Japanese, pure ground ingredients); fresh herbs like basil, cilantro, thyme, clary sage; cut grass; geranium; green tea

    Cool fruits/vegis like melon, cukes; water/marine scents; juniper; hay; rum and other liquor scents

    Depends on quantity and usage:
    (most are on this list because they need a very light hand or turn bad fast)
    Black pepper; pine (No! to pinesol-ness); big florals like jasmine, rose; ylang ylang can be wonderful, but can instantly topple over into gag-reflex territory if overused; bad patchouli or too much of it; smoky/campfire scents; animalistic scents/musk; milky/powdery like a newborn (not great grandmother); chai/Indian smells (cinnamon, pepper, nutmeg, ginger, etc when not overdone); rosemary; mints (of all types); sandalwood; black currant

    Coconut (=suntan lotion), vanilla that is pronounced; in general things that you bake (I like the smell of cakes and pies, etc. but I don’t want to wear the smell); noticeable clove (disagreeable great aunt chewed clove gum ALL the time); black licorice; wet wool; burnt plastic

    Whatever it is that makes Angel smell like Angel (instrument of torture)
    Anything that smells like sweet dessert or candy (apart from the smell, I don’t like the connotation of “eat me I’m sweet”—very one-dimensional, no?) … Why can’t they just stop with the insanity of making dessert perfumes?!

    • Welcome to the blog, Maggie, and thank you for taking the time to answer. It gives me the chance to learn about your tastes, but I also laughed at a few of your comments. The part about Angel being an “instrument of torture” made me snort out loud over my coffee the first time I read it, and makes me grin upon each subsequent reading as well. There are so many things that make Angel smell like Angel, so who knows if it is the syrupy sweetness, the patchouli, the white musk, or something else to which you’re responding, but I think Angel is a special case of *how* many of its notes have been treated/handled above all else. It’s quite an… er… intense… experience, to put it politely. 😉 😀

      As for why they can’t stop with the insanity of making gourmand fragrances, I hear you and share your feelings. Unfortunately, I doubt that trend is going to stop any time soon. Gourmands are one of THE most popular category of fragrances, and many brands find it to be too lucrative a cash-cow to ever give up. In regional markets like North America, gourmands might even be the most popular genre of fragrance for women. That is why Guerlain is actually making a specific version of a fragrance (La Petite Robe Noire, I think it is) solely for the North American and US market that is twice as sweet as the regular one available elsewhere. I think the regular version is excessively sweet as it is, but that is why it is one of Guerlain’s biggest sellers since its introduction (I think it actually ties with Shalimar, if I recall the Monsieur Guerlain articles correctly) and that is why they plan to appeal to American tastes with an even sweeter formula. Bottom-line: you and I are in a tiny minority with regard to “dessert perfumes,” and the trend is not going away anytime soon, alas.

      • So glad to have found such a smart forum! Am still making my way through everyone’s lists and replies. It feels a bit like coming home. I’ve struggled so long to find scents that fit me and finally resorted to making some of my own–albeit simplistic, novice potions. But they stand head and shoulders above the cotton candy that’s ubiquitous in this market. Even when I have stumbled across things I like (mostly men’s fragrances) like a recent purchase of Fédéric Malle Géranium pour Monsieur I still feel like there is always something missing–the grand “It” moment. I enjoy them, but don’t lust after them–want to pursue them at any cost. (and yes, yes, I know there is clove in there!) … I will continue to search, continue to concoct my own, and mostly learn from those who know far more than I. Thanks so much!

        • I’m really pleased you feel as though you’ve found fellow kindred spirits here! As for not finding the “It” scents that bowl you over so far, there are so, so, SO many new releases each year and so many fragrances as a whole on the market that it can sometimes feel as though one is wading through more than a haystack but an actual ocean in search of an amazing fragrance. The first step can be to single out the notes which appeal to one, then the fragrance genres or families. If you find men’s fragrances appeal to you more, that can say something about the sorts of fragrance genres to which you gravitate. It’s not uncommon for women to appreciate their darker, woodier bouquets when they dislike the cotton candy scents geared towards woman. In short, give it time and hopefully, together, we can find you a few things that you love passionately. 🙂

  14. Okay, I’m a little late to the party but have been thinking about this since you posted. It’s been very thought provoking!

    Truth is, I appreciate a high quality example of most things, and certainly would prefer a better example of a note I was so-so about, than a bad example of a note I love. So, quality is an issue for me. Aromachemicals in the mix cause me problems too. I don’t know enough about them to identify more than a couple I know get me every time: ISO supercrappy, I’m looking at you, but I also have issues with Javanol, synthetic ouds, smokey replicants, synthetic musks and a few others. I’m learning slowly, but I suspect it’s an aromachemical common to MFK perfumes that I find harsh in most of that range, and the reason I haven’t found a Montale I can bear to be in the same room with. No offence intended to anyone who loves these :). Finally, and it’s a personal barrier, I struggle with notes or accords that bear little to no resemblance to their real life counterpart. Perhaps a more accurate description is synthetic replicas of naturals that completely miss the mark? Some scents are just so distinctive, it bothers me when they’re ‘wrong’. Perfume is an art and I’m happy with impressionism, or abstract interpretation, just not when I’m anticipating photo-realism! A single, beautifully done soliflore would probably rate higher for me than something that’s complex but off the mark. So, that’s my problem to overcome.
    Sorry for the long pre-amble, but I wanted to get this down for my own benefit before trying to list out notes, as these factors make categories very fluid for me.

    Assuming the following are handled well, here’s my attempt:
    1. Love
    Fig (this one’s new for me. I discovered Ichnusa this year and lost my heart), Fir Balsam, Fir Needle, Pine cone, tree sap, Mysore Sandalwood, Smoke (if it’s soft, like snuffed candles), Birch Tar, Frankincense, Opponax/Myrrh, Benzoin, Ginger, Gingerbread, Tobacco (cigars, tobacco leaves, or Virginia tobacco), Jasmine, Coconut, Leather (when it’s like Cuir de Russie, or rich like Anubis. Tabac Blonde was a little ‘pale’ for me), Hay, Nettles

    2. Really like
    Spruce, Hemlock, Cedar, Lime, Bergamot, Neroli, Petitgrain, Lemon, Tangelo, Blood Orange, Smoke (if it’s not harsh, chemical, or a forest fire), Honey, Beeswax, Magnolia, Boozy scents (the richer the better – run, whiskey, brandy, cognac, calvados, orange brandy, etc), Grass, ‘Green’, Vetiver, Melissa, Cistus, Lentisque, Eucalyptus, Oud, Rosewood, Mint

    3. Indifferent
    Found this one the most difficult, surprisingly. This is probably reserved for the forgettable notes for me!

    4. Depends
    Danish/Teak oil, Orange blossom, ‘Oakmoss’ (non-vintage), Kumquat, Rosemary, Juniper, Gin, Musks (vary enormously for me), Civet, Peach, Vanilla, Amber (another that varies for me), Labdanum (same), Blackberry, Jasmine (love it when it’s good, but struggle to wear it)’ Lilies (oriental), Tuberose, Coriander/cilantro (this is either love or hate), Raspberry, Coffee (adore the real thing, haven’t found a good perfume yet), Tea, Star Anise, Nutmeg, sweet spices (baking), savoury spices (heat), herbs, Elderflower (love it when it’s like the French liqueur, hate it when the flowers take on that urinous quality), Cinnamon (yes to the spice, no to red-hots), caramel (if it’s dark and rich), Myrtle, Arbutus, eucalyptus bark, Fur (love it when warm and musky, hate it when it is cool or stale – warm & feral versus musty fur coat!), Plum, Almond, Galbanum, Tomato Leaf, Narcissus, Osmanthus, Cherry (Morello, not candy)

    5. Dislike
    Lavender (with a few exceptions, but only if it’s neither herbal or soapy), most other whole fruits, Rose, urine if it’s overpowering. Heavy-handed use of cumin. Excessive ‘armpit’ smell, Banana, Pepper, ‘Tropical’ scents (I don’t want to smell like a daiquiri or sun-tan lotion unless I’m actually on a beach!), soap, vodka, alcohol, strawberry, sugar, chocolate (love the real thing, hate it in perfume), salt (same), orange creamsicle, candy, cake frosting, Patchouli (with the exception of the cocoa-y variety), Iris, Melon, Clove (unless it’s spiking an orange!)

    6. Hate
    White Musk, cigarettes, stale or musty odours, spoiled meat, sour milk, feces, over-ripe underwear, grape, lily of the valley, powder, anything chemical, abrasive or harsh, seaweed, dirty pond smells/fetid water, Geranium, Aniseed, Mould, lipstick

    Oh God, I’m going to have to stop or I’ll be here all night! Apologies in advance for typos and autocorrects!

    • Your “pre-amble” was wonderful, and touched upon a lot of interesting points. I completely agree with you on the issue of quality. I also know what you mean about impressionism vs photorealism, as well as the role of essential oils vs. synthetics in creating a rich, very concrete verisimilitude. Essential oils often have overtones or undertones that bear little relation to how that same note is presented in blended, semi-synthetic fragrances, and frequently even less so with purely synthetic facsimiles. I know you’ve spent some time over the last 6 months exploring a lot of essential oils, and there is a huge divide between the nature of the olfaction. I’ve been in your shoes myself, as you know.

      As for your list, the mention of Profumum’s Ichnusa as well as the other things in your Passionate Love list made me wonder if you’ve tried Profumum’s Arso? It’s got a lot of pine and pine sap, as well as some smokiness. Also, I was interested to see that coconut was a Passionate Love for you, but “tropical scents” and sun-tan lotion were a strong Dislike. Keeping in mind the issue of quality creating exceptions, does coconut never skew into sun-tan lotion on you? I would think it would be a tricky note since, in my experiences, authentic coconut aromas or its milkiness isn’t common in perfumery.

      • You’re too kind, but I thank you your patience with me! I’m so appreciative of the time you take to respond to posts, your willingness to share your experience and expertise, and to offer suggestions to help us find treasures we will love – again, my sincere thanks 🙂

        Somehow Arso has passed me by. Not sure how I keep missing it. I always seem to forget to order a sample, or get sidelined by something else and forget about it. Ichnusa was actually a recommendation from the SA at the Roja Dove Perfumerie in Harrods earlier this year. I trekked half way across central London (on foot) specially and stopped at Les Scenteurs for a pleasant couple of hours en route. I didn’t see the range at LS, and the RD Perfumerie didn’t have Arso. I smelled a lot that day, and Ichnusa was one of the last, but it woke me up like a jolt of electricity – total love at first sniff :). I’ll have to put Arso on the sniff-list 😛

        I haven’t found many good treatments of coconut in perfume either, but it’s one of those rare things that I love in all its states: I love the taste, whether fresh, dried, shredded, on its own or in recipes; I love the water or the milk to drink, like to cook with the cream, and the oil (pourable, and the harder version that’s like a butter), and I use a number of natural products for hair or skin that contain coconut oil for its moisturising properties. Obviously I don’t do all of these at once (!), but I can’t think of many things that I would use in that many ways – honey, perhaps? Thankfully, it never skews to sun-tan lotion on me. I think my issue with most of the tropical scents in perfume is one of blending. I find them sickly sweet, or overpowering. Young coconut is quite tart, even metallic (in taste anyway), and has a freshness that I don’t associate with most of the coconut treatment in scented products which seem to target the ice cream end of the spectrum. If you ever come across an authentic one, please let me know!

        I have a lovely all natural hand cream that has a lot of coconut oil in it, and will sometimes apply a little to hands and wrists prior to certain perfumes. The oils seem to prolong the life of the perfume a little and the natural coconut oil blends surprisingly well with a variety of things. It’s wonderful with sandalwood, but adds a lovely milky facet to other things as well. It works with Amouage Journey to add a creaminess that offsets the opening, which can otherwise be quite dry (possibly why I liked this better than others did?).

        Isn’t coconut used to create the milky accord in Premier Figuier and Philosykos? For the lactones, I’m guessing? On my skin, I get zero fig with PF, just a coconutty ‘sandalwood’y combination. Nice enough, but it doesn’t have Ichnusa’s magic :). I have a sample of Syconium on its way that I’ve been aching to try since you reviewed it ;). Will let you know how that goes.

  15. 1. Love: magnolia, ginger lily, rose (can depend but usually love), jasmine, frangipani, lily of the valley, lilac; cumin, saffron, sea salt, ginger; galbanum, geranium, oakmoss, cypress, broom; passionfruit, lime, blood orange, mango; beeswax
    2. Like: linden, gardenia, lemon blossom, orange blossom, cassis, tagete, lavendar; tobacco, boozy scents, smokiness, leather; sandalwood, fig; incense, musk; hay, bay, baking spices if not too sweet
    3. Indifferent to: iris, osmanthus
    4. Depends on how they’re handled: lily–love in Lys Mediterranee but not in others I’ve tried, violet, tuberose; pine/fir; vanilla; peach; Iso-E Super
    5. Dislike: caramel, chocolate, gingerbread, too-sweet chai, too much coconut, ylang-ylang, aldehydes, vetiver, patchouli, chamomile, tarragon, immortelle
    6. Hate: licorice, anise, cardamom, strong oud

    • Hi Anatu13, and welcome to the blog. Thank you for taking the time to share your feelings about various notes. I look forward to getting to know you and your tastes better in the year to come. 🙂

  16. I suppose I am pretty easy going when it comes to smells – most of these would move around depending on whether it is a perfume or ‘real things’. There are very few individual smells that I loathe, it is usuall combinations that make me run screaming. Or those that smell abrasive even to me, and given that I am not usually aware of aromachemicals, then they could probably strip paint (I rather wish I was). I like dry things, dry, dry, dry and smokey. I cannot handle sweet at all, it will make my head explode. I do like flowers and flower combinations, but not soliflores. Most smells I can find something interesting in them, some element, no matter how horrific. Even if something smells rank on me I am still interested in the effect.

    1.Notes you love passionately.

    Smoke; birch Tar (and I don’t care about aroma chemicals apparently); Frankincense;Tobacco; honey; vetiver; oakmoss; peach; Labdanum amber; ambergris; Mysore sandalwood and Australian sandalwood (I am uncouth and will take my country’s subistitute, reminds me of forests where I grew up); rum; cognac; tuberose; hyacinth; violet; heliotrope; orange; blood orange; mandarin; apple (er, not the really fake stuff); cloves; cumin (yes, I am strange)..

    2. Notes you really like a lot.

    Balsams; wine, rose (dark and spicey roses); lavender; incense; ginger; salt; parchment paper (I am a medieval historian, real parchment is my world); fresh grass; osmanthus flower; ylang; civet; castoreum; hyraceum..

    3. Notes you neither like or dislike.

    Pink peppercorns; dust, magnolia; blood, urine, cat urine (I own a cat, I think I am numb to it); sweat; chlorine; yerba mate (ehe, my inlaws are Argentinian, I drink a lot of it); chamomile; carrots; wormwood (real); barnyard (I like sheds!); dust; rice; dust; mildew; mothballs; eucalyptus (unless it is outside after a boiling day when it has just rained. Then I love it); coffee, green tea (in perfume, in liquid then yes);

    4. Notes that depend on how they are handled

    Suede and leather (I am very specific, most leathers smell to me like public toilets. Apparently Australia made all its toilet soap smell like leather. Who knew?); iris (I like it, it hates me, it needs to not be the lead note); oud or agarwood (real); cassis; blackcurrent; jasmine; cedarwood; spicy patchouli; costas root; makeup powder; blackberry and blackcurrant; horse; fur; fig; oud; pumpkin; linden blossom; opium; imortelle; carnation; lily of the valley; almond; ISO-E Super…

    5. Notes you really (or generally) dislike.

    Orange blossom (I love it on the tree, smells nothing like what I would expect in perfume); lily; lemon; lime; bergamont; cinnamon; chocolate (I am very strange); myrrh; narcissus; coriander; most curry spices in general if not in an actual curry; lychee; tropical scents; mango (with one exception); cucumber; watermelon ..

    6. Notes that you hate with the searing passion of a thousand burning suns!

    Vanilla in the sense of being a food (oh god the horror); coconut; aldehydes; did I already say vanilla???; apricot; White musk (not that common in laundry detergent here, just cheap perfume); ozone; pine scent (ACK; aquatic; sunblock; fruity patchouli; soliflore roses; soliflore iris; soliflore anything; strawberry; sugar; caramel; milk notes; cream; dairy; anything to do with cream and milk, I would prefer to smell an actual cow; toilet soap leather …

    • Hi Anne, welcome to the blog. Thank you for sharing some of your note preferences. I was really intrigued by the “toilet soap leather” you described as being common in Australia and its public toilets. That was fascinating! Something like that would definitely impact one’s perception of “leather” in perfumery. As one perfumer always says, “you smell with your mind.” That means all of one’s cultural and personal scent associations play an enormous role in how one’s nose interprets or filters aromas.

      I also loved learning that you are a medieval historian. What era, region, or historical field in particular?

      • Greetings! I am most definitely a long time lurker, but one has to de lurk at some point in time, I always feel strange having a one sided conversation.

        Perfumery has been interesting in terms of becoming self aware about how odd the daily scents are here, especially I hear so many North Americans railing against musk and orange blossom cleaning products, because that sort of thing is for those who have money here, and only become affordable in the last decade. Cheap (or non sulphate) cleaning products tend to be eucalyptus. Most of my washing smells like the former. So while I can see that cheap musk is … overwhelmingly white, it is still a rather novel smell to me and speaks of wealth, and cities.

        As for ‘toilet soap leather’, one of the most popular bathroom soaps over here has always been Cussons Imperial Leather (birch tar based). Before they started diversifying and adding in damned synthetic tropic notes it was still very ‘leathery.’ Most laundries and public toilets had a cheap version (bright yellow), which smelled remarkably like Caron’s Tabac Blonde, or Cuir Mauresque. I suspect it is some combination of sweet and leather that was in the soaps. Unfortunately it means I (and most people I know) tend to jump away from that sort of perfume as if we had just stuck our heads in a freshly used public toilet. There are leathers I like though, but they tend to skew very dark and masculine (I adore Anubis and anything in that line). It helps me ride out any ‘toilet’ associations, and makes sure no one else thinks of it when I wear it…

        I work primarily in the late twelfth-early thirteenth century, looking especially at France (well, Languedoc/Northern Spain and what is now Belgium). The historical field is a bit .. muddied, as I sit across sermons and performance studies, theology, ethics and literary studies (many of the sources I use are Latin and vernacular narratives). Basically I am interested in the teaching of ethics through performance and narrative (and how it changes through interaction), with an side in the medieval construction of a ‘proto psychology’ and identity. I’ve also been known to wander off into inquisitorial studies and questions around heresy/violence. Then again, I teach anything from the Fall of Rome through to Modern Chinese history, so … diversity is my name. Just don’t ask me to do social history. I fail at that.

        • Fascinating :). The moment I read your comment about leather toilet soap, I wondered if you were talking about imperial leather! I always rather liked it. It was everywhere in the UK too, and the moment I read the words the scent connection was instant. For a moment I felt like a child again – thank you!

        • Who knew that a post about olfactory notes would lead to a new area of fascination regarding Australia’s cleaning, soap, and public bathroom products?! How very cool. I must thank you for the descriptions and explanations because this is all so new to me. Public toilets have soap that smells like Cuir Mauresque???! 😀 Obviously, for Australians, that scent association would completely ruin the actual Lutens fragrance, but I find it hilarious. So, for the non-wealthy or average Australian, cleaning products all smell of eucalyptus? Do medical or muscle rubs also smell of eucalyptus as they do over here in N. America and Western Europe? What about lemon? Both in Western Europe and N. America, a lot of cleaning products smell of lemon. (Lemon far more than orange blossom, I’d say, since I think orange blossom is extremely rare as a cleaning product aroma in my experience.) Is lemon or even pine common over there?

          Your field/area of history is huge in scope and really interesting. I’m not very familiar with “proto-psychology” beyond the generalised, Chaucerian style of literary descriptions like “choleric” and “phlegmatic,” but I imagine you must rely on a lot of Greek texts in addition to Latin or vernacular Dark Ages ones. Very cool! And given how many theological, religious, or monastic texts you must use as primary sources, no wonder parchment and papyrus are a common scent in your world. LOL. 🙂

          • The places that olfactory notes lead! Certainly I have never really given it as much thought as I have recently – now I am going to stand in the cleaning products aisle and contemplate the meaning of what is there and transitions in taste and cleaning products. Aha! The one time I tried to wear Cuir Mauresque, I had to scrub it off because I was getting comments about toilets at work, and was beginning to feel somewhat odd myself. I am sure there are people out there who don’t have this association (after all, they do sell it here, so someone must buy it) but my intial reaction is always toilet. Having said that, as a toilet soap scent I rather like it, and certainly imperial leather always satisfied my love of birch tar. Perhaps I could have terribly expensive toilet deoderiser?

            Not all the cleaning products – currently it is mostly the cheapest and environmentally friendly products like detergent, floor cleaner, bench cleaner (you could in fact probably use the same thing for all of them). Still, even the others that are musk have never been as strong as those I’ve encountered in other parts of the world, not unless you throw in softener as well (not many driers over here, not much need). My grandmother used to clean with a mix of bi-carbonate of soda, vinegar and eucalyptus oil. Although there is one that is orange (bitter orange?) scented. Most things that are lemon/pine are going to be dish liquid or disinfectant, but pine is probably the more popular. Sometimes rose, but of course the ever present eucalyptus.

            Ack no, most muscle rubs over here smell really straight up camphorous – the opening of Tubereuse Criminelle is exactly like so many muscle rubs I have used. Although it is mostly a ‘bit of muscle rub’ with a lovely ending. I suspect it is the wintergreen in them all, or the Rosemary that is often listed as a scent. Most eucalyptus oil in the world is from camphor laurel rather than any eucalyptus tree anyway, so .. not quite as woody as it should be. Where you get a lot of it here (outside of disinfectant and clothes wash) is for things like colds/sinus problems and fevers (oil in hot water, face over bowl). Massage oil as well perhaps, and in non insecticidal bug repellants.

            Well, I work mostly at the moment on exempla and their collections. These are short stories often used in preaching, but they are the ones that Chaucer and Boccaccio draw on for their works. They are also quite closely connected to Trouvere tales and other vernacular collections, but what really interests me is the way in which they are taught and performed. Reading (and hearing, not mutually exlusive) in the Middle Ages is just as much about meditation, ethics, memory and emotional regulation as it is about .. well reading. Most of their descriptions match current neurological understanding of memory, and this combined with the inherent teaching of ethics is what creates a type of trouble shooting for a wide variety of disorders and issues with mental health and the ‘passions’. Admittedly not framed like that! There are not so many Greek texts to work with, mostly because they were only slowly making their way back into the Western European context (Aristotle’s Ethics – biggest hit of the thirteenth century), as are the skills to read Greek without a translation. Latin though, and vernacular.. yes. I find vellum and papyrus tend to take on smells from where they are used – some will be embued with incense, others mould (in which case someone better solve that!), their leather bindings, or strangely stale from being in controlled atmospheres. Fresh vellum smells both sharp (the lime involved in making it) and creamy. Papyrus has undertones of hay.

            Apparently I am also incapable of brevity. 😛

  17. A happy New Year to you!

    What I recognized during the last year is that my taste is really all about accords and well blended fragrances and not so much about single notes. In your best of 2015 post I forgot to mention Sortilège Elixir from Le Galion, it was an instant love because it’s composed so well. And then I still passionately love violets but there are so many out there I don’t care about or I can’t even stand.

    My aim for this year is to get to know some of the aromachemicals. I always enjoyed Five o’clock au gingembre but after its reformulation it smells so horrible and I don’t know what the sharp and penetrative note is I now loathe in it (same goes with a lot of reformulations).
    Like someone else has written I get more and more sensitive to ISO E super, too. When I first noticed it I thought I must have read too much Fragranz Kafka and am now under your evil influence (hehe) but I think it’s actually that my taste has evolved over time.

    What has changed during the last year is that my tolerance for dark and intense notes like birch tar and some sorts of leather has grown and my tolerance for sweetness has decreased, which is a bid sad. Then I discovered Bogue’s Maai this year and it’s the second tuberose I love, so there is some development…
    And it has been the first year since 2012 (when I started to explore perfumes), in which I had some days where I wasn’t in the mood to wear any fragrance and that felt pretty good.

    What hasn’t changed is that my tastes are still eclectic: I enjoy a good cologne as much as an oriental, a chypre etc.

    It was a good idea to start the new year with some cogitation, thanks for the inspiration and I enjoyed reading all the other comments, very interesting!

    • Happy new year, Anka! I smiled at the ISO E Super and “Fragranz Kafka” comment, but it does sound as though both your tastes and your nose are evolving. I wonder if the new appreciation for Maai is solely about the tuberose or if you’re also starting to love animalics in perfumery as well? As for the reformulation of Five O’ Clock au Gingembre, do you think that the “sharp and penetrative” note you mentioned is white musk? I think a number of the reformulated Lutens have a significant and hugely increased quantity of white musk, and it definitely tends to the “sharp” side on my skin. Perhaps it’s the same thing for you?

  18. Happy New Year, Kafka! Greetings to the Hairy German, too! I felt I commented in the Vol.9 not long ago, and it’s almost a year ago, how time flies! Thank you for this wonderful year of perfume reviewing, I’m looking forward to getting more olfactory adventures with your reviews! ^_^

    There weren’t any dramatic changes in my preferences to different notes this past year, but a few seem to have become more specific.

    I still enjoy different types iris and orris, be it chilly, stark or warm, creamy. I’m also becoming more and more enamoured with rich, boozy, earthy, chocolate-nuance patchouli.

    However, I’m starting to struggle with the followings:

    – Boozy amber: After wearing Ambre Narguilé, Ambre Russe and Mauboussin a few more times, although I still think they’re wonderful, I find the plum wine-like booziness tiring to the nose after a while. This also makes me wonder if I actually prefer ambered patchouli / incense / spices to purely balsamic amber, as the former elements can cut through the potentially tiring richness of the later.

    – Balsamic tonka / tobacco: I find the tobacco in Diptyque Volutes too thick to bear, and occasionally in Tauverville Vanilla Flash. Since I’m doing ok with other tonka/tobacco fragrances thus far, I’m thinking it’s probably the balsamic texture that I’m struggling with, somehow like the case with amber.

    – Soapy, laundry-like notes: I become less tolerant.

    – Bubblegum note: I encountered it in Mona di Orio Tubéreuse, Serge Lutens Un Lys, L’Artisan Parfumeur Rappelle-Toi, Dzing! and a few others that I can’t remember for the moment, all in the dry down. Maybe an unfortunate combination of white floral with some resins or aromachemicals in the base?

    By the way, recently I smelt a blooming hyacinth, and it was wonderful! However, when thinking about hyacinth in fragrance, what I encountered before were usually the sharp tart greenness in the opening of floral fragrances, and the floralcy of hyacinth doesn’t seem to get a proper interpretation. Have you tried any fragrances highlighting the floral part of hyacinth ?

    • Yinghao, I will be watching closely for answers to your question about hyacinths, because it is just about my favorite scent and I dislike most perfume renditions of it a lot. Especially the Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth, which smells like a handful of stems to me. If anyone knows of a true floral hyacinth, please do tell.

      • I also love real hyacinth. Now I know not to try Buterbaugh Apollo Hyacinth. I recently ordered a sample of Divine L’âme Sœur. To me and on me it smells of “impressionist” hyacinths. If you check out the notes in it, it doesn’t make sense but that’s what it is on me. I need a decant.

    • Happy new year, Yinghao! First, I’m always happy to hear that someone may be growing fonder of patchouli. 😉 😀 Second, I think patchouli can definitely take on a very boozy facet when combined with amber, so it’s interesting that you may prefer that sort to the more typical “boozy amber” stylings. What might be a good experiment for you is to try some fragrances that are more purely patchouli-centric in focus, rather than boozy amber-centric, and see what you think. Also, try some ambers that are less fruity in nature and perhaps skew more to the ambergris side than the labdanum amber or mixed labdanum-benzoin-vanilla accord. Some suggestions for boozy patchoulis: Jovoy’s Psychedelique and Oriza’s Horizon. For the ambergris, Farmacia SS Annunziata’s Ambra Nera mixes ambergris with patchouli, while Profumum Roma’s Ambra Aurea is a very rich ambergris-centric fragrance with a mild or minimal amount of labdanum. Profumum’s Fiore d’Ambra is also ambergris-centric, but has a quiet, subtle incense-smokiness to it as well as a subtle powderiness. Both of those might be interesting for you to try, and can be easily sampled.

      With regard to Hyacinth, I have yet to find a superb soliflore that really focuses on the flower and its floralcy. Mugler came out with a hyacinth fragrance last year, and it was all about the bitter, almost venomously green aspect of its sap or stems. The beautiful, narcotic liquidity of its flowers wasn’t there at all. When I do encounter a good hyacinth floral aroma, it’s usually a tiny drop in the bucket amidst more dominant flowers. I’ve actually begged a few perfumers to make a hardcore or good hyacinth soliflore, and there is one who told me privately that he’s been working on a hyacinth fragrance for a few years but nothing has pleased him yet or come close to replicate the scent that he has in mind. Until he does (and he’s really great at this sort of thing), I’m afraid there is nothing out there that I’ve encountered that fits the bill.

      • Thank you Kafka for the suggestions! 😀 I tried Horizon and Ambra Nera a while ago, and I loved both, especially the boozy patchouli in Horizon.That was when I realised that it was ‘boozy’ + ‘amber’ posing problems for me in Ambre Russe, etc. I’ve always found that I prefer some amber fragrances to a few others, but never get to ponder the reasons behind properly. I’ll definitely look into those you recommended, and try to discern my preferences in amber.

        Speaking of hyacinth, I remember reading your disappointed review on the Mugler one. Too bad that such gorgeous flower is underappreciated in the perfume world. Hopefully one day it’ll be in trend! I remember that Tauer is going to release a hyacinth in his Sotto La Luna line this year, maybe the tide is approaching. 😀

  19. Happy New Year, Kafka. This is the first time I am participating, so my list might not be too sophisticated.
    I think you are my scent twin – at least I know that if you like something than I would like it too 🙂 I am still a but shy around the BWFs, but have bought quite a few non-BFWs based on your recommendations (Ambre Loup, Ambra Nera, Ambra Aurea, Kisti, Salome, Anubis, Masque Milano, Maai, Voyagethe list is long)
    #1: notes that I love: any type of amber, sandalwood (I prefer the creamy and milky type). booze (any, you name it), chocolate (but not sweet), cocoa, balsams (Peru, Tolu), tobacco, peaches, ylang-ylang, vanilla (but not sweet), Iris, Dirty Rose

    #2: Notes I like a lot: Leather and suede, smoke, incense, honey
    #3: Neutral. Not sure. I either like something or don’t, I try not to have anything I am feeling lukewarm about
    #4: Depends. Leather (certain harsh leathers I am not a fan of), Rose (only like dark, spicy rose), Jasmine (only have a couple of Jasmines, still trying to find my footing there), strawberry, musk (still exploring this one)
    #5: Dislike: Orange and Linden blossom (Can only take it for 5 minutes), Soliflore flower, dewy roses, anything fruity or sweet.
    #6. Hate with a passion: clean notes, sea notes, anything that reminds you of household cleaning products, including diswashiing liquid, laundry detergent, soapy), rain notes (but I like how the air smells after the rain), stale body odor, urine, blood, fecal.

    This was a fun exercise.

    • How lovely to hear that I might be your Scent Twin, Marianna. I’m so glad you participated in the exercise but, most of all, that you’re slowly feeling more comfortable to post and not to lurk so much. That’s the nicest part of all for me! 🙂 As for your note list, I knew about your orange blossom issues from a comment you left regarding L’Eau Scandaleuse but very little about the rest, so I’m glad you expounded on some specifics. It sounds like we’re going to have explore jasmine together in order to find the sort that appeals to you best and, probably, as part of a mixed bouquet where jasmine is not the sole or primary focus. 🙂

      • Any recommendation on the Jasmine? The only jasmine I have is Jasmine De Nuit by The Different Company. Also, would be curious to hear your recommendations on Ylang-Ylang.
        Thank you
        BTW, how is the Hairy German? I remember you mentioning a while back there was some medical issue requiring rare meds. It is the worst when the pets get sick – I used to have a Brittany (the most amazing breed in my mind – sorry Hairy German), and once we had to do a major emergency surgery for him – that was very scary.

        • My favorite jasmine scent thus far is Tawaf by La Via del Profumo/AbdesSalaam Attar who also makes my favorite ylang-ylang, Tasneem. However, both fragrances are much softer and more discreet than I would like after the first few hours. You know what I love as a rich, boozy floriental? LM Parfums Sensual Orchid. There is more than just ylang or even orchid, and it’s a huge favourite of mine. I’d definitely recommend getting a sample to to try for yourself. The AbdesSalaam/Via del Profumo ones can also be sampled. If you’re in the US, you can order from STC but it may be cheaper for the size/price ratio if you order directly from him.

          As for The Hairy German, it’s very kind of you to ask. He’s okay. He has a number of health issues but the most significant or major ones are under control, thanks to the daily cocktail of medications he’s on. The problem now is that several of those are triggering side-effects that are frustrating to deal with. Isn’t that always the case with both humans and animals alike? At least he’s in good spirits, though, and that’s what matters for now. 🙂

  20. Hmmmm, what has changed since last year? I will start with #4, the “it depends” notes like last year since it’s an interesting category. I still despise Vanilla sugar bombs but I love smoky or boozy vanillas or gourmandy vanillas that aren’t overly sugary. Civet and castoreum in vintage Bal a Versailles (still on my wishlist) and vintage Ciara (which I’ve scored) leather or oud depending on what – funny thing here is LM’s Hard Leather, a fragrance that’s tough for many people never goes barnyard on me and my whole family loves it. Pumpkin, peach, cloves, tobacco, cinnamon, pepper, ginger, jasmine, iris, musk, and white flowers generally are still “it depends” #6 Loathes- butter, solid sugar, blackberries (they go fecal on me), tar, cumin, soap, cough syrupy cherry or grape, rubber or asphalt. #5 Dislikes; some changes here as I have found I just don’t like lavender in fragrances, or strawberries. Others I can’t really do; honey, coffee, chocolate, aldehydes, very dark patchouli and on the other end fruitchouli, melon, coconut, mint.#1 loves; cherry blossom, orchid, muguet, oakmoss, tomato, grass, peonies, clover, heliotrope, hyacinth, linden, daffodil, lily, blueberry, pine, cloves, carnation, mimosa, salt water, fresh air, greens generally. Likes #2; rose, fig, green patch, woodsmoke, booze of all kinds, violet. almonds, earth, orange blossoms, woods, apples, tea, dasies, tulips.

    Meh; cucumber, calones,
    Perhaps the biggest change; I am so burnt out on citruses they’ve moved to my dislike column. I am looking forward to moving back north and wearing more basenotey fragrances.

    • I enjoyed reading about the changes in your taste, Vicki. Interesting that you don’t like chocolate in fragrances, since I know you don’t mind some gourmands in the vanilla genre. I’m somewhat opposite as I am drawn to chocolate notes far more than vanilla ones. I was most surprise to hear that you were burnt out on citruses since I knew you really enjoyed them before, but it makes sense that you’d overdosed on them given the hot climate you’re in now and that you’d enjoy the chance to wear fragrances that are warmer, richer, and heavier once you move to the cooler Northeast region. Anyway, thanks for sharing!

      • You’re welcome Kafka, I need to explore Aftelier once I move back north. Oakmossy and her vanilla smoke sound incredible.

  21. Health Wisdom and Luck in 2016 !!

    I start with 6-5-4-3……………

    I hate with all my heart the so-called AMBER ( doesn’t exist because a mix, and they smother it in watery-alcohol..I’ve pure amber in a small box that’s different ) ) bad SANDALWOOD ( practicly all sandals because I boycot the mysore..) , OSMANTHUS !! ( makes me weak weaker weakest ), so-called red-or Egyptian-MUSK-accords ( eh ? ), since lately I hate GERANIUM ( because while playing with my own ‘opuses’ I met a very bad Bulgarian, mamma mia.. 0 tollerance now to ALL)..
    AQUATIC-accords …CITRUS accords that take over base and middle parts…CLEAN-accords ( read CK ), AIRY-accords ( unless they’ve some smoke in the engine like vintage-VolDeNuit…but the modern Vol repulses me ) COCUS..

    5. I hate medium ( = fysical illness, weakness,ecc..want to like them but ..helas )
    Too much CINNAMON ( like in Cinnamon ), combination LAVENDER-GINGER or too much GINGER on its own ..certain TEAS( can’t understand which/why ) TUBEROSE ( Fracas- sickness..)
    VANILLA ( they put it everywhere) and specially VANILLA-LAVENDER….WHISKEY/RUM/VODKA/BEER/ CHAMPAGNE ( why? As a galbanum-initial-sprint…fine…but if it sticks with bad sandalwood ecc….aiai ) CERTAIN ROSES ( the Bulgarian ? wrong accord or ripeness ?) BAD JASMINE ( in old-Opium it’s good, in Joy it’s totally BAD ) LILACS ( toilet reminder? ) everything GOURMAND ( raisins/grapes/candy/salmon ecc ) SELLAR , APPLE, ‘ MILK’ ( why ..you niches? )

    6. Left indifferent by : COFFEE ( serves his job but not to be loved ) SAFFRON ( idem )
    HAY ( wanna meet a good one ) YLANG-YLANG ( in many of my scents have trouble smelling it ) LEATHERS ( same: modern leathers for many …not one for me..oh ja, OPUS9
    ha ha ) I wish I found ‘one’..all the mediocre ATTARS ( I use for massage-oil) based on bad-OUDH-MUSK-‘AMBER’…ROSEMARY, THYME, CASSIA ( can’t detect ) HYBISCUS , PEPPERS, ALDEHYDES( some good some bad ) NUTMEG ( useful not loveable ) DAISIES ( have to create my own Keats-daisy), SEAWEED ( good or bad ) WHEAT ( they make that up ) RUBBER ( where? ) LOTUS ( when did I smell a good one? Oh yes when I was 11..in the Chinese shop ) FIGUES ( where? ) TONKABEANS ( not too sweet !)

    1. My LOVES : BASIL ( yes ) ORIGANO ( yes ) FENNEGREEK ( YES) ASSAFUTIDA( the best opening ever ) CARDAMON-green+black ( eat it raw) CUMIN( right amount YES ) CORIANDER ( YESSS) TERRAGON, ANGELICA, PETIT-GRAINS, IMMORTELLE, CLARY-SAGE, NARCIS, CALYCANTHUS-ASIATICUS ( flowers in midwinter ! complete different then the USA-variant ) VIOLET-LEAVES ( rediscovered it this winter, was my youth scent..with oakmoss ) CYCLAMEN ( Diorella! ) CHRYSANTHEMUS ( YES)
    CIVET-CASTOR-FURS-specially with HONEY (=together form the liquid-acid-drop-accord of Shocking) certain old AMBERGRIS ( Dioressence ) HONEY-WAX, MIMOSA ( my first selfbought perfum, 10yrs ) CARNATION ( like in the best gentlemen’s ) and my newest love : VETIVER-VETIVER-VETIVER ( my own made is best ) and vetiver+violet !
    addicted to PLASTIC-DOLL-WITH-NEW-HAIR_ACCORD ( NO VANILLA ) ..many resins ..LABDANUM, ORRISROOT, GALBANUS ( for the initial sprint ),OPOPONAX, CEDAR ( all ) CYPRES ( all) EARTH ( all,,but let’s start with PATCHOULI ) OAKMOSS ( heaven )
    BIRK ( all woody/foresty) LAVENDER ( my own without vanilla ) OLIBANUM, MYRRHE,

    2. LESSER GODS BUT STILL MUCH LOVED: (‘ functionals’ ) HONEYSUCKLE ( for drunkness ) NEROLI, ORANGE_FLOWER, GARDENIA ( a good one = heaven) ROSEWOOD, ANIS-STAR, FENNEL-SEEDS, COCUMBER ( drunkness..just a bit ) MELON ( idem ) CAMILLE ( usefull) VERBENA ( idem) COFFEE ( idem) BERGAMOT ( idem) GERANIUM ( now indigestion but in many scents I have ) EDELLWEISS ( more utopia then reality )
    GENTIANUM-BLUE ( idem..I search an ‘Alp’-scent ) the fake CAMELIA ( addictive like the plastic doll ) BENZOIN , IRIS ( the effect)….

    That’s it..I’m tired now, Sorry guys for this long text……
    Thanks for reading..

    • I reply my own…just to make more sense ..: I’m not a Vermeer ( all variaties on one theme/colour ) but a Rembrandt ( I search the opposites..wanna have a good green AND a good ‘oriental’…also a fresh Muguet ( OMG !!! I forgot MUGUET YES LOOOVE ) AND a BIG ANIMAL…so search the big contrasts ( like me )…I have a classic VIOLETTA , and a WOODY one ..ecc if this makes sense..I’m CARAVAGGIO, not VERMEER ( although I love him )…ciao
      ( so muguet is nr 1 ..)

      • sorry sorry, just 2 more things..I have next to me a small/cute 4ml bottle called “TSUNAMI” ( ja!) and it’s no fume but Chinese mosquito-repellent based on CAMPHER-WOOD ecc and its GORGEOUS, so I include CAMPHER ( + minth ) and can’t make up my mind if this is only ‘medicine’ or fumes ..I tend to say ‘fumes’..also I smell here VANILLA but a good one= APROPRIATE ! So this is very inspiring, moe then the last 3 niches I smelled, even the name is FAB ( I’ll steal it for my self ) and I will do something with this new realisation..the best campher I smelled in ages..
        Point 2 : My ‘curriculum’ went from earth to earth….since my initial love and BASE was always PATCHOULI …and the ‘new’one is VETIVER, I see no contrast here..I love ALL aspects of these two..also ( specially) the ‘dirty’ ones, rough +wild.

    • Thank you for taking the time to share your note preferences. I appreciated the opportunity to get to know your tastes.

  22. I have to amend my earlier remarks by saying that I am drenched in the new Orlov Star of the Seasons, and this is the only scent I have found recently that has exactly the right amount of cumin. But something horrible happens on me for the first 15 minutes. Whatever it is, it is a new hate note. But everything after that is lovely on me, sort of a feral gourmand. I hope that you review this one so that I can get your impression.

    • I have a sample and will be reviewing it, but it may not be for another 10 days or so because there are some other new fragrances that I want to do first and because there are four Orlov scents in total. That said, I’m glad to hear Star of the Seasons worked for you despite the cumin and its first 15 minutes!! I think that was one of the 4 that I thought had promise upon a brief sniffing of the atomizer stick.

  23. Hi again!
    Here’s what I’ve come up with on the fly…I’m sure I’ve forgotten a lot. I don’t have a “neutral” category because “it depends” is about as neutral as I generally get. Something else about me is that my first signature scent, when I was 14 or 15, was Chanel 22, but in about 1982 I started wearing nothing but Opium, until 1987. That’s when my son was born and my signature scent became “eau de formula and diapers”. Anyway:

    All ambers, patchouli, dry vanilla, whiskey/rum, tobacco, sandalwood, honey, beeswax, spices in general (caveats w/cinnamon and cumin, but love ginger and cardamom), orange blossom, osmanthus, jasmine (if it’s the right jasmine), honeysuckle, lilac.

    Like: Saffron, neroli, tuberose, gardenia, lily, orris, peach/apricot, cream/milk, oakmoss, dried fruits, black tea, most woods/balsams/resins, ylang, frankincense, petitgrain, rosewood, bergamot, yuzu, the right vetiver, ambrette seed, almond.

    Depends: Other citrus, rosemary, clary sage, basil, plum, berries, lavender (love in life but not on me), rose (same, rose always does something not good on my skin), oud, myrrh, mushroom, earth, wine, butter, iris, creamy greens, animalics, “powdery”.

    Dislike: hay, coumarin, immortelle, most herbs, leather (love the idea, but has uniformly been terrible on me), woodsmoke (same, although “smoky notes” from something else sometimes ok), coconut, other fruits, super sugary anything, super sharp green anything, conifers, chocolate, coffee, “soapy”, candy/gum

    Hate: “fresh”, “aquatic”, “clean”, rubber, plastic, dusty anything. Leather on me might be a “hate”, along with birch tar, but I’m willing to concede that I might not have tried the right thing. It basically takes over everything and turns into dirty ashtray (Soleil de Jeddah! Crazy what it did!). Same with most smoke accords.

    This was fun, thanks! 🙂

    • And it was even more fun to read, so thank you, Jay! My first thought was excitement at hearing about your vintage Opium love, but that was rapidly overtaken by a sudden idea I had about you and the leather. Specifically, Spanish Leather! That is something completely different than the modern version of “leather” that is typically recreated through birch tar, cade, isobutyl quinoline, etc. etc.

      Spanish Leather or “Peau d’Espagne” to call it by its original name usually doesn’t contain an actual “leather” note at all. Centuries ago, it was a mix of spices, citruses, florals, castoreum, civet, and aromatics that was used to scent leather products and gloves. In later years, sometimes some creamy elements were added in as well. The result makes you think of “leather” gloves (really thick suede and chamois, imo) but it’s all an impressionistic sort of thing rather than a leather-leather-LEATHER aroma, if that makes sense.

      One of the most admired Spanish Leather fragrances is a comparatively “new” one dating back to 1901 or so (lol) from Santa Maria Novella called Peau d’Espagne. I haven’t discussed it in a solo review that goes over all the details, but I wrote about it as part of a summary of a number of SMN fragrances that I tried in Florence last July. SMN is actually one of the oldest perfume houses imaginable, going back to the 1400 (or the 1100s depending on how you interpret the role of the founding monks), and it has an utterly fascinating history. The thing with their Peau d’Espagne, though, is that it contains a number of your “It Depends” notes and is also a bit dusty at times. Dust is one of your Hate notes, I know. In short, it would probably be a gamble.

      In general, though, you may want to find some other Peau d’Espagne-style fragrances and see if this impressionistic style of “leather” is more to your tastes. At the moment, though, I’m drawing a complete blank on names of other fragrances in the genre. I think Mandy Aftel of Aftelier might have one, though.

      • I will definitely try the SMN!! Keep in mind that while I have some familiarity with natural raw materials, I have none with aromachemicals and little with super complex blends. So the above list included a lot of certainty (my “loves”), but also a lot of guesswork.
        There may be a leather waiting for me right around the corner, but something in particular about the few perfumes I tried didn’t work for me.

        & while I am attributing that to unknown chemicals, I also had problems with Aftelier’s Vanilla Smoke, which I loved on a friend and was super excited about…but then gave me almost nothing in terms of vanilla. I wonder if you were thinking of her Cuir de Gardenia? It is one I have not tried, so I will try that, too.

        I know until I’ve tried and read a lot more, I won’t really have any idea why Soleil de Jeddah crashed within minutes into dirty ashtray on repeated tries….or why I got a horrible headache the third time I wore Kiste, despite adoring the fragrance….or any of my other less-than-perfect outcomes.

        I’ll keep at it, as time and my itty-bitty grad student budget will allow me. I *am* finding that a couple/three things are doing well for me in the cold weather, so hope to make some progress on the floral front by spring, as well as expand my range with straight-up ambers…and, now, try to sort out the “leather” thing.

        Thanks so much for your help!!!!

          • And i second you trying cuir de gardenia. It’s the only leather I have really enjoyed so far other than what leather there is in Anubis. And I also was curious about the three things that are working for you right now! I’m in cold weather too and wouldn’t mind knowing.
            Ps. Just finally finished the grad school budget last summer. My empathies for sure!

          • FeralJasmine, I have not tried anything from that line yet….but that’s a good idea, to try it and see what it does, give myself a baseline. I had been planning to order a sample of Black Gemstone, because of what I’ve read here, but that’s as far as I had gotten in my thinking about things to try with a strong leather note.

            Paskale, I am wearing through my sample of Trayee at an alarming rate. Also, I’ve been wearing a lot of Ambre Loup, sometimes layered with Vanille Botanique. I have a couple of other vanillas and a couple of other ambers…along with Anubis and Salome…on my “next up” list.

            Kafka, I’ve been meaning to try that for awhile. I haven’t had much luck with her perfumes so far, although I love the Orchid solid (and her body/face oils). Sadly, the Orchid doesn’t last long enough on me to make the outlay worth it, but if you are familiar with that one that will give you an idea of a floral other than Moon Bloom that I liked.

            Thanks, everyone, for the suggestions 🙂

        • Cuir de Gardenia definitely does NOT have a Spanish Leather style of leather. It’s “leather” is purely derived from castoreum. It’s a nice scent but it’s very different in genre, style, notes, and overall bouquet from the ancient “scented gloves” of Peau d’Espagne. Try Cuir de Gardenia for sure, but for a creamy floral (on an animalic castoreum base) and as part of your attempts to expand your floral range. 🙂

        • Jay, if you want to ask Kafkaesque to send you my email address, I can send you samples of Black Gemstone and Hard Leather. I wouldn’t be able to mail for about 10 days because I am traveling, but if that’s okay with you get in touch. Please put Kafkaesque in the subject line so I can pick it out among all the political spam☺️

          • Wow! Thanks so much! I know you probably have *everything*, but if I can ever return the favor, I will. It will be great to try something a little riskier and compare it to what others describe.
            Side note: would definitely prefer to be traveling myself right now.

          • I’ll wait to hear from you, and will send a short reply right away to let you know that I got it. If I don’t reply, I didn’t get it, so please send your address again.

          • I just passed along your email now, late Monday night, so you should hear from Jay on Tuesday or so. Thank you for helping out and your supportive offer, my dear. xox

          • Ok, after a misfire on my first sent message, I think all the right info got exchanged, and I thank you both for your efforts! I’m really excited to see how the samples compare to what I *think* I’m picking up elsewhere.

  24. I’m terribly late to the game, and you know most of my preferences anyhow, but I love this sort of thing too much not to participate! Plus, I’m interested to do without looking at my previous answers and seeing how much has changed recently. I’ve been terribly ill with a duodenal ulcer and various other health issues since last May and it’s definitely impacted how I perceive scent and taste a great deal.

    1. Notes you love passionately. In essence, those which make you sit up when you see them on a perfume list.

    Oakmoss, labdanum, orange blossom, violet blossom (I have no idea why I have such an ionone fixation), tolu and peru balsam, whisky, tuberose, frankincense

    2. Notes you really like a lot.

    Fir (and many other conifer) absolutes, cognac, jasmine, saffron, cardamom, sandalwood, juniper berry, high quality patchouli, lily, tobacco, civet, osmanthus, peach, apricot, cacao, tulsi, muguet, gardenia (when it actually smells like gardenia, that is), clove, carnation, orris, neroli

    3. Notes you neither like or dislike. True and genuine indifference as to their appearance in a perfume.

    This is the most difficult, I’m not very good at neutrality or indifference lol. I do shrug a lot about many peppercorn and citrus top notes though. Even bergamot mostly bores me unless it’s of excellent quality or used in a (to me) interesting manner.

    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.

    Smoke, leather, honey, cumin, vetiver, vanilla (I love vanilla in many cases, but too many cheap ethyl vanillin experiences have me a bit paranoid now), violet leaf, rose, ylang, coconut, oud, tagetes, hay, iris (love the flowers, iffy about the majority of iris perfumes), linden, raspberry leaf absolute, galbanum (despise it on its own, but sometimes it can be used in a nuanced and beautiful way),

    5. Notes you really (or generally) dislike.

    Lavender, geranium, fig, mint, basil (other than tulsi), clary sage, melon, aquatic, cucumber, aldehydes, lemon, and most things fresh/clean (I’m not sure there are any exceptions, but I suppose it could happen if I was held at gunpoint or something)….

    6.Notes that you hate with the searing passion of a thousand burning suns!

    Soap, white musk, iso-E, that special greasy coconut armpit smell that seems popular for the last decade or so.

  25. I know I’m way late to answer this (and that you’re taking a break from blogging) but this sounds like so much fun -and it’s cool to organize my thoughts- I can’t resist!

    I adore:
    lavender, rosemary, chamomile, cannabis (anything herbal, medicinal, ayurvedic)
    neroli, bergamote, petitgrain, fir, pine
    oliban, encens

    I love:
    rose, orange blossom, iris, heliotrope, violet
    vetiver, juniper, eucalyptus
    patchouli, mysore sandalwood, myrrh, chaï

    daffodil, magnolia, cassis, clary sage, mint
    oakmoss, tonka bean, cinnamon, spices in general

    It depends:
    grass, lilly of the valley, plum, lilac, carnation, ylang ylang, honey
    leather, cedar, amber, oud

    I dislike:
    cucumber, coriander, tilleul (I don’t remember how to say it in english!)
    vanilla, coffee, tea, cocoa, whiskey, rhum or any booze (although I love drinking it!)
    powder, civet or animal notes, soap, cumin

    I hate:
    watermelon (I can’t believe how it’s everywhere!), pear, apple, fruits in general
    jasmine, gardénia, tubéreuse, freesia, anything tropical
    dry cleaner (hello “clean” scents!), obvious chemicals, dust, plastic

    I enjoyed reading everyone’s preferences!
    And I especially adore this blog, Monsieur Kafkaesque!

    • I forgot the “marine” notes!! I loathe it… J’adore la mer pourtant!

Comments are closed.