Hiram Green‘s latest release, Slowdive, is a rich, thick oriental whose warmth and sweetness are rather lovely on icy, frigid winter days. It’s described as a “tobacco-themed” fragrance and has additional notes of honey, resins, citrus, dried fruits, and florals. On my skin, however, it was primarily a honey fragrance, albeit one given great full-bodied, molten depth through finely painted brush-strokes of other elements.
Slowdive is an all-natural, handcrafted eau de parfum that was released at the end of 2017. On his website, Mr. Green describes the fragrance and its notes as follows:
Slowdive is a warm tobacco-themed fragrance that captures the mood of those languid afternoons when the sweetness of the Indian summer air is almost palpable.
The fragrance opens with fresh and flowery top notes of neroli and orange flower before tobacco blossom and beeswax take over. This heart – rich and deep, with hints of dried fruit and creamy tuberose – is delicately anchored by a base of honeyed resins that give Slowdive its soft and exotic touch.
The succinct list of notes is:
Neroli, orange flower, tobacco blossom, tuberose, honey, dried fruit, resin.
Slowdive opens on my skin with honey that is sticky, deep, and so treacly that it feels molten. It is also immensely sugared, just like one of those honeycombs that you fish out of a big jar of honey. And, just like the very best honey, Slowdive is softly fragrant and layered with the aroma of things which the bees might encounter during their pollination journey. In this case, there are whispers of: orange blossom flowers; the greener, crisper scent of neroli; green leaves; benzoin caramel; and the merest drop of something aromatic, fresh, and quietly herbal, something that suggests a trace amount of a very floral variety of lavender.
Each of these notes, however, is buried deeply within the flood of honey on my skin, operating as a mere nuance, a sort of shading to Slowdive’s central focus. In fact, I’d estimate that, on my skin, roughly 95% of the bouquet is just honey. What these fine-toothed whispers do is to add depth and richness. I compared the scent of Slowdive on my arm with two great jars of honey that I have in a side-by-side sniff test: one was an organic orange blossom and citrus honey; the other was a Turkish honey from Trader Joe’s which was produced from bees foraging nectar from rock rose (another name for the cistus plant from which labdanum amber resin derives), citrus, wildflowers, and Turkish pine. In both cases, the two honey bouquets were flatter and more one-dimensional than Slowdive. While all three obviously read as “honey” in aroma, Slowdive smelled richer, heavier, more full-bodied, and layered. Having said that, the sense of deeply buried olfactory layers begins to fade as the first hour comes to close, and then dies away entirely an hour later. The impression of a thickly sugared honeycomb also weakens around the same time, though Slowdive remains very sweet on my hour for a number of hours.
You may have noticed that I’ve said nothing about either tobacco or tuberose, and that’s because neither note appears on my skin during the opening. In fact, neither one appears for hours and, when they do, they’re either subsumed within the honey or an amorphous background suggestion that merely hints at the note in an abstract fashion. On my skin, for the first roughly four hours, Slowdive smells simply like the richest, deepest, darkest, and most full-bodied honey imaginable. But there really isn’t much else; this is a linear and largely single-minded bouquet that operates as a flat-line on my skin, only with a few occasional squiggles up and down when other notes appear as soft, quiet, delicate layers within.
Roughly 4.5 hours into Slowdive’s development, the tobacco slowly awakens and stirs, a ripple running through the thick, molten honey. It doesn’t smell like the typical sweet pipe tobacco or even like unlit cigars or the raw, dark, spittoon-style tobacco found in some attars. Instead, it smells like green, raw tobacco leaves laced with the slightly floral aroma of the tobacco flower. If you’ve ever tried La Via del Profumo‘s fantastic Tabac (to which Luca Turin gave 4 Stars), you may be familiar with both notes because they form a central part of the fragrance’s opening. In Slowdive, however, I have to dig my nose into my arm to detect them at this point. From afar, the scent bouquet is just honey with an occasional, elusive hint of something darker, greener, rawer, and more bitter lurking below. Once in a blue moon, there are also ghostly pops of neroli that briefly appear before flitting away but, again, just like during the opening phase of the first 90-minutes, it merely feels like an innate facet of top-grade honey that you’d find at the best stores.
I’ve tested Slowdive three times since I got my sample at the end of December, and it typically takes around 7 hours for the fragrance to lose its 95% honey-centric singularity on my skin. Usually, at the start of the 7th hour, Slowdive turns into a tobacco-infused honey scent with proportions that are roughly 60-40 or 65-35 in favour of the honey. In one test, however, wisps of tuberose appeared in a quiet and wholly impressionistic fashion during the same time, although it was more like a suggestion of something vaguely hinting at tuberose rather than a full-on, unmistakable, and clearly delineated blast. Moreover, the wisps were minor and the honey was still the primary note on my skin. At a rough estimate, the proportional breakdown would be: 60% honey; 35% tobacco; and 5% amorphous, impressionistic tuberose. So, if you’re one of the many, many people out there who despises tuberose with a passion, I don’t think you have much to worry about. On my skin, the vast majority of Slowdive for the vast majority of its long life is singularly focused on the honey, sometimes a little monolithically so. On other people, the honey is just as central, and your much-hated tuberose is never a driving, central force either, so I hope that reassures you.
At the end of the 9th hour and start of the 10th, Slowdive turns quiet and flattens into a simple, dark sweetness. This time, however, it’s not all from the honey: there are now traces of ambered resins like labdanum, caramel-scented benzoin, and something quietly vanillic (Peru balsam?). There is no sense of either tobacco or the dried fruits that were mentioned in the official description. There is simply a sticky, rich sweetness which is slightly caramel-like now as opposed to pure, sugary honey. What I’m reminded of most is a creme brulée whose crust has been coated with honey and benzoin before being torched into a hardened caramel shell. To be clear, though, I never feel as though I’m wearing food or a dessert; there is merely an abstract, thick, golden warmth which is as dark and resinous as it is honeyed and sweet. Slowdive remains that way all the way until its end.
Slowdive had good sillage, quiet projection, and very good longevity. I was sent a manufacturer’s atomizer, and I typically used two big spritzes, roughly equal to 2 sprays from an actual bottle. With that amount, the fragrance opened with 2 to 2.5 inches of projection but about 6-8 inches of sillage. The projection dropped after 2.25 hours to about an inch while the scent cloud shrank to about 4-5 inches. However, whenever I moved, Slowdive bloomed into a soft but strong, enveloping cloud around me that actually extended beyond 4-5 inches. In my three tests, it typically took Slowdive 7 to 7.5 hours to turn into a skin scent, but it was not difficult to detect up close if I put my nose on my arm until the 11th hour. In total, Slowdive typically lasted around 13.5 to 14 hours.
Before I move onto what other people experienced with Slowdive and how it smelled on them, I think it’s worth repeating something that I’ve said a few times when covering attars: fragrances that are all-natural or that contain an immense amount of natural raw materials are ones which can vary quite a bit from one person to the next in the scent that they manifest. The simplistic nutshell explanation is that natural oils and essences have a significantly more complex molecular structure than synthetics, so mostly natural or all-natural compositions can radiate a much greater range of facets or aromas and, as a result, skin chemistry plays a greater role in what determining what the fragrance smells like.
You will want to keep that in mind because the nuances which Slowdive manifested on on me or on someone else may not be identical to what you end up experiencing if you try it. Take, for example, the votes on Fragrantica on the notes that people experienced: the vast majority chose “honey” as the main note (48 votes), but “dried fruits” come in second place with 36 votes and tobacco blossom comes in third with 28 votes. There are three posted reviews for Slowdive there thus far, all extremely positive, and they reference aromas like booze, beeswax, dried fruits, and tobacco. For readers who share my phobia of saccharine-sweet cloying gourmands, you may be reassured to hear that two of the commentators explicitly mentioned that they didn’t think Slowdive was cloying or excessively sweet, at least for their tastes.
I’ll quote two of the reviews, the second in small part, and let you follow-up on your own and read all three in full later, if you’re interested:
- At first, there’s a punch of booze which turns into tobacco, mixed with beeswax and something delicately floral yet also a bit herbal – neroli and tobacco blossom. The neroli and orange blossom are not the “fruity” type. There’s something in it that reminds me a bit of honey cough drops or medicine (maybe a touch of camphor from the tuberose?). The beeswax absolute is gloriously strong! I love beeswax in scents. It’s worth noting, this is not a sweet fragrance on me – there’s a touch of sweetness but no where near the sugar levels of a tobacco gourmand like Tobacco Vanille. The tobacco in this is strong as well, and it’s a wet tobacco rather than dried. I may need to test it more but I think this may be my holy grail beeswax scent! Beautiful.
- This is heady stuff! I don’t think I’ve ever smelled so much honey in a commercial fragrance before. Initial impact is sweet and rich, like sticky honey mixed with dried/candied fruits. [¶] The scent is not cloying to me, but it definitely struck me as unusual at first. […][[¶] As it dries down, that initial stickiness lifts away and you’re left with something much creamier. Full-bodied but still very sweet. I was worried about the tuberose heart — tuberose is so tricky! — but it’s woven very nicely (and faintly) into this scent. The resin-y base is somehow just right. [snip]
Bloggers enjoyed Slowdive as well. Mark Behnke of Colognoisseur entitled his review: “A Tobacco Pearl Through Honey.” As the title suggests, he experienced a small pearl of tobacco sinking first through honey and then later through other notes (like syrupy orange blossom), before landing on a base of resins. That said, the honey seems to have been a major, if not central, note on him as well. My friend, Claire Vukcevic of Take One Thing Off, also experienced a honey-driven scent, though it was a “thick floral honey with a rustic, if not medieval flavor” which reminded her of mead. For her, Slowdive had “a golden, late afternoon sunshine feel to it. Dotted with tufts of mint, hay, licorice, anise, and wildflower herbs, the intensity of the honey is lifted just in time, moments before the dreaded cloy.” She adds: “It must have been difficult to achieve the balance between syrup (density) and air (lightness), especially in an all-natural composition, but I think Hiram Green’s managed it.” For her, the tobacco wasn’t the blossom or the wet, green, raw leaves that they were on me. On her skin, “[t]he tobacco, or rather, coumarin, smells more like dry hay and chamomile tea than pipe tobacco.” I’ll let you read the full reviews on your own if you’re interested.
While I liked Slowdive, it seems to have been a much simpler scent on me than on either of my blogging colleagues or the Fragrantica reviewers. I would have liked to experience the booze, dried fruits, or tufts of wildflowers, hay, and anise which various people have mentioned. Regular readers know that I have absolutely no issue with either simple fragrances or linear ones when they are done well and have richness — and there is no question in my mind that Slowdive is indeed nicely done, and that it has both wonderful smoothness and great richness — but I think one really has to love honey fragrances, at least for a full-bottle purchase. I, personally, don’t love honey that much, even though I enjoy a degree of it in fragrances. Plus, on my skin, Slowdive is a little too sweet, monolithic, and singular for my personal tastes, so I don’t find it warrants a full bottle in the way that several earlier Hiram Green releases instantly did.
However, Slowdive conveniently comes in a 10 ml travel size for $45 or €39 which is just perfect for my needs and this situation. This is one of those scents where I could see myself actually craving the thick, heavy, golden sweetness and snuggly warmth on a winter night like tonight when the weather is so icy that half the city has shut down. (I’m not joking or exaggerating. The police have closed off or blocked off many of the highways, and the airport has cancelled flights.) So, if you’re like me and you aren’t so keen on honey or sweet fragrances as to wear them regularly, don’t rule out Slowdive because the travel-spray option is a great, reasonably priced way to enjoy the scent when you get an occasional winter yearning for something warm and sweet.
As a whole, this is a scent which I think would appeal to quite a few people, namely gourmand-oriental lovers. The essential key, though, is to like both honey and some degree of thickness, heaviness, and stickiness, and not to expect a true “tobacco-themed” scent, let alone a hardcore tobacco soliflore. It should also go without saying by now that, if honey fragrances are your favourite genre and you also love honeycomb and amber resins, then Slowdive should be at the top of your list of things to try. It’s nicely done.
Disclosure: My sample was provided by Hiram Green. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.