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.
Thank you so much for this review! I’ve been in wait for the next Hiram Green release with twitching whiskers (just ask my kitties). Hiram Green is my desert island house, and I have loved every fragrance so far, which is something I can’t say of any other house. I think there’s a very good chance I’ll love this one too, and I can’t wait to try it! I wish I had it now, it could be perfect for this confounded freezing weather. Hope you and all your loved ones, human and furry, are safe and warm.
It really is freezing, isn’t it? And to imagine that it was in the 60s or 70s just *YESTERDAY*… that’s just nuts!! I know we’re area neighbors of a sort, so I hope that you’re home, safe and warm, too. Fingers crossed that you either don’t have to go to work tomorrow or that you can manage it safely on the roads.
As for Slowdive, given what I know of your tastes, I am certain that you’d love it, IMMENSELY, and particularly on a night like this one, so I wish I could snap my fingers and have the rest of my sample magically teleport itself to you. My advice for you is to just give in right now and order the travel spray or, if you can, the full bottle. This one is a dead cert. for you, Holly. One of the blog’s FB readers commented on the post a short while ago to say she was a gourmand-oriental lover and bought Slowdive right after smelling it at Scent Bar/Luckyscent, that she loves to wear it at night and to wake up to smell its sweetness hours later, and that she loved the fragrance from the very opening all the way to the drydown. I think you’d feel the same way.
Give your kitties a kiss from me.
My bottle finally arrived, and I’ve been wearing Slowdive regularly since then. Most of my favorite perfumes take a while in getting to know, and this is no exception. I think the name is spot on. On me it opens with plenty of the honeyest of honey, the kind the angels eat for breakfast. Then the tobacco like a fine claro cigar, and whiffs of tuberose. There are occasional very light but definite wafts of tuberose through most of the day, and they are gorgeous! Not entirely like the tuberose in Moon Bloom, more ephemeral and without the resin accompaniment that I get. I’m surprised that the resins aren’t stronger on me like they are with all the other Hiram Greens to date; they’re there at the beginning but quickly disappear. The tobacco disappears quickly too. What does stick around is the honey. It’s mainly a skin scent, but once in a while a big waft of heavenly honey hits me, just when I think it’s gone. I’m hooked, and I’m hoping that I will experience a “blooming” of the honey and tuberose with rising temperatures and humidity. Yesterday was much warmer and wetter, and I did get more of the honey and tuberose. It looks like winter is over, maybe. Just a few days ago I was bundled up in three layers of wool, and today I’m sporting shorts! Crazy.
Anyway, thanks again for the great review, and for bringing this excellent new Hiram Green to my attention. I hope things are well with you and your wonderful dog.
Oh and I forgot to add that I have to apply a lot of Slowdive for it to keep me company for the day, 6-8 full sprays.
I have been drooling for this one for quite some time. I’m so delighted that you did a review. While I don’t like heavy vanilla gourmands and berry fruitchoulis, I adore honey. I’m so fortunate that with my skin it does not turn into kitty pee (or at least I don’t think it does). I too am a big Hiram Green fan and I’m really interested to see how he handles this. I’m off to get my 10 ml now…
The cat pee and urinous facets of honey happen to me extremely rarely (SL’s Miel de Bois being one of the rare handful), but I haven’t read of ANYONE experiencing anything like that with Slowdive, so I think you’re safe, my dear. In fact, you’re someone who I think would really enjoy Slowdive, so your 10 ml decision is a good one, in my opinion. This is a scent which, even apart from the honey, is right up your alley. xox
I too felt Slowdive is a bit more simplistic than his previous releases. I didn’t get much tobacco, but I did perceive a good dose of dried fruits in the dry down, along with his signature neroli which translates as a bit mushroom-y and indolic to my nose. I struggled a bit with the intensely syrupy honey in the opening, as I’m much more keen on the animalic interpretation in a few Vero Profumo and Miel de Bois, but once the indolic white flowers come along with the dried fruits, it’s heavenly!
I sampled Slowdive just before Xmas and I had the same experience as you Kafka. It was predominantly honey most of the time…..and then tobacco. It’s opening was lovely with small nuances of maybe Neroli and saffron and they are lovely. It’s beautifully crafted and like all Hiram’s Work it is made thoughtfully, carefully and with love of his art. But I much prefer Moon Bloom and Arbole.
Strangely though I was at the butchers picking up my Xmas venison and the old man who served me said – “you smell nice” …… it was Slowdive!
I was really pleased (chuffed) as we say here in the U.K., which led me onto the question, Do we wear perfume for ourselves or the impact it has on others?
I love it when someone notices what I wear and it influences whether I buy it or not. Some of my favourite and expensive perfumes and attars get not one comment…….
Why we wear a particular scent has so many variables, in my opinion, so it’s not easy to give a hard-and-fast answer to your question, Katie. You’re right that we’re encouraged to see fragrances more positively by the compliments that we receive but, at the end of the day, I think most of us wear fragrances for the joy or emotive power that it has on us, personally.
Sure, there are a lot of Bros who are motivated solely by whether a fragrance is a “panty-dropper” (shudder, horrific term) and some Fragrantica commentators seem to judge a fragrance’s worth solely on the number of compliments that it gets them, but I don’t think that’s what motivates the majority of perfumistas. (At least, not mature, sophisticated perfumistas or hardcore collectors.)
At the end of the day, the person who can smell a fragrance the most and who lives with it nonstop is you/ourselves, so I think personal preference should be the driving, ruling factor. Of course, if one has a partner or loved one who finds a particular scent to be alluring, why not wear that on occasion as well? 😉 😛
Totally OT, I think there was a study done once (a not very scientific study, mind you) that said that vanilla or sweet smells on women were the most appealing to members of the opposite sex or their significant others. I do think that is one of the great appeals of many vanilla, honey, or gourmand scents. They make the person seem soft, delicious, warm, and/or tasty, and, as a result, both approachable and desirable. There is a psycho-social subsconscious thing going on and, from what I’ve gathered from the study, it seems to play a particular role in feminizing women and making them seem extra-enticing, feminine, and alluring. I think that’s a large part of the modern cultural appeal of gourmands in society today. In short, bottom line, I’m not surprised that your butcher responded well to the sweet honey of Slowdive. 😀 But don’t let that stop you from wearing what *YOU* love, my dear.
My bottle will arrive tomorrow. Looking forward to it.
This opens on my skin with a virtual tsunami of honey, the honeyest honey I have ever smelled in a fragrance. But the tobacco is almost immediately equally present.
It is definitely an attention-getter. Someone yesterday stopped, sniffed the air, and said “it smells exactly like my grandfather’s pipe tobacco in here. I can almost picture him smoking it.”
Great to hear how it’s manifesting on your skin, Rich, and that the tobacco is almost immediately noticeable and present. Thank you for sharing. Hopefully, it will be that way on other guys who are specifically seeking a tobacco fragrance. Also, it’s great to hear that it’s an attention-getter. I’ll keep that in mind the next time a guy asks me for a sweet tobacco scent that draws compliments.
Having spent my return to Canada this past week shovelling snow with a flu, I ordered the travel size of this forthwith (plus a Shangri-La repeat – finally – after that bottle spilt in my move in 2016 and Dilettante because petitgrain! so why not!) – – – I’m back on the perfume pony this year…. Vero Kern is next….so very very next…..
I get both *massive* honey AND tobacco, too, right from the start! Not tobacco flower, but recently-dried/drying tobacco in the curing shed (I’m from NC, most of us picked tobacco for pocket money as teenagers) – much like hay, but sweeter.
The honey itself is supercharged, as you say, but not sticky-sweet on me after the first blast, probably because of the tobacco, which seems to moderate it. I also do definitely get the tuberose an hour or two in, IF I apply enough.
I also get a bit of a boozy/fruity thing early on…so this is definitely not one-dimensional on me, and if my skin can hold onto this one for awhile (or maybe even if it can’t), I might have to spring for a travel size ASAP, since it seems the icy winter is going to continue to pummel us.
You know, I just realized that this reminds me of Slumberhouse Kiste, although there’s no peach…it fills the same slot for me, though. & that’s great, because although I loved the peach and almost bought Kiste, something in or about it gave me a headache.
Maybe I’m nuts, but I knew Slowdive reminded me of something, and I think that’s it.
Also: the boozy/fruity in Slowdive comes across to me as pipe tobacco, as if this has a blend of the curing leaves and the sweet stuff in the pouch.
It sounds like Slowdive is a big winner for you, J, and I’m so pleased. It sounds lovely on your skin and, yes, quite multi-faceted outside just the facets in the honey itself. Wonderful. I’m really pleased for you.
So, how did you end up faring in terms of longevity? I know your skin is brutal in eating up even some of the richest, heaviest, or darkest scents.
I applied a fair amount about 10 hours ago, and I can still smell honey if I sniff from up close. It was down to the honey alone, and pretty close to the skin after a few hours I (was running around all day, and didn’t pay close attention)-I know at about hour 3 it had retreated and was mostly honey with whiffs of tuberose.
Still, for me and natural perfume this is good. Aside from Hiram Green, I’ve mentioned longevity issues with April Aromatics and with Mandy Aftel’s perfumes, as well, and I don’t think any of those have lasted this long – even Mandy’s solid perfumes. I will say that Arbole Arbole lasted forever on me (and strong, too), but it wasn’t an instant hit…I’ve only tried once, though, so I’ll keep at it.
One more thing! I fumbled the little vial and spilled a bunch on myself, and I’m so glad I did, as that seemed to wake my nose up! Now every time I wear it I get more nuance-it’s much more than honey: I recognize orange blossom and neroli, and a bit of something that smells like marzipan! Still not too sweet on me after the first few minutes, and I bought a travel size this weekend!
I’m wearing Slowdive for the first time today and my experience has been nearly identical to yours. For me it’s a deep, syrup-y honey from the beginning, with barely a hint of spice or herb. You inspired me to take a sniff of the honey I have in my apartment, and Slowdive is definitely deeper and more complex than either of them.
Isn’t it fun to compare Slowdive to actual honey and see/smell the differences? 😀 I’m glad you tried that as well.