“Pink Wood” is such an unassuming, simple name for such an opulent, complex, and wonderfully prismatic fragrance. It’s a fantastic scent that abounds in rich jewel tones where dark, intensely nuanced woods are lacquered in deep jewel-tones from jammy, plummy roses, verdant and aromatic geranium, utterly fantastic aged patchouli, rich spices, swathes of dark resins, then finished off with gallons of intoxicating booze. Booze galore, which made me grin with delight, and which ranged in scent and nuance from bourbon to rum, cognac, aged red wine, and dark fruit liqueurs. Yet, the woods that lie at the heart of Pink Wood are the real star of the show, thanks to a multiplicity of immensely resinous, smoky, incense-like, authentic oud partnered with loads of rich, Mysore-style, red-skewing sandalwood as well as a stellar, boozy oak wood and fruity rosewood. So don’t let the unassuming name fool you, because this is one glamazon scent that is worth checking out.
April Aromatics is an indie, artisanal brand founded in 2008 by Tanja Bochnig who is also its perfumer. Now based out of Berlin, the brand is an all-natural one. As Ms. Bochnig explains on her website:
It is my mission to create perfumes that not only „smell“ good, but make you feel good, from the inside out. […][¶] The line represents a range of natural perfumes and follows a holistic approach. Our ingredients are from pure and natural origin whenever possible. Our perfumes are unique and hand blended with love and care. We are committed to use the highest quality of natural essences available from nature. [¶] April Aromatics does not use animal derived ingredients, such as civet or ambergris, with the expeption [sic] of beeswax extract in one of pour [sic] perfumes.
Pink Wood is an eau de parfum that was released in 2017. The detailed official description that I was sent isn’t on the website but I think it provides a good, accurate sense of the fragrance and its materials, so it’s worth quoting the majority of it here:
An Ode to OUD and our “roots”. This perfume consists of equal parts of root extracts and plants growing close to the earth, such as Sandalwood, Agarwood, Cistus, Labdanum, Oakwood and heart notes such as Rose Otto, Rose absolute, Geranium, Rosewood and sweet pink fruity notes.
You can feel the presence of Oud and a finely aged patchouli. Oakwood lends a rummy, bourbon-like tone with ghostly echoes of spice, soft-woody and even a hint vanillic, along with that inevitable trace of tannin.
Cistus and labdanum unfold their decadent, darkly-hued richness and fills us with languor. And there is sandalwood – the radiant lady-in-waiting to Queen Rose.
The heart notes lift up the root “base” notes and soften them into a beautiful bouquet.
Those gloriously honeyed roses fairly sing, embellished by rose geranium and rosewood, they serve to elevate the heftier notes, soften the edges and create an atmosphere of harmonic “rondeur”. (Ida Meister)
Pink Wood opens on my skin with a vibrant, bold, and opulent bouquet of cognac, roses, woods, and spice, all seamlessly woven together, each one interacting with the next, accentuating and enriching them even further. There is oud which, relative to some varietals, is practically clean, so to speak. Rather than being fecal, redolent of the barnyard, cheesy, animalic, leathery, mentholated or camphorous, this oud is simply warm, smoky, softly musky, and softly mushroomy in the way of clean crimini or white mushrooms. The wood is softened, muffled, and mellowed out even further by the thick velour blanket which covers it, a blanket made of spicy, smoky, Mysore-style, red-hued sandalwood and deeply aged, spicy, smoky, boozy patchouli.
All three woods which have been heavily drenched in utterly gorgeous, enticing booziness. There is the oak wood’s rummy, bourbon-like aroma mentioned in the description, but the patchouli gives off a booziness of its own as well, a more cognac-scented note identical to the sort found in Oriza L. Legrand‘s great patchouli soliflore, Horizon.
On top of all this, there is the boozy geranium which resembles a Bourbon rose geranium and the effect which it creates when it merges with the roses, the pink fruity-spicy notes (pink peppercorns?), the boozy patchouli, the bourbon oakwood, and the amber. Together, they create yet another form of booziness, one which is like deeply velvety roses turned into red wine, then submerged within pink-fruited liqueur to steep and concentrate for a decade or two. If you’ve read me for any amount of time, then you’ll know that I’m a huge, HUGE fan of booziness in fragrances, so this multi-pronged deluge just makes me want to dance with glee. Each boozy element would be great by itself next to the central core of patchouli, oud, and sandalwood, particularly given the richness and depth of the individual notes, but having all three or four drench that core with wave after wave of intoxicating, resinous, sweet, heady lushness is… well, intoxicating. (I promise you, I’m not a heavy boozer or Steve Bannon; I just like how boozy notes play in perfumery.)
Other elements or aromas dance merrily around the sidelines, adding even further complexity, nuance, and full-bodied richness. The problem is that it’s not always easy to determine their source because the various materials not only radiate a rich complement of nuances (some of which smell like unlisted or unrelated materials), but also because everything flows so smoothly together in a pitch-perfect, unified, and impressively harmonious whole. For example, roughly 15 minutes in, the oud wafts smoke and incense-like notes, the patchouli (or oud?) trickles tiny wisps of camphor, while something which smells a lot like sweet but fiery saffron licks their sides with gentle flames. Layered between them are the roses which are coated with honey and a thin, non-cloying, fruit jam which reminds me of dark purple mulberries and wine-soaked raspberries. I’d swear that there was something citrusy in there as well, like a blood-orange note with tart lemons, but perhaps they stem from the rosewood or even from the geranium rose which is slowly starting to make its presence known. Roughly 35-40 minutes in, it sprouts a frond of green around the roses, smelling of geranium’s piquant, slightly herbal, very fuzzy, peppery leaves.
The cumulative effect has a few olfactory similarities to Dusita‘s Oudh Infini, but only a few because the two fragrances feel completely different when taken as a whole. First, Pink Wood is not even remotely animalic and does not have even a trace or hint of any dirty barnyard aromas, let alone goats, blue cheese, or creamy goat cheese. Second, Pink Wood isn’t heavily and strongly oud-centric. The oud is one of merely several different types of wood, some of which are actually far more prominent in the opening, like the bourbon oakwood and sandalwood. The oud runs through and under them, but it’s noticeable primarily in terms of its secondary traits or the by-product aromas that it emits — smokiness, incense, resinous woodiness, mushrooms, and musky warmth — than as full-blown oud oud. In Dusita’s Oudh Infini, the oud was front and center next to the roses as pure, full-blown, unquestionable agarwood, and everything else was a secondary player.
There are another differences as well. Pink Wood is heavily boozy to a degree that far surpasses anything in Oudh Infini. The latter had nothing close to this, nor so many different types of liqueured aromas. By the same token, it also lacked such a forceful, integral patchouli note. On my skin, the patchouli in Pink Wood actually overshadows the roses in the fragrance’s first stage, and to a significant degree at that. In Oudh Infini, the patchouli becomes significant in the middle stage, but it was never more important than the oud or roses. In addition, Oudh Infini never had a strong geranium note, and both its fruitiness and greenness were different. Finally, Oudh Infini had a Franco retro-vintage feel, despite containing a non-vintage material like oud, but I don’t think Pink Wood feels at all vintage, even though both fragrances read as being very opulent in their richness and heft. To me, it comes across as a modern oriental, one which makes me think often of India and its palatial, elaborate, sometimes pink-hued structures. (Specifically, it makes me think of Swaminarayan Akshardham, the Hindu temple and learning complex built in 2005 in New Delhi with an incredibly detailed, carved, pink Mandir and jewel-toned surroundings.)
In short, the proportional ratios of the two fragrances are completely different and so are their driving forces and character. Pink Wood’s name signals its fundamental, true character: boozy, winey, smoky, sweet, spicy, resinous, rosy, and pink-laquered wood. It’s an exploration of wood, plural, as a general category, as opposed to either oud or rose-oud.
Pink Wood is a prismatic scent on my skin, which is one of the highest compliments that I can give to a fragrance. It’s constantly shifting, the various notes or accords moving like the tides, ebbing and flowing over the central wood-based core (and I’m going to include the patchouli in that core as well). The overall basic development of the scent follows some rough guidelines, but the specifics change from one wearing to the next in terms of the prominence, nuance, and order of the notes. In one test, Pink Wood grew significantly smokier from the 75-minute mark to the 3.25 hour point. In another, it was more prominently resinous and ambered during that same time frame, with the roses retreating to the background and replaced by greenness, both of the geranium variety and something that smelled mossier, like a plush vetiver.
In a third test, this same stage was dominated almost entirely by a prominent quintet of rose, sandalwood, saffron, patchouli, and labdanum, with incense-like notes on the sidelines. The oud lay in the far reaches of the background and was noticeable primarily because of a certain warm, velvety dark musk which it added indirectly and gently to the proceedings on center stage. In a fourth test, the 2nd to the 5th hour were largely a duet of boozy, sometimes chocolate-scented patchouli and smoky, spicy sandalwood, lying on a bed of dark velvet composed out of muskiness and resinousness. The latter two obviously stemmed from the oud, but the scent didn’t convey oud oud as such, only the secondary or tertiary by-products of the agarwood’s oleoresin.
In most of my tests, Pink Wood’s second stage typically started 3.25 to 3.75 hours into the fragrance’s development, and it usually consisted of a hazy, increasingly amorphous cloud of warm, dry-sweet, spicy, smoky woodiness infused with dark resinousness and molten ambered warmth. It’s difficult to parse the blurry bouquet but, to the extent that any one note sometimes solidifies into shape in such a shape-shifting scent, the components seem to consist of cognac-scented patchouli and dark, treacly, balsamic resins. Well, sometimes. Sometimes, however, the notes solidify into Mysore sandalwood, boozy oakwood, and fruity rosewood. Once in a while, it’s all incense-y oud and boozy, chocolate-y patchouli with wisps of chewy labdanum tying the two together. Whatever the particulars, the focus is consistently, unmistakably, and entirely a woody one. Patchouli typically comes in second place on my skin, trailed closely by a tightly fused resin accord of toffee’d labdanum amber and its slightly piney, leathery cistus relative.
Pink Wood shifts at the start of the 7th hour as the scent begins to transition into the drydown. The bouquet is now equally split between resins and oud, instead of the earlier emphasis on a plethora of woods. However, the scent isn’t really about either amber or oud: it’s purely about resins. The materials smell at once abstract and specific. Take, for example, the oud which is now even more abstract than it was before, even more about its individual parts than pure oud oud. Now, it comes across almost entirely as a largely generalized wooded smokiness, wooded muskiness, and wooded resinousness. It’s difficult to explain but the bottom line is that this stage of Pink Wood is smells entirely of different sorts of resins, fused together in a dense ball of bronzed darkness. it’s sweet, non-sweet, dry, smoky, musky, ambered, and very incense-like. It’s also quietly flecked with spiced, boozy, chocolate-y, and myrrh-like touches.
The cumulative effect is simultaneously darkly mysterious and inviting, cozy but sexy, masculine but also unisex. (Well, unisex so long as the woman perfumista likes dark, bold compositions.) In its effect and feel, it reminds me a little of SHL 777‘s Black Gemstone in its later hours. The two fragrances are hardly alike in aroma, but they evoke the same moods and feel, and they speak related languages using some of the same words. Here, the shared vocabulary consists of incense-like smoke and amber with a strong dash of patchouli thrown in the background as well.
Pink Wood’s full drydown usually starts in the 8th hour, sometimes the 9th. The scent grows darker, smokier, and even more resinous, thanks to waves of molten labdanum infused with woody incense and incensey woods. When smelled from afar, something in that dense ball of scent continuously reads as “myrrh” on my skin. I’m going to assume it stems from the oud and from how it’s interacting with my skin chemistry. Either way, the end result now calls to mind Unum‘s Io Non Ho Mani in the same sort of “related languages”/common universe ways as Black Gemstone. For reasons that aren’t at all logical given the huge differences in the note lists, I also keep thinking of Dior‘s Mitzah, perhaps because of the sheer degree of Pink Wood’s labdanum, smoke, and patchouli. I think that, if you loved either of those fragrances but dreamed of having a vaguely oud-ish muskiness and resinous woodiness added to them, then you would very much enjoy Pink Wood as well.
The remainder of Pink Wood’s drydown development isn’t complicated and follows the same general lines. The fragrance grows even hazier, simpler, and more abstract, and its bouquet veers between two slightly different focuses: 1) smoky, spicy, ambered, resinous woodiness and 2) spicy, ambered woody smokiness and resinousness. Wisps of myrrh-like incense, sweet booze, soft musk, and green geranium dart in and out, but I have to smell my arm up close to detect them. From afar, Pink Wood is a simple but delightful haze of darkness, sweetness, smokiness, and velvety warmth. The specific elements which make up its shadows may vary in their prominence or detectability, but not its broadest essence. In its final hours, all that’s left is a dark, resinous sweetness that is sometimes tinged by a hint of woodiness.
Pink Wood had moderate to low projection, very good sillage, and very good longevity. I was sent a manufacturer’s atomizer whose aperture was just a little smaller in size than that of a regular bottle, and I typically applied 2 good, solid sprays. In other words, a bit less than the equivalent of 2 full sprays from an actual bottle. With that amount, Pink Wood typically opened with about 4 inches of projection and sillage that started out at 5-6 inches before expanding to roughly 7-9 inches after 25 minutes. After 3.25 hours, or roughly when the 2nd stage began, the scent trail dropped to about 4 inches while the projection hovered 0.5 to 1 inch above the skin. At the start of the 7th hour or 3rd stage, Pink Wood was close to the body and discreet in sillage. However, it typically took Pink Wood 9 to 9.75 hours to turn into a skin scent. I had to dig my nose deep into my arm to detect it after the 11th hour, but traces of the fragrances clung on for a few hours longer. In total, Pink Wood generally and typically lasted 15-16 hours on me.
Pink Wood has generally received great reviews. Mark Behnke of Colognoisseur called it “one of the best perfumes of the year” in his 2017 review. For Mr. Behnke, the opening emphasis was on dried fruits, the heart was about roses, and the “linchpin” which tied everything together was Indonesian patchouli. For The Silver Fox, the rose was the emphasis as well. In fact, my friend seems to have actually lost himself for a short time in “the radiating beauty of Tanja’s sublime rose otto and rose absolute.” He writes: “I actually sat back with my tester strip and closed my eyes for a good fifteen minutes lost in the dewy folds of raspberry and shell tinted petals.” I agree, Ms. Bochnig’s roses are beautiful — and I say that as someone for whom roses are their second most disliked flower in perfumery. The Silver Fox then goes on to say: “Pink Wood is a beautiful feat of blending; as they settle, the notes seem to float like a faded veil over the central heartfelt rose motif. What is interesting is the odd darkening as the perfume begins to conclude and close down. There is lovely romance in the arenaceous rose and for a short while the grounded, earthen materials rise like smoky fingers to elevate the floral crux.”
On Fragrantica, the reviews are not unanimous. One person was underwhelmed by Pink Wood, perhaps because, judging by their brief account, it seems to have been nothing more than a simple rose fragrance to their nose. Three other commentators, however, liked it and experienced something more complex. One reviewer summarized Pink Wood as almost all woods, with great oud, a mere touch of rose and geranium, and absolutely no fruitiness at all. They loved it. For another, however, Pink Wood had enough florals to be described as a “floral wood” scent, though the woods were, again, at the forefront. For the third reviewer, what struck them was the rosewood, geranium, fruity notes, and the touch of patchouli. They called Pink Wood “beautiful.”
I’ll let you read the blog and Fragrantica reviews in full on your own if you’re interested but I think they underscore the fact that, once again, all-natural or predominantly all-natural perfumes can manifest themselves quite differently from one person to the next, and that skin chemistry plays a big role in which note(s) or nuances will be emphasized. Thus, the balance of notes was quite different on me than on my blogging colleagues for whom the roses bloomed in force and were writ large. The roses, while lovely and admittedly significant, were thankfully not the focal point or the driving emphasis, while the woods and patchouli were, with the resins joining the mix later on. As a hardcore, fervent Patch Head and labdanum junkie, this was all perfectly fine by me. (At the risk of sounding like a broken record, that is one absolutely fantastic patchouli in Pink Wood.) The point is: Pink Wood may be rose-centric on you, or it may not be. The blog reviews don’t dictate what you will experience but, so long as you love the main, core elements and so long as they all appear on your skin, I don’t think you’ll be disappointed.
Bottom line, a big thumbs up from me. This was my first foray into April Aromatics, and I was really impressed by the quality of materials, the technical skill shown, and, above all else, the fragrance’s richness, depth, complexity, smoothness, pitch-perfect balance, and prismatic character. If your tastes are similar to mine or if you like the main notes, I strongly urge you to rush to get a sample.
Disclosure: My sample was provided courtesy of the company. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews, and my opinions are my own.