As a tuberose lover, I was eager to try Bortnikoff‘s Sir Winston, a pure parfum whose notes included oud, ambergris, tobacco, and green tea. After trying it, I think you should not be misled by the name because, in my opinion, this is not a masculine fragrance focused on the many things associated with Sir Winston Churchill like, for example, cigars. Instead, it is a unisex, dense, candied floral vanilla amber gourmand dominated by tuberose and loads of real ambergris.
Sir Winston was created by Dmitry Bortnikoff and released in 2019. It comes in pure parfum (extrait) concentration or in the even richer attar form. This review is only for the pure parfum.
Sir Winston was inspired by its British namesake. I’ll let you read the long official description of the scent on your own, if you’re interested, but suffice it to say that there is a lot of in the vein of “Power, strength and confidence mingle with refinement and sophistication in a fragrance which defies categorisation in terms of genre or gender” in addition to descriptions of tobacco, the English aristocracy, and the other materials in the scent. Those materials are:
Green Tea, Tuberose, Ambergris, Tobacco Absolute, Vanilla, Indonesian Bouya (oud)
Sir Winston opens on my skin with candied tuberose. It is tooth-achingly sweet but also powdered and a wee bit fruity. The first thing that comes to mind is Pez candy. The second is pink bubble gum like the old Bazooka bubble gum. The third thing is diabetes.
The only time that I’ve encountered this sort of treatment of tuberose or white flowers was in two old Andy Tauers. First, his collaboration with Tableau de Parfums that resulted in the candy, bubble gum floral called Loretta. Second, in his own tuberose fragrance Sotto La Voce Luna Tuberose. One had notes of bubble gum, the other Pez.
Sir Winston has both. And as compared to the similar candied quality of those two other scents, the candy in Sir Winston is far, far more cloyingly sweet, Pez-like, powdery, dense, heavy, and vociferously loud. This is definitely not your usual tuberose. My god, I hate it -and tuberose is my all-time favourite flower in both real life and perfumery.
Five minutes in, the tuberose becomes even sweeter and more candied. I didn’t think that was possible. Apparently, it is.
Seven minutes in, a sickly, gooey, thoroughly candied vanilla rises from the base.
I should mention that, at no time, do I experience green tea on my skin. It must have been blasted to smithereens by the sugared candy.
The opening is a tough pill for me to swallow, but Sir Winston does improve — on a purely relative or comparative basis. 20 minutes in, the bubble gum tuberose and the vanilla fuse together in a tight dance. About 25-30 minutes in, the veil of sugary Pez powderiness fades, thanks in large part to the vanilla which is itself a hair less cloying and saccharine in nature. Mind you, I’m only talking about the powderiness; Sir Winston contains to waft pink Bazooka bubble gum and the fruitier sort of candied vanilla that you find in Pez.
Sir Winston continues to shift in incremental but miniscule degrees. 35 minutes in, the bouquet gains a creamy textural quality, again thanks to the vanilla which is growing smooth and more rounded with every minute. 35-40 minutes in, slivers of musky wood and of dried tobacco leaves appear under the dense cloud of candied, creamy, vanilla-drenched tuberose. The wood note doesn’t read to me as “oud” and, in fact, on my skin, it never does. Keep in mind that I chose the word “slivers” for a reason; the tobacco and oud are the smallest of nebulous suggestions on my skin.
In fact, I’d estimate that 96% to 97% of the bouquet consists of candied, sugared bubble gum tuberose married to creamy, gourmand, almost as sugared vanilla. At the end of the first hour and the start of the second, I’d change that number to about 91% vanilla tuberose after the ambergris arrives to provide a warm golden touch. The ambergris would make up about 5%. There is also a muted, subtle muskiness on my skin, but I’m guessing that it derives more from the ambergris than from the elusive oud on my skin.
Sir Winston enters its second stage at the end of the second hour and the start of the third. In essence, the base notes join the party, turning the fragrance significantly more ambered as well as slightly more musky and woody. The cumulative effect is a creamy, candied, very saccharine, somewhat musky, golden, ambered, vanillic and bubble gum tuberose scent infused with a lesser degree of totally indeterminate, unspecified, but not oud-ish woodiness. The result could be classified either as a floriental, a floral woody musk, or both simultaneously.
Subsumed or absorbed within the bouquet is something that smells quietly boozy and tobacco-ish but the notes are not clearly delineated nor particularly concrete. They’re more like blurry smudges that vaguely nod to being tobacco and booze. Sometimes, they’re apparent on the scent trail; sometimes, I have to sniff my arm up close to detect them.
On a separate note, while Sir Winston remains intensely sugary, there is now also a noticeably honeyed quality to that sweetness as well. I’m guessing it’s the indirect result of the interplay between the ambergris, the vanilla, the candy aspect, and their merging all together.
Midway during the third hour, or 2.5 hours in, Sir Winston changes again and seems to enter a new stage. It’s very pretty, though still too sweet for me. Essentially, the ambergris explodes, transforming the scent into vanilla tuberose bubble gum swaddled in a dense blanket of musky, faintly salinic, surprisingly resinous, and warm goldenness. Mr. Bortnikoff has clearly used hefty quantities of top-grade real ambergris and it works to beautiful effect here. For all its luxurious richness, however, and even its density when combined with everything else, the ambergris feels paradoxically radiant, like a voluminous burst of warm golden light at sunset.
The cumulative effect moves Sir Winston away from feeling like a gourmand floral woody musk or even a gourmand floriental, per se, in terms of scent families; it now reads as a gourmand floral amber.
Sir Winston grows blurrier and hazier as time elapses. 4.25 hours in, the bouquet is an out-of-focus candied, sugared, creamy vanilla with golden, musky, creamy ambergris. They are now the two central notes and woven together with an increasingly abstract white floralcy, then splattered with a slug of vanillic and rum-like booze. The floralcy continues to smell of bubble gum.
At the end of the 5th hour and start of the 6th, Sir Winston’s long drydown begins. It’s basically bubble gum vanilla amber with fluctuating amounts of rum-like booziness and increasingly fleeting wisps of something vaguely like a white flower. The ambergris is lovely but I’m exceedingly tired of the incessant, droning bubble gum.
Sir Winston is largely a linear, singular scent on my skin. As I say often, there is nothing wrong with simplicity or linearity if you love the notes in question and if the bouquet and quality of ingredients are commensurate with the price.
Here, nothing much happens for roughly the next 12+ hours. The amount of booze waxes and wanes, sometimes smelling almost as strong as the two central notes, sometimes feeling like a mere drizzle atop of the buttery ambergris and lush vanilla. The abstract, undefined “woodiness” does the same until the 9th hour at which point it retreats into the background as a highly muffled, muted flicker. After that, the woody note only pops up once in a blue moon before vanishing again.
As for the floralcy, it is a mere amorphous whisper within the bubble gum vanilla until the 10th hour when it completely vanishes. Sadly, the bubble gum continues ad infinitum. The ambergris’ degree of muskiness gradually turns from muffled to suggestive; and the vanilla ambergris devolves further into a sweet, creamy goldenness.
I want to highlight the bouquet at the 11.5 hour mark because it was simply beautiful. Lusciously creamy vanilla smothered in equally creamy, voluptuously smooth and buttered ambergris that is radiantly golden, quietly musky in a skin sort of muskiness, and with almost a tactile quality to its creaminess. That said, the blasted Bazooka bubble gym note continues to be an integral, inescapable part of the vanilla. Also, the bubble gum vanilla consists of 65% of the bouquet on my skin, at the very least. Without it, I would really enjoy the high quality of the raw materials that Mr. Bortnikoff has used and their smoothness.
Sir Winston remains unchanged until its final hours when all that remains is a candied, sugared goldenness and sweetness.
Sir Winston had superb longevity. In total, the fragrance lasted just a bit shy of 19 hours on my skin. It turned into a skin scent midway during the 10th hour, but it was easy to detect up close if I put my nose on my arm until the 14th hour. After that, there was only a skin-hugging lacquer that required effort to detect.
Sir Winston’s sillage was initially moderate before turning low. Using 3 to 4 generous, wide smears from a vial, the fragrance opened with about 3-4 inches of sillage that quickly expanded to 9-10 inches after 15 minutes. At the end of the first hour, however, the scent trail drops to about 6 inches; it stays there until midway during the 3rd hour or about 2.5 hours in when the sillage drops to about 4 inches. The bouquet projects about 1.5 inches above the skin. The sillage remains about 4 inches from the 2.5 hour mark until late in the 7th hour or about 6.75 hours in when Sir Winston becomes discreet on my skin. As noted up above, the fragrance turned into a skin during the 10th hour. To be precise, just a shade under 9.5 hours, though it didn’t take effort to detect up close until the 14th hour.
On Fragrantica, a number of other people experienced a “bubble gum” tuberose and a lot of ambergris. The word “bubble gum” is explicitly mentioned. One chap, however, seems to have gotten loads of barnyard, Hindi-style oud (which he hated) on his skin. Another wondered where the oud was at all. I’ll let you read the reviews for yourself if you’re interested.
While I clearly struggled with Sir Winston, I think it will be a popular fragrance for those who absolutely adore intensely sugary gourmands, sugary gourmand floral ambers, and sugary floral vanillas. I cannot guess if or whether the base notes like the oud, tobacco, or booze will show up on your skin or to what degree. So, if Sir Winston tempts you, you should test first.
Onto retail and sample matters now. Sir Winston comes in a 50 ml bottle for $350 and a 9 ml decant for $90. Luckyscent sells both in addition to a 0.7 ml sample for $8. On Mr. Bortnikoff‘s site, only the 50 ml and 9 ml bottles are available. However, in a different section of Bortnikoff parfums, there are multiple sample sets available consisting of 3, or more, different fragrances. To find a Bortnikoff retailer in Europe and beyond, you can turn to his Stockist/Retailers page.
Disclosure: My sample was provided courtesy of Luckyscent. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews and my opinions are my own.