Ore 2022 is not Ore 2009 or even the Ore circa 2013 that I tried – and that’s fascinating as a historical development for those of us who have followed Slumberhouse for years. The original (or 2nd version?) Ore was replete with pure Scotch whisky of the wonderful single-malt variety, infused with dry cocoa powder, butterscotch, smoky woods, dark resinous amber, peppermint, and a hint of green herbs. In fact, as I wrote back then: “It’s hard not to think about drinking when you wear Ore, a dry, woody, sweet, and virtually alcoholic fragrance that swirls about in a rich, unctuous, deep bouquet that can be compulsively sniffable at times.”
The new Ore of 2022 is a somewhat different creature on an olfactory basis. That’s not better or worse; it’s just different. As it turns out, however, Ore 2022 is just as enjoyable as its predecessor. I just don’t know whether die-hard Slumberhouse loyalists will feel the same way.
The nutshell backstory regarding the 2022 version is that Josh Lobb has engaged in compulsive tweaking to create a more and more refined, elevated scent than what he once put out. A few weeks back, he had a long, single-spaced, narrow, tiny font description of how he’d reworked both Ore and Jeke. Unfortunately, that explanation is no longer on Slumberhouse’s site for me to quote for you.
Don’t let the lighter color of this new version of Ore deceive you. This is the most dark, abyss-like version of Ore that has existed, designed to “melt” into itself — a juxtaposition of creamy balsams, bitter black cocoa and vanilla brushed dark woods. Most of the ingredients this time around are the product of special extraction methods which both remove much of the pigment from the materials and also results in highly ‘sculpted’ and curated aspects of each raw material, allowing the problematic elements to be discarded while retaining the aspects most desirable to the perfumer.
Ore is a deep and dark pseudo gourmand. It’s not overly sweet nor overly woody. It exists somewhere between those two, and in-between is a soft bed of sweet & smokey balsam and resin notes. Though with greater emphasis on a baritone throated olfactory timbre, this version is quite true to the original with the primary focus being on calibration and material improvement/quality.
As a point of comparison, this is how Josh Lobb described the old Ore and its notes:
A swim with the caramel nettles
flooded with the dusky murk
I wish I could dream it again.
Oakwood, Cocoa, Mahogany, Guaiac, Dittany of Crete, Vanilla, Whiskey Lactone & Peru [Balsam] Resin.
In contrast, the list of notes for Ore 2022 is:
Oak, vanilla, guaiac, balsams of peru & tolu, fossil amber, muhuhu, benzoin, cocoa, patchouli, milk & bushman candleresin
As with every Slumberhouse review, I have to spend a little time talking about the notes. Mr. Lobb always comes up with at least two things that I’ve never tried before, never heard of before, or both. With regard to Muhuhu, I found several descriptions that say it’s from Kenya and call it a type of African sandalwood which has aromas like vetiver and cedar. LG Botanicals went further in their olfaction specifics:
Woody, balsamic, rich, sensual, smoky, sweet, slightly floral, similar vetiver notes
Moving on, I have absolutely no idea what “bushman candleresin” may entail or smell like but, apparently, “Bushman Candle resinoid” is an actual thing in olfaction. The Good Scents company says that it’s another name for “sarcocaulon mossamedense wood resinoid,” adding that the Mane fragrance raw materials developer calls it the “Sarcocaulon” spiny shrub.
Good Scents includes Mane’s olfactory description:
Odor: Ambery Peppery WoodyUse: The Sarcocaulon is a spiny shrub with thick stems. The quantity of resin and wax in it is so large that plants taken directly from the soil will burn like a torch, hence the name Bushman candle. The Sarcocaulon is present in the Namibian Himba tribes daily life. Thrown in the fire, the Bushman Candle gives Oryx meat a smoked flavor while repelling mosquitoes.
African Aromatics compares its aroma to incense when burnt.
My lack of experience with the note means I couldn’t readily identify it amidst Ore 2022’s various facets, but there was definitely an ambered quality to the bouquet that develops later.
Ore 2022 opens on my skin with delightful cups of hot chocolate infused with a good slug of vanilla cream, then dusted with dark and milk chocolate powders and a pinch of cinnamon before several Cadbury chocolate squares are dunked within. (This is not a snobbish dismissal as I have been a die-hard Cadbury’s fan since my childhood.) This combination of notes comprises roughly 75% of the scent on my skin in the opening phase.
The bouquet captures my attention right away, not only because I love chocolate in perfumery more than vanilla, not only because of the rich, natural-skewing, high-quality, non-synthetic smoothness of the notes, but also because it’s hard not to sit up at a scent that is, theoretically, fully gourmand when defined on paper but, yet, somehow, is really not when on the skin. Yes, there is sweetness, but it’s nothing remotely similar to the typically cloying, full-on sugar, practically diabetes-inducing foghorns of excess that dominate or define the “gourmand” category today, in my opinion. One reason why is that none of the gourmand notes in Ore 2022 reads as “sugary” on my skin. A greater reason why is that there are also counterbalancing notes which prevent Ore 2022 from turning into a true gourmand fragrance.
The counterbalance arrives in the form of both the woody and non-woody base notes. Take, for example, the initial sprinkling of cinnamon that I mentioned up above. What it really smells like is cinnamon tree bark combined with something softer and paler, like sandalwood. 5 minutes in, they are supplemented by a quiet wooded smokiness, a definite pine sap sweetness, something akin to vanilla woodiness, and a wisp of something green and earthy that suggests vetiver. I’m assuming that the muhuhu is responsible for the quiet smoke, the “santal” echo, and the tiny quasi-vetiver-ish pop.
Ore’s vanillic and sweetened woodiness, however, clearly stem from the Tolu and Peru balsams, two greatly under-appreciated materials, in my opinion, which impart a fantastic, addictive sweetness that embraces you with creamy, cozy, snuggly deliciousness without ever making you envision being drowned under a veritable avalanche of white sugar.
This brings me full circle to the issue of Ore’s gourmandise or minimal level thereof. Josh Lobb has done what I wish far, far more perfumers would realize, which is that not everything has to be about labdanum (much as I adore it), benzoin, vanilla, and/or vanillin when you seek to impart both sweetness and ambered warmth. Balsams like the Tolu and/or Peru variety can be a great source of creating a highly balanced balsamic sweetness combined with warmth and even a dash of soft woodiness. (I think they’re even responsible for the honeyed pine-sap-like note that I experience here.)
There’s a specific reason why I’m harping on about this, if you’re wondering: quite a few readers follow me because they share my tastes on amber while also sharing my loathing for intensely saccharine, cloying compositions. To them I say: don’t look at the note list, get misled by the theoretically “gourmand” elements, and immediately think Ore is not for you. It might surprise you, especially if you’re looking for a chocolate scent or a cozy comfort one.
Most of Ore 2022’s complexity and development occur within the first two hours. For example, 30 minutes in, the bouquet turns creamy both in scent and in textural feel. I always appreciate a creamy texture in perfumery where the olfactory notes recreate something practically tactile in feel, like here. The actual bouquet itself is still mostly hot chocolate filled with milk, vanillic cream, actual milk chocolate, cocoa powder, and a soft, minimally spiced, indeterminate pale woodiness. However, now, the vanillic Tolu and Peru balsams are fully fused with the steamed hot chocolate and are co-equal partners.
Ore doesn’t change until the 2.25 hour mark when the fragrance slowly begins to segue into its long drydown stage. At this point, in essence, the lactonic or milky notes are rapidly dissipating, the cocoa starts to melt into the woody notes which are increasingly dominant as they shoot up from the base in vigor, and the sense of honeyed pine sap is now merely a subtle occasional blip on the horizon. As a result of these changes, Ore’s sweetness has been severed by more than 50%, as has its creamy texture.
Ore’s long drydown begins at the end of the 3rd hour and the start of the 4th. To be precise, 3 hours and 10 minutes in or just under the 3.25 mark with a generous application. (I’m trying to write it both ways to be as clear as possible.)
Ore’s bouquet is now predominantly a sweet-dry woody one, though the sweetness could be called “moderate” at best. The chocolate powder and the vanillic-woody, softly golden, vaguely ambered balsam resins are demure supporting players now, weaving quietly around what smells like a sandalwood-ish abstraction with just a drop of cedar-ish and cedar-ish smokiness lurking within. I have to really dig my nose into my arm my arm to pull out anything beyond the woody, balsamic, quasi-ambery, and vanillic notes because Ore is a terrible weak scent on me in terms of both sillage and performance.
The bouquet described above is essentially how Ore 2022 smells on me from the start of the 4th hour until late into the 5th hour when Ore begins to die away. It’s now merely a generic, golden woody sweet warmth.
For a pure parfum with rich materials, Ore 2022 has somewhat low longevity on me – unless I applied a huge amount of scent. To be clear, with my usual 2-3 wide, generous swathes equal to 2 regular sprays from a bottle, Ore 2022 turns into a skin scent at the 2.5 hour marks and lasts in total 6.25 hours on me. During a second test, I used roughly 5 wide, wet swathes equal to somewhere close to 4 regular sprays. With that amount, Ore turned into a skin scent just under the 3.25 hour mark, and lasted just short of 7.5 hours in total.
In terms of sillage, the opening scent trail, regardless of application quantity, is roughly about 8 inches. The cloud is airy but rich. The sillage drops quite significantly with my standard scent application to about 4 inches at the 55-minute mark. With the double dosage, it takes Ore 2022 a bit over 1.5 hours to drop to that point. With both dosages, however, the fragrance hovers just above my arm at the 2.5 hour point and isn’t detectible from afar unless I wave my arm around my nose.
I’ve started to suspect that a sharp increase in natural ingredients are responsible for the surprising changes in sillage and longevity that I have been experiencing with several recent Slumberhouse releases. My gosh, remember the comparatively mild (as scent bouquets go), gentle, approachable Pear + Olive? I got 15 hours from that one with only a few light smears! Norne years ago lasted about 14 hours, while Kiste was just a hair under 16 hours. So I started to think something was up when I tried Mond earlier this year and experienced a performance different than a number of old Josh Lobb scents.
It wasn’t until I tried the new Jeke 2022 (which will be the next review) that I became sure. Because, unlike the other recent or revised Slumberhouses, Jeke had incredible performance on me but it also had an unmistakable woody-amber aromachemical in the base. (I’m not saying it’s bad, good, or anything, except it’s just there.)(FYI, I had no headaches from it) Jeke lasted over 22 hours on me with just my standard 2-3 big smears.
That is not a normal occurrence for an all-natural fragrance. Which furthers my opinion regarding the significance of Ore 2022’s rapidly shrinking sillage (after the first 55 minutes), its rapid turn into linear simplicity, and its only 6 to 7-sh hours of longevity: these are all things absolutely in line with a rich but predominantly natural extrait de parfum.
To be clear, none of this is a criticism. To be honest, I’m somewhat relieved and happy, especially now that I know what is going on. Old SH fragrances often gave me a raging headache towards the end and I learnt about an ENTIRE new galaxy of woody ambers or amber from Mr. Lobb. (Trisamber, to name just one, is emblazoned on my memory banks.) So, personally I am quite delighted with this rejection of occasionally raspy, abrasive aromachemical base notes in favour of smoother, more refined materials. I’m also just relieved to figure out what the heck is going on because, as compared to a number of prior Slumberhouses, the subtlety and relatively short performance of Mond and Ore made me think I was losing my mind or my skin had finally gone completely kaput.
I’ve spent more time on this issue of before-and-after than I would have liked, but it is because I think it may well hold ramifications for those who are old-time Slumberhouse aficionados. First, if one of the things that you’ve always loved about the old SHs is the “beast mode” sillage and longevity, you may need to brace yourself that some of the newer ones may not perform as you may expect.
Second, if what you loved about the original Ore was its whiskyed, liqueured mix or its extreme richness, then this lighter, smoother, milder, non-whiskyed, non-peaty version may not be your favourite. In fact, you may well be disappointed in Ore 2022’s changes and find they are for the worse. Because, in my opinion, there is absolutely no denying the clear, unequivocal formula, performance, and note differences.
There is nothing here – on my skin at least – in 2022 that matches my description of Ore, circa 2013 as “a dry, woody, sweet, and virtually alcoholic fragrance” in its opening. The bouquet’s foci, note proportions, and even the raw materials are different between the two. Not even the depth or body of the two fragrances is analogous. Take these separate paragraphs from my original Ore review (circa 2013) regarding scent and body and then compare them to how I’ve described Ore 2022 where chocolate, then woods dominate as a central focus:
There is a profound richness to the scent which is a somewhat odd mix of sweetness with dryness. Sometimes, I think Ore verges on the gourmand. The Peru Balsam, which is one of my favorite amber resins, has a dark, chewy, thick quality here, and mixes with the dry vanilla and the whiskey to create something that smells a lot like butterscotch at times. Yet, the dark woods add a subtle smokiness and strong hint of dryness to the scent as well. The dry “nettles” and the dusky cocoa contribute an additional counterbalance to the sweetness. I suppose this is my idea of a ideal “gourmand” fragrance: a dark, woody, slightly smoky, dry sweetness that doesn’t actually smell of food or dessert.
Thirty minutes into Ore’s development, it smooths out into a well-balanced, dark cloud of cocoa whiskey with hints of peppermint atop chewy, sweet, amber resins that are lightly flecked by dry vanilla and slightly smoky dark woods. There is finally a subtle whiff of that Carmex medicated lip salve that I’d read about in Ore’s previous incarnation, but it’s very subtle. Less subtle is the sense of something slightly synthetic in the dark woods in the base. [¶¶]
[I]t is such an incredibly rich, heavy fragrance that the only way to describe its feel is “unctuous” — and endlessly buttery unctuousness can be a little exhausting. Perhaps the best way to describe it is in terms of food. I love Devil’s Food cake, but a really large slice of it can be a little much. Wearing Ore feels a little like you’ve eaten not a slice of Devil’s Food, but the whole damn cake!
Again, there is no anger or hostile judgment on my part regarding the changes. I’m simply relieved at finally ascertaining (with as much certitude as one can gather from afar) from Jeke 2022’s clear aromachemical component and its huge longevity that Josh Lobb’s other recent releases, like Ore 2022, are probably largely all-natural in terms of formula percentages and that’s why they act as they do on my skin.
While I feel some disappointment at the new performance levels, I’m not really critical. The reason why? Because, at the end of the day, Ore 2022 remains delightful to wear – only it’s now for different scent reasons and for different fragrance or genre tastes. Take, for example, a dear personal friend who is new to artisanal niche, is extremely finicky about what she will spend money on, loathed the peaty scotch of Profumum’s Fumidus (recent version), would undoubtedly have hated the peaty scotch in the original Ore but who bought a full bottle of Ore 2022 right after her first full test.
To put it in modern tl;dr terms, I think Ore 2022 will intrigue or appeal to people new to Slumberhouse who love either: ambered woody fragrances with some gourmandise; gourmand fragrances that are not cloyingly sugared or sweet; chocolate fragrances; resinous fragrances; or some combination of the above.
Longstanding Josh Lobb fans may want to accept, as I now have, that there is a new Slumberhouse in town and things are different now.