Kiste 2015 was my favourite release from Slumberhouse at the time of its release. The new Kiste 2022 is, arguably, even better, thanks to a tweaking of notes and ratios.
Kiste is a pure parfum created by Slumberhouse’s Josh Lobb and originally released in 2015. According to Basenotes, the 2015 notes were:
Pipe tobacco, peach, scotch heather, tonka, honey, patchouli, elderberry, henna, bourbon accord, sweet tea accord, and honeysuckle blossom.
Three of those elements are not mentioned in the official notes or description for Kiste 2022: the henna, the sweet tea accord, and the honeysuckle flowers.
According to Fumerie, one of Slumberhouse’s two retailers, Josh Lobb’s updated description for Kiste 2022 reads as follows:
Richer, darker, smoother. Pure gold. Golden honey, golden peach, golden tobacco, golden resins. A perfume completely gilded in all shades of syrupy gold with a drydown that glows & melts. A honey that won’t quit – with soft vanilla oak, fossil amber & benzoin along for the ride.
Based on that description, Kiste 2022 is officially comprised of the following:
pipe tobacco, spicy peach, scotch heather, tonka, honey, patchouli, elderberry, vanilla oak, fossil amber, and benzoin.
I think it’s worth discussing the notes or raw materials in Kiste 2015 and Kiste 2022 a bit further, if only so that some of my olfactory breakdown below makes sense when you read it.
First, the absence of the henna in Kiste 2022 creates, on my skin, a significant olfactory difference, particularly in terms of the opening phase, from the original.
Second, based on what appears on my skin, I think that the official note list for the new Kiste 2022 is a mere nutshell summation and, thereby, incomplete. For example, I’d be willing to wager quite a bit that there is a significant and hefty leather accord in the base that consists of isobutyl quinoline, birch tar and, possibly, a dash of musky castoreum. I suspect that Kiste 2022 also includes osmanthus in its heart stage to supplement, first, the peach with a tangier apricot aroma and then, also, the musky leather accord. In addition, I’d wager that Josh Lobb has included davana as part of the boozy accord. Finally, while I think a floral component remains (albeit unlisted) in Kiste 2022, it is not so much the “honeysuckle” of old, in my opinion, but a largely abstract, impressionistic floralcy comprised of the aforementioned osmanthus and davana with slightly honeysuckle-ish jasmine. (Jasmine is often a material used to help create a honeysuckle bouquet in perfumery.)
Putting all that together and relying solely upon what appears on my skin during 6+ tests of Kiste 2022, my personal guess for the full note list would be:
pipe tobacco, spicy peach, scotch heather, tonka, honey, patchouli, elderberry, leather (isobutyl quinoline and birch tar with possibly some castoreum), osmanthus, davana, jasmine, vanilla oak, fossil amber, and benzoin.
Quite separate from that, I think the ratios or proportions of individual notes and accords have been changed in Kiste 2022. For the better, in my opinion.
Kiste 2022 opens on my skin with a play on light and dark, sweet and tangy or tart, fruity and earthy. Peaches, both ripe on a vine and also cooked on the grill, are stacked and thickly layered with a wonderfully tangy, slightly lip-puckering, fresh fruit compote comprised of dark, fresh elderberries and blackberries. The multi-faceted fruit accord is then dunked in a vat of floral-scented molten honey. Weaving in and out are thick black-brown ropes of tobacco, smelling raw, gritty, earthy, dried, aromatic, and also woody.
Other elements soon join the party. Roughly 2-3 in, tendrils of wood smoke and resinous incense smoke appear, adding dry and dark counterbalances to the bright, sticky, sweet peaches. 5 minutes in, the base awakens with spicy, smoky, earthy, and ambered patchouli, while the clouds above the bouquet rain down with booze. The latter smells like sweet rye bourbon, davana fruit liqueur, and caramel-vanilla brandy in a vanilla oak wooden cask. Separately, and running under everything, is a subtle, difficult to parse, syrupy floralcy that smells like a mixture of jasmine and something else, though not honeysuckle, per se, at least not in solo form.
The opening of Kiste 2022 differs from that of Kiste 2015 in a few ways. First, the elderberries (that smell like blackberries, in my opinion): I love their tanginess in Kiste 2022, something that wasn’t there on my skin with the original and that I think works beautifully with the various sweet elements in the scent.
Second, there is a fundamentally different type and degree of earthiness in Kiste 2022. If you’ve ever smelled powdered henna, you’d understand how the absence here changes things. If you’re unfamiliar with henna, let’s say that Kiste 2022’s earthy aroma does not smell like that of actual dried, spiced, powdered soil that is presented in separate, individual form – as it was in Kiste 2015 – but more like abstract earthiness that is merely an underlying byproduct of other, unrelated materials, like patchouli or tobacco. The henna was distinct enough on my skin in the original’s opening that it heled evoked the following for me:
This other side of Kiste evokes the darker, grittier world of William Faulkner’s South (or Robert Flaherty’s Louisiana) where things are less pristine, less simple, less a land of sweet tea and peach pie. Here, the muskiness and earthiness that were such a big part of Light in August abound. The more animalistic strains of honey, the sensuous muskiness of a fleshy peach, the rawness of tobacco spittoon juice, and spiced, dark earth all strain at the leash, threatening to spill over and darken Tara’s summer light like an eclipse.
Kiste 2022 does not evokes such gritty, earthy Southern imagery in my mind, even if some of the opening notes are the same as in the original. Both the note list and the individual ratios of elements are different in the new version. The removal of the strong (henna) dirt note is only one of the many ways how, but it is a noticeable one in the opening 10 to 15 minutes.
Third, Kiste 2022 has significantly greater degree of booziness on my skin right from the start. Also, the booze accord smells as though it includes davana, which is not something I recall thinking or imagining in the case of Kiste 2015.
Fourth, I find that the patchouli note appears sooner and in a stronger way than it ever did in Kiste 2015. I suspect that the removal of the henna dirt note made Mr. Lobb decide to compensate by accentuating other elements, such as the patchouli and the booze, in the opening and/or to a greater degree early on.
Fifth, and lastly, there is nothing in Kiste 2022 that evokes the scent of magnolia on my skin. Ever. The original did. Instead, there is a distinct osmanthus-like note during the heart stage of the new Kiste 2022 which I do not recall experiencing previously.
Let’s move on from the opening hour differences between the two fragrances to how Kiste 2022 develops. Roughly 5 minutes in, the tartness and astringency of the darker fruits grow, matching step-for-step the rising levels of sweetness over the next 25 to 30 minutes from the peaches, the amber-vanilla-resin accord, the boozy accord, and the boozy, woody, spicy patchouli. The levels keep growing at the 15- and 20-minute marks, temporarily wiping out any clear, well-delineated floralcy on my skin, leaving only something impressionistic floating at the edges and in the background. But Kiste 2022 is never over-the-top gourmand on my skin because the balance of notes is carefully maintained in check by parallel growing waves of dark tobacco, dry woodiness, dry wood smoke, resinous incense smoke and, roughly 35 minutes in, the first hints of something leathery and musky in the base as well.
At the end of the 1st hour and start of the 2nd, a powerful trio of notes or accords dominates Kiste 2022: 1) honeyed, tangy, and sweet fruits; 2) boozy patchouli; 3) and tobacco that smells raw, earthy, smoky, wet, dry, gritty, but also now sweetened and soft like pipe tobacco.
Trailing behind this set of lead notes are secondary elements presented in varying degrees. There is: incense-like resinous smokiness; woody-amber smoke; slightly caramel-ish ambered goldenness; abstract dry woodiness; abstract, impressionistic, syrupy floralcy; Bourbon vanilla; and, for the first time, the quiet but distinct aroma of dark, smoky Lapsang Souchong tea on my skin. (The latter is one of several reasons why I feel that osmanthus or something resembling it is part of the new Kiste.)
1.75 hours in, Kiste 2022 remains the same except for one single but significant change. The tobacco note is now joined by a separate and strong leather accord, turning the overall bouquet darker and muskier. (The leather also begins, slowly, incrementally, its long process of overshadowing the tobacco as well.)
What a complex leather aroma it is, too! It has the usual tarry, resinous, smoky aromas of birch tar but it’s also replete with facets that replicate or evoke isobutyl quinoline and, to a lesser degree, castoreum. (If you’re interested, you can read about the different raw materials, including isobutyl quinoline, that are used to recreate the smell of “leather” in the first half of my Oriza L. Legrand Peau d’Espagne review.) Out of the various leather-related aromas, the strongest and most prominent on my skin is the one that replicates isobutyl quinoline. To be crystal clear, I do not know with absolute certainty if it’s been used in Kiste 2022 as Mr. Lobb and I have not discussed its notes or my experience with the scent, so this is merely my personal guess based on what appears on me, to my nose, and based on my experiences with other things that I have smelled.
So what leads me to my conclusion? Well, it’s not just the chemical twang, though there is that in addition to a slight synth-triggered headache that grows if I smell my arm up close for too long at a time. No, the primary telltale sign (to me, anyway) is a certain oakmoss-vetiver-tobacco-animalic musk quartet of nuances that can be emitted by isobutyl quinoline in addition to its standard leather. Those aromas are one reason why I/B is a popular raw material in fragrances spanning the tobacco, leather, and chypre (or vetiver) genres. Here, the greenness is an abstract and muted undertone, but it was definitely there, lurking in the base and popping up from time to time alongside the leather and the tobacco during the 2nd and 3rd hours, in several tests.
Yet another clue is that there is a certain quality to the leather’s muskiness here that isn’t as smooth, richly warm, ripe, and unctuously velvety as that found in natural castoreum but which resembles the sort I encounter more often in isobutyl quinoline scents. It’s a sort of animalic, leathered muskiness with sharpness and/or a bite. If you’ve tried Francesca Bianchi‘s The Lover’s Tale, Roja Dove‘s Danger Pour Homme, Tom Ford‘s Ombre Noir 16, or Histoires de Parfum‘s Marquis De Sade/1740, you’ll have encountered it before because those fragrances all have I/B, in my opinion.
Of course, I may well be mistaken about the inclusion here but, on my skin, the totality of factors suggests to me that Mr. Lobb has used isobutyl quinoline to add complexity to the listed tobacco note while also creating a different and much stronger leatheriness in its base than ever existed on me in Kiste 2015.
Then again, the way a number of the raw materials in Kiste 2022 have aromas similar to those of other things makes it possible I have inadvertently fallen for olfactory mimicry. For example, perhaps the leatheriness is simply from tobacco, though I find that very hard to believe given its many nuances, or perhaps the mossy greenery is from scotch heather which I’ve never smelled before but which reportedly has a few aromas in common with isobutyl quinoline. One site says scotch heather smells
mossy and woody, and its smell is pretty subtle. A light and fresh fragrance that’s ambient rather than atmospheric, it’s pleasant but not overbearing. If you’re frolicking through a heathery field, you’ll probably notice an earthy, musky smell.
Whatever the source of these various unexpected and unlisted aromas, I can only tell you what things smell like or resemble during my experiences and to my nose. The goal is to give you the most complete picture that I can, and I hope I’ve done that, so let’s move on from the raw material discussion and what aroma might come from where.
When smelled from afar, Kiste 2022 is simpler and more monolithic from the second hour onwards. It’s an increasingly blurry, sometimes almost muddy, sometimes almost “wall-of-notes,” gourmand oriental haze of: booziness; juicy and honeyed sweet fruits; spicy-woody, dry-sweet patchouli; caramel-vanilla amber, spice; loads of different sorts of dark, smoky, musky, gritty, and leathery elements; and a quiet, rather muffled, pop of abstract floralcy.
Up close, however, the finer details are visible if I focus and sniff for a while, including the growing suggestion of an osmanthus-like bouquet with tangy apricot, black tea, black leather, musky, and floral tonalities. It pretty much obliterates any lingering, remaining suggestion of impressionistic jasmine/honeysuckle on my skin from the end of the 2nd hour until the 8th hour.
Kiste doesn’t change in any dramatic way on me from the end of the 2nd hour until late in its drydown except in terms of the order, prominence, and/or nuances of certain notes when I smell the fragrance up close.
For example, early in the 4th hour or about 3.25 hours in, the leather note becomes the lead note and smells increasingly animalic, musky, and skanky on my skin, almost as if it had been doused with civet and castoreum. Plumes of smoke rise from it in equally strong intensity. All of it engulfs and overshadows the tobacco while also drying out further with every passing minute the honeyed, fruity, and boozy elements as compared to before. Still, the latter remain enough for me to think repeatedly to the davana booze, skanky leather, amber, and dark musk elements of Histoires de Parfums Marquis de Sade/1740 (minus the latter’s cumin or its leather ass-chaps imagery). 1740 is not an olfactory association that ever happened when I wore Kiste 2015. As a side note, the sense of any greenness from the isobutyl quinoline (or scotch heather?) vanishes as well.
Roughly 5.25 hours in, or early in the 6th hour, Kiste 2022’s balance of notes changes again, as does its olfactory associations in my mind. Now, the dominant notes are dark chocolate, boozy patchouli layered with musky, skanky, animalic, smoky, and tarry leather-tobacco, a tangy fruitiness that now smells like apricots rather than peaches or elderberries/blackberries, a wisp of abstract fruity floralcy, and something vaguely hinting at floral-smoky black tea in its nuances. Again, the last 3 evoke osmanthus on my skin. The scent that now comes to mind in terms of olfactory parallels or overall universes is Sammarco‘s Bond-T which, basically, has that list of notes.
Kiste 2022 remains unchanged except for the blurriness of its individual notes for hours upon hours. It’s simply a haze of chocolate patchouli, musky animalic leather, smoky raw tobacco, increasingly burnt-smelling honey, ambered resins, dry woodiness, singed wood smoke, fruitiness, and sticky, plummy fruit liqueur until the drydown begins at the end of the 11th hour and start of the 12th.
Even then, the primary change is only to the order of its notes as the bouquet turns more overtly, strongly ambered, followed by the davana-like fruitiness and booziness, spiciness, then a muddy morass of everything else.
In its final hours, all that’s left of Kiste 2022 is an impressionistic blur of broad, general attributes: sweet, dry, woody, and musky with just an occasional, varying blip of either fruitiness or leatheriness lurking underneath if I smell my arm up close and inhale hard.
Kiste 2022 had excellent longevity and initially intense sillage that took a while to turn moderate before suddenly dropping into great softness. In all my tests, I applied 2 sprays from a full bottle which is the same amount that I always seek to replicate when applying dabs from a vial. So, to use a reverse comparison for those of you who may be testing Kiste 2022 via a sample, I used roughly the equivalent of 3 good, broad smears from a vial across a roughly 2- to 2.5-inch swathe of forearm.
With 2 sprays from a bottle, Kiste 2022 opened with 6-7 inches of sillage that grew to about 10 inches after 5 minutes, then to 1.5 feet or about 18 inches after 30 minutes. The cloud around me was paradoxically airy but concentrated, extremely potent, heavy, and strong. The sillage began to drop incrementally after 65 to 70 minutes. However, even 2.5 hours in or in the middle of the 3rd hour, the cloud around me still extended 8 or 9 inches. That’s better performance than most parfums on my skin. (Parfums tend to be quiet in sillage and projection after the first one, two, or three hours due to the higher percentage of perfume oils/materials.) At the end of the 4th hour and start of the 5th, or roughly 4.10 hours in, the sillage drops to about 4 inches. Early in the 8th hour (or about 7.25 hours in), Kiste 2022 hovers and projects just 0.5 inches above the skin. However, it doesn’t turn into a skin scent on me until the 11th hour. Even then, it doesn’t require much effort to detect it up close if I put my nose on my forearm. That changes in the 14th hour when I have to dig my nose in a little deeper and inhale a bit harder.
As a whole, though, Kiste lasted a long time. In two tests, the duration was just under 19.25 hours on my standard/usual left testing arm with a few tiny, scattered, dime-sized bits of skin smelling of spiced, sweet muskiness almost into the 24th hour in 2 tests. On the wonky, voracious, perfume-eating skin of my nonstandard testing right arm, Kiste 2022 lasted roughly 15 hours. As an aside, I should note that I always use my forearm for tests but when I applied Kiste just to my underarm or to my wrist (outside of my 6 main tests), my skin ate through the scent much, much more quickly and also resulted in a simpler, softer bouquet, so keep in mind that longevity, scents, and nuances can differ not just from person to person but also from location to location.
As I noted at the start of this review, I like Kiste 2022 even more than the original and a large part of that is due to the tweaking of the notes and note ratios. I find the scent more wearable than the original – and I found the original to be the most wearable Slumberhouse released up to that point! So, if you sampled and liked Kiste 2015 but never got a chance to buy a full bottle, you’d probably like the sequel as much or maybe even more.
If you never tried the original, I’d recommend trying to sample Kiste 2022 if you fall within any (or preferably, all) of the following categories: you like or love fruity, boozy tobacco or tobacco-leather fragrances; you love patchouli with either boozy, amber, tobacco, or smoky notes; you like animalic, musky, tarry and/or isobutyl quinoline-style leather orientals; and/or you like both Histoires de Parfums 1740 and Sammarco Bond-T. (Ditto Slumberhouse‘s recent Mond, by the way, as there are olfactory similarities in terms of brand DNA and notes that include fruitiness, tobacco, patchouli, amber, spice, and smoke.) Obviously, if you dislike copious amounts of patchouli, tobacco, leather, booze, and peaches, you will probably struggle with Kiste 2022.
My only really major issue with the new Kiste is the same that applies to all the current Slumberhouse fragrances: availability. It’s worse than even before, thanks in part to the fact that Slumberhouse now has only 2 official retailers (both in the US) as compared to the greater number of ye olde days and in other countries. Still, on the date of this review, there are samples and bottles available, respectively, at the two main retailers if you’d like to test Kiste 2022. (As always, however, I do not recommend blind-buying fragrances. What things are like on my skin and to my nose may not be the same as what you will experience, and it’s not solely because of differences in individual skin chemistry.)
For other experiences with and thoughts on Kiste 2022, you can turn to Fragrantica. As an FYI, that page includes reviews of both the current and the past Kiste versions.
Disclosure: My bottle was provided courtesy of Josh Lobb and Slumberhouse. That did not impact this review. I do not do paid reviews and my opinions are my own.