It takes some effort to get a One-Star “Avoid” rating from Luca Turin, but Guerlain has managed it with its new Santal Royal. I don’t always agree with the famous perfume critic and I don’t think Santal Royal is the worst thing I’ve ever smelt, even from Guerlain (L’Homme Ideal holds that dubious distinction), but he’s right: Santal Royal isn’t good. It is especially disappointing coming from a once-great house, perhaps the greatest that ever was.
In essence, Santal Royal is another sub-par, extremely commercial creation from Guerlain without any distinctiveness or originality, and with absolutely nothing remotely reminiscent of sandalwood. What it does have, however, is a strong resemblance to a heavily aromachemical Montale fragrance or to any number of basic, cheap, Middle Eastern fragrances centered on a generic, overly sweet, wholly synthetic, fruity rose-oud combination. Actually, I’ve smelt better perfumes from Montale, which is saying something given my general view of that house.