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Love the jaunty little blue bow!

Photo Courtesy of Penhaligon's

When I was growing up, the men in the English branch of my family tree had a predilection for Penhaligon’s fragrances. This makes perfect sense since Penhaligon’s is a luxury British perfume house that started out as a barber shop on Jermyn Street in London in 1870. Today, Penhaligon’s offers a wide range of fragrances for men as women as well as scented candles, soaps, bath and body products, lip balms…you get the idea.

I suspect my English family’s dedication to the Penhaligon’s brand was started and fostered by one or two aunts who gifted their husbands and sons with Penhaligon’s products over the years. I say this because every Christmas and birthday I receive a gift from them, often from Penhaligon’s: a wallet, a travel pouch, a Christmas decoration…you get the idea.

Needless to write, Penhaligon’s holds a special place in my heart, from the comforting smell of my uncles when I received a warm hug from them, to the ‘little luxuries’ I was given at Christmas. And while their fragrances are well-crafted, with luxury ingredients and a commitment to quality, I really wasn’t all that taken with them until they introduced Elixir by one of my favourite noses, Olivia Giacobetti, in 2008. Elixir converted me into a Penhaligon’s devotee. From then on, the brand was no longer just a sentimental favourite, for me, it became a fragrance house I find relevant, modern and interesting – you only have to go through my blogs to see proof of that.

All of this brings me to Esprit du Roi. I was introduced to this little jewel of a men’s fragrance by an English uncle at a family reunion a couple of years ago. As always, I greeted him with a hug and in that moment, I smelled something fresh and floral and woody. I smelled something gorgeous. So, I asked him what he was wearing: “It’s Esprit du Roi, he said. It means King’s spirit in English”. He was so cute and so pleased that he knew the English translation of Esprit du Roi. Let me tell you, after I caught a whiff of it on him, I lingered a little longer as he told me that same story about meeting the Queen he’d told me a hundred times or more before, only this time I was utterly fascinated by it. It was a though I was hearing foe the first time.

Originally, introduced by Penhaligon’s in 1983, Esprit du Roi was reformulated and updated by Bertrand Duchaufour in 2011 and released as part of the Anthology Collection.

The opening is fresh and citrusy from bergamot, mandarin, cedrat. The citrus accord isn’t bracing or mouth-puckering, but refined and elegant. It gives Esprit du Roi a certain British composure. The citrus is followed by a trio of herbs: cool, refreshing mint, astringent, herbaceous tomato leaf and davana – that sweet, jammy-fruit chameleon note that smells differently on different people. It gives the frgcen a kind of ‘custom-made’ feel. The greens complement the citrus fruits perfectly, and when cardamom appears and adds a hint of spicy warmth, I get a strong scent memory: I am a child again, helping my mother gather herbs from the garden on a warm summer’s day. As the fragrance develops, aldehydes bloom adding a gentle soapiness that’s a nod to Penhaligon’s barbershop beginnings, along with a floral aspect that ushers in a heart of exotic, rich, lush ylang ylang, jasmine and honeysuckle. These are big flowers that could easily highjack the whole fragrance, but harnessed by geranium leaf and clove, they become quietly elegant and, well, gentlemanly. The base is earthy and woody from patchouli, vetiver, cedar and sandalwood, with raspberry adding a hint of tartness that brightens the earthiness.

The drydown refined and sophisticated yet surprisingly refreshing and light. Esprit du Roi isn’t groundbreaking, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t mean to be. But it’s not conventional either. What it is, is a beautifully crafted, discreetly elegant men’s summer scent and that’s what makes it exceptional.

Esprit du Roi is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.


I lusted to own Or du Sérail from the first moment the sample touched my wrist. I’d read that this 2014 Naomi Goodsir scent created by Bertrand Duchaufour was focused on the tobacco note, but there was something much more going on in that opening accord than simply tobacco. The accord quickly became intriguingly lush and dense, rich and mesmerizing, which I did not expect, and as the scent developed on my skin over the next few hours, it turned out that Or du Sérail was filled with hypnotic surprises. 

Wearing it now, I’m experiencing that same hedonistic pleasure I got when I first sniffed it, only amped up several notches by the heat and humidity of mid-summer. Right out of the bottle, there is a whiff of sour fermention which quickly becomes boozy and fruity. Freshly-cut orange and mango, apple and honey and coconut, rum-soaked, make a potent brew that is tart and luscious, fruity and aromatic so that it’s sweet but not sugary. 

It’s a gourmand cocktail, layered lightly with the aroma of tobacco leaves dried in the sun, golden in colour, flavoured with wisps of hay and herbs and beeswax that add a natural earthiness to the boozy opening. As the top accord dries into the heart it shifts, becoming lighter and more airy. Soft florals emerge, wafting invisibly like the nicotiana (tobacco flowers) in my front garden when they bloom in the early evening – sweet with a teasing herbal tobacco twist. And I smell coconut again, just for a moment. 

Very slowly, Or du Sérail reveals deeper facets.  The tobacco note becomes more aromatic, cedar and woody notes are layered in, then amber, vanilla, labdanum and musks, but the notes seem to appear and rotate through the scent individually in waves rather than swirl together in a heavy dark mix, so that the base remains as textured, and as golden and luscious as the opening accord. 

Women of Algiers - Eugene Delacroix, 1834 - Wikipedia

Or du Sérail hints of decadence, it has a quiet but seductive charm from start to finish. The Naomi Goodsir site says that the scent was inspired by the Delacroix painting, Women of Algiers, which depicts the interior of a seraglio, or harem, with women lounging and smoking a hookah, the quiet interior scene decorated with exotic textures and objects and infused with a golden light. Or du Sérail captures the sensation I get from the painting, of quietly waiting in lush comfort for decadence and seduction to begin.

Tobacco is the golden core, and Duchaufour has layered it with unusual notes from top to bottom that continually surprise and delight the senses. Teasing with sour fruity sweet earthy floral woody ambery musky notes, Or du Sérail has a lush vibrancy that is cleverly restrained and stays close to the skin with a soft personal sillage that lasts all day. Everyone time I sniff my wrist I detect another facet. I absolutely love that.

Or du Sérail is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Naomi Goodsir’s fragrances on

Nuit de Bakelite

Cuir Velours

Bois d’Ascese

Image - Or du Sérail bottle from


Welcome to

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.


We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
We hope you enjoy, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.