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Santal Blanc was the first Serge Lutens fragrance I bought. Launched in 2001, it was gorgeous – creamy, resinous, warm and woody. It was one of the few perfumes that I ever considered for a signature scent since I was in my 20's. Then it was discontinued. It's always a bit of a gut punch when that happens, but also a reminder that times change, people change and tastes change. I moved on. I busied myself with discovering new perfumers, exploring new fragrances, finding new brands and launching this website with Kay.

Then one day, a newsletter fell into my Inbox that announced Santal Blanc was going to be relaunched as part of Lutens’ initial Les Eaux de Politesse collection in 2019. This collection also included other existing fragrances: Fleurs de Citronnier, Gris Clair, L'Eau Froide, L'Eau de Paille and one new one, L'Eau d'Armoise.

'Les Eaux de Politesse' translates into English as 'Polite Waters.' One of the keystones of politeness is cleanliness. The Serge Lutens website says: '"Luxury begins with cleanliness". With these few short words, in 2010 Serge Lutens set the tone for a new vision of perfume: light, fresh, devoid of the heady, sticky, overly masculine notes of colognes.'

Reading the announcement, I felt a kind of giddy excitement. The kind I had felt when I lined up with four girlfriends for two days to get Springsteen tickets a few lifetimes ago. Still, as soon as I could get my hands on Santal Blanc, I did. Guess what? I love this new Santal Blanc.

It opens with a fresh, clean note of cedar and spicy, rosy pink peppercorn. As it settles, the spiciness of the pink peppercorn extends to a note of warm, spicy cinnamon, at the same time, the rosiness leads to a floral heart of lush rose, aromatic jasmine and violet, courtesy of orris root. This is a combination that works exceptionally well with sandalwood, and it's not long before the warm, woody, and creamy star of the show appears to take centre stage. As it evolves, fenugreek, spicy and maple-syrup faceted, gently sweetens the sandalwood wood, which blends with a base of musky Angelica root, resinous, spicy benzoin, and sweet, woody copaiba balsam which adds soft balsamic nuances to the blend.

Santal Blanc 2019’s drydown is woody and floral and very elegant. Santal Blanc 2019, is in sharp contrast to the other santal fragrances in a Lutens' stable. It's still creamy, resinous, warm and woody, but it's also airy, open, fresh and without the weight and heaviness of Santal de Mysore and Santal Majuscule, yet just as stunning.

I can smell and experience each note in Santal Blanc 2019, and that is by design: "Allowing each note to fade away or come to the fore at will, Serge Lutens' Eaux de Politesse are the ideal representation of our vague desires for change." it says on Lutens' website.

So, maybe change is good. Maybe trying new things keeps us more vibrant, more relevant and more interesting. Well, at least that's how I feel when I wear Santal Blanc 2019.

* Santal Blanc 2019 is what I am calling this re-launched version to differentiate it from the 2001 version. Santal Blanc 2019 is not an official name.

Santal Blanc 2019 is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

 

Carduus, Jorum Studio, 30 ml. bottle - perfumeniche.com

In January and February, we spent a lot of time planning a trip to Scotland, even worked out a fairly detailed itinerary for the three-week trip. We’d researched and agreed on where we would go and what and whom we would see, and when. There’s so much history there for us, since both my husband’s and my own grandparents emigrated from Scotland over a century ago.  But travel isn’t in the cards now –it just ain’t happening.

To deal with our bitter disappointment, I’ve been doing armchair travel with perfumes. Browsing through “The Best of 2019”on the CaFleurBon blog I noticed several super-positive comments about the work of a Scottish perfumer by the name of Euan McCall. He’s the nose behind Senyokô Paris, and in 2010 he started his own company, Jorum Laboratories in Edinburgh, Scotland. Since 2016, Euan has worked with his partner Chloe Mullen, and their hand-made brand is now named Jorum Studio. 

On their website I learned about their new collection of six fragrances, Progressive Botany Vol. 1, which takes inspiration from nature:

Progressive fragrances (3): “…non-conformist and intentionally challenging…do not conform to any standard form in traditional or modern perfumery. These are ‘free-form’ fragrances…multi-faceted…”

Botany fragrances (3) “…perhaps a little more familiar - original twists on slightly more traditional perfumery structures which present new sensory forms.” 

Carduus is a Progressive…” an alter of spices, wood, resin and roots. With an intriguing buoyancy oscillating between weightless vapours and dense fluidity.” Since I crave challenging scents I ordered it immediately, and I‘ve been blissfully wandering through the hills of Scotland since it arrived.

Musk Thistle in morning light, wikipedia.com by Paul Dickson, 21 July, 2008

The thistle is the national flower of Scotland. Carduus nutans, or musk thistle, is a common species that grows on chalky soils and can be found on rough grassland, roadside verges, waste ground and scrub. An invasive hardy plant which is a member of the sunflower family, thistles are best known for their hardy prickles that protect them from being eaten by cattle, deer and other large herbivores. The plants are extremely valuable to wildlife, their flowers providing nectar for bees and butterflies, the seeds nourishing birds, the foliage used as nurseries for larvae, the famous thistle-down lines birds’ nests. In addition, the purple blooms of the musk thistle have a sweet, musky scent that wafts in warm summer air, July through August, and is reported to inspire Scottish perfumers. 

That potent musky scent flies right out of the bottle onto my skin, part of a dense and complex bouquet of herbs, leaves, seeds, grass, spiced up with black pepper and cloves, sage and chamomile, with honey and rose petals, then tuberose, then heliotrope, then branches and twigs and roots and dirt. There is a rich intensity but no stand-out top note, or recognizable accord, rather the notes waft up and down, in and out, sometimes feeling vegetal, then medicinal, then floral or green, then woody and dry. Carduus is definitely non-conformist, challenging my expectations so that I’m fully experiencing what it is revealing, and not judging and comparing as I often do with new fragrances..  

After an hour or so the intensity in Carduus changes, herbal and floral notes relax and become more static, revealing a subtle accord of dark cocoa infused with sweet tobacco and wood notes, cherry and mahogany, and the drydown expands into an airy musky incense-like accord that is absolutely weightless. I feel like I’ve arrived at a place I’ve been before, where the grasses ripple in the fields, the sun is warm, the bees buzz in the garden, a familiar place where the rhythms of daily life are predictable and I feel soothed and peaceful. It smells like home.

Euan McColl is a gifted perfumer. His scent story of his native landscape in Scotland is definitely unique and non-conformist and challenging, and can be worn anywhere by anyone. For me, Carduus inspires the extraordinary sensation of being connected to a landscape and part of a history, of being in MY HOME

I’ve been wearing Carduus for the past week. It has scented my clothes, my hair, my closet, our bed in the nicest possible way. Now I want to try one of Euan McColl’s Botany scents, and I really REALLY want to make that trip to Scotland. I think I belong there, at least for a while, long enough to smell Carduus nutans in bloom.

Carduus is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

 

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

"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.

WHAT WE DO

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 perfumeniche.com, 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.