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Siberian Musk Deer in the taiga, Eric Adamsson, Feb. 21, 2011 

Wikimedia Commons

The musk note is a core note in perfumery. Musk is described as the scent of warm skin……a powerful erotic aura. Faintly sweet, salty, sweaty, sexy, and human. And it can be worn by everyone!

The original musk used in classic perfumery is a secretion from the musk deer of Central Asia, collected during rutting season which made it incredibly expensive. Classified as an “animalic”, it is very potent and is used in the base as a fixative, bringing elements together and adding deep warmth and sensuality.

The use of real musk from any deer has been prohibited worldwide since 1979, but synthetic musk, or Galixolide and all its variations, is universally used in perfumes, and in just about every scented product you can think of – soap, shampoo, laundry detergent, cleaners, air fresheners, candles – because the synthetic versions are cheap, and we humans love they way they smell.

Commercial musks range in smell from clean, light, and slightly sweet, like clean linen, to dark and funky, replicating the real animalic musk - rank, sweaty, hairy, with a fatty sweetness.

On its own, animalic musk comes close to smelling dirty, but when mixed with other components, it becomes the butter in the sauce, the cream in the coffee, the key element which transforms all the parts into a magical whole. 

Musk is also a notoriously elusive note – some people are anosmic to musk, and can’t detect it at all. For some the musk note comes and goes, for others it’s unmistakable. Whichever you are, here are six of our favourite fragrances which feature the musk note in either a “star” or “supporting” role.


Notes Series #25 – MUSK

6 – 1 ml. decants for $25.00, regular $30.00


Musk is the “star” note in these first three fragrances:

Muscs Koublaï Khän – Serge Lutens – musk and leather and balsams and musk and peach and amber and musk and…..

MKK is the Serge Lutens - Chrisopher Sheldrake creation that is referred to in the perfume world as the grand-daddy of animalics, skanky and beastly because of the civet and musk notes. The opening notes are strange, in fact, perfume neophytes often recoil on first sniff. My nose, always attuned to the weird and wonderful, smells sweaty leather, layered underneath with smoky balsams, musky peach notes, beeswax, rockrose, warm vanilla and ambery facets, and those musks……but in spite of this long list MKK is a very quiet fragrance.

As Muscs Koublaï Khän dries down into itself, the warmth of skin transforms it into a soft, intimate scent which works almost at a subliminal level. With low sillage, the scent stays very close to the skin, mysterious and sensual - a party for two.

Kiehl’s Original Musk – Kiehl’s Inc. – Silky, smooth, and sexy

Everyone should own a bottle of Kiehl’s Original Musk. It’s a classic, the original formula was a Musk Oil created by Kiehl’s Apothecary in NYC in the 1920’s. Reintroduced as an EdP in the 1960’s, Kiehl’s Original Musk is one of those fragrances that you reach for when you can’t make up your mind, and at the end of the day you’ll be happy you chose it. It makes you feel good. It’s not too sweet or floral, or too soapy or clean, or too strong or strange. It’s a musk for everyone that wears close to the skin like a good musk should, subtle, silky, and quietly sexy.

Monoscent G – What we Do is Secret – Light, warm, and sensual

Are you intrigued by the idea of a fragrance composed of a single ingredient, plus alcohol, that you could maybe smell, or not smell, depending on your ability of your brain to detect the notoriously elusive musk note? The single special ingredient in Monoscent G is Galixolide Super. Galixolide Super smells light, clean, and musky, too, but adds a soft floral sensual powdery dimension to the original musk note. Monoscent G is a very contemporary musk. It’s a scent that comes and goes through the day, a warm skin scent that is so subtle you’ll wonder what smells so good, and then realize “Oh, it’s ME!” Will YOU be able to smell it?

The next three fragrances are examples of “musk magic”, where the note pulls other base notes into warm sensual accords.

Mon Guerlain –  Guerlain – Feminine and modern and beautiful

The muse for Mon Guerlain was actress, director, film maker and humanitarian Angelina Jolie, and it was created by Guerlain Creative Director Thierry Wasser and perfumer Delphine Jelk. The simplicity of pure fresh French lavender, the beauty of jasmine Sambac, the power of Album sandalwood, the dark sweetness of vanilla Tahitensis represent the power, strength and balance of modern women. Rose, iris and tonka form a powdery floral waft over the four pillars, and the warm sensual musk in the base transforms all these strong elements into a fragrance with deep luminous feminine beauty.  

Dans tes Bras – Editions de Parfums Frédéric Malle – warm, earthy, and intimate

Dans tes Bras (In Your Arms) recalls a “movie memory” from a summer’s day in the south of France as I sniff this diaphanous scent…..I meet up with a friend and greet them with a hug and a kiss, and at that moment when I’m close up and my nose brushes their cheek and neck I smell their day on their skin – a hint of sweat, a waft of fragrance, the warmth from the sun. That moment of unspoken intimacy, of entre-nous, is what Dans tes Bras captures so beautifully. The musk effect.

Lovely – Sarah Jessica Parker – sparkling, floral, and musky

Lovely is still one of the very best celebrity scents money can buy! This silky white amber fragrance made for Sarah Jessica Parker creates a timeless allure with classic soft florals, sparkling aldehydic fruit notes, and the deep warmth of musky woods.  Balanced to perfection, feminine, refined and sensual, Lovely is a celebration of elegance, whimsy, and the joy of being alive. 

Notes Series #25 – MUSK is listed in our Decant Store.

6 – 1 ml. decants for $25.00, regular $30.00



Heretic Parfums embossed packaging for 15 ml. -

When we teamed up with the Duchesse at Passage des Perles to offer a draw for the Passage des Perles "Naturals" Decant Pack on her blog, Kay and I were surprised at the comments from her followers, their overwhelmingly enthusiastic response to non-synthetic fragrances made from pure distillations and essential oils of natural ingredients. Yes, we love them, sure we buy them and we wear them, but interest in them has really blossomed in the last few years. So here’s a new one that I want to share with you: Dirty Ginger from American niche fragrance brand Heretic Parfums.

Heretic Parfums was founded by nose Douglas Little in 2012. All the fragrances in the line are 100% natural, artisanal and unisex. When the first ones were launched in 2016, they caught the attention of a lot of the right people: Heretic Parfums were the first natural line of fragrances to be sold at Barney’s in New York and Gwyneth Paltrow commissioned Douglas Little to create the first fragrances for her lifestyle brand ‘GOOP’.

And once he caught my attention, I wanted to learn more about Douglas Little. He was born in 1974 in Los Angeles. As the only child of two photographers, he grew up in a creative, artistic environment and says that he’s been obsessed with fragrance for as long as he can remember – the chemical smell of developer from being in a dark room, in a baby sling around his father’s neck as he developed photos, the smell of frankincense in church, the flowers and herbs and dirt from working with his mother in the garden, the smells of the dried herbs, resins and flowers that seeped out of the Herb Products Inc. store in North Hollywood, which he walked by every day on his way to and from school.

In his twenties, he worked for a professional cosmetic company and stayed in the professional beauty industry until 2003, when he launched his namesake home fragrance brand D.L.&Co. Despite the brand’s success, Little and his partner parted ways in 2009. By this time, Little had a sense of the landscape of the fragrance industry. He questioned why ‘natural’ fragrances had come to be associated with ‘hippies’ and ‘alternative –lifestyle’ types. He came to believe that there was an untapped market for natural perfume among luxury, fine fragrances. So, he studied with Mandy Aftel, the pioneer of natural perfumes, followed his own vision and launched Heretic Parfums.

Dirty Ginger is the latest fragrance launched by Heretic Parfums and while there is a rumor that it’s named for the red-haired Mr. Little himself, he says that “Dirty Ginger is a great example of nature being seen as modern and provocative. It started off with my love of ginger and wanting to build a fragrance around this spicy rhizome that did not fall into the gourmand category of perfume. So many ginger-centric fragrances lean toward a spicy-holiday chord and I wanted to focus in on the fresh-spicy and green aspects of ginger while developing something that was fun, feisty, bright, optimistic and perfect for warm weather.”

Dirty Ginger opens with a nose-tingling note of spicy black pepper and zesty, floral-scented lime. As the pepper and lime mingle and merge, they’re joined by earthy, spicy cumin. The cumin has a sweaty-smelling facet to it that adds an animalic dimension to the pepper and lime. This is the ‘dirty’ part, now comes the ginger part. Juicy, fleshy, hot and spicy - the ginger here is bracing and exciting. It zings up through the top notes and it is sublime! Shiso leaf, fresh and peppery supports the ginger and highlights its green facet and heightens the raw feistiness of it. A note of clove, warm and sweet, is a perfect counterpoint to the ginger. The perfect prelude to what comes next – earthy, woody, rooty vetiver – here’s the dirtiness that was hinted at by the cumin at the top. Dirty it may be, but it’s not dark or deep. It is more sensual than it is sexual. The base has a lightness to it from Palo Santo wood. Palo Santo, which means ‘Holy Wood’ in Spanish, is a mystical tree that grows on the coast of South America and is related to frankincense, myrrh and copal. It has sweet notes of pine, mint and lemon. It’s that balsamy pine that stands out on me. Lavender-nuanced clary sage gives the fragrance a lovely sophistication.

The drydown is fresh, woody and exciting and sensuous. Everything works together and nothing is out of place. 

Dirty Ginger gives me the impression that there is thoughtful intention in the composition and isn’t that what fine fragrance is really all about?

I think Douglas Little might agree – naturally.

Dirty Ginger is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.



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.

Over the past few years, we’ve tried hundreds of samples, and when we deem 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 other perfumistas buy and try samples from our collections, and share their experiences with us, too, through Comments.


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 experts, so these aren't critical 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 "Nose-to-Nose", our 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 – retailer 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.