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Wikimedia Commons - Harmattan wind colours the sky yellow

Seb Esteban, March 6, 2005


I’ve come to have a love/hate relationship with oud. There was a time a while ago when oud was the ‘it’ note, and suddenly ‘it’ seemed to be in just about every fragrance produced. Dark, rich and resinous, when oud is done right it’s almost animalistic in its sensuality and I love it. But, it can also be sharp and medicinal in a way that doesn’t appeal to me. Balance and a deft hand are key when it comes to working with oud. My sister calls this the ‘Goldilocks Effect’ – some fragrances are too ‘oudy’ some aren’t ‘oudy’ enough and some are just right.  This was the mindset I had when I tried Harmattan, part of the Core Collection, from ROADS Fragrance collection, for the first time, and let me tell you it’s just right.

The ROADS Fragrance collection is part of the Roads Luxury Group, the Dublin-based international lifestyle brand launched in 2013 by Danielle Ryan, the granddaughter of Tony Ryan, the founder of Ryanair. In 2014 ROADS introduced ten fragrances, with Harmattan among them.

As a teenager, Ms. Ryan lived in Sri Lanka, Nigeria, Dublin and London. Her experiences in each place inspire the briefs for the ROADS niche fragrances. According to the ROADS website:

‘ROADS Fragrances are created in partnership with some of the most highly regarded perfumers in the industry. The process takes nearly a year of work to fine-tune the exact scent from each brief. During that period, every element is refined to produce the highest of standards, resulting in a complex and multi-layered scent.

It is the briefs, however, that have been the most innovative element to how fragrance creation is approached. Each of our fragrances is based on a specific theme. The theme could be a person, an emotion, a natural phenomenon, a geographical place, a state of mind or a period in recent history.’

Which brings me to Harmattan.

Harmattan is a dry, dusty northeasterly trade wind that blows during the dry season from the Sahara Desert over West Africa into the Gulf of Guinea. As it moves across the Sahara, it picks up fine dust and sand making the air heavy, blocking the sun and limiting visibility, like a heavy fog does. It is this warm, hazy, atmosphere that inspired Harmattan EdP.

Harmattan opens with a soft, nose-tingling note of bergamot that introduces a note fresh, fragrant lavender. The lavender doesn’t linger long before earthy, woody vetiver appears. Then, there is the oud, rich, musty and heady – it is perfect here and I cannot get enough of it. The oud does linger, with saffron giving it a sweet, hay-like aspect and black pepper giving it a spicy warmth just as tuberose, rose and ylang ylang creep forward all heady and aromatic. The flowers balance the woodiness and give Harmattan an intriguing complexity. At the base, Tonka bean echoes the saffron with its bittersweet almond facet as it settles onto a base of woody, rich of sandalwood along with frankincense, patchouli and myrrh.

It dries down to a dry, warm, woody/resinous skin scent that gives the impression of scents carried over your skin by a dry wind. It’s an exceptional unisex fragrance that satisfied my inner goldilocks and filled a scent-longing in me that I didn’t know I had until I wore it.

Harmattan is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.



image - cafleurebon - Keiko Mecheri

Hot humid and sunny makes me want cool green and mossy. It’s just what happens every summer. It’s vetiver season.

Gwen describes herself as a vetiverivore, I think I’m more of a vetiverivist. Frankly, I don’t know if there is much of a difference, I think we’re just having fun with words, but the fact of the matter is that way back when we first fell into the perfume world, the vetiver note cast a powerful spell on both of us, and over the past few years we’ve purchased many many beautiful vetiver fragrances.

Vetiver is a magical note. The oil is distilled from a tall perennial grass grown in the hot climates of East Asia and the West Indies, and is used in perfumes not only for its distinctive scent but also for its fixative properties which “set” more volatile compounds. Used in heavy concentrations, its scent profile skews masculine, strong and clear, but used more sparingly vetiver becomes more feminine, sweeter and darker when blended with floral, spice, or wood notes. But vetiver in truth is gender-less. It transcends the whole yin/yang discussion, and should simply be called sublime.

What does vetiver smell like? It’s usually described as green and cool, but that’s like describing Chris Hemsworth as a tall Australian. This is a very unique and complex green, which can be aromatic, citrusy, rooty, mossy, earthy, woody, smoky, leathery, licoricey as it moves through a dry-down. Guerlain Vetiver is considered the benchmark vetiver scent, introduced for men in 1959 but immediately claimed by women as their own and worn happily by everyone in the world since then. Encre Noire by Lalique is a more modern interpretation which spotlights the vetiver note to perfection - dry, earthy, pungent at the top with a twist of turpentine, a hint of salty-sweet licorice at the bottom. Our favourite vetivers are listed below – click on the names to read our stories about them.

I have an addition to our Vetiver list.  Vetiver Velours by Keiko Mecheri, part of her Bespoke Collection from 2012, which has been re-issued as a collection of thirteen fragrances, Les Merveilles. These fragrances were created by the California perfumer as an homage to the great vintage perfumes, made with high concentrations from the best of materials, a glamorous gift for herself and perfume lovers seeking fragrances beyond the norm, “niche within niche”. I’ve fallen in love with all seven of the original Bespoke Collection, and have listed Sousanne, and Canyon Dreams in the Decant Store.

Vetiver Velours, or Vetiver Velvet, is a smooth smooth vetiver. Grassy vetiver is at the top, earthy and damp, but the note is soft, not strident. A cloud of delicate spices with hints of sweet tobacco, licorice, and toffee floats through the vetiver, sweetening it slightly but highlighting the green richness. In the dry-down, the sweet spices and powdery oud wood and musk form a velvet blanket around the vetiver note, so that Vetiver Velours feels dark and quietly exotic.

Vetiver Velours is a luxurious vision of vetiver, and absolutely unique. If you expect to experience a classic vetiver, you will experience an olfactory epiphany instead. Keiko Mecheri’s vision of this distinct note removes the sharp edges and wraps it in cool silky smooth velvet, creating an elegant and quietly opulent vetiver to wear on a summer day. Loving the heat, it does magic on skin, and you will fall under its vetiver spell.

A word of caution, though - you must be on guard with Vetiver Velours. Don't over-spritz or use too frequently. You might become a vetiverivore, or a vetiverivist.

Vetiver Velours is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Vetiver scents listed in our Decant Store:

Guerlain Vetiver and Vetiver pour Elle, Vetiver Extraordinaire by Frédéric Malle, Vetiver by Etro,  Encre Noire by Lalique, Vetiver Oriental by Serge Lutens, Route du Vetiver by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier, Vetiver Incenso by Farmacia SS Annunziata, Couer de Vetiver Sacre by L’Artisan Parfumeur, Vetiver Dance by Tauer Perfumes.



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.

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 an 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 over the past week. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to buy our selection of 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.