Skip to main content

You know those days. The ones that are defined by determination, strength and vigor - like you were going into battle. You are full of energy, see your path clearly, and act decisively in everything you do. There are no obstacles you can't overcome. You kill it at the gym, burn through challenging tasks at work with ease and crank out a restaurant-worthy family dinner when you get home. You are the victor against doubtful inner self that’s sometimes a little hesitant, a little fearful and a little overwhelmed.

I LOVE those days. In fact, I had one of those days last week. I woke up early, emptied my inbox of emails, then dusted it on the treadmill, all before breakfast. When I came home from the gym I found a box waiting for me in the mailbox. Of course knew what it was. A bottle of 1805 Tonnerre. “Perfect”, I muttered softly as I and smiled inside and out.

1805 Tonnerre is part of the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ series from indie niche line BeauFort London, which was started in 2015 by writer/performer and The Prodigy drummer Leo Crabtree. Crabtree was born in London. He studied music and history but it’s the call of the sea that’s in his DNA. In an interview he explains:   
“My dad is really obsessed with boats. My grandfather was really obsessed with boats. But also more broadly because it's a really big part of British identity . I was living in London, but then I start to realise that London is just a big port. That is why it became such an important city because it's such a key port. And because Britain is this tiny island, the meeting of the water and the land and the naval aspect was so important as part of creation of British identity…. I was born very close to the river Thames and I and my family, we lived on a boat.” Every weekend the family would go sailing.

When it came to naming his perfume house, he called it BeauFort, after the Beaufort Scale, created by Sir Francis Beaufort in 1805 to measure wind conditions on land and at sea. Crabtree says “But the key aspect for me is the wind force scale describing wind intensity which is still used around the world by sailors. It represents something invisible and powerful..." which is always changing and potentially dangerous....” Sounds like a definition of perfume to me.

“Tonnerre” means thunder in English and this EdP imagines the Battle of Trafalgar, in 1805, when Admiral Lord Nelson, with twenty-seven British ships defeated thirty-three French and Spanish ships in a battle in the Atlantic Ocean just off the southwest coast of Spain. The Franco-Spanish fleet lost twenty-two ships and the British lost none. But Nelson was wounded in battle and died and his body preserved in a barrel of brandy for the trip back to England and a hero's funeral.

I find all of this background and history exciting and I understand Leo Crabtree’s desire to create this scent, but it’s the smell of it that just grabs me.

1805 Tonnerre opens with a bright, citrusy note of lime – a nod to ‘limey’, the slang term for sailors in the British Navy – with curls of smoke winding through it creating a stunning smoky/fresh accord. There’s a sharp tartness here too, which must be the gunpowder listed in the notes. It gives depth to the lime and smoke combo, so that the opening is bold, yet refined. As it blooms, I smell the metallic tang of blood winding through the rich, boozy, sweet smell of brandy. It’s another striking combination that works. This pairing is smoothed with a note of salty sea water. At the base, amber carries over the sweetness of the brandy, while balsam fir makes it fresh and piney. Cedar wood, used in shipbuilding, adds its distinctive woody scent.

For all of the talk of thunder, battle, guns and blood, 1805 Tonnerre dries down to a darkly romantic scent that is more ethereal and ghostly than it is heavy and forceful. It’s like getting a whiff of the smell of the Battle of Trafalgar two hundred and thirteen years after it happened.

The niche fragrances market has exploded in the last few years, and for me has become crowded with too many copy-cat scents that are poorly made and just trying to cash in on scent trends. 1805 Tonnerre is that rare thing: original, exciting and gorgeous. And don’t even get me started on Fathom V from the same line!

1805 Tonnerre is listed as unisex and while it can fall into the 'masculine' category, I have no trouble wearing it.

I have to admit that Kay is a bit mystified by my fascination with this fragrance, but to paraphrase Emily Dickinson: the nose wants what it wants. I want more please Mr. Crabtree.

1805 Tonnerre is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.
 

Lon Megargee, Stetson advertising poster "The last drop from his hat"

I love drugstores, the big city ones with all the shiny packaged stuff in them, and the old ones in little towns with all the shopworn, dusty stuff in them. Those small-town drugstores are the best. You get a free trip down memory lane and sometimes a treasure, if you have eyes to see, and a nose to smell.

Exploring the aisles of a drugstore always gives me a little thrill of anticipation, which takes me right back to my twelve year-old self. That was the age when consumerism kicked in for me. Baby-sitting money was burning a hole in my jeans pocket, and those cosmetic shelves were beckoning. Lipstick…dare I chose Iced Pink instead of Natural? How about some green eye shadow? Rows of hair products, hair clips, hair bands, hair gels, hairsprays…gossip and movie mags and romance paperbacks to swoon over. Plus the ritual of choosing the weekend essentials, potato chips, ice cream, and chocolate bars.

Even back then at age twelve, I was cruising the fragrance shelves. Dad’s Christmas gift was either a bottle of Old Spice or English Leather After-Shave, both classics from the 1930’s and 1940’s’. It took him a year to go through a bottle, so Christmas always meant time for a refill, which was boring to my mind. As I got older, I wanted to check out the new modern man-scents and I’d be tempted to buy him one like Brut or Stetson, but I couldn’t disappoint him, and anyway I wanted him to smell like Dad, not an over-muscled celebrity or a lonesome cowboy.

But I was really intrigued by Stetson because it was advertised as the smell of the “American West” and “manly” and I wanted to know what both those two things smelled like. Years passed and I never made the opportunity to sniff Stetson, until a while ago. I saw Stetson Original cologne on sale, so I finally bought a bottle. At the drugstore, of course.

Stetson was launched in 1981 by the company that makes the iconic Stetson cowboy hat, the big-brimmed hat which is now de rigeur for every country music star who walks onto a stage. The Stetson cologne was advertised as a scent for men who love adventure, rugged individuals who are ready for any challenge. The Stetson website describes it:

“Experience a true original. STETSON. The legendary fragrance of the American West. A rich, masculine blend of rugged woods and spice. “

Hmmm. Masculine. Rugged. I’m primed for wood notes, like pine and cedar, bound up with leather and musk, a real butch kind of scent, but what comes out of the bottle is definitely NOT rugged woods and spice. It’s a burst of refreshing citrus – lime, bergamot and lemon – followed by aromatics – lavender and sage – two accords which transform Stetson into a gorgeous oriental with the addition of classic floral notes as it dries down. Spicy sweet carnation, not manly clove or cinnamon or cumin, animalic sweet jasmine, and earthy orris root are classic floral notes in its heart. Grassy green vetiver, resin notes of cedar and bitter geranium make Stetson smell like soft leather and balsams as it shifts into the base.

The base yields the best surprise. The florals mix with sweet amber and vanillic tonka settling into a warm spicy accord, with faint notes of citrus and dark patchouli wafting through. I can’t smell the cowboy or the horses or the cattle, but I detect the distinct notes of sueded leather. I catch notes of honey and beeswax, soft musk, and dark vanilla. It becomes a faint musky floral, and then Stetson just fades away…

Stetson is not super masculine, and definitely not butch, but it is definitely manly. This is a for a man who has good taste, knows a well-made classic fragrance when he smells one, and isn’t afraid to wear it.

Here’s the Tania Sanchez comment about Stetson in Perfumes, The A-Z Guide, p. 510: Stetson is “…gorgeous, as rugged and masculine as the lingerie level at Saks Fifth Avenue…I’d truly love a man who wore this, but in the absence of one, I’ll gladly wear it myself.”

Stetson is also womanly, making it one of the best non-gendered floral orientals that you can own for almost no money. In the dry-down, Stetson smells much like Chanel Cuir de Russie, which is also unisex and one of my favourite classic perfumes, although Stetson is lighter in character, and less leathery. Considering it costs less than one-tenth the price of Cuir de Russie, I think you’d be smart to get yourself to a drugstore and buy yourself a bottle, even if it isn’t on sale.

As the folks at Stetson say on their website:

“See, the real, true West isn't a place at all. It's a state of mind.”

The same sentiment applies to perfumes.

Stetson is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00 for 1 ml.

 

Image from incollect.com

 

 

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.