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One of the questions that Kay and I are often asked is: how do you develop a great sense of smell. I was reminded of this when I came across an interview with nose Mathieu Nardin:
“The most important thing is that people become more aware of what a great sense smell actually is. Taste and sight always seem to come first and people aren’t so focused on their nose. What perfumers do is to close their eyes and focus on that one sense a lot – I mean all the time, not just at work. There are so many studies that say the nose is so closely linked to memories and images, it’s incredibly intense. But you have to explore it deeply. When you smell something – lavender, a particular perfume, a cooking ingredient – you have to forget what it literally is and instead link it a personal feeling, whatever it makes you feel. The more you analyse those emotions and link that to personal feelings, the better you become at smelling more and memorising those smells. This is how we learn at perfumery school. It has to be personal or it has no meaning.”

Mr. Nardin knows what he’s talking about. He was born in Grasse, into a perfumers’ family and is now a perfumer at Robertet Group, where he’s created fragrances for niche lines Miller Harris, Houbigant, Perris Monte Carlo and Etro, among other houses.

The key here is linking a smell to a personal feeling. For me, one of those links is rose-based scents. Here’s a recent example.

I was in Florence a couple of weeks ago and I was on a mission. There were perfume stores there that I’d targeted and I wanted to visit ‘em all. With my list in hand and my sturdy walking shoes on, I meant business. By the time I sat down for my first prosecco break, I had visited Santa Maria Novella, Merchant of Venice and Profumeria l'Ó (what a mecca for niche fragrances that place is!), AVERY Perfume Gallery and Profumeria Inglese. Refreshed, I pressed on.

As I was walking towards the Duomo, I passed a small cosmetics store. The door was open and the smell of a full, rich rose caught my nose. I went inside. What I had smelled was ManRose, created by Mathieu Nardin for Etro. A sales woman had just spritzed it on a male customer. I asked her to spritz me too. She hesitated and gently said, ‘It’s for men’. I looked her in the eye and smiled and she sprayed my arm. And in a moment, I was a little girl being swept up into my Dad’s arms. His neck smelled of roses - my mother’s perfume, which had gone on to him when he’d nuzzled her closely, after coming in the door from work. The scent of him layered with her rose perfume is a deep scent-memory forever attached to loving memories of my father, and the masculine nature of ManRose just sparks those memories beautifully.

It opens with a note of fresh Calabrian bergamot. The bergamot here is elegant and suave, more like smelling the peel than getting a blast of the tart fruit. It’s warmed by Sichuan pepper and aromatic, resinous, spice-tinged cardamom, rounded out with a gentle note of piney/green elemi. All of this ushers in a thick, lush, rich note of Turkish rose. This is not a romantic rose or a delicate rose or a coquettish rose. This is a heady, intoxicating, voluptuous, dark rose. This is the kind of rose a Roman soldier would wear in a corona obsidional romana – yeah, it’s that man-worthy, thanks to geranium and incense. The base is decidedly masculine with patchouli, vetiver, leather, musk and precious woods, but the virility of the base is tempered by the rose which persists to the drydown and a little sweetness from amber.

Yes, this is called ManRose for a reason, but let’s be honest – a woman can totally wear it. Not just because I think it’s unisex, but because a man’s skin chemistry is different from a woman’s and the scent will smell differently on her. But the memories ManRose evokes, or the scent links it creates, well, that’s all up to you.

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

Eau de Mandarine Ambrée -

A last blast of winter hit Toronto last weekend, April 14 and 15, with a brutal ice storm. It was like living in a horror movie as Mother Nature attacked with incredible winds, ice pellets, snow, and freezing rain for over forty-eight hours. We stayed inside for two days, binge-watching series we’d been promising to see, and eating way too much of the wrong food groups. The ice melted by mid-week but the grey skies, bone-chilling wind, and depression remained.

Until today. Today is blue sky and sun, there’s warmth in the air, it’s really Spring, and I feel happy! What better way to celebrate than to wear a tart, juicy, joyful and beautiful fragrance that smells like sunshine all day long. It’s a 2013 fragrance named Mandarine Ambrée from the Hermès Colognes Collection, created by the Master of Simple but Fascinatingly Complex , Jean-Claude Ellena. 

He says: “I can think of no smell more joyful than mandarin, more mellow than amber.” Intrinsically cheerful mandarin is combined with sparkling passion fruit which is itself revealed by the mellowness of amber….a lively, shimmering, smooth paradise, captured in a colour.” Hermès website

Intensely orange in colour, mandarins are juicy with a sublime tangy tartness, and a fruity sweetness that deepens as you eat the fleshy sections. The sweet citrus scent of their oily rind combines with the flavours of the delicious juice, making mandarins the ultimate orange experience when at their peak of ripeness. This intense sensation of pure natural fruit greets me with the first spritz of Mandarine Ambrée. Mmmm, I love oranges.

Citrus top notes are volatile and soon fade away, but not in Mandarine Ambrée. A dash of passion-fruit adds a metallic-green sweetness, expanding and deepening the juicy orange accord, rather than changing it, or making it disappear. And then as the cologne dries down through the heart, the amber base notes seamlessly expand the orange even further, adding  soft woody and vanilla notes.

In the dry-down, Mandarine Ambrée is a warm and quietly radiant fragrance, but now more elegantly complex than its tropical opening, the orange and amber notes in perfect balance, paired in perfect harmony. The mellowness of the amber with its soft woody resins reflects the exuberance of the orange, making it even more beautiful and joyful.

Mandarine Ambrée is an Hermès scent by Jean-Claude Ellena, which translates into a quality fragrance. This deliciously light and simple scent lasts all day on my skin, which is a formidable achievement for an eau de cologne. From top to bottom a citrus scent, it’s perfectly suited for women and men, a cologne that can be shared.

Mandarine Ambrée is a colour captured in scent, a scent captured in colour. It looks and smells like Spring to me.

Mandarine Ambrée is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 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.