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Bayan Mulak – Scents of place… August 24, 2015

Image - Wikipedia - Rider in Mongolia, 2012 - J. Tillman

I’m always fascinated by where a fragrance artist finds their inspiration - an encounter, an adventure, a love, a loss, a place.

Of all these, fragrances inspired by a place appeal to me the most. I like the idea that, in theory, I can go to the place that inspired the fragrance and share the perfumer’s experience on a deeper level. This sharing-the-experience notion is a naïve one, I know, and a variation on one that took hold on me as a young child when I would to look up at the night sky at night and marvel that everyone, who ever lived – King Tut, Christopher Columbus, John Lennon, Einstein, all my ancestors – shared the common experience of looking up at the same moon.

So when I first came across Bayan Mulak from Italian niche line Sigili, I was intrigued by the story behind the fragrance:

“In the north of Mongolia, the local people, called Bayan Mulak an area that extends between the taiga and tundra.

This name means "Rich sources"

A wonderful landscape, rich in conifers, alternating with large meadows, where there are springs that feed the lakes and rivers where the horses drink from.

The smell of the wind that caresses this whole range of green notes and slightly floral is cold and firm, clean and woody with slight animal notes.”

To me, this was an invitation, an enticement, a summons – don’t you want to smell these things? Don’t you want that experience this place? It was as if perfumer Enrico Buccella had seen a unicorn and wanted to show me where I could see it too, so I did some research on the geography of Northern Mongolia.

And, after reading about steppes (grasslands), taiga (boreal forest) and tundra (permanently frozen) – flora, fauna, minerals and average temperatures and rainfall, I lost all interest in the place. I realized that research is dry and dreary and that when I wear Bayan Mulak the place I want to visit is the one Buccella created, not the real northern Mongolia.

Bayan Mulak opens with a clean, citrusy lemon note that leads to the smell of cut grass, beautifully herbaceous, green and just a little sweet. There is the lovely scent of wildflowers weaving through the grass note that softens the greenness with a gentle floralcy. As it warms on the skin, the smell of pine needles, resinous and woody, comes forward and leads to a woody heart of pine-scented softwoods. Bliss. The base is animalic and smooth from musk. The drydown is the clear, soft skin scent of an expansive landscape, quietly rich and serene. It wears beautifully on my skin.

My research tells me that the area in northern Mongolia that inspired Bayan Mulak was once full of life.  Accounts of travelers to the area in the eighteenth century tell of the remarkable animals they saw – elk, wild boar, musk deer, wild horses and birds too - swans, cranes, pelicans and more. Two hundred years later, they aren’t to be found.

As I write this, it occurs to me that in order to experience the inspiration behind Bayan Mulak, you just have to wear it.

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