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Encens Chembur, which was originally called Chembur, was one of the six initial fragrances launched by Swedish niche fragrance line Byredo, in 2008. Though the name was changed, the formula has not, my bottle says Chembur, so I’ll stay with that.

Chembur was inspired by Byredo’s funder Ben Gorham’s childhood trips to Chembur, India where his mother was born and raised. Gorham returned to Chembur after a fifteen-year break, and the place had changed. Once a picnic spot for Gorham and his mother, it had grown into a large, upscale suburb in eastern Mumbai. While so much of Chembur may have changed, one aspect of it was the same: the evocative aromas of spices and the lingering incense of the Hindu temples.

Chembur opens with a crisp note of bergamot followed by sour note of lemon. The citruses are bright and fresh and introduce a spicy and balsamy note of elemi. The spiciness is carried over into the heart by ginger and nutmeg. The ginger is juicy and succulent, and its citrus aspect and piney tone enhance and extend the opening. The nutmeg is earthy and potent, with a sweet-spicy facet that complements the freshness. And then the smoky, resinous smell of temple incense starts to drift through the scent, and I do mean drift. The incense here is light and translucent. At the base, labdanum adds a gentle animalic warmth supported by a veil of amber and musk.

Chembur dries down to a warm, elegant skin scent. This is not a powerhouse scent - there is no heaviness here, no darkness or gloom. I think that’s what I like most about it. The aromas of spices and incense of the Hindu temples aren’t what this fragrance is about. It’s about the scented air they leave on your skin, that scent you carry for days, that scent you remember on your clothes. The lightness gives Chembur an ease that makes it an incense-based scent that’s suited to warmer weather. In fact, it can be worn all year round.

Notes: bergamot, lemon, elemi, ginger, temple incense, nutmeg, labdanum, amber and musk.

Type: EdP

Parfumeur: Jérôme Epinette


Price: $6.00