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Dzongkha - Straight up, no ice (December 16, 2011 New Fragrance Listing)


Photo - Bhutan tourism website - Temple in Western Bhutan

Ah, the month of December! Christmas lunches, Christmas dinners, Christmas office parties, Christmas "at homes" - an endless round of drinking, eating, smiling, and standing next to people wearing too much of their "signature scent". Especially men.

I read recently in an L. A. Times article that 25% of prestige (AKA mainstream ) perfume sales are made in the two weeks before December 25th, per the findings of NDP Group, an American market research company, and that the larger percentage of those sales are for men's fragrances. And what they're buying, or having bought for them, are woody-spicy aquatics, Like Blue de Chanel , Armani Acqua di Gio pour Homme, Dolce & Gabbana Light Blue pour Homme. Well-made fragrances, no doubt, but all of a type, and not too terrifically interesting.

 When you mix these woody blue wonders with the still trendy fruit-a-licious women's flower bombs in a confined space, the olfactory soup is often toxic for me, so it’s a relief to be standing next to a middle-aged but youngish, well dressed man at a party the other evening and catch an unmistakable whiff of Dzongkha. I can't believe my nose.

"I recognize the scent you're wearing. Dzongkha - it's one of my winter favourites ", I say.

"Wow- you know this fragrance? My wife bought it after our trip to Nepal because it reminded her of the air around the Buddhist temples, and I like it too. We fight over who gets to wear it. Zong-ka....so that's how the name is pronounced "

"Well, actually," I reply, as I launch into download mode " the name Dzongkha is the name of the language of Bhutan, a small nation in  the eastern Himilayas bordered by India and China. Dzongks are the Buddhist temples, and your wife is absolutely right that the scent is that of the temples and the mountain air. That was exactly the atmosphere that the nose who created this perfume, Bertrand Duchaufour, was trying to capture when he made it in 2006."

I started to tell him about Duchaufour and L'Artisan Parfumeur, and my passion about niche perfumes, when I noticed his eyes starting to glaze over, so I asked him what he liked about Dzongkha. What did he smell in it?

"I dunno, kinda hard to put into words".

"The overwhelming note I got when I first sniffed it," I said, "was Balvenie single malt scotch- so strong that I wanted to take a gulp from the bottle. Whoa- what kinda perfume is this, I thought - but then it faded into the background after a couple of minutes and other notes started to develop. But I could still detect faint, mouth-watering whiffs of it after a few hours"

He perked up. "Scotch- WOW. You're absolutely right. That's what it smells like at the beginning. I didn't expect to smell scotch in a perfume so I couldn't put a name to it. You're a genius"

“Well, not really” I say modestly, " I just have an inquisitive nose, a good memory, and I’ve smelled well over a thousand fragrances".......

“Oh, is that all.....more than a 1000 fragrances. I didn't know there were even that many! So what else is in Dzongkha ? What else am I smelling that I don't know about?”

“Well, the notes listed by the perfumer are Lychee, Cardamom, Peony, Iris, Tea Leaves, Incense, Vetiver, which probably don’t mean a whole lot to you, but because of the way Bertrand Duchaufour put them together, they translate to your nose as the smell of wet temple stones and incense, the sweet aroma of spiced chai tea, the heat of warm leather around fires, the special scent of smoky green wood, the soft floral waft of peony, lychee and iris growing in temple gardens. I think it’s a very spiritual fragrance. It’s cool, calming, meditative, and that’s what I love about it.”

“You’ve described it perfectly. It’s evocative, and balanced, like yin and yang. Not too sweet, not too heavy, not too loud. Just present. I guess that’s the meditative part. The amazing thing is that it smells different on my wife than it does on me, and we both smell great!

“That’s the spiritual part – Dzongkha takes you on your own inward journey.”

“Amazing - all this in a perfume. Who woulda thought? I just know that I feel really good when I wear it. Say, I have a hankering for a Scotch – can I get you one? Balvenie, right?”

“Yes – straight up, no ice, please.”

Back in a couple of minutes with the drinks, my new perfume friend and I exchange "Cheers", and take a sip of the wonderfully aromatic 15 year old elixir. I have to fight off a massive urge to dab some behind my ears.

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

NOTE: We also list several other Bertrand Duchaufour fragrances, as well as a  Bertrand Duchaufour Sample Pack.