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Note Series #21 – ABSINTHE - July 13, 2016

Absinthe as afternoon aperitif - perfumeniche.com

ABSINTHE

The distinctive scent of absinthe is mainly from Artemisia, a large family of plants that includes mugwort, tarragon, and wormwood. Plants of this genus have a bitter taste and strong herbal aroma, and have been used historically as natural insect repellents, but are perhaps best known for their use in flavoring alcoholic beverages such as vermouth and absinthe.

Absinthe is a highly alcoholic drink, distilled like gin, containing a “holy trinity” of herbs, which when mixed with water poured over a sugar cube, turns a pale milky green colour. The herbs are artemisa (wormwood) which gives it the distinct bitter note, green anise, and sweet fennel, which give it the licorice note, and it’s the chlorophyll in the distilled plants which results in the green colouration when water is added.

The mythology around absinthe is huge. A simple form of it was used by the Greeks and Romans for its healing properties. It was given to French soldiers in the 1860’s as a pain-killer and anti-parasitic, and its use spread into the French population in the late 1800’s. Everybody drank absinthe – it was the hot drink, especially for the cool people such as artists, writers and thinkers. The effect of absinthe was described as “lucid drunkenness” and it became the Nectar of the Poets, the Green Fairy, the magical herbal trinity that made people go mad. In truth it was the high alcohol content that created a generation of alcoholics. Absinthe, The Green Fairy, the Green Muse, The Green Witch, the Green Devil, was banned in Europe from 1915 to until 1999.

Note Series #21 – ABSINTHE – Four 1 ml. decants, regular $20.00 for $16.00.

Absolument Absinthe by Parfums D’Interdits – green floral, herbal and intoxicating

If you’re expecting an exotic dark scent to match the mythology of the Green Fairy, this isn’t it. Absolument Absinthe (Absolutely Absinthe) is a soft green scent that, according to owner Pascal Rollande, was designed to work with personal chemistry to become a skin scent which on women tends to be more floral, on men more spicy and herbal. Into the heart notes, the black tea and herbs become more potent, mixing with citrusy bergamot and the white florals – this is an intoxicating mix. This slightly sweeter floral heart with green edges expands and becomes light and luminous, and as the dry-down develops, becomes richer and warmer from the sandalwood and musk basenotes. The woody notes deepen the floral and herb mix, and the soft musk makes the scent float on your skin seductively.

Skarb by Humecki & Graf – herbal and earthy and elegant

Inspired by Slavic tears, Skarb starts out green – the nether-world note of absinthe with its creamy aspect, mixed with the dried herbal smells of lovage and myrtle, and the sweet/sour earthy waft of carrot seed.

Skarb has this sensation of melancholy down into its heart, but in the end this oddly elegant scent is warmed by the smoldering fires beneath – the incense, myrhh, patchouli  and orris notes form a complex aromatic accord which dries the tears and leaves the Slavic eyes smiling. The green notes return mixed with sweet hay and smoky incense, and the world is alive again. The tears are tears of joy, not sorrow.

Fou d’Absinthe by L’Artisan Parfumeur – boozy and herbal and warm

The “lucid drunkenness” effect of absinthe is what nose Olivia Giacobetti plays off in Fou d’Absinthe. The opening is alcohol and anise, complete with the bitter herbal notes. It’s not at all sweet, but it is dry. After a while the anise softens and ginger, nutmeg and clove start to show up giving it a spicy, warm glow. Then it turns quite piney at the drydown. All the elements are in balance, creating a warm, deep blend. My only quibble? It’s labeled as ‘masculine’ but it’s perfectly unisex.

Lolita Lempicka au Masculin by Lolita Lempicka – herbal and sweet and woody

The brisk, cool opening of ivy, aniseed and absinthe, smelling all green, herbal and licorice-y is a real head-turner. As it moves towards the heart a tender note of violet adds a sweet floral note. There’s a hint of rum in there too, just enough to give it dimension, but not enough to make it boozy. Almond adds another facet of sweetness.  As it blooms, vanilla, rich, dark and sweet, starts to rise off my skin. The vanilla is highlighted by tonka bean and it all sits on a resinous woody base. Perfumer Annick Menardo blends the notes with such a deft hand that the gourmand aspects of the vanilla never dominate. And while the woodiness is definitely manly, this masculine isn’t tough. LLaM has character but it’s more romantic and poetic than it is he-man and savage - which makes it perfectly unisex.

Note Series #21 – ABSINTHE is listed in our Decant Store. Four 1 ml. decants, regular $20.00 for $16.00 CAD.