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Tonka – The perfect sweet spot – November 25, 2013 New Fragrance Listing

Photo: Tonka Beans - courtesy of Wikipedia

I have a fabulous body cream from Réminiscence called Elixir de Patchouli based on their perfume of the same name. This time of year, when the cold weather makes my skin dry and chapped I slather this rich, nourishing cream on after an evening bath and just groove on the intense pathcouliness of it. But this isn’t bodycreamniche.com, it’s pefumeniche.com, so what does my Elxir de Patchouli body cream have to do with perfume? Only this: every time I wear it I am reminded that Réminiscence is an overlooked and underrated niche perfume line.

I was an easy convert to their frags - Inoubliable Elixir Patchouli is a deep dark patchouli beauty, but lately, I’ve been all about their Tonka.

Réminiscence is a costume and silver jewelry house that opened its first store in 1970 in Juan-les-Pins on the Côte d'Azur. They launched their first fragrances - Ambre, Musc and the legendary Patchouli – that same year. Over time, their chic boho beach-inspired jewellery and their fragrances, have developed somewhat of a cult status in France.  

Boho beach-inspired jewellery, really? Like cheap trinkets made from found objects that are sold on the beach along the French Riviera? With pieces priced at up to $1,000.00 there is nothing about the brand that is ‘cheap’ – including their fragrances, like Tonka.

Tonka beans are the seeds of the Dipteryx odorata, a flowering tree that is native to Central and northern South America. They have a hard, black wrinkled exterior and a smooth, brown interior with a vanilla-like flavor that has cinnamon, saffron, almond and clove overtones. Their scent profile includes aspects of tobacco and amber and the overall olfactory effect is balmy, warm, powdery and sweet.

The Tonka bean is what Tonka is all about.

It opens with nose-twitching note of bitter bergamot followed by a soft liquorice note from anise warmed by spicy clove. The first time I smelled this opening I was not ready for the knee-knocking effect it would have on me. In fact, I still have to hold on to something when I spritz it. But even that opening did not prepare me for what follows: a note of sweet honey so thick and gooey you’d expect it to ooze, not spray, out of the bottle. A note of jasmine adds a floral dimension - a reminder that bees make honey from flowers. As it blooms it gets  gorgeously balsamic from labdanum lifted by a hint of bitter almond. The honey fades but never really disappears, even at the base where it is joined by Tonka bean. Here Tonka gets a little powdery while vanilla adds a gourmand sweetness, and musk makes it warm and animalic.

The drydown is rich, smooth and with just enough sweetness to hot the sweet spot without going outside the line.

Réminiscence fragrances aren’t complicated, reflecting the beach-style of the brand. Often they are one-note-wonders, like Tonka. This is a chic representation of all aspects of the Tonka bean – the clove, the almond, the vanilla - especially its balmy, warm sweetness. Tonka is perfect for cooler weather, which is why these days I keep my bottle on the nightstand by my bed. I love waking up to the smell of it.

Today, we’re adding Tonka to our Decant Store. Decants are $4.00.