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What’s in a name? Weird names, wonderful fragrances - October 27, 2016

Name of railway station in Wales - Wikimedia Commons - by G1MF2

We have a lot of fragrances in our Decant Store. Some we sell a lot, some we sell a little, so we started looking at the why’s and wherefore’s of these two extremes.

Perfumes that are great classics, new launches, trendy notes, high-profile noses, hot new brands  -  these are easy to explain. But some fragrances remain in the shadows, despite the fact that they smell terrific and we love them. We wouldn’t have bought them and spent hours writing about them if we didn’t. Why are readers passing them by?

Our conclusion is that it could be their names. No, we have not had too much wine. We’re serious. These fragrances have weird names. Too many consonants, too many vowels, difficult to pronounce, not pleasant to the ear, too ethnic, too exotic, too foreign, just too…weird.

So here’s a few fragrances from our Decant Store that definitely fit into the weird name category, but which we think are unique and beautiful,  and need a little love. Be adventurous and try them yourself. We think you’ll agree.

NANBAN by Arquiste - spicy and leathery and woody.

NANBAN was inspired by a Japanese galleon on the Pacific Ocean in January 1618.  The full story can be found on the Arquiste website. Smelling NANBAN, I smell the hold of a 17th century a Japanese galleon full of treasure from its transoceanic voyage – the oil paintings, the leather, the carved woodwork, the spices and the coffee – and really, isn’t that what great fragrances do – take you on a journey?

Wazamba by Parfums d’Empire – balsamic and fragrant and meditative. 

Wazamba combines two of my most favourite perfume notes – incense and balsamics. According to Parfum d’Empire website, a wazamba is a “musical instrument often used in initiation ceremonies in Western Africa”, and these ceremonies use incense, which is sacred to all great civilizations and is symbolic of  “the voyage within.” Wazamba, the perfume, is described on the packaging as “an aromatic pine grove created around incense.” Mixed with spice notes and faint notes of apple, yes APPLE, it’s a fall-on-your-knees experience for me.

Tzora by Anat Fritz - fresh and earthy and poignant. 

Tzora is named for a kibbutz in Israel, a fragrance named for an ancient place that is not about that place, but about someone’s joy at being there. It opens fresh with citrus, fruits and herbs and the smell of earth warmed by the sun. A floral heart of magnolia, osmanthus and jasmine blooms against the fading top notes, carried by the breeze. The base becomes woody and resinous from cedar, earthy, deep from patchouli and gently bitter and piney from oakmoss. The drydown is dry, clean and fresh lighthearted and perfectly unisex. A fragrance about a place I’ve never been too, but I know exactly how it smells, and I love it.

Skarb by Humiecki & Graef - green and aromatic and joyful.

Skarb has just enough strange-green, just enough murky-dark, just enough almost-sweet that it can claim a very unique, quirky oddness, which, at the same time is so incredibly appealing. The scent has no prescribed gender, it has no specific place, it’s an extremely wearable chameleon scent that slowly opens and creates a feeling of quiet bonhomie. A green from nature, watery but more animalic than aquatic, warmed from the earth, it has a soulful tenderness at its core.