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Vanilla-centric fragrances are having a very long moment in the perfume world, and I couldn't be happier! I wasn't always a fan of the "little pod." Sure, just about every perfume has some vanilla in it. For example, paired with amber, it becomes the reference note for the Oriental family of scents - think Shalimar. But vanilla in a starring role? Hmmm. I wondered, I worried, I was wary, and I wavered.  Well, dear reader, I was wrong. My thinking changed when I sniffed another Guerlain fragrance, Spirituese Double Vanille the very first time. This was not the cloying, sickly sweet vanilla that I feared – this was a multi-faceted, earthy vanilla that opened the door to a new kind of vanilla, and I walked right through that door! Vanilla is such a complex ingredient that the perfume possibilities are endless. This brings me to my latest vanilla obsession: Vaniglia Piccante from Erbario Toscano, the Tuscan-based producer of beauty products, perfumes and home fragrances.

Erbario Toscano grew out of the dried flower and potpourri business started by Guido Bertozzi in Tuscany in 1967. While Bertozzi was creating fragrances from the dried flowers, his young son, Egisto, took notice. Over time, Bertozzi's reputation for handcrafted products made in Tuscany with traditional Tuscan ingredients (their perfumes are 100% natural) grew and so did their business. Upon his father's death in 2012, Egisto took charge of the family business and launched Erbario Toscano worldwide.

I became familiar with Erbario Toscano fragrances when I discovered Cuore de Pepe Nero on a trip to Tuscany. This men's fragrance has become an Italian cult classic and Vaniglia Piccante stands right beside it.

Vaniglia Piccante opens with a note of deep, rich, creamy caramel. Nutmeg warms the caramel, making it sensuous and inviting, while thyme adds a spicy, green dimension. Cistus extends the herbal aspect of the thyme while eucalyptus echoes the camphorous aspect of it. The opening is sweet, to be sure, but the nutmeg, thymus, cistus and eucalyptus work with the caramel letting the sweetness shine rather than hijacking the fragrance. As it settles on my skin, the fruity, floral smell of peach blossom emerges. It just smells pretty. But the heart is all about wood: sweet, wood-faceted patchouli, camphorous-tinged cedarwood, rich, aromatic sandalwood and wood-faceted cistus work together to create a 'wood' note that isn't bossy or overtaking; instead, it's quietly beautiful. A gentle wafting smokiness from incense adds a bit of seduction to Vaniglia Piccante. The seduction continues through with the base where spicebush keeps the classic pairing of sweet, resinous amber and Bourbon vanilla warm and inviting. The choice of Bourbon vanilla is genius because of its rich, deep, creamy and sweet character, so it loops right back to the top note of caramel, which means the irresistible scent of vanilla never really disappears from any stage of the fragrance. White musk locks it all in.

The drydown is sweet, warm and sophisticated from the powdery aspect of amber. And since vanilla is categorized as a spice, Vaniglia Piccante is really the feminine yin to Cuore de Pepe Nero's masculine black pepper yang.

Vaniglia Piccante translates to 'Spicy Vanilla' in English, so I had high expectations for what this vanilla fragrance would be like, and I was not disappointed. In fact, Vaniglia Piccante has become a Holy Grail vanilla fragrance for me. And to think I used to be wary of vanilla scents! What silliness!

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

Image - Vanilla planifolia - wikipedia

Every year in late spring, early summer, Mother Nature performs one of her magic acts: the linden trees bloom. Their delicate, bell-shaped, cream-coloured blossoms hang on filament stems, sheltered by the dense foliage, and their scent wafts on the breeze, fresh and honeyed, a sweetness layered with green leafy notes. It is a divine scent.

Called lime blossom, tilleul, or basswood in other parts of the world, linden trees are tall and stately and leafy, renowned in poetry and song for their perfumed shade. Linden blossoms have been used for centuries to scent soaps and creams, in herbal teas, as tinctures and in aromatherapy, because the scent has powerful restorative properties. 

Bees know this. Bees love linden blossoms - they are bee food. 

And I love linden blossoms. They’re even better than May lilacs in my smell book. The scent is so unique - green, fresh, sweet, grassy, all in one sniff! I’ve tried for ages to find the perfect linden perfume that captures the magic of the linden note for me, with some success. Tilleul by D’Orsay has been my best find until a few weeks ago, when I discovered Onder de Linde from Baruti Perfume, an independent artisanal perfume company based in Amsterdam, Netherlands

Onder de Linde is a hand-made extrait de parfum which opens with the delicious green of a fresh-cut bouquet of linden flowers, spiked with a splash of fragrant lilac and slices of crisp apple. This accord is so unique, it’s transfixing. Suddenly it’s a beautiful summer day with not a cloud in the blue, blue sky!  Green, fresh, a little spicy, a little earthy, a hint of fruit under the soft florals, the accord persists into the heart, when the bees arrive and the linden blossoms become more honeyed with a musty nuance of golden beeswax. 

The heart is where perfumer Spyros Drosopoulos lifts his linden fragrance out of the soliflore category, and elevates it to a truly interesting and more complex perfume. The vegetal earthiness of orris root keeps the floral sweetness subdued and soft, light as a feather, but at the same time notes of musk and vanilla are introduced which create a warm undercurrent as the heart moves to settle in the base. 

The base dries down with an accord of satiny smooth sandalwood and green vetiver, which is a perfect balance to the floral sweetness, and extends the natural airy honeyed quality of the linden heart with what I detect as mown grass and hay. The musk is quietly insistent, adding more animalic depth. Never too green or too sweet or too powdery, Onder de Linde feels like the perfect summer day, bees buzzing, birds chirping, mowers mowing. With a soft waft and good durability, the scent is one that anyone can wear and enjoy all day.

In Onder de Linde, perfumer Spyros Drosopoulos has found a way to include a sensation of velvety warmth, an animalic quality, which is the sensual element that I’ve always found missing in other interpretations of the linden note. His fragrance avoids the noticeable soapiness or heavy sweetness that is found in other linden fragrances, and instead creates the feeling of the pure beauty of the stately elegant tree in all its natural surroundings. 

He says: “Onder de Linde is a magic potion - here to chase your blues away. Joyous and uplifting, this fragrance is full of promises of early summer.” 

I think he’s exactly right, and I second that emotion….

Onder de Linde Extrait de Parfum is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Onder de Linde 30 ml. bottle - perfumeniche.com

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.

WHAT WE DO

We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
 
We hope you enjoy perfumeniche.com, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.