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Sublime Balkiss – complex and smooth and enticing

Queen of Sheba meeting with Solomon by Piero della Francesca,

c. 1452-1466 -

It’s official! In an online article titled “Patchouli: The Scent of the Season” published earlier this week, The New York Times says “The musty, earthy aroma is suddenly everywhere, in some of the nicest new fragrance releases this fall.”

I looked over the list of fragrances mentioned in the article and tagged the ones I wanted to try, wanted to learn more about and wanted to watch. But that doesn’t mean I have to wait until I’ve test-driven those frags to get in on this patchouli-is-the-scent-of-the-season trend. At least not while I have a bottle of Sublime Balkiss by French niche line The Different Company front and centre on my fragrance shelf.

Created by Céline Ellena, she reveals the inspiration for Sublime Balkiss on The Different Company website: "As a teenager…I discovered Ireland and it was a true olfactory shock: the scent of rain, fresher and sweeter than the one that pours over Provence, the scent of the wind, mineral yet soft, and the delicate scent of heather, barely sweet. Last winter, I unveiled these sensations again and the topic took shape: a Chypre, a true story teller. It’s a surprising fragrance. The writing is modern and yet easy to understand, with just enough chapters to complete the story. And suddenly, the name aroused, Balkiss, the real name of the Queen of Sheba, a most beautiful, wise and mysterious woman who, centuries later, is still mesmerizing.”

Ah, Balkiss, the Arabic name for the Queen of Sheba. Wikipedia says that she was from the kingdom of Saba and traveled to Jerusalem to meet with Solomon "with a very great retinue, with camels bearing spices, and very much gold, and precious stones" (I Kings 10:2)."Never again came such an abundance of spices" (10:10; II Chron. 9:1–9) as those which she gave to Solomon. She came "to prove him with hard questions", all of which Solomon answered to her satisfaction. They exchanged gifts, after which she returned to her land.”

So here’s all we really know about Balkiss: she was a rich, powerful woman, rare in the ancient world, and she was a riddler. Her meeting with Solomon, as reported, seems fairly ordinary, yet over the centuries she has intrigued people – how did she get so wealthy?  Was there more to her meeting with Solomon? Did they really have a child? The mystery surrounding Sheba has made her the the subject of legends through Jewish, Arabian, and Ethiopian elaborations of her meeting with Solomon that still inspire books, opera, film, television – oh, and perfume  -  to this day. Well, there‘s no mystery why I love wearing Sublime Balkiss – it’s gorgeous.

Sublime Balkiss opens with crisp bergamot teamed with the metallic, aqueous freshness of violet leaf. Smelling it the first time, I was surprised by its ethereal beauty. Before long, it gets sweet and tart from blackberry, blackcurrant and blueberry.  I get a whiff of the fabled "cat piss" facet of the blackcurrant. It balances the rich, ripe berries beautifully. And then the heart blooms with flowers: rich, lush Damascus rose, sweet, floral, lilac and bright, green-nuanced lily of the valley. Both the lilac and lily of the valley are jasmine-tinged and play off the rose so that the heart is softly and seductively floral. But what really makes Balkiss sublime is the base. Patchouli two ways - patchouli fraction and patchouli essence, bring different aspects of the sweet, dark, woody herb to the base making it complex and a little unpredictable and, well, mysterious.  Cocoa powder, lightly spicy and bitter, doesn’t smell of chocolate here – it mostly adds warmth to the base. There is heather here too, the type that, to me, has a woodsy, mossy smell.

The drydown is smooth and seductive skin scent that’s warm and enticing and perfectly unisex.

And that patchouli!! Well, that just makes Sublime Balkiss part of the patchouli trend this season, but the truth is, it’s been an all-season patchouli around here for years.

Sublime Balkiss is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.