Launched in 2015 by niche fragrance line, Arquiste, NANBAN was inspired by a Japanese galleon on the Pacific Ocean in January 1618.
NANBAN translates into ’southern barbarian’ - a word that at one time referred to foreigners coming to Japan from the South Sea.
For me, NANBAN is one of those fragrances that is hard to break down into notes; although I can smell individual notes, they don’t stack neatly into clear levels. On me, it opens with spicy, tingly black pepper, leather-faceted saffron and an aromatic black tea accord – all beautifully rounded and smooth, with no harshness. The top notes call forward a pungent note of animalic Spanish leather – likely from a combination styrax and cade. It is a stunning combination of scents. When the leather quietens, it allows a note of fruity/leathery osmanthus to bloom. Coffee is here, too, and it warms and strengthens the osmanthus. Myrrh, frankincense and copaiba balsam – an aromatic, slightly bitter oleoresin used in making oil paint, varnishes and lacquers – and cade give it a thick, balsamy, resinous feel while sandalwood gives it a rich, sweet woodiness.
The drydown is rich, woody and slightly sweet, with a potent sensuality that lasts for hours.
Notes: black pepper, Persian saffron, black tea accord, osmanthus, coffee absolute, Spanish leather, myrrh, frankincense, styrax, sandalwood, copaiba balsam and cade.