Duel was launched in 2003 by indie French fragrance brand Annick Goutal and was inspired by Camille Goutal and Isabelle Doyen's love of the green maté accord, so they decided to build a fragrance around it.
Yerba maté is a South American herb related to holly and is used to make a caffeine-rich infused drink similar to tea. It is traditionally served in a hollowed-out gourd and sipped through a flanged straw. Anyone who reads this blog regularly knows that I am not a big fan of drinking tea but wearing it in fragrance form – now that’s my cup of tea!
Duel opens with a gentle citrus note of petitgrain joined by herbaceous, slightly camphorous mate. Maté is a new ingredient for me. It smells like dried leaves – aromatic green, with hay tones and tobacco facets that are all on display here. It’s a compelling scent that I can’t get enough of. The mate gets earthier as it blooms, but a smudge of absinth sweetens and lightens it. At the heart, iris root is velvety and cool and appears alongside woody, slightly floral Gaiac wood. All of it resting on a base of soft, supple sensuous leather and animalic musk.
Given the weight of some of its ingredients, Duel’s drydown is surprisingly light and refined, making it one smooth operator. It’s a perfect warm-weather scent, but it has enough huskiness and heft to be worn in cooler weather too.
Notes: petitgrain, absolu maté tea leaves, absinthe, iris root, Gaiac wood, leather, musk.