Palo Santo by Carner Barcelona

This perfume is a great example of what you get when you buy niche perfumes; it’s complex and changes a lot from the initial notes to base notes. I always equate perfume to whisky: the single malts are always going to give you more of an ‘experience’, their tastes unfold and change as you sip them, you don’t necessarily want to drink them every day because of that wonderful complexity, some days you just want an uncomplicated blend that you got from the local supermarket!

The smelling notes I can find for this perfume list caramel, tonka bean and vetiver amongst it’s accords as well as davana (apparently this is an aromatic herb – I had to look it up!) and rum. I try not to look at the notes until after I have worn the perfume though so my judgement doesn’t become influenced by what I think I should be smelling.

Palo Santo means sacred wood. It is a mystical tree that grows in South America and is related to Frankincense and Myrrh, so maybe a good thing to be wearing at this time of year?

The brand

Carner Barcelona are a young (created in 2010) company from the gorgeous Spanish city of the same name (Incidentally it’s one of my favourite European cities so I was positively inclined towards this perfume from the start!). The founder, Sara Carner, comes from a long family of Spanish leather artisans and boy can you smell that in this perfume!

Top notes

I am going to use a lot of phrases in this review which sound negative, but really they aren’t. So bear with me…

When you initially spray this perfume it smells like the back of an antique cupboard at your grandma’s house. No really. It smells like wood, warmth, hints of sweetness from the toiletries that your Gran kept in that cupboard for years, it’s soothing and familiar and yet mysterious at the same time.There’s the scent of tobacco lingering in there as well, and even the vaguest hint of oily fish (again, I don’t mean this in a bad was as it’s fresh smelling) which quickly mellows to freshly polished leather shoes. The top notes on this one don’t last for long.

Heart notes

The middle of this perfume allows the sweetness to come through, I get creamy vanilla from it, milk, tonka bean. Again, quite soothing and comforting. There’s also a sweet, musky note in there that leads nicely on to the….

Base notes

The sweet musk gives way to woodsmoke and sandalwood. The finish, on me at least, is very woody, incense, Winter bonfire burning. There is also a lingering polished leather, which I like. The longevity of this perfume is excellent. It stayed all day on my skin, which is great. I am always disappointed by a great smell that vanishes by lunch, especially when it come’s with a significant price tag.

Many of the niche ranges don’t differentiate between male and female fragrances, which I think is a really good thing (because who gets to say that men should smell of this and women smell of that? It’s a bit silly when you think about it!). That said, I think this sweet woody scent would work very nicely on male skin, but if you are a lady who wants to wear something slightly more woody then definitely go with it. For me it’s both a touch too woody and a touch too sweet to wear often but that said it has a mystery that intrigues me to keep sniffing it throughout the day. I definitely think it’s a Winter perfume when the cold air will temper it somewhat.

Other stuff

I bought a sample of this for the purposes of reviewing it, so I don’t have the bottle in my hands, however, the packaging is minimal and attractive, possibly leaning slightly more towards the male market in it’s design. Again, I don’t really mind that.

As this is a relatively unusual perfume, it is more expensive, retailing around £85 for 50ml. It is available from the fabulous Blooms Perfumery (more on them later).



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