Bois d’Ascèse by Naomi Goodsir

‘Intoxicating’ is used a lot in perfume parlance but here is a scent that gets you totally and utterly kaylied with just one sniff.

Listed notes

Tobacco, whisky, amber, cinnamon, labdanum, cedar, frankincense, oak.

The brand

Naomi Goodsir is an Australian who now lives and works near Grasse, France. Her perfume house produce artisan scents with a distinctive, almost old fashioned style and presentation. The Naomi Goodsir brand currently list five scents in their collection and on the strength of Bois d’Ascèse, we will definitely review more of the line in future.

Top notes

There’s this Victorian expression for when one is utterly drunk: “getting tight as a boiled owl” and we felt that this should be the tagline for this scent. It is intoxicating, moreish, dangerous, seductive. It’s what John Hamm in Mad Men would smell like. It’s the vapours that Lord Byron, Lucifer and edgy bad boys give off. If it was a film it would be Cert 18 and as a drink it would be top shelf. It most definitely isn’t a scent for the faint hearted.

The first wafts of this scent bring a heavy, rich and sweet smoke. Although the fragrance lists tobacco as one of its notes, this is as far away from an ashtray as one can cough. Instead it’s an opulent and rich smoke, the type of scent that you could cure kippers over, or use to flavour meat, the kind of smoke that you can’t help but want to sniff if you are around it. Like hints of bonfire on a chill winter day. There is a real purity to it that takes it miles away from dog ends and fag packets and instead gives you an old smoking kiln or cigar smoke clinging to a velvet smoking jacket.

Heart notes

You never really manage to get over the smoke in this fragrance, it is front and centre throughout. That said, as it warms up and settles, the wood behind the smoke does become more discernible and you can really make out the green facets of the cedar and oak. And these are proper wood notes, very true, very authentic and, as a result, utterly delicious.

The Naomi Goodsir house have managed to combine two of life’s greatest scents: woodsmoke and authentic wood notes. Both are gorgeous on their own but combined they become really, really hard to resist.

Riding on the coat tails of these smoky woods, we also noted the whisky note peeping through. This isn’t very strong and doesn’t smack you in the face, but it does give the delightful boozy nuance that we have seen proliferate in recent years. Where we noticed it was right at the back of the throat, almost as a taste rather than a smell, right on the very back of the tongue. With the amber notes, it just brings a gentle warmth to the scent, and rounds off the edges of the smoke so it isn’t abrasive at all.

Base notes

In the base of the scent, the smoke takes on a more fragrant note as the frankincense rises. Sometimes incense type scents can be really overdone in fragrance, and they can get really scratchy on the sinuses, however, in Bois d’Ascese it stays at a level that is pleasant rather than overpowering. It hints at this bad boy’s more clerical past, perhaps? Has he swapped a cassock for a suit and a night in high society?

Throughout, this is a very dry, warm, woody scent that will really appeal to those who like their fragrances with a punchy level of smoke to them. If you’ve ever been to a whisky distillery and smelt the inside of a charred barrel, waiting to be filled, this is very much in that vein.

If we had one criticism of this scent it would be that it doesn’t travel a lot from start to finish, but if you’re doing something good, why mess with it, right?

The other stuff

The sillage or projection of the scent was really quite good, but the longevity was moderate. We expected, given the denseness of the scent, that it would hang around longer than it did. When wearing it, it seemed to reduce in volume quite quickly. What was left did linger well into the afternoon, but at a much reduced level.

In terms of when and where to wear this scent it most definitely suits evening functions in the cooler months. If you can call something a soiree then this is the scent to wear to it.

In as much as any gender bias of a scent is pretty much made up, this to us was an incredibly masculine fragrance. One of the most stereotypically masculine we have reviewed in fact. It oozes this Victorian vibe of danger and intrigue that really is quite seductive. That really isn’t to say that more feminine customers couldn’t wear it, in fact the boldness of the scent would be a real talking point if it was worn with a ballgown and heels too.

Buy it

You can buy the Naomi Goodsir line from Bloom Perfumery, London. Bloom kindly sent us a sample of this fragrance to review. Bois d’Ascese is priced at £125 for 50ml EDP. It’s not cheap, but it is beautifully bold and, if you fall in lust with it, it is very likely to become one of your statement scents.


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