This is liquid smoke in a scent. Think whisky by a bonfire, think winter nights burning twigs in the garden, think cordite and excitement and peeling your clothes off afterwards to find that the smell of the fire’s breath has stuck to your skin. Yes, Rake and Ruin nods towards debauchery, but it’s the smell of the bonfire that really holds true.
Gin, orange, lemon, coriander, juniper, angelica, liquorice, pink pepper, sichuan pepper, pine needles, cypress, costus, castoreum, labdanum, cade oil, violet, orris, sandalwood, wood, ambrarome, musk and plenty of smoke.
Beaufort are a cool, hipster, London brand who’s work is often commended for the gun powder and smoky notes their fragrances contain. The scents in their line are often quite stereotypically masculine in tone, appealing to those with a young aesthetic who value quality and refined construction. So, hipsters then.
We’ve previously reviewed the luscious greenery of Fathom V, the cake-like warmth of Lignum Vitae, and the battlefields of Iron Duke, If you like Zoologist’s T-Rex then Rake and Ruin may appeal to you as well.
Rake and Ruin is the second chapter in Beaufort’s Revenants Collection (Iron Duke being the first).
If you like smoky perfumes then you’re going to love Rake and Ruin. The perfume opens with a large, glorious smoky bouquet and the smoke doesn’t ever really quit as the perfume wears. It’s the sort of perfume that gets you noticed and is nigh on impossible to ignore.
The first thing that the opening of Rake and Ruin calls to mind is the charred inside of whisky barrels; a combination of wood with smoke and a boozy sweetness underlying it. If you’ve ever smelled a charred oak barrel, or indeed the thick, heavy tar on the wood of a Norwegian stave church then you’re on the right track with what this perfume smells like. The sweetness undercutting the smoke is masterful here. Without it the burnt notes would smell flat and just acrid, but the addition of this boozy sweetness gives the whole scent dimension and movement and elevates it above the bland. It’s moreish too and will have you sniffing your wrists over and over again.
When we tested this scent we never really got the gin notes from it, but in the heart it is possible to make out a citrusy note peeping through the smoke, a sourness that you can almost taste rather than smell. It hides at the edges of the scent adding a subtle but rather beautiful new facet and if we had a criticism of the scent it would be that we wanted more of this to come through.
The smoke becomes more leathery in the heart too and at times it’s hard to tell if you are wreathed in a fragrant leather jacket or a coat of smoulder. For cloak and clothe this perfume really does, enveloping the wearer and staying for the long duration of the day. Like the fumes from a garden bonfire, it sticks to the skin, almost oily in its tenacity, and will remind you of its presence frequently throughout the wear.
Rake and Ruin does this strange thing whereby one minute you get the warmth of the smoke, and then, moments later, the warmth is undercut by a cooler, stoney note. The juxtaposition of the two is rather lovely. Whichever facet you catch seems to depend on the warmth of the air and the skin as much as the mood of the wearer. Nevertheless the smoke persists in the base, and at times it becomes more gun powder and battlefield than it does allotment bonfire.
It’s also possible, right at the end of an inhale to get a sense of the herbal notes in there, very delicately. The liquorice and angelica just peep through for a moment occasionally. In a similar way, the orris also comes through in the base of the wear and riding the coat tails of an inhale. It’s presence adds a texture as much as a note in itself and it melds with the smoky notes to enhance them further. We still missed what we would describe as a gin smell, but try it on your skin to see what elements your chemistry brings out; it may be that we simply dampened those nuances down.
It’s not unfair to describe Rake and Ruin as a melange of the more stereotypically masculine notes in perfumery; smoke, wood, gun powder, citrus and in a way it feels as if the perfumer has set out to make something so hugely masculine that it probably spreads its legs out wide on public transport and explains simple concepts to women. That said, it feels at times a little like a one-trick pony. Yes it’s very big, yes it’s very smoky, but where is the element of surprise, where are the mirrors to go with the smoke?
Rake and Ruin is undoubtedly a very sexy fragrance and it really does succeed at being a big smoke scent. We could easily imagine a high powered advertising exec from the 1970s smelling like this in a very enticing way – think John Hamm’s character in Mad Men. That said, it isn’t going to be everyone’s cup of tea, nor is it going to be suitable for every occasion – it’s distinctly more a going out or evening scent for winter than it is a springtime or day time in the office smell. But hey, it’s winter at the moment and we do like to go out, so crack on Rake and Ruin, crack on.
The other stuff
The longevity of Rake and Ruin is excellent, it lasts all day and is still powerful in the evening after a morning application. You don’t need a lot of this to keep you smelling fragrant.
The sillage of the fragrance is large too, projecting to beyond handshake distance easily (and then some). When we tested this one of our subjects just walked into a room and was met with compliments about it before even getting close to anyone. It’s a powerful beast of a scent without a doubt.
In terms of the gender most suited to wearing this scent, it really does sit more towards the stereotypically masculine end of the spectrum for sure. As always though, if you want to wear it regardless of your gender presentation then do not let that stop you.
The scent wears very well on the cool air of winter and we can see this being when it is truly at its best. In summer it may well become a bit overpowering at close quarters.
Bloom Perfumery very kindly supplied us with a no-strings-attached sample of this scent.