A perfume full of ghosts: wild spirits of nature, ghosts of memories and even the spectre of the glass of whisky you’ve just finished. Carduus by Jorum Studio is a scent with the power to conjure. A marvellous, mystical, merry-go-round of notes that paint a picture of surprising complexity with a friendly face.
Chamomile, bengal pepper, honey, clary sage, sea-holly, marjoram tea, myrtle, rose absolute, vetch, clove bud, hart’s tongue, tuberose, musk-thistle, heliotrope, tormentil, mahogany, cocoa absolute, tobacco, meum, deertongue, cherry wood.
Knowing where to start talking about Carduus is like trying to pin down where a cloud ends. It feels like it should be easy, but the closer you get to sticking it to the wall, the less sure you are that you have actually managed to capture it all.
So let’s start with the vague: Carduus is a scent that has a summery poetry about it. It has a warm, calming, and hay-like tone which reminded us of sun-warmed meadows and grass burnt knees. There’s an aniseed-like tone in the fragrance which was what made us fall in love with it in the first place, but which also has a relaxing quality. It’s like when, as children, we would spend all day running around in fields only to stop, exhausted, and flop into a pile of drying hay to rest, the warmth from the cut stalks radiating heat back into skin.
If those are the vague observations, a closer inspection shows a scent which is riddled with complexities and delicately nuanced. We might have thought, as children, that life was as simple as a pile of drying grass, but Carduus shows us that there is way more to it than that.
An initial spritz of the scent brings a wonderful cloud of sweetness. If you catch it whilst the alcohol is still evaporating it feels very much like the scent of a fine whisky, and this isn’t just lazy metaphor drawing on Jorum’s Scottish heritage, it really did remind us of that punchy-yet-refined, sweet-yet-firey mix that you get when you pour a glass of Scotch. The herbal tones creep in a moment later, again sweet, but with the memory of sap and greenery that they once held and which the sun has dried out of them.
Despite the sweetness that is present in Carduus throughout the whole wear, it can be moody as well, and we found this most prevalent in the middle of the scent. The majority of times we wore it, we observed a wonderful anise quality which delights as it soothes and calms the senses. Carduus feels warm and embracing. Sometimes though, a little darkness, a little spice, peeps out from under this bucolic blanket.
In Carduus it is possible to find a murky, musky bitterness which reminded us a little of coffee grounds. It isn’t full-on coffee, but there is that sort of tone lurking around the edges of the scent. Dark, rich, full-bodied.
Tea is another tone that we noticed in the fragrance at times. There’s the chewy, almost resinous quality of really good dried black tea, and the faintest hint of smoke about the composition.
Then there is the pollen-like, honeyed note that runs through the fragrance. This isn’t a thick, unctuous honey though, instead it is a delicate drizzle that brings out the qualities of the dried grasses and leaves with it’s warm and delectable sweetness.
Carduus is a fickle sort of scent though, and what she shows you one day might not be there the next. She’s what one might imagine Mother Nature would smell like at the end of a long summer’s day.
The warm, leathery quality of tobacco comes out in the base of the scent, alongside the hay, honey and anise which all seem to persist remarkably well, drawing lines of sense and structure through the fragrance. There’s also an itchy sort of celery note which prickles a little like a grass seed down the back of a soft t-shirt but it serves to remind us how rounded and softly pleasant the rest of the scent is.
Carduus smells natural, it smells like a beautiful meadow landscape but without being twee and saccharine. There’s definitely something wild here, something un-domesticated that is playing at being a house pet for the time being but which could turn at any moment. And that wild/tame quality that romps through this scent gives it a mystical herbalist tone, it feels like a potion as much as a perfume, and who doesn’t need a little more magic in their every day life?
The other stuff
The longevity of Carduus is good, it lasts around six hours from first application. This isn’t a shouty loud scent though, so the projection we would rate as moderate – probably to under handshake distance or so. That didn’t bother us in the slightest, however. Carduus feels like a happy secret of a scent that you mostly want to keep for yourself anyway – a bit like that bar of chocolate you have tucked at the back of the cupboard that the people who share your house don’t know about. It’s all for you.
In terms of the gender that the scent will appeal to, that’s a hard one to call as we could see it working for lots of people. Maybe slightly more on the stereotypically masculine end of the spectrum, but only just if at all.
We felt that if you liked this one, you may also like Liquo by Angela Ciampagna, or indeed the unusual work of January Scent Project.
Jorum Studio are a Scottish fragrance house and the perfume line side of Jorum Laboratories. Whilst you might not know the name, they’ve worked on formulations for some very well known names in the business – many of which are a secret still, but notable ones include Neandertal, Reek, Miller Harris and one of our favourites: Mendittorosa. With a focus on originality and innovation, it isn’t a stretch to see why they would want to add their own range of perfumes to such a pedigree.
Jorum Studio have three scents in their Progressive line – of which Carduus is one – which aim to be on the more interesting and challenging end of the fragrance spectrum. Their Botany range has another three fragrances which are a little tamer. Finally, three more fragrance ‘texturisers’ form the Psychoterratica line. No, we aren’t quite sure what they are either, but once we find out we will let you know!
Carduus is available from the Jorum Studio web boutique where it is priced at £59 for 15ml EdP or £125 for 50ml.
We purchased a sample scent of the Progressive Scents at our own cost during a period when Jorum Studio were running a giveaway/lucky-dip competition. We were lucky enough to win a 15ml of any scent of our choice off the back of that and we chose Carduus, which was given free of charge and without any strings attached. We would like to thank Jorum Studios for running the competition.