The scent of chestnuts roasting on a log fire, perfect for when the nights take a cooler turn.
Incense, raspberry, violet, leather, chestnut, labdanum, oud, vanilla.
The city of York, where The Sniff is based, is very old. Twisted streets, medieval buildings, Roman and Viking heritage all hark back to times long past. As a result there is a particular nostalgia which fills the place, especially in the long winter months. During this time, a peculiar brand of street food vendors appear. Where they’ve been all the summer months nobody can say, but suddenly three or four of them come out of hibernation. They sell hot, roasted chestnuts from little heated barrows and the smoky, nutty smell fills the city like some olfactive ghost of Christmas past.
Scents of Love Gourmet beautifully evokes this nostalgic winter treat but the start of the fragrance feels like it could go in several directions. When you spray it, in the very first few moments, the smell of hot plastic about to catch fire springs from the bottle. It’s punchy and narcotic and sweet. You would be forgiven for imagining that the scent might go all urban and edgy. A moment later though and the scent resolves into a wonderful nutty and smoky fugue.
A sweet plume of smoke rises from the skin when this fragrance has settled. It has the scent of toasted, nut-skin, all woody and warm. You can practically imagine peeling the hot, leathery husks away from the floury flesh contained within. The smoke holds the more edible facets of this fragrance in check and provides an interesting counterpoint to prevent the fragrance from becoming unbalanced and unsophisticated.
The sweet, pillowy smoke doesn’t quit yet, but it does recede somewhat as the fragrance wears on. The chestnut is round and comforting and as the fragrance matures, it is joined by a creamy silkiness – whipped cream or warm milk. Does it smell like a dessert? To some extent, but there is enough burning and woodiness throughout to balance that. To command this price point any fragrance would need to be chic as well as enticing and this scent hits that balance perfectly, marrying a whipped cream vibe, with the scrumptious chestnut and a hint of the sourness of red fruit in the wings to cut through.
We take it back, it does smell like dessert, but like you’re eating the best nut and cream cake with fresh raspberries ever, in a church, whilst someone swing an incense thurible nearby. Obviously.
Gourmet reduces significantly and feels like it relaxes somewhat towards the end of a wear. Wisps of smoke cling attractively to the scent and the soothing milky and sweet temperament hums across the surface of skin like a cat’s purr. A sticky vanilla becomes more apparent and feels like it anchors the fragrance to the body. Nothing wacky or unexpected happens in the base, given that this is a relatively (but not entirely) linear fragrance, but it still manages to make the wearer feel like they’re wrapped in the most luxurious of silk robes. And to be fair, you wouldn’t want to spoil something as sumptuous as this scent with anything out of left-field this far in.
If you buy this fragrance expecting an OUD scent then you’re not going to find that shouty, skanky barnyard type oud smell here. The oud in Gourmet is used delicately, lightly, providing a richness that is almost chocolatey in tone and not at all offensive or challenging to wear. The oud nuance gives backbone and structure rather than being front and centre, and the fragrance is all the more appealing and indeed balanced for that lightness of touch.
Gourmet is the sort of fragrance you wear when you want to feel treated, to feel looked after and pampered. It feels luxurious. The notes and composition as well as the presentation and price tag convey that, but despite being luxury, it doesn’t feel austere. There’s enough of the warm milk vibe to take away any fleeting thoughts of this scent being unfriendly. Instead it comforts like a rice pudding made by an elderly relative, whilst wrapped in a cashmere blanket. And if anyone feels like delivering either of those to The Sniff offices, we would be very grateful to receive either!
The other stuff
Given that this fragrance has a large and bold personality, it doesn’t last quite as long as one might expect. We imagined that it would hang around all day from the smoky facets, but in actual fact it lasts six hours or so before it dissipates, and we found that we had to use quite a few spritzes to feel like we had enough on.
That said, Gourmet projects really well, to further than handshake distance and it trails behind you beautifully when you wear it. The sort of scent that people will remember you for.
Gender in fragrance is a really artificial construct, so wear whatever you like regardless of who it is marketed to. With that in mind though, we felt that this leaned slightly more towards what might be considered the more stereotypically feminine end of the spectrum, although really do take that with a pinch of salt if you are anyone other than female and you want to wear it.
Gourmet wears best in the cooler months of autumn and winter. It is perfect for a walk in the park or an evening soiree when the air is crisp and chilled.
Maison Micallef are a French brand who have been gracing the perfumery stage since they were founded in 1996 but their website tells us precious little aside from that and the usual emphasis on high quality raw materials, exclusivity, etc. We visited the Micallef store when visiting Grasse, France.
Secrets of Love Gourmet is available from the Micallef web boutique, where it is priced at €185 for 75ml (at the time of writing that’s about £160). The testers we received of this are EdP, but we couldn’t actually find that listed on the website to double confirm for you.
You can locate your nearest Micallef boutique via their store finder. Micallef are also available at Fortnum and Mason in London but at the time of writing this article, Gourmet was not shown as one of the products available there.
We were given samples of this fragrance whilst visiting the Micallef store in Grasse, France, with no strings attached.