Terror and magnificence? Or will the latest creation from Beaufort London be ‘trembling and malodorous’?
Saffron, black pepper, birch tar, incense, tobacco, Kyphi accord (a type of compound incense), papyrus, myrrh, benzoin, labdanum, vetiver, wet stone.
Terror and Magnificence opens with a blast of cool and realistic pine. This is dense pine needle territory on a cool, damp day, but in the deepest, most long-forgotten part of the forest. Indeed, it smells so dark green that it feels like the scent of a forest out of a fairy tale. It warns you that in this fragrance there be dragons.
The intense, leathery pine needles don’t last for long though, because as soon as the scent starts to heat up, the smoky birch tar gets going. For a moment or two though you get both facets: dark green and billowing smoke. Here the scent has a dose of magic, like some sort of ritual bonfire held deep in the woods in a fairytale. It’s one of those dark, sinister fairytales though, that make children hide under the blankets and send delicious shivers down the spine of adults.
There’s what also feels like a hit of something citrusy in the initial few moments of the scent. It lends a cleansing and crisp quality to the wooded setting and rather than being identifiable as citrusy as such, it lends the effect of a cool breeze blowing through the glade before the birch tar fire leaps into action.
There’s a period of time when the birch tar is the star player in the scent and if you take a quick sniff then it is mostly what you smell, but come closer to the fire, inhale deeper, pay more attention, and what you will detect amongst the clouds of smoke is much more multifaceted.
Hiding in the darkness, but peeping out here and there is a wet, stoney accord. It’s rain on pavements in winter, or here, in the forest, it might be dew on a sacrificial stone table. There’s also a sweetness which tames the smoke notes, easing the bitterness of their bite and rounding out the whole scent. So here’s a weird analogy, but what it called to mind was smoked mackerel. Terror and Magnificence doesn’t smell fishy, not at all, but that yielding, meaty sweetness you get when you taste fish prepared in that way, alongside a hum of smoke, that’s the sort of effect the perfumer has managed to create. It’s like a strange savoury kind of sweetness.
There’s a leathery tone to the scent too, but it isn’t a polite leather, it’s a dirty, leathery-leaf type of leather. The sort of leather that has been used and used and used again until it is pliable and grooved and has taken on the smell of the forest.
There is something really compelling about the base of this scent. Smoky, woody, resinous, it will have you sniffing your wrist all day. Further away from the body the smoky notes prevail and it can seem a bit flat, but again, take a closer view and you can see many more elements through the smoke. The whole fragrance is very much like a woodland at night, or a black and white photograph. A quick look and you might think there is not much there, but look closer and some many details become apparent. It’s a shifting and swirling picture and it gives the whole fragrance a really bold and compelling character, but yet it retains a wearability and appeal. It isn’t too bold, too smoky, too brash. There is the every desirable balance here, despite the darkness, or perhaps because of it.
The sweet undertones remain persistent in the scent and they have quite a determined feel about them. There’s a sharpness that gives focus and almost the sense of being tart as well as being sweet; like the bracing zing of lemon and the comfort of sugar all at once. Flecks of greenery also punctuate the scent, along with damp woods, burnt paper and a lingering coolness that contrasts beautifully against the warmer smoke.
The smoke itself also changes tone in the latter phases of the wear. It shifts from being purely thick birch tar, to being much more incense-like and having a cleaner feel as a result. It moves from the black smoke of the birch tar, to a browner more tobacco-like smoke, to the white smoke of incense, but it is still smoke throughout.
Terror and Magnificence could be a scent that gets missed in the Beaufort stable, but that would be a shame. It possesses a degree of subtlety that some of their other bold and smoky scents perhaps lack at times. It’s not a sledgehammer to crack a nut; instead with Terror and Magnificence there is something intellectual going on, they’ve persuaded the nut to crack open and sacrifice itself instead. It feels like the sort of scent the sexy bad guy would wear in a movie, but not the guns blazing type of bad guy, more the brains behind the whole thing, the man behind the man. The really dangerous and seductively attractive one. That’s Terror and Magnificence all over.
The other stuff
Terror and Magnificence, like much of the Beaufort collection, leans more towards the stereotypically masculine side of the spectrum with its brooding and smoky vibes.
Longevity of the scent is good, we got at least six hours wear, but it also seemed quite variable – one of those scents that feels like it has gone and then pops up again later.
Terror and Magnificence wears very well on cool air and we could see this being a scent mainly reserved for the autumn and winter months. Take all that with a pinch of salt though and wear it whenever, whoever and however you feel.
Beaufort are based in London and make what they describe as ‘tempestuous British perfumery’. Their scents are arranged into two collections: Come Hell or High Water which includes Lignum Vitae and Fathom V, and the Revenants collection which includes Iron Duke, Rake and Ruin and now Terror and Magnificence as well.
The Beaufort vibe is very urban-London-hipster-chic although their scents reference a variety of historical characters (in Revenants) and maritime influences (in Come Hell or High Water). In a nutshell though, Beaufort are probably best known for their bold and smoky fragrances which seem to dominate their collection. It will be interesting to see what the brand do next, they risk becoming a one-trick pony if all they do is variants on the theme of smoky though.
If you like Terror and Magnificence, check out the other Beaufort fragrances listed above. You may also enjoy Alcools by Jardins d’Ecrivains.
Terror and Magnificence is available from Bloom Perfumery London, where it is priced at £115 for 50ml EdP. Bloom kindly supplied us with a no strings attached sample of this fragrance.
You can also buy Terror and Magnificence from the Beaufort web boutique.