Gourmand is often a shorthand way of saying ‘sweet’ but not so with this exquisitely blended and delectably bitter fragrance. If you like coffee, dark chocolate and good ale, this could be the gourmand fragrance you have been waiting for.
Black pepper, pink pepper, cardamon, orchid, pittosporum, rum, tuberose, cocoa, cocoa beans, leather, musk, sandalwood.
Cacao Azteque begins its dark and fragrant journey with a rather interesting olfactory sleight of hand. The pepper leaps off the skin in spades when it is sprayed; first the dry, almost earthy black pepper, followed by the fruitier, zestier pink. The two together are bright and lively and they give a generous feeling of warmth to the fragrance. The peppers are set against the roundness of cardamon which rolls off the skin in a beautiful swirl and the whole effect is cosy, comforting and uplifting. Experiencing the scent is a bit like sniffing something with citrus in; it has that delightful whoosh of energy that takes everything upwards. There is no citrus obviously in evidence here, but the enlivening quality of the peppery mix is similar to the sort of feeling that a citrus can provoke.
But where is the olfactory mirage we promised? Well, if you spray the scent on the back of your hand, inhale, and contemplate the fragrance then you will get all the individual notes, but if you throw some of this on, dress quickly and head out the door, then the mirage of lavender appears when you aren’t totally concentrating on the scent. Lavender isn’t listed (which isn’t to say that it isn’t present) but we loved its appearance here, either real or imagined. The lavender carries with it similar uplifting and yet soothing connotations that have been set up by the peppers and cardamon. There’s also a greenly herbal and savoury tone which also hints at its presence.
The black and pink pepper linger quite well in Cacao Azteque, but the energy and vibrancy is smoothed off them a little bit as the scent evolves. A delicate snifter of rum joins the fray and adds a very gentle tickle of sweetness. Make no mistake though, this isn’t a chocolatey sweet scent, not at all. The boozy notes just take the edge off the peppers and hint at something more sugar-laced, but hint is all they do. That tiny suggestion of sweetness though is well handled, it brings the scent into perfect balance.
And then there is the cacao itself. In this fragrance it takes the form of a bitter, woody, dry note that is reminiscent of roasted coffee beans almost – it has that same rich bitterness that you can almost feel on your tongue. It’s a very round scent that rolls and gyrates through your sinuses when you breathe it in. There’s something unexpectedly contemplative about it in the composition of Cacao Azteque; it makes you want to stop and admire and wonder, even as it swirls its way past you.
A leathery tone also appears in the middle phase of a wear. The leather plays nicely with the gentle floral elements that are also starting to peep through. It’s not easy to bring the flowers into focus enough to name them, but they are in the background, supporting the more extroverted elements and again, bringing that lovely balance to the whole fragrance.
The blending of the notes in Cacao Azteque is excellent quality so it is almost impossible to see the joins particularly in the latter half of the wear. The lifespan of this fragrance mimics a feather being energetically blown upward by a gust of wind and then slowly, easily, gradually working its way back down to earth. The spices that open the scent take us upwards with their dry energy, and then slowly we float back down as floral notes appear, then a leathery tone, the rum, until finally, in the last phase we get a musky closeness.
The musks used in the base of Cacao Azteque are cottony and clean-smelling – at times there is even a crisp, clean laundry vibe about the scent. This could have jarred against the more gourmand elements, but although it tones them down it remains harmonious and the whole fragrance leans even more towards the less tried and typical gourmand DNA.
Right at the very end of a wear we managed to detect a very slight animalic, almost sweaty note, just peeping out between everything else. This added a human dimension to the fragrance and made it warmer and more appealing. It wasn’t a scary addition at all so don’t be put off by this idea.
Cacao Azteque is a refined and surprising fragrance. It doesn’t come in all guns blazing with the scent of melted chocolate like one may imagine. Instead the cacao is more removed, more abstract, but no less beautiful or satisfying for that. There is something quite addictive to the fragrance, it’s hard to say what exactly, but like fine chocolate it really does keep you coming back wanting more.
The other stuff
The longevity of Cacao Azteque is good, lasting around six to eight hours following an early morning application. The sillage, or projection, of the scent is also very solid. It goes to just under handshake distance from a relatively conservative number of sprays. Go heavy on the trigger and you might get it to go even further.
Cacao Azteque feels like a fragrance best suited to the cooler months due to its rich sumptuousness and zesty lift. It also feels like a fragrance which leans more towards the stereotypically masculine end of the spectrum. It’s interesting and unusual to find a gourmand that that can be said of, and it makes this one worth investing your time in tracking down.
Perris Monte Carlo hail from the French riviera and the brand oozes just the right amount of luxury and panache that one might expect with luxury goods coming from that region. Their presentation is elegant and un-gaudy, but they manage to hit the relatively small sweet spot of being just fancy enough to be attractive still.
A quote on the Perris website says they are “distinctive yet understated” and this feels like a fair reflection of the brand; not showy and glitzy, but solid quality in interesting formulations and attractive presentation. Who can ask for anything more than that?
Cacao Azteque is available from Bloom Perfumery London, where it is priced at £135 for 100ml EdP. An extrait version is also available, but this is a somewhat different beast. Don’t be fooled into thinking it is just a stronger version. It isn’t. You need to try both to decide between them. The extrait is more animalic, more leathery, and less zesty up front in the peppery explosion. Both are quite beautiful though.
We were very kindly given a no-strings-attached sample of this scent from Bloom Perfumery London. Thank you to them.