The bleached bones of trees slowly turning to dust are captured in this haunting, spectral perfume. It feels part legend, part fragrance and wholly beautiful.
Papaya, ylang-ylang, frangipani, lavender, jasmine sambac, lilac, sandalwood, galbanum, oakmoss, labdanum and musks.
Sandal Koti is one of those fragrances that it’s a bit too easy to get over excited about and slip into hyperbole from the first paragraph. It deserves that sense of excitement, and we will get there, but let us start with the more prosaic first: the name. Sandal Koti is called after the name for the warehouses in India where sandalwood is stored. Ricardo Ramos visited these buildings, taking inspiration and coming up with this scent as a result. From a spray of this fragrance though, one can easily imagine the sort of place the carcasses of these trees rest: shadowy, cool, yet full of a sense of potential energy and that encapsulates this scent well.
The first thing which hits you about Sandal Koti is how seamless the composition is. It’s as if the perfumers have composed in a series of very different but complementary tones and then blurred the joins between them. It’s difficult to pick out individual facets, and toss aside the notes list – you aren’t going to need it. This is a fragrance best experienced with your eyes closed and with your imagination switched on.
Spray Sandal Koti on skin and a soothing, creamy floral tone is the first thing to bloom. It doesn’t stick around for very long, but it is comforting, uplifting and restful. For blissful moments it feels like it is transporting us back to a time when a hug from your mother, her skin warm from bathing and smooth from her body lotion, can cure all ills and ailments – and quite frankly, given how difficult the world has been recently, who could blame anyone who wanted to be back there, to a time when someone else was responsible for sorting everything out for you, and you felt safe. There is a sweetness here, as well as lavender, and together there is an almost caramelly quality at times, not sickly, but rich, burnished.
The opening bars of Sandal Koti promise a lot, with the floral elements gently moving to become fruitier in tone. Again though, this is all washes and hints, nothing is abrupt or jarring, the scent just ebbs into something else as it really settles and opens.
Moving into the heart of the fragrance feels rather like the perfumers are taking us on the journey into this storehouse for sandalwood. The scent, which began in sunnier climes, gives itself up to shadow. The jasmine comes through ever so slightly, along with the green flecks of galbanum and papaya but they are so beautifully and delicately handled that they come to us as impressions rather than particularly distinct characters in their own right. The tone of Sandal Koti shifts as we cross the threshold into the shady building. The warmth, and also perhaps the safety we experienced at the start, wane a little as we stand in the shadows of these monolithic trees and contemplate their bones.
If you’ve ever been in a busy, hot city, and walked through the doors into a cathedral that is exactly the tone of the heart of Sandal Koti. It has this hushed, almost reverential air about it as well as a cooler feel compared to the heat of the summer city. Everything becomes stiller, more quiet and thoughts that were buzzing around your head perhaps in tune with the hustle and bustle of the metropolis begin to quieten and go inwards. Sandal Koti precipitates that introspection and reflection.
In perfume terms, as well as the jasmine and galbanum, a husky, dry wood starts to emerge. It feels possessed of texture, flaking and fibrous but the fragrance retains a gentleness and lightness of touch in both the way it is composed and the way it wears. You may almost feel the rough bark against your skin, and sense the sap that still runs through the body of the tree, not yet turned solid.
As is true for some other sandalwood fragrances, there’s a touch of a bready, yeastiness about Sandal Koti too. Imagine someone walking by with a loaf of warm bread and you just catching a whiff, it’s that sort of breadiness and adds a wholesome, nourishing facet and a touch of warmth to the picture.
As you might imagine from a sandalwood fragrance there is a peaceful sense of quiet calm and contemplation which continues into the base of Sandal Koti. The sweet, milky ribbons of sandalwood waft over a deeper, earthier foundation. There is almost as much shadow here as there is light, but the fragrance doesn’t ever become intimidating or unfriendly. It showcases the soothing tones of shadows, there is a sense of respite, of a return to the earth but in a comforting, wholesome, almost spiritual way. We witness the tree’s bones, but delight as it returns to the soil rather than mourning its demise.
There’s so much to like about Sandal Koti. It leads us on a journey with delicacy and thoughtfulness, but it doesn’t shy away from expressing itself fully. In showing us the light as well as the shade, the composition presents us with a fragrance which has a real authenticity and truthfulness about it as well as serving up balance and beauty.
The other stuff
Sandal Koti isn’t a shouty, loud perfume. It lasts around four to six hours following an application but when tested, we found that it was one of those fragrances which disappears, only to reappear again later, renewed. It’s also a scent which changes a lot depending on the temperature and humidity, or if it is sprayed on clothes or skin. It’s most definitely a scent that you will keep finding different elements of as you wear it through the changing seasons.
In terms of projection, Sandal Koti starts at perhaps handshake distance or so, and then reduces to hugging distance after a couple of hours.
Sandal Koti is a fragrance which could and should be worn by people of all genders.
The perfumers for Sandal Koti were Jorge Lee and Ricardo Ramos.
Ricardo Ramos is the passionate and expressive creator behind the Ricardo Ramos Perfumes de Autor brand, which includes Deminiche (the collection which encompasses Sandal Koti, Mangoe Khus and Agar Ahalim), the Al-Andalus collection, and the Cultural Legacy collection. Find out more about the collections of Ricardo Ramos.
The Deminiche collection itself is presented in simple, rectangular bottles, beautifully textured.
Read about the varied interests and skills of Ricardo Ramos on the about page.
Sandal Koti is available for purchase via the Ricardo Ramos web boutique, where it is priced at €95 for 50ml of extrait.
It is also available in the UK through Roullier White, and you can find a list of all the stockists on the website.
The brand very kindly gifted us a sample of Sandal Koti and we thank them for their generosity.