Ten favourite reviews of 2021

As 2021 draws to a close we thought we would take the opportunity to look back over the reviews of the last twelve months and pick out the fragrances which gave us the most joy – to smell and to write about. These are those scents, but in no particular order!

Flame and Fortune by Sarah Baker

Flame and Fortune opens with a cough of rubbery tuberose, the faintest whiff of motor oil and the familiar scratch of neroli. It’s quite dry, for fleeting moments, and almost a little dusty, with a little touch of a spicy gingery warmth. The first time of smelling it just gives you long enough to imagine there is nothing new here, and you can’t possibly imagine how this will be appealing, before it suddenly animates and swells into life before your very nose. The roundness of orange rolls through the scent, before a smooth blanket blurs the edges of everything and turns the landscape into sensual, un-nameable curves.

Listed notes: Orange blossom, pink pepper, apricot, ginger, mandarine, petigrain, lily of the valley, iris, jasmine, tuberose, motor oil, burnt wood, labdanum, fire, mezcal.

Read the review of Flame and Fortune by Sarah Baker.

Tesoro by D:Sol MMXVI

Some perfumes come along which are impossible to review in an imaginative way. They might be beautiful, they might inspire lust or devotion, they might be utterly full-bottle worthy, but they are so wedded to the here and now that it’s hard to imagine where else they might take you. Tesoro by D:Sol is not one of those scents. Instead this is a fragrance that sweeps us to the opposite end of the spectrum and it’s almost impossible to not review it with the imagination turned on full blast and the flights of fancy dialed up to 11.

Listed notes: Bergamot, grapefruit, bitter orange, petitgrain, jasmine, pink pepper, vetiver, leather, white musks.

Read the review of Tesoro by D:Sol MMXVI.

Neroli Oranger by Matiere Premiere

Neroli Oranger opens soft, bright and warm. An abundance of creamy, cottony orange blossom and neroli tumbles from the composition. Spirits rise, temperatures soar and suddenly winter is banished from sight. There is something almost relentlessly positive and optimistic about neroli and orange blossom centred fragrances and this one is no exception. It has that energetic citrusy rise, coupled with a warm cottony fall. There is a clean, clear, brightness about the scent which is slightly dry at the start, it calls to mind warm cotton sheets somehow, tending towards cosier rather than crisp but not vacating that idea entirely.

Listed notes: Orange blossom, neroli oil, bergamot oil, ylang-ylang, floral musks.

Read the review of Neroli Oranger by Matiere Premiere.

Sandal Koti by Ricardo Ramos

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.

Listed notes: Papaya, ylang-ylang, frangipani, lavender, jasmine sambac, lilac, sandalwood, galbanum, oakmoss, labdanum and musks.

Read the review of Sandal Koti by Ricardo Ramos.

Hamaca by 27 87

Imagine the seaside, particularly those Northern European beaches where the sand might be golden and plentiful but the breeze is also bracing. Imagine walking barefoot amongst the breakers, goosebumps prickling up your arms, your skin warmed and perhaps even a little reddened by the sun, even though you made sure to slather yourself in factor 30 earlier that morning. Imagine all that, including the lightness of heart and warmth of your smile from having had a lovely day, and you come close to the opening of Hamaca by 27 87.

Listed notes: Sea water, coconut, sandalwood, vanilla, tonka bean.

Read the review of Hamaca by 27 87.

Trayee by Neela Vermeire Creations

Some fragrances are more difficult than others to convey and translate. Some of them move and change and shift so much that they defy capture by mere words and instead prefer to exist on some perfumed dimension bringing joy and delight to those who smell them. Trayee by Neela Vermeire is one such fragrance, but this is my humble attempt to catch just a glimpse, a fleeting hint, of what this perfume is like.

Listed notes: Madagascan blue ginger, elemi oil, cinnamon bark, ganja effects, blackcurrant absolute, basil, sambac jasmine absolute, Egyptian jasmine absolute, cardamon absolute, clove, saffron, sandalwood, Javanese and Haitian vetiver, incense, sandalwood oil, patchouli, myrrh, vanilla, cedar, amber, oud palao, oak moss.

Read the review of Trayee by Neela Vermeire.

Athanor by Mendittorosa

To spray Athanor by Mendittorosa on skin is to immerse yourself in a story, but it’s a story full of power and secret knowledge, a story with the gravitas of a legend. It starts pine-needle green, a little leathery, slightly salty with a warm, sweet undertow that is by turns a little bready and a little parchment-like. There is a dry, fuzziness to the scent – like celery seed or similar – which manages to be quite comforting, and the balance of the fragrance isn’t upset or unsettled by the sulphur traces which actually come across as mineral-like and warm.

Listed notes: Cassis, saffron, sulphur, cypriol, incense, orris, smoke, amber, cashmeran, guaiac wood, vetiver.

Read the full review of Athanor by Mendittorosa.

Complicated Shadows by 4160 Tuesdays

Complicated Shadows, which is named after the Elvis Costello and The Attractions song, opens with thin ribbons of a gentle, understated lemony citrus snaking and twisting together with an aromatic almost-green touch, perhaps vetiver, and a gentle floral tone. To take the cloud metaphor and namesake of the line, this would be rays of sunlight appearing from behind a very threatening thunderhead cloud. The darkness is in the form of the promise of rain, not yet released but yet definitely there, and it is conjured by the beautiful, earthy, damp orris. The orris seems to capture the tail of the vetiver which leads us down from the heavenly crepuscular rays of brightness, through the atmosphere and lands us right in the earth just as plump drops of rain start to fall.

Listed notes: Narcissus, orris, oakmoss, vetiver, honeybush, sandalwood, cedar, frankincense.

Read the full review of Complicated Shadows by 4160 Tuesdays.

Morning in Tipasa by Pierre Guillaume

Morning in Tipasa opens with a cool freshness. The sun hasn’t yet climbed above the hill. It isn’t cold, just cool in comparison to how the rest of the day will be. The most beautiful sweet peppermint whispers across the face of the scent like an onshore breeze. This is mint with it’s sting removed though, there is no harshness, no assault on the senses. This isn’t water callously splashed on your face to wake you from slumber, instead it’s refreshing, gentle, cool but welcoming, a sip of water sliding down a parched throat.

Listed notes: Wild lemongrass, peppermint, Mediterranean pine, bergamot, Jujube tree honey.

Read the full review of Morning in Tipasa by Pierre Guillaume.

Chipmunk by Zoologist

The general tone and character of Chipmunk by Zoologist is of a sweet, woody, and soothing fragrance and indeed that is what scurries from the bottle as soon as you spray it. Warm spices of cardamom, pink pepper and nutmeg are there, but they are gently utilised to provide a fuzzy backdrop to set the rest of the fragrance against.

A surprisingly varied gamut of woods – from evergreen to oaky, a soda-pop sweetness, and a fleetingly refreshing citrus all flit across the face of the scent in its opening few bars giving us glimpses into the chipmunk (or squirrel’s) world.

Listed notes: Quince, pink pepper, red mandarin, cardamom, nutmeg, camomile, hazelnut, fir balsam absolute, oak absolute, earthy notes, cedarwood, amyris, patchouli, vetiver, benzoin resin, opoponax, guaiac wood, animal notes.

Read the full review of Chipmunk by Zoologist.

The other stuff

So that’s our favourite reviews of 2021. If there are any fragrances you would like to see us review in 2022, drop them in the comments below or send us an email via the contact page.

The original reviews, which are linked, all contains details of where we got the perfumes from to review.

Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash.

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