Abu Dhabi by Gallivant

Blistering sun beating down on hot sand.

Listed notes

Cypress, pink pepper, peppermint, rosemary, cardamom, cistus, clary sage, saffron, geranium, orris, cedarwood, patchouli, leather notes and musks.

Top notes

One of the criticisms of the earlier Gallivant fragrances (and just for the record it is not one I happen to hold with) was that they were too light. Now in my book, there was nothing “too light” about the scents which tend towards the gauzy, dreamy and ethereal. Not every scent has to be a heavy hitter that chokes everyone else in your vicinity! That said, the trend in the last couple of Gallivant fragrances seems to be a move to address this criticism by upping the volume on the fragrances. This by no means makes them nuclear in their performance, needing days of sweat and showers to shift, but it is a smart move by the brand who seem to constantly shift and adapt, tweaking their approach slightly with each new scent, firstly to bring us something novel, but secondly to defy our own expectations of them. By adopting this approach, Gallivant are rapidly becoming one of those brands which almost everyone will find something to like from, and in a crowded and over saturated market place, that adaptability is nothing but a good thing for their longevity.

Abu Dhabi, the latest fragrance to be released by the brand, takes us to hot climes once again, to be met with dazzling white buildings and harsh, angular sunlight – the type that makes you squint your eyes closed. At the start of the fragrance this is rendered with the bright, energetic blast of pink pepper – that most dazzling of ingredients. Dry, piquant, almost dusty, it rises from the skin alongside a beautifully warm, rich leather, and a woodiness which has the barest hints of green about it, almost in the form of specks or flecks on the surface of the scent.

The peppermint in the opening of the fragrance is a really interesting one. I don’t experience it as particularly minty, like toothpaste, for example, but what it appears to do is to give an expansiveness to the scent that speaks of wide open spaces, fresh air and unspoiled landscapes. I found this use particularly pleasing in its ingenuity.

Heart notes

Once Abu Dhabi has settled and opened on the skin the energy of the pepper, and the expansiveness of the peppermint do dissipate and if the start was a reflection of the landscape, then the heart feels more like we have settled on the shoulders of one of the people inhabiting the place. I say that because of the warm, almost comforting leather which has been around from the start, but which seems to rev up once the scent has fully got into its stride. The leather is at a very nice level in the fragrance, it’s definitely there and noticeable, but it’s still soft, supple and pliable. If the fragrance had focused purely on the brightness of the landscape, the heat and the sun it would have been a very tough composition indeed, bleached and sun blasted, however, with this leathery facet woven into its fabric, the feel of the scent becomes more human, more vulnerable and much easier to wear.

The leather is with us for long enough, but it doesn’t ride the whole journey of the fragrance, gradually seeping away to be replaced by a dry, dusty and indeed sandy composition. We could sit and pick apart the various different facets of the notes list, but the real point, the real take home here is that this is a very wearable, very crisp take on a dry scent. There are woody facets intermingling, but they feel like very dry sawdust rather than sappy, bendy twigs. There’s something in there which feels almost camphoraceous, giving that woody, herbal, but expansive sort of feeling to the scent. The geranium adds a sour sweatiness to the backdrop – this isn’t a dirty scent per se, but the geranium gives just that hint of perspiration and again reminds us of the human sense of frailty and vulnerability in this arid landscape.

Sample of Abu Dhabi by Gallivant

Base notes

What Abu Dhabi leaves us with in its final phase is a surprisingly dry, crisp scent which feels incredibly wearable and likely to appeal to a wide customer base. The angular arid austerity of the earlier phases becomes sharp and snappy, clean cotton, starched collars. It’s even a little soapy at times, or at least has that “scrubbed until sparking” vibe, The woodiness is tinder dry in this phase and somehow uncomplicated by lots of adornments. This is kindling ready to leap into flames at the barest touch of a match and yet without the dirt of smoke.

Where there may have been a sense of nostalgia or even a romanticisation of the earlier parts of the scent, here in the base it’s all business-like modernity. I can imagine this scent wearing well with a crisp suit, a tailored jacket, or to remain pleasant smelling at the height of summer after a sticky journey on the tube. It’s the sort of fragrance which will cope with the heat of our summers extremely well, and give you that “put together” feel which many of us wear fragrances for. The adaptable and evolving Gallivant show us that they have again morphed in a new direction, whilst managing to stay true to their DNA. My prediction for Abu Dhabi is that it will become one of their best sellers yet.

The other stuff

The perfumer for Abu Dhabi was Lucas Sieuzac.

The longevity and projection of Abu Dhabi are both solid. The scent lasts for six to eight hours following application, and it projects to further than handshake distance, especially during the first half of a wear. Absolutely no criticism about the performance or “loudness” of the scent here.

The brand

Gallivant are a UK-based brand with a founder from London, although they really are a brand of the world – seeking inspiration from all corners of the globe for their range of scents. Gallivant focus on encapsulating charismatic cities in fragrance and their stable of fragrances feel very modern and wearable. Their scents are on the more gentle, more nuanced side of things generally speaking, but they are well crafted and balanced. These are not the sort of scents which will choke people out, and wearing them is often quite a personal affair.

The Gallivant range is available in 100ml and sweet 30ml sizes and their bottles are clean and simple. The whole experience is unfussy and elegant rather than distracting and cluttered.

Gallivant are a vegan and cruelty-free brand, who have given thought to their impact and sustainability. You can find out more on their ethos on their about us webpages.

We’ve previously reviewed Naples and Bukhara by Gallivant.

Buy it

Abu Dhabi is available from the Gallivant web boutique where it is priced at £70 for 30ml of EdP or £150 for 100ml.

Header image by Hassan Ahmed from Pixabay. Images of the product by The Sniff.

We were kindly gifted a sample of Abu Dhabi by the brand – our thanks to them.


2 Comments Add yours

  1. rickyrebarco says:

    Sounds great except for that leather note. Leather notes normally do not work well on my skin, but i know many people leave leather in perfumes.


    1. The Sniffer says:

      It’s very soft here, in case that sways you towards it at all. Not harsh as it sometimes can be. This is more gentle and suede-like.


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