I have well over a dozen sandalwood fragrances. I don’t find Santal de Mysore by Serge Lutens to be a particularly successful example. First off, I have a decent stockpile of true mysore fragrances (mostly vintage) and I find no evidence of mysore here. That may be a merciful fact, for it would be a crime to drown mysore in the duck fat-spiked honey&caramel that dominates this scent. After some time vague hints of a santal accord show weak signs of slogging through all the stickiness. This is of some interest but the experience is much like seeing a water fowl slimed in an oil spill; you root for it to free itself of the muck and survive but you know that it’s struggle is futile. Even forgetting the utter domination of whatever wood may be in the mix, all the rest is hard to take because the spice hits no higher notes than all the resinous sweet base. This Lutens effort only goes to show how great Santal Noble is – an indisputably opulent take on sandalwood that is nevertheless astonishingly refined.
Beautiful thick resinous spicy honeyed take on sandalwood. Majuscule is the more 'bubbly' sibling to it's more serious father.
Wear once a week during the winter to appreciate it over and over again.
Genre: Woody Oriental
The initial dry sandalwood and cedar blend is heavily spiced and discreetly seasoned with incense. Dark honey and signature Lutens-Sheldrake dried fruit well up quickly underneath, and soon overwhelm the woods to yield what I think of as the standard issue Serge Lutens “fruitcake” accord. (See Arabie or Rousse for an example.)
Happily, the honeyed fruit travels like a slow wave, so that after an hour or two of wear the woods resurface and the composition becomes more distinct and focused. Once Santal de Mysore regains its balance it continues in a more-or-less linear manner for several hours before drifting off in a fine mist of cedar. It projects with moderate strength and leaves a significant trail of sillage for most of its run – enough to make its presence felt, but not so much as to be intrusive. It’s a nice enough scent, deeper and more nuanced than Tam Dao or Satellite’s Padparadscha, though nowhere near as rich and dignified as Maitre Parfumeur et Gantier’s Santal Noble. On the other hand, given its midfield stumble into syrup, I wouldn’t invest in chasing it down myself.
Sweetish, creamy, musky opening of sandalwood with a resinous/caramelised side which makes the whole blend round and sticky like a toffee candy. The same stickiness prevails also on the balsamic/mossy side, which however shows a nice anise-liquorice note. A decent load of cumin and spices (basically curry) all over. As minutes pass the resinous-balsamic accord comes in shape contrasting with the sweet-creamy one of sandalwood and musks, on a pleasant and nondescript dusty base which reminds me of tobacco leaves and other drier and darker woods. To be honest the opening is a bit cloying and too much sticky, while it then evolves better, still a bit pasty, quite close to Fille en Aguille just with more sandalwood and more (too much, for me) cumin. The thing I do not enjoy is this persistent syrupy sweetishness, which eventually finally dries over after a couple of hours, and you basically get a honest, soft, finally "bright" and more balanced sandalwood base with some shady aroma below... yes, basically what more straightforward scents like Santal Noble give you since the very first seconds. I would say that if you are strictly a sandalwood fan you may find it interesting, but I am not sure if you would love it, as this component is just a feature in a more complex composition – as I said, quite a dense and rich spicy-balsamic-resinous blend. For me it's a good scent, materials smell nice and the evolution is fine; worth a try, not a blind buy, as it may feel "cloying" since the very beginning (like it did to me). Decent persistence – still there after five or six hours.
My initial reaction to Santal de Mysore by Serge Lutens was one of disappointment and confusion. Yes, the sandalwood was there, but it was hiding under a huge pile of spices and dessert. It was just too much; I found it too heavy, too cloying, and too much like dinner. A couple of months later, I returned to my sample and tested again, however, this time I applied some to my arm and proceeded to clean the back deck. A gentle spring breeze wafted the most amazing scent past my nose. What sort of flower is that? Duh. My nose touched my arm and the pleasure center in my brain lit up.
At that moment I understood Serge Lutens perfumes and how heat and wind—two things that usually disfigure perfume—work to break up the heaviness and transform a dense mass of duck fat and doughnuts into a delicate 4D architecture. Don’t just test the perfume on a blotter; test it on skin. Take that one step further and go for a walk outside or turn on the ceiling fan. I like to think of SL perfumes as 3D video—one needs to use the proper equipment to get the full effect, but it’s worth it.
In addition to resins, spices, and sandalwood, I’m picking up several other notes that unfurl chaotically in the breeze: there’s immortelle, orange blossom, rose, and coconut. SdM does remind me of Copper Tone suntan lotion, but the kind worn at the beach after the sun sets.