When I first smelled Santal de Mysore, I said to myself, as long as Serge Lutens keeps making this fragrance, I will be happy. If all my other bottles were to be destroyed in a fire, I’d be ok with just this one. Hyperbole? Probably. Just trying to get across how much I love it.
What I value most about it is its dichotomy. It is both wet and dry, and intensely so at the same time. At first, the wet elements come to the nose – a big, spicy red butter curry with blisteringly hot black peppercorns crushed to release their oil, and something green, frondy, and aromatic, perhaps dill or fresh fenugreek. There is a tamarind sourness to it but it is also very sweet, as if cubes of salted caramel have been set on top to slowly sweat down into pools of butter.
I don’t understand when people say a perfume smells like a curry like that’s a bad thing? I can think of no better smell than this. My mouth waters at the host of hot spices and aromatics. I slaver like Pavlov’s dog every time I go near the stopper.
Talking of the stopper, sniffing Santal de Mysore from the bottle gives me a jolt of recognition every time, because it smells like real Mysore sandalwood. But on the skin, this impression disappears, as the big building blocks of flavors and spices jostle each other for position. Drawing your nose back from your arm, you notice these clumps of notes magically coalescing into a true Mysore aroma – deep brown, buttery, arid, resinous. Salted butter dried and made into a red dust. Put your nose back to that spot on your wrist, and the Mysore impression falls apart again. This is a fragrance that plays peek-a-boo with its wearer, and it’s mesmerizing.
The wet, creamy curry accord hangs around, but it flips on a switch to dry, aromatic sandalwood dust when you’re not looking. Look again and it switches back to wet and spicy. When I catch glimpses of the dry, dusty facet, it smells like zukoh, a powdered sweet incense that combines camphor, cloves, and sandalwood. The drydown is pure magic, the curry notes fading away to a caramelized sandalwood incense aroma, with hints of honey and amber rounding out the dry woodiness.
Why do I find Santal de Mysore such a gorgeous, satisfying wear? Because it’s not a straightforward representation of sandalwood like Tam Dao or Wonderwood. It takes you to a fantasy Mysore sandalwood destination by way of the Silk Road, weaving through curry spices, aromatic oils, and incense sticks as we go. It’s also a scent that makes your perceptions of it turn on a dime: wet then arid, savory then sweet, creamy then dusty, spicy then herbal and green. Sandalwood in a House of Mirrors – its basic shape remains the same but what we see each time we look is different.
I agree with the Basenoters thus far that this does not smell like Mysore Sandalwood at all, so why the name?
I agree with Caltha that this should rightfully be described as a gourmand. Turin's three star review mentions caramel, coconut and rum. I am reminded of a gourmet candle I recently smelled in a local shop, described as Bombay Bazaar.
For me it is a rich, creamy immortelle and curry blend with a bit of cedar in the background. A highly original, successful and delightful gourmand, so why not name it appropriately and be proud?
This is one I would never wear as I don't like to smell like food, but I would highly recommend it for anyone into gourmand, warm and/or spicy scents.
If I were blind testing this fragrance, I would simply love it for what I smell, not for what its name suggests it ought to be. In other words, while I'm doubtful this has anything whatsoever to do with Mysore Sandalwood, I really enjoy this deep, resinous, honeyed, delicious and sensuous juice!
The opening was really nothing to write home about. In fact, I was so unimpressed, I vaguely wondered if I had been issued a vial mislabeled. But, approximately one episode of Family Guy in, I started smelling something akin to roasted marshmallows...and then I sniffed my wrist, and there it was! It started developing into a warm vanilla, with a sweetness to it that really was quite similar to roasted marshmallows. And then the honey came in...and I love honey. I love the animalic quality along with the resinous quality. There is something woody here, but it is not dense...it sorta floats in and out. This is more creamy and languid.
I think if this were called any other name, it would receive much more praise.
I love many of Lutens' fragrances, but this is basically curry on my skin. It starts with a blast of spices and I am fond of several spices, but this turns into Indian curry which I prefer to eat rather than smell like. Unfortunately, the curry lasts throughout so the sandalwood is pushed into the background. Mysore? Mysore curry yes, but Mysore sandalwood no.
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.