Yatagan came out in 1976, four years before Bogart One Man Show, but having smelled One Man Show first, that's what this one reminds me of, although this edges the Bogart for pleasant refinement. It has a woodsy, castoreum base that's impressively well done, and the fragrant notes laid over the top add a nice balance.
28th September, 2016 (last edited: 06th November, 2016)
Unusual, quite possibly unique, yet in the most compelling way. Classified as a so-called "Oriental" fragrance just like Habit Rouge, I can see the connection even though the two smell utterly unlike one another. Habit Rouge gets there via warmth, floral spice, and a certain sweetness; Yatagan, on the other hand, takes a route that's dry, intensely herbal, and authoritative. Definitely not everyone's cup of tea, this is on the other end of the spectrum from something like, say, Aventus and its pineapple-y appeal. Not one for boys and girls, Yatagan is adult in nature but nowhere near "old." Still cutting edge, I'd argue. In fact, put it in a smaller, fancier bottle, triple the price, and call it "niche" -- I'm almost certain it would garner even more attention and accolades.
I've had this for quite a while, but just hadn't gotten around to wearing it yet. I smelled it when it first arrived and thought it had a strangeness to it that I couldn't put my finger on at first. Now after wearing it, I understand this frag a little better. Since pine fragrances are my favorites, I bought Yatagan based on it's reputation as a good pine frag. It does have a slight edge of pine, but there's not enough for my taste, and there's much more going on here. Upon application, the first few seconds brings a burst of sparkle that smells just like Lubin's Itasca. Unfortunately, it only lasts for that brief split instant...then comes the skank. There is a definite animalic going on with Yatagan and that's the strangeness I couldn't identify at first when I smelled it months ago. I don't care for animalics. Muscs Kublai Khan is vile to my nose, and though Yataghan doesn't have any where near the skank of MKK, it's still there. It lessens my enjoyment of Yatagan, but it's not all bad. I wore it today and the dry down got a little better as the day wore on. It may be in part because it doesn't have the greatest longevity or sillage. Those who love animalics should give it a try. I will try it again in the future and see if it grows on me. It's a neutral rating for me at the moment.
Caron fragrances are presently fairly easy to come by and very reasonably priced in the UK if you go to the right places. However, they are hard to get hold of in physical retail outlets and even samples are fairly difficult to come by. I was pleased, then, to have the opportunity of obtaining a sample of Yatagan through scentsamples.uk.com (presently, they have no Caron).
On application, it seemed as though its reputation was overstated - it is after all described by Luca Turin as one of the most "disturbing" fragrances out there. Not a bit of it, I thought, as I applied what is undoubtedly a powerhouse-type fragrance, but one that went on smoothly, hinting at accessibility. Boy, how wrong I was. This stuff comes at you in waves and just keeps on coming.
To start with, I get the lavender, girded with outdoorsy aromatics. Then the pine needles, an uncompromising green element. Then the castoreum adds a fiercely animalic effect. Leather appears, of masculine type, but welded to the vegetal notes. This is an all-star cast of some of the most dominant notes in perfumery, and they all get great lines. Not so much The Expendables as Julius Caesar.
The overall effect is breathtaking. Incredibly evocative; the kind of thing that evolves on you and in doing so makes you stop and sniff in disbelief. So what's to stop me immediately buying 125ml for £35? Simply, occasion for use. I couldn't honestly wear this to work. No one in the family is going to be impressed with this. I am not a private detective, porn star, or historical re-enactor. Walks on autumnal days? Perhaps, but there's the chance of scaring off the wildlife. I half expect this to be the equine equivalent of catnip, to boot.
Simply, until I find a use for Yatagan, it will go unpurchased. But my word, it's good.
Appendix - I wish Caron was easily available in department stores. Keep on wishing.
I remember buying this in 1976, when it had just been launched. I was in Selfridges and tried a spay of Yatagan on my wrist. I recoiled in horror, and left the store. I thought it was the most unpleasant fragrance I had ever smelled (Kouros was yet to be released). 20 minutes later I was back and had bought a bottle. I have never experienced such a quick and complete 180 degree change of opinion before, or since.
Such a complex fragrance needs to be learned. I still own some of an old bottle of Yatagan, and, trying to keep it for as long as possible, wear it rarely. I also have a more recent bottle which I wear a lot. Comparing the two shows how this beast has been tamed. The later is a shadowy caricature of the former, and whilst still good is as nothing when smelled side by side with the original. If you like leather and Patchouli, then this is for you. If you hate the smell of Celery (and those that do, hate with a passion) avoid this (especially the vintage version).
When I first smelled this it made me smile, because it reminded me of a particular shampoo I knew from my childhood, called Vosene (it may be still around) - I think it was made from coaltar, or at least smelled like it. This scent specifically reminds me not just of the shampoo, but of the smell of hair being washed in that shampoo.
So that's my personal memory. As far as the notes are concerned, I get pine, a strong animalic note (like the one in Chanel Antaeus), and a strong resinous, smoky, medicinal, herbal quality, also with a slight sweetness that comes through later in the dry down, a bit like the strong, bitter, dark, herbal liqueurs popular in Germany and Austria drunk after meals.
It's certainly not a shrinking violet. Yatagan is in your face, masculine, "love it or hate it". In my albeit limited experience, I've never smelled anything quite like it.
I love it. It has the presence of manly greats like Polo, Kouros, Antaeus, Quorum and won't necessarily get compliments from the masses, I imagine, but who cares.
Sillage and longevity both moderate to strong. Sales price very reasonable.