Comparing Borneo 1834 to Coromandel, yes, they are almost...almost...identical. But I find Borneo more dry and spare, less sweet and luxuriantly nuanced. Honestly, most of the people around you won't be able to tell the difference; but to my nose, Borneo is Coromandel's darker cousin, hinting at dense earth and shadows cast by leafy canopies. I'm glad to have both, even if their DNA differs by only 1%.
This was one of the first niche fragrances I ever bought, and although I don't wear it that often, it brings back a rush of good memories for me. First, its dark, musty, camphorous smell reminds me of the day I bought it - a cold, blustery day in Rome, walking in dark streets before they turned the street lamps, slightly drunk from the wine we had unwisely drunk at lunch. The scent of Borneo reminds me of that perfect day, one of those rare ones actually, when we are both happy and there are no undercurrents of tension between us. Smell this, I said, offering my collar - he sniffed, then thought a bit, then sniffed again, and said "Well, that's interesting." This, coming from a man whose sole comment on my perfume in over ten years was to exclaim to our son one day, "Hey, mama sure smells like flowers, doesn't she?" (It was Coco, by the way). So, this was progress. I bought it. How could I not?
I smelled it again today, after a too-long hiatus, and what struck me about it was how the dryness of this actually reminds me of the shut up rooms and papers in our old rambling house in Ireland where I grew up. Our decrepit old house, built originally as a forge the year the Irish Famine began in 1845, was impossible to heat. All the rooms were cold, musty and damp. My brothers and I all wore about five layers of jumpers to survive the winters, and we all looked like the Stay Puft marshmallow man. My mum, a teacher, kept all her school papers and homework in a study, where it was left to gently decay over the years. Borneo smells powerfully of this noble, gentle rot, like greenish-blackish spots of damp colonizing reefs of forgotten papers. It smells like wooden boxes opened up again after years lying in moldy attics. It is incredible. Evocative and emotional, for me. God knows, I was deeply ashamed of our house growing up, but now, this woman who lives in the arse end of the dusty, hot Balkans is nostalgic for the smell of home. Borneo is the one that takes me there.
I don't find it to be very wearable, though. It is quite pungent and singular in focus compared to Coromandel, which I prefer as a wearable composition. However, Coromandel does not perform the same memory trick for me as Borneo does, so it is likely that I will hang on to Borneo and bring it out every now and then to smell it and be transported back to happy times. I know that Borneo and Coromandel get compared a lot, so for the purposes of reviewing this, I sprayed one arm with Borneo, and the other with Coromandel. You might say I had a patchouli-off! Yes, I can see the two points of intersection (the patchouli and the chocolate), but to me they are utterly different in tone and effect. Where Coromandel is creamy, luxuriant as a cat, and comforting, Borneo is raw, dry, and confrontational. Coromandel is the better composition, in my opinion, because it arranges all the notes in a symphony, where Borneo is more of a haiku - sparse and to the point. But Borneo strikes me as the more genuine and sincere of the two, as well as clearer in focus. It also has that memory box effect on me that Coromandel does and can not. There is room in my heart and my wardrobe for both of these.
Genre: Woody Oriental
Chocolate. Patchouli. There’s not much more I want to say about Borneo 1834. It’s a simple, weird, and compelling accord – I’m just not sure that I like it. My preferences aside, this is a bold, original scent, and an outstanding take on patchouli. Just try it first!
Straight out of the gate you get a wonderful blend of Patchouli and rich dark cocoa mixed in with some warm spices.
There is a woody backdrop to this scent giving the scent a old world feeling. I get a image of oak barrels filled with cocoa and spices been brought onto ships from tropical lands.
To sum up a delightful old world earthy blend of patchouli and rich cocoa.
Cardamom very noticeable. A hard landing. Smelling like a lot of people that have a structure that bends the nose.
Middle notes of mint greeted us when we came to a resinous. Perfume does not appeal to the public. Certainly not everyone will like structure.
When we come to the end of cocoa used very weak and uncertain. Patchouli is not very pronounced in the same way. The smell of cardamom and pepper are progressing in weight. Does not show much change.