Starts out strongly -- lush, almost harsh vegetal green coupled with mint: I think that's the celery/whiskey note some people pick up. There was no spice on me as some have noted; likewise, I pick up almost no vetiver. It's definitely herbal and medicinal in its start: cold, fresh.
Within twenty minutes on me it turns into a slightly smoky incense with a little bit of cardamom.
In the next hour, I still get the incense, but it's tempered by cedar and a rosy peony. It's sweet and powdery, almost like a high-end cosmetic, but not cloyingly so -- it's a bit atmospheric and definitely abstract. I get a little bit of wet stone as well.
My partner thinks it smells like Off! bugspray. I'm miffed at him for mentioning it.
I'm wearing the sample I got right now and I'm about two hours in. It is just beginning to smell of old parchment; this is likely the papyrus note. The incense is there but it's an undertone. I get a bit of iron when I exhale it.
My skin has a habit of turning many florals into baby powder; this is no exception, though it meshes well with the incense and dryness.
I like it a lot, even if it didn't quite match my expectations -- I'm looking for an offbeat signature scent and while I'm not sure this is it, I'll probably add it to my collection in time.
Normally I dislike milky notes in a fragrance (Feu d'Issy made me feel physically sick), but this is the exception to the rule. The milky note works so well in Dzongkha, and combines perfectly with the dry powdery Ionone and Cedarwood accord. This is a lovely complex but subtle fragrance.
I have noted the comments made by others that this fragrance lasts for a very long time, and is very powerful. I do not experience this. Maybe I have bought a reformulated version, but I don't find this especially strong, and I don't think it lasts longer than many other fragrances I own. However, I am not complaining. It is no where near as diffusive as Timbuktu, but is much better blended (not that I'm knocking Timbuktu).
I’ve struggled with Dzongkha for a long time, and even now, three, four years on, I admit that I’m perhaps only halfway towards understanding this brilliant and sometimes frustrating fragrance. Part of my old problem with Dzongkha is that it smells so little like perfume that I am always wrestling with the question “What the fuck am I smelling right now?” Because, depending on the day, the hour, it’s always something different.
I don’t know what I’m smelling, so my mind defaults to the nearest recognizable object.
Most of the time, Dzongkha smells like the steamy aromas caught in the wool of my sweater when making chicken stock – pepper, chicken fat, bones, celery, salt. It smells intensely savory, almost salty, metallic, and most definitely vegetal. On other days, I spray it on, and it is obviously, immediately a very rooty iris, smelling of nothing so much as potato starch or hospital disinfectant. Other times, my nose shortcuts to a glass of whiskey or to the smell of a wet newspaper, its ink running down my fingers, about to disintegrate into mush.
But then again, sometimes the smell of paper is dry and rustling. Sometimes, there is a fiercely pungent boot polish note, as iridescent and blue-black as a bluebottle’s shell. Sometimes, the iris shows me a petrichor side, similar to the flat mineralic smell of drying rocks and tarmac after a rain shower that features so heavily in Apres L’Ondee.
In the background, there is always a strain of green tea leaves, dry-roasted over a campfire, a waft of incense, and a totally puerile-smelling, soapy overlay of fruit and flowers, faint and smudged like the waxy, wet residue of the bottom of a bar of cheap hotel soap left to fester in a dish. There is a purple cheapness to the floralcy here, a cleaning product whose scent nobody has given much thought to other than the brief to contain a smell that is "like a flower" and "opposite to poo". The first few times I tried Dzongkha, I remember being shocked at the florid, purple floral smell more than any of the weirder stuff.
At some point in Dzongkha’s development, a rubbery, dry leather note emerges and takes center stage, and it puffs on in this mode for the rest of the duration, sweetening and softening quite a bit along the way. It even starts to smell, well, nice. Slightly more like perfume and slightly less than the collected smells of a household.
People are fond of saying that Dzongkha is like Timbuktu but with iris added, but I don’t really get that. For me, Timbuktu is a deceptively simple smoky woods and incense fragrance, with all its magic and power tied up in its uncluttered nature. I wear it to reset my clock when I am feeling upset or out of balance – I find it calming and far more spiritual than any of the acclaimed church incenses out there.
Dzongkha, on the other hand, packs an awful lot of weird stuff into one tight space, and is clearly a Hieronymus Bosch to Timbuktu’s naïve art. When I wear Dzongkha, it distracts me. My mind is agitated, feverishly trying to mentally place all of the odd little flourishes in this library of smells I carry around in my brain. Whether this proves to be stimulating or just plain annoying depends on what kind of day I’m having. So you better believe I think twice before spraying this on.
But still, I spray this on. It’s interesting – it’s art.
There was a thread recently here on Basenotes that posed the question of whether L’Artisan Parfumeur was going out of fashion, and there were a fair few people who wrote in to say that, yes, the house was irrelevant and that most if not all of its perfumes could happily disappear off the face of the earth for all they cared.
Well, get a load of you, you bitches. Before you all slope off looking for the most chemically-powered hard leather bombs with which to blow your smell receptors out or the latest , achingly-cool melting glass bottles that won’t stand up full of liquid that smells like fish eggs, or toner ink, or glue, or whatever niche decides is new and shocking these days, take a moment to remember the Grandmaster Flash of them all, the weird-before-it-was-cool-to-be-weird Dzongkha. And maybe don’t be so quick to dismiss an entire house with quite the back catalog of conversation starters and pot stirrers.
You can't even throw that tried-and-tested (and true) complaint about L'Artisan Parfumeur's fragrances - weak longevity - at the head of Dzongkha. It is not quietly radiant as Timbuktu, it is just as strong and as dense as a brick. This stuff lasts 10-11 hours easily. Of course, whether you'll want it to or not is another matter....
Dzongkha is both the name of a language spoken in the Himalayan country of Bhutan, and the designation of the monolithic, fortresslike temple architecture characteristic of that land. This is a very aptly named fragrance, as it is redolent of smells I could imagine inhabiting a sacred space in which sharp incense has been lit, wood fires burned and buttery tea served, since the 17th Century.
Dzongkha is dank and bitter, without being heavy (owing to the juxtaposition of vetiver and peony, no doubt). It's a very interesting fragrance, moody and evocative. I can't imagine wearing it often, as it's more atmospheric than anything else. But I still give it a thumbs-up, because it succeeds as a concept: it has the ability to transport one to realms that capture the imagination.
One caveat: be careful how much you apply, because Dzongkha lasts a long time. For me, one spray outlives a shower and multiple handwashings.
A superb green iris/vetiver, cool and refined.
For those familiar with Etro's 1989 masterwork, Palais Jamais, Dzongkha may strike you as a lighter, airier version of that great vetiver.
Here the cool orris tones down the green, green vetiver and combines with minty carrot seed, and warm incense/musk to create a strikingly sophisticated fragrance that is as well balanced as a Guerlain - praise indeed from this reviewer.
I do not get the peony or cardamom scents other reviewers do. My nose does not require them to judge Dzongkha as one of the great vetivers on the market today.