I was surprised by the intensity of Patchouli Empire. Ordinarily I would think that a water-based perfume would have little projection or staying power. Not True! Patchouli Empire is a straightforward, uncomplicated, powerful patchouli. Surprise aside, I’m not very impressed by this patchouli because it is just too plain, simple, and direct. I usually enjoy patchouli in combination with other notes, but the patchouli in Patchouli Empire just doesn’t speak to me in a way that I relate to... But it’s a nice fragrance and a must try for the patchouli lover.
Even though the initial experience of this was an accident (I dumped a good third of the bottle of PE absolute on my clothing and skin) ... I am impressed with the scent. Not impressed enough to give this the thumbs-up, but impressed. Even with what Caltha has accurately stated an "aromatherapy oil" smell, or perhaps a bit of a head shop patchouli oil effect. The citrus lightness and patchouli earthiness were a little too obvious in the 5 ml spill... I'm presuming they'd be a little less imposing with a realistic "dose". After a wardrobe change the top does have a lot of black tea/citrus/patchouli (and yes, a little black pepper). The resulting middle was mostly patchouli, peppery, piquant... still a little "sixties" in effect... and the drydown has left a sharp but still patchouli in essence, with a woody, not unpleasant, much more mellow than the top, fragrance... but still patchouli in almost every way.
(By the way the patchouli scent has not washed out of the spilled-on clothes yet, but has faded from the floor.) My impression remains neutral, as the end effect was not much better than the aforementioned patchouli oils.
26th February, 2010 (last edited: 02nd March, 2010)
On me, the dominant note is cedar (stirring unfortunate associations with hamster cages and bug spray) with patchouli in a secondary role. The black pepper is also evident, making the whole mix even dryer. The second time I tested this, I did notice a sweet honey note that came and went and mitigated some of the dryness when it was present. Overall, this doesn't wow me. Maybe -- just maybe -- I might like it better on a guy.
CB Pathcouli Empire smells as a proper oriental wood might smell as it transitions to the British Empire from the wilds of Indonesia - tamed and civilized. This oil is a fine blend of patchouli's mixed with rich woods and a bit of pepper. Might the wood be rosewood? or mahogoney?, or a blend of woods + patchouli - whatever the combination of dark woods the result is a nicely finished, oil rubbed wood of the Empire. I prefer this version of finished patchouli to the vanilla / amber patchoulis that are so common now. A thumbs up for a good proper patchouli!
You hear the term 'hippy patchouli' thrown around quite a bit, and I often wonder what these people's reference point is for this description. Is it from the descriptions of other fragrances as such or is it from a hunch as to exactly what this phrase refers to? My reference point for the term 'hippy patchouli' are years on tour and countless hours in the back of a 1970 Westfalia camper. Hippy patchouli is dark, pure, and singes your nose hairs as it covers the scent of everything from bong smoke to weeks of BO. The closest any niche fragrance comes to replicating that scent is Montale's Patchouli Leaves.
This is long and roundabout way to say that CB's Patchouli Empire is NOT a hippy patchouli. It starts out with a significant citrus accompaniment that cuts through the patchouli and balances it. There is also a salty element that I can't quite identify, but it's there. This citrus fades over the first hour, bringing the patchouli more into focus. It never becomes overpowering, and in fact as the citrus fades the entire composition becomes musky. I'm smelling patchouli through a cloud of musk. All in all this is an interesting interpretation of patchouli, but nothing overly interesting. A little more ooomph towards hippy might do this better, but still nice.