I get a strong sandalwood note in the opening. Cathedral is a typical sandalwood and it seems of the aromatic rather than the creamy variety – probably because of the incense and myrrh in the background. I admire the effect: sandalwood with a resinous background – could be heaven to me. I guess what I really like about it is that it doesn’t seem to have that sweet background (or, often, foreground) that so many BPAL’s seem to have. The movement goes from sandalwood to pine – I get a pine note – of course, with a incensy background, and there’s a strange rather synthetic note sitting in the far middle of the background. The dry down becomes quite similar to the opening, but this time it isn’t sandalwood… it’s… old wood. It’s like the wooden pews in the 5oo year old cathedral, and it is rich in olfactory pleasure and in history. I think men might be able to wear Cathedral, but it is essentially a feminine fragrance. Sillage wise, it starts out strong and decrescendos to a very sniffable skin scent. It has excellent longevity.
This is the first BPAL oil I bought and I was delighted. I wanted a frankincense-based fragrance but not in a mass-market sense like Baldessarini. Although too heavy for summertime use, Cathedral really does convey the mustiness of an old church. And I mean musty in a good way. Maybe that idea is hard to convey, but if you've ever found visiting and old attic and found something pleasant and nostalgic about it, you may know what I mean.
A little bit of Cathedral goes a long way! It may not be obvious at first, but just apply a little-three or four dabs-and wait for the development. The sillage is great. Also,apply it one morning and it will still be there the next morning, practically unchanged! Frankincense isn't the only note here; had I done my homework, I would have gone to the BPAL site and gotten them. Never fear- if BPAL's line of oils is too extensive for Basenotes to list the notes for all of them, BPAL is very good about listing the notes (albeit often with a lot of adjectives thrown in) on their own site for almost all their oils.
Thumbs way up, even if I have to be in the mood to wear this one. Actually, I'm looking forward to late autumn/early winter to start wearing it again.