Although this is in the same general family as Mazzolari's Patchouly, that is, an amber-patchouli combination, I find Real Patchouly to be quite different on several points. First of all, Real Patchouly opens with a bit of a surprise - a lemony, astringent edge akin to the snapped stalk of raw rhubarb. This citric, stalky note provides a much-needed freshness and lift to the clay-like patchouli that follows on its heels. It also projects that feeling of freshness for a good stretch until it is met in the middle by a handful of green spices and herbs that carry the scent all the way to the end - celery seeds and artemsia are most notable.
Patchouli is joined almost immediately by a thick, resinous amber that feels almost dopey in its sensuality. The ever present undercurrent of spicy/herbal accents bubbling underneath brings the amber within touching distance of Ambre Sultan, but this is gentler. The dry down of the perfume is a protracted dance between the amber, patchouli, and herbal accents, but there is a touch or two of dry, unsmoked tobacco leaves too. The far dry down is a far more mundane affair, the usual amber resins left high and dry on the skin and all - but to be fair, it does take a long time to get to the far dry down and I enjoy the ride thoroughly.
This is a great alternative to Ambre Sultan, because Ambre Sultan dies away after only four hours, and this has pretty much the same great smell for longer. I have a slight preference for Real Patchouly over Mazzolari's Patchouly too - they are similar to a point, but I find the herbal and spice accents add more interest. It has an almost hot, herbal, incense feel that is more austere than Mazzolari's Patchouly, which is unremittingly toffee-like, sweet and rich all the way through. But they are both great.
Real Patchouly doesn't bother much with the typical citrus topnotes. Instead, it goes right on as a surprisingly tart, brisk, and maybe even "salty" patchouli that rests on a warm, yeasty base. There are a good deal of dry amber and some prickly herbs in the mix too, but the resulting accord is much less thick and dark than the patchouli heavyweights from Mazzolari, Profumum or the Comme des Garcons Luxe line. Real Patchouli is also lighter and more woody than the sweet, viscous amber and patchouli blend that grounds, say, Ambre Sultan.
Real Patchouli remains fairly linear over the first couple hours of wear, after which point the amber moves forward and sweetens, then finally becomes dominant in the extended drydown. While it's certainly sensual, this is not one of the more animalic or earthy patchoulis on the market. On the contrary, Real Patchouli emphasizes the drier, woody aspect of the patchouli note. It strikes me as quite wearable, yet not as timid or apologetic as the polite patchouli in L'Artisan Parfumeur's Patchouli Patch. All told, this is a worthy alternative in the range of patchouli-dominated niche fragrances.
I can see why everyone likes this so much. It's a nice patchouli given subtle depth by a chypre arrangement and sweetened into a purple sort of smell by some kind of fruity resin. Then, a strong sawdusty sandalwood note comes in and fuses with both the chypre ingredients and the patchouli to give an old-school woody quality that's quite addictive. In the base, a surprising vanilla comes in, which melds with the resins and woods to create a smoky mossy amber smell that's also quite nice.
Unfortunately, I've got a problem. That sweet resin and the sandalwood that both support the patchouli so well don't really work well together - on me, they combine to create a sweet fish food/hamster cage pet store smell that I usually associate with low-grade natural perfumes. Try as I could to appreciate Real Patchouli despite the pet store smell, I just couldn't get over it, so I found it to be a great perfume ruined by a small but unforgivable misstep. Oh well, more for everyone else...
Just received my bottle in the mail...and at first I spray, I thought, maybe I should send this back. After a small sprits on my wrist, I went to bed thinking I'll revisit this in the morning. Well, I am glad I didn't give up; I took a shower and sprayed some on and went off to a meeting and MAN O'Man was I impressed!!!! This fragrance has to be giving some time on you, this was a blind buy and I am glad I did!! If you like Sushi Imperiale you will like this!! This fragrance gives you that Christmas in a bottle very different than Sushi Imperiale. Give this a minute to dry down before giving up. Unlike Sushi Imperiale, this is not as pungent as SI. This fragrance is a bit more reserved as it dries. I recommend buying a sample first and wearing it to decide whether or not you like it. I can sometime act on impulse rather than with logic; you may not be that kind of a person, if so, again try before buying.
If I hadn't already smelled Montale's Patchouli Leaves, I would say this is the best scent ever created. Having now tried both, I would say it's a tie for first and that there really needs to be room behind Heaven's Gate for the both of them.
They're strikingly similar scents, so deep, so rich, so beautifully and shamelessly linear with their mesmerizing patchoulis. If I'm looking for distinction, it would be that this one evidences a touch more amber underneath but doesn't have quite the sillage of the Montale. If you like patchouli, you absolutely cannot go wrong with this one or the Montale. Highly recommended.
27th February, 2011 (last edited: 14th April, 2011)