I smelled Aomassaï several times when I was just beginning my fragrance hobby and I didn’t like it.
It took for me to start experimenting with both cooking in the kitchen – wasting whole pans of sugar in an effort to produce a good caramel – and burning frankincense on a small burner at home for me to understand, and then appreciate, and then finally love the smell of things approaching smoking point when subjected to high heat.
Aomassaï finds that common thread between hazelnuts, orange peel, caramel, and vanilla sugar – the smoky, dark bitterness they all share when approaching smoking point – and emphasizes it with equally dark elements such as wenge wood, resins, and black, soft licorice.
It could have been a treacly mess, a sop to the modern taste for simple syrup in the gourmand category, but Aomassaï is never too sweet. Instead, the foodie elements are subjected to intense heat and distorted beyond what is commonly accepted as “nice” smelling. It is sweet and bitter in equal measure. Furthermore, the smoking resins, grassy vetiver, hay, and dark wenge woods tether the sweet notes and prevent them from becoming cloying.
Barely anybody mentions the vanilla in Aomassaï. I had used maybe a full quarter of my bottle before I realized that it has the most beautiful vanilla in the dry-down. Once I had mentally subtracted all of the burned caramel and incense and nutty notes, I finally noticed it, and the sense of revelation was like finally spotting the image in a Magic Eye painting. Now it’s almost my favorite part of Aomassaï, that deep, dark vanilla. It is both smoking hot and paper dry.
Whenever anyone is asking for recommendations for fragrances that smell like coffee, Aomassaï is always the first one that jumps to mind. But I recommended it once (I think on a Facebook group) and the general reaction was confusion: surely, they all said politely, there is no coffee in Aomassaï. Well, perhaps not. But I still smell coffee.
Specifically, to me, it smells like someone peeling an orange in a coffee shop fragrant with the aroma of burned coffee grounds and old newspapers strewn everywhere on dark, rickety wooden tables. In my mind’s eye, this coffee place is intimately dark and cozy. It’s not the kind of place you’d wander into casually. You’d have to mean it. But once you’re there, you’re one of the regulars.
Although they are very different scents and perhaps nobody except me sees the connection, but I think that Aomassaï has much in common with both Serge Lutens’ Un Bois Vanille and Dior Privee Eau Noire. They all share strong licorice/anise notes, have dark wood notes that could be loosely interpreted as burnt coffee grounds, a smoky atmosphere, and a dry, papery vanilla in the far dry-down. And as it so happens, all three of these fragrances exemplify exactly the type of gourmand approach I appreciate – inedible but still incredibly appetizing.
I'm not very skilled at analyzing the notes and can just say this is one outstanding fragrance. Sweet but not too sweet. Sillage and longevity are excellent.
Genre: Woody Oriental
Pierre Guillaume’s scents for his own Parfumerie Generale line have been hit-or-miss for me. Some, like Querelle, Yuzu Ab Irato, Coze, and L’Oiseau de Nuit, have been “just OK” as far as I’m concerned. Others, including Intrigant Patchouli, Papyrus de Ciane, and Jardins de Kérylos, have been out-of-the-ball-park hits. Though as a gourmand oriental Aomassaï is not the type of scent I normally enjoy, I must now group it with those last three among my favorites from this house.
Smoky vanilla, toasted nuts, and burnt sugar support a smoldering heart accord of incense, licorice, hazelnut, and spices. This dark, dark composition is ideally balanced: the intense smoky quality keeps the structure from teetering into oppressive sweetness. What could have been a trite, cloying scent is instead a paragon of warm, brooding mystery. Aomassaï demonstrates what so many inferior gourmand scents could be but aren’t. A marvelous achievement in a difficult genre.
The opening is a vanillic-resinous accord with a realistic caramel note, so bitter and strong it almost goes on the boozy side, then spices (saffron, cumin, cinnamon?), tonka, cocoa beans: a dark, dusty gourmand, slightly close to Slumberhouse's Ore as regards of the "concept", with a floral lavender touch and a slightly waxy/powdery orris root note. A load of spices, perfectly blended with the spices-boozy caramel accord. Peculiar and not bad at all, quite distinctive and interesting, also nondescript, as it smells Oriental, but also "European" (the caramel, the booze, the general restrained shape). The base slowly emerges with a dry green-suede like accord, the overall evolution is really nice and pleasant, must admit I quite enjoy this unusual "axe" of progress – a green-spicy-sweet-powdery geometry. The notes are dissonant, but somehow really harmonic. Finally it evolves on a talcum-balsamic accord still with spices and slightly sweet, a bit delicate but fairly persistent. Overall one of the nicest Parfumerie Générale I've ever tested (not a fan so far).
Parfumerie Generale Aomassai 10 smells on me kind of "tasty" but never-cloying (on the contrary somewhat sharp) and quite structured.
What appears by soon as a weird stuff seems to be the contrast of diverse (somewhat opposite) feelings since the first blast after which you can detect all at once either several synthetically modern A* Men's vibes (little amber/caramel, aromatic elements, a touch of toasted coffee?) and hyper realistic and natural O'Driu's (bitter licorice/hay/orangy peels anisic accord) landmark feels. I detect by soon the nutty/syrupy yummy feel which is anyway counteracted by a sort of medicinal/bitter/slightly boozy-anisic vibe indeed. Along the trip the aromatic bitterness and the paper-hay type of vibes tend to subside and to leave the stage free for soft creaminess, masculine classic complexity and spicy delicacy. Really dark, resinous and moderataly sweet in its burnt sugar bitter/sweet outcome. An extreme balance stands out with this introvert semi-gourmand with some secret initial aqueous freshness in the mix and a touch of incense/spicy powder. I detect a vague boozy background along the trip and a sort of coffee liqueur type of vibe which are incredibly soft, balanced, clearly woody and with a final suede type of smoothness. The dry down, in spite of being full-bodied, mild and enveloping, remains in the perception basically dry (or better on an average level) complex, masculine (carnal and prickly spicy/incensey with a surprising touch of saltiness), structured and classy with a more than vague sort of classic background (I mean slightly herbal, spicy, dusty, virile with a touch of ambergris and distinctive). The aromatic notes-citrus-resinous incense-woody elements-patchouli-ambergris "comforting" (warm and organic) connection reports me vaguely in mind the Jacques Zolty's co-operations of equivalent notes which play anyway outside the gourmandish territories. On the complex I find this juice really interesting and despite it sails out from my olfactory waters I appreciate a lot its balance, the brand blindly itself and the spicy and warm background. Longevity and projection are in the average.
Pros: Well balanced
Cons: Not my cup of tea"</p>
03rd September, 2013 (last edited: 06th September, 2015)