I can’t say I was looking forward to the Hermèssence foray into sandalwood with any degree of enthusiasm. The wan, anemic style Jean-Claude Elléna has adopted for this line doesn’t appeal to me to begin with, and sandalwood, whether Mysore or Australian, is an assertive note. Nonetheless, I was curious as to how an unconventionally trim and transparent sandalwood fragrance might smell. Not much like sandalwood, it turns out.
Santal Massoïa opens on a sour, rather chemical-smelling green fig note, which persists for much of the development. This “fig” is actually abrasive enough to make me sneeze if I inhale it with any vigor. Such woods as there are in Santal Massoïa take their time emerging. What eventually makes its way past the sour fig is a very pale, dry wood and coconut accord that smells more like cedar than sandalwood. I wouldn’t recognize massoia wood if it bit me in the backside, but if this is it, I’m not impressed. Santal Massoïa’s late stages are pretty much dried coconut and sawdust, which seems insufficient to me at roughly $75 US per ounce.
Fleshless as they are, the best of the Hermèssence scents (Osmanthe Yunnan, Ambre Narguilé,) still have a certain spare elegance about them. This one just smells like a miscalculation. I’ll take Santal Majuscule or Santal Noble any day.
Humid, yes, delicately humid at the beginning, than languid, barely peppery, minimally creamy and supremely woody with a perfumed wet woods aroma (a la Dsquared2) and a sort of barely (almost oily) floral final spark which conjures me remotely Fahrenheit Dior (ideally replacing the violet with smooth iris and the gasoline with a minimal resinous coconutty touch soothing the woods). The mild (because of a delicate almondy soap) sandalwood aroma is dominant, the milky vibe is produced by soft iris combined with an almondy/coconutty sort of foam which provides a touch of oiliness (a density anyway deprived of the typical milky coconutty aroma) which affords a minimal touch of creaminess to the floral woodiness (like a vague sort of resin producing a faint oleous undertone lingering around). A faint and fresh figgy feel lifts finally its discreet aroma in the air as surrounded by a typical cool (slightly peppery) vetiver/sandalwood accord (as for an ideal combination between Philosykos, 7 De Loewe and Bvlgari Man). A pleasant ethereal potion, masculine, classic and intimate.
04th February, 2014 (last edited: 06th February, 2014)
This is nothing like I would expect from reading the notes. There is nothing milky in here, I don't smell fruits and it is barely, just barely sweet.... if at all! Imagine dry woods impregnated with dusty iris and you have a better idea of what this actually smells like. Never trust the listed notes because you never know what they combine into. This is quite dry and very masculine even though it is listed as unisex. It smells like shoe polish.
l get a cool, crisp, green opening of fig along with the woods, & a whisper of vetiver. l can see the comparisons with Santal 33; it is a very similar scent, but here the woods are smoothed-off & polished, rather than rough-hewn straight from the tree. lt quickly becomes a soft & creamy skin scent, with, to my nose, just the barest trace of dry coconut. From here it continues in a quite linear fashion, with the vetiver more apparent after several hours. lt seems others have problems with the longevity, but on me it lasts a good ten hours overall.
l would say this leans slightly more feminine than Santal 33, & those who find the awesome projection of Santal 33 a little too in-your-face might prefer this one, as a gentler expression of the same idea.
A wonderful woodsy scent in the “balmy breeze” category. If only it lasted more than 20 minutes! Come on, Hermès: Even summer scents need more staying power than this; the party’s over before you even get to your first stop on a summer night out! But still: a marvelous light sandalwood concoction with the zing of lime and the milky smoothness of coconut. (Classy enough for office wear as well, i.e. it does not smell like a pina colada despite the ingredients list!)
In sum: A thumbs-up, though not entirely worth the money when you know that other scents in the same price league give you much more staying power. But I still enjoy it in my collection, 1) for occasional wear, and 2) as a reminder of a very, very similar and much-missed scent: Gucci Rush for Men.