Perfume Directory

Eau de Nyonya (2016)
by Auphorie


Eau de Nyonya information

Year of Launch2016
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
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People and companies

PerfumerEugene Au
PerfumerEmrys Au

About Eau de Nyonya

100% vegan-friendly.

The Quintessence of Peranakan Chinese Heritage

Reviews of Eau de Nyonya

Let me begin by saying that this is not a very appealing smell to me. However, I can appreciate the artistry here in Auphorie Eau de Nyonya (2016), even if it is something I'd never wear. In the words of the house itself "A unique original scent composition featuring exotic notes related to the Baba-Nyonya (Peranakan Chinese) heritage and culture in Malaysia. One of the most well-known things that relates to the Baba-Nyonya culture must be the "Nyonya Kuih", which means Nyonya dessert snack. We have distilled the essence of "Nyonya Kuih" into Eau De Nyonya." That should pretty much set you up for what to expect with this parfum: a gourmand made to resemble a Malaysian dish local to perfumers Eugene and Emyrs Au. I'm not the biggest fan of straight-up gourmands to start, but I would be a fool to deny their appeal, and typically sway more towards fruits, spices and cocoa as a winter-time indulgence, so some of the things going on in Eau de Nyonya do ring true, just not enough to keep me in for the long haul. Auphorie as a house tries to bring an authentic piece of their Malaysian origins into their work, which is something that I also appreciate in a perfume world that seems a bit too Euro-centric to allow things such as this to exist, but never having tried Nyonya Kuih myself, I can't emotionally connect to this enough to overlook some of the deal-breaking quirks.

The opening of coconut milk, fermented rice, screwpine (a plant native to that part of the world), and something sweet described by the house as essence of the Tapai Gulut (a dessert dish made with the aforementioned rice) is a love-or-hate thing right off the top, and I'm not a fan. Eventually things do settle down into an oriental heart of jasmine sambac, sandalwood, cinnamon, benzoin, with touches of violet and cocoa to dry it out, but the shocking fermented top notes just remind me of malt beverage and yeast factories near where I once used to live, and that's an association I cannot shake. From there, we have orris, vetiver, natural tonkin musk, ambergris, and an inventive "suede" note to further plant the skin feel in standard oriental territory, but the exotic fermented dessert notes still haunt the composition, because that is the intended purpose of the scent after all, and I can't enjoy it. Wear time is well over 12 hours and projection is moderate with voluminous sillage, so there is no real "calm" for the wearer even if others passing by may not catch huge whiffs. Something like this is wearable art so I won't suggest context for usage outside maybe someone else who loves food notes to the same degree as you, but avoid hot weather with Eau de Nyonya unless you want to torture yourself with all kinds of insects flocking to your delicious dessert-like skin. I can see being carried away by an attack squadron of mosquitoes while Flight of the Valkyries plays overhead. No thanks.

All told, I expect artisanal houses like Auphorie to create really challenging works like Eau de Nyonya, and much like houses such as Bortnikoff or Areej le Doré, their scents are available for a limited time only then permanently retired due to their handmade nature, creating a lucrative fan frenzy. Auphorie does keep it's best-seller Miyako (2016) around permanently, but the materials for that one are probably less-exotic than the rest, and the formula notarized for re-creation. Eau de Nyonya is one of the many vaulted perfumes that had it's fifteen minutes of fame on the house website, then went immediately into the afterlife, so if it sounds like a tasty proposition, be prepared to pay heavy coin from a collector that knows what they have. For me, this makes no difference whatsoever because after this review I expect to (hopefully) never smell this perfume again. Once more, I must reiterate that this is very creative, artistic, and no doubt an accurate olfactive recreation of the dish at hand, but not only do I find displeasure in smelling like dessert, but also of anything fermented. I prefer my fermented items on the inside please. I enjoy a tasty malt beer or sourdough bread as much as the next guy, but smelling like them is another matter entirely. This one is simply nyonya business so far as I am concerned. Thumbs down.
11th May, 2020
Toasted rice, coconut, a hint of chocolate, something green which must be the Pandan leaf, sweet violet & benzoin are the introduction to this gorgeous gourmand-oriental. It's deliciously edible without being overly sweet, with a fuzzy & suede-like texture. The violet becomes more pronounced over the first half-hour, & there's an almond/cherry/heliotrope facet suggesting distant echoes of vintage L'Heure Bleue. The texture smooths out from here, then ninety minutes in there's a buttery iris. Another hour in, I get a note of condensed milk, & at the four-hour mark there's a rich, creamy sandalwood. At this point it settles closer to the skin, but it all lasts for a good fourteen hours before fading out.
I've never been to the Far East, but this perfume smells exactly how I imagine sitting in a humid tropical garden eating a Malaysian dessert would smell. It's an extraordinarily complex assembly of notes that somehow work together, vintage-smelling yet modern & unique, exquisitely balanced & addictive. I can't really put it better than gimmegreen's beautifully descriptive review, but if you love a good gourmand with a grown-up feel, I urge you to try this before it's gone. Auphorie are known for discontinuing their fragrances before we all get a chance to try them; I know this to my cost, because I missed out on trying Mayura.
27th June, 2019
This incredible rich and smoky gourmand that smells like nothing else is further evidence that the Au brothers are perfumers to watch. A first meeting with Eau de Nyonya is almost a shock: the senses reel with the unctuous smell unfolding which is like a thick and creamy rice-based pudding being cooked over an open fire with the rich caramel, toffee and burnt notes that come from the scraping of sticky bits from the pan flooding the olfactory pleasure spots. It prompted involuntary salivation.
The overriding, slightly burnt toffee-like note burnishes many of the elements – the lovely scent of heated freshly-made coconut milk (which is quite different to most perfumery coconut notes), creamy and toasted rice, palm sugar. The floral bouquet of the perfume is hidden behind the gourmand notes – one can sense it’s there but not really define it. Which leads me to wonder what function it performs. Not that it matters much in a perfume of such satiating richness and astonishing originality.
The indulgent sweetness of some gourmands can make one weary – here it is centred by the smokiness, the bitter burnt tones and a waxy, salty ambergris construct that really makes the whole thing shine. Interestingly, during the course of the wear Eau de Nyonya also takes on the ambience of a space where such a tempting dessert may have been prepared – a hall of old timbers and dark high ceilings. A fairly linear scent, the evolution is towards a settling of the notes so that the gourmand intensity subsides somewhat – a good thing – and the smoke fades, leaving a mellow toasted feel instead.
Something with such a strong personality is definitely not for everyone and probably only suitable for occasional use, but it remains arresting.

Eau de Nyonya requires a good shake before spraying. Droplets of something dark separate from the remaining liquid when it rests – a shake disperses them again.

10th April, 2017

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