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Fragrance Review: Hermèssence Santal Massoïa

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Genre: Woods

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, being an assertive note, seems ill adapted to such treatment. 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 massoïa 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. Give me Santal Majuscule or Santal Noble any day.

For more reviews of Santal Massoïa, see the entry in the Basenotes Directory.

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Updated 1st July 2014 at 03:16 AM by Way Off Scenter

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