100 Fragrances Every Frag-Head Guy Should Try, part 16: Gourmands
by, 23rd October 2011 at 02:10 AM (5211 Views)
Here’s today’s entry, my salute to the best of the sweet scents.
45. Tobacco Vanille by Tom Ford
When Tom Ford released his Private Blends collection perfumes a few years ago, heads definitely turned. From weird, dense patchouli-based monsters like Noir de Noir to Oud Wood, one of the first American perfumes to foreshadow the current oud explosion, it covered a lot of ground. But the crowd favorite was largely Tobacco Vanille.
Tobacco Vanille uses boozy cherry and mulled wine spices like cloves, cinnamon, and nutmeg over a mix of chamomile and cedar in an ingenious way that comes together to smell like an old-fashioned pipe tobacco shop or a well-loved humidor. It’s a wonderful smell, carrying the weight of classic well-heeled masculinity. While Tobacco Vanille wasn’t the first scent to use this pipe tobacco mixture, it arguably did it best, with its true genius coming by pairing the pipe tobacco with a rich, gourmand vanilla.
If you’ve tried many pipe tobacco fragrances, you may have noticed that they often degrade to a sort of wet cement or clay smell, but Tobacco Vanille avoids this trap through its judicious use of boozy vanilla and its aromatic clove top.
46. New Haarlem by Bond No. 9
Bond No. 9 seems to have a fairly bad reputation here on Basenotes. From what I gather, some of it stems from the owner’s bad split from Creed, after which she started Bond as a bit of a Creed copycat. They release new scents all the time, leading to accusations of copying or simply banality, but once you wade through all the common-smelling-but-highly-concentrated fruity florals and fruity aquatics which are their specialty, you’ll find numerous hidden gems. New Haarlem is widely regarded as the best of these.
New Haarlem is clearly influenced by A*Men, especially their A*Men Pure Coffee flanker, but it simply does the coffee gourmand better than any other out there. It pairs its coffee note with a burnt caramel crème brulee smell under a veil of lavender, and plays this out over a base of woods instead of the stereotypical patchouli vanilla you’d expect, so it shows a remarkable balance. The roasted coffee acts as a link between the sweet edible notes and the smoky woods, while the lavender keeps things bright and lends an inedible perfumey quality to the whole affair. In a way, New Haarlem is as much a smoked wood & coffee scent with caramel patchouli as much as it's a proper gourmand, but it's that clever duality that earns it a spot on this list.
47. Musc Ravageur by Freederic Malle
OK, so many would classify Musc Ravageur as an animalic “oriental” scent as opposed to a gourmand (there’s nothing edible about that much poop), but it’s heavy reliance on vanilla and cinnamon makes it enough of a gourmand to fit into today’s list.
At its core, Musc Ravageur is an extremely dirty old-school fougere, with aromatic lavender over an overdose of coumarin and tonka with a distinctly dirty civet pooled underneath. Perfumer Maurice Roucel (the same man behind New Haarlem) geniusly pairs this very traditional mix (this is the basic recipe for Caron’s Pour Un Homme) against a rich, thoroughly modern gourmand vanilla, replete with fatty white chocolate undertones and a rich swirl of cinnamon. The result is intoxicating, simultaneously edible and filthy, classic and modern, and attractive and repellent.
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