An interview with perfumer Daniel Gallagher of Gallagher Fragrances


12th May, 2017

Daniel Gallagher is a self-taught indie perfumer based in the United States. He speaks to Basenotes about his love of fragrance and his journey so far.

How did you get into perfume?

Growing up, I was actually not into wearing perfume. I think my first bottle of anything perfume-like was actually a Brut aftershave splash when I was a young teenager. During high school, I mainly wore Axe body sprays as they were quite popular (and cheap!) during that time-frame (early 2000s). Believe it or not, my first EDT purchase did not come until after I graduated college in 2009. Burberry Men by Burberry was this purchase and it became my signature scent. This was really a spur-of-the-moment purchase, as was my next purchase, which was Emporio Armani Lui by Giorgio Armani. By spur-of-the-moment, I mean I was actually that guy who was dragged into a cosmetics store as a result of a past girlfriend's obsession with makeup, and there were no benches for me to sit on while waiting (LOL!). So, I just made use of the time by trying out all of the fragrances being advertised as "men's fragrances." Eventually, I found a couple I liked.

What was the impetus behind moving from liking perfume, to making perfume?

Rewind time to about a year ago, where I found myself at a fork in the road. I was wearing another designer fragrance and my girlfriend returned home from work one day and told me, without missing a beat, that a co-worker of hers wears the same exact fragrance. Mind you, I had just recently purchased the bottle, so it was still 99% full. This fragrance was Invictus by Paco Rabanne. I think the fragrance itself is a fantastic composition (and I'm sure the sales figures confirm this), but needless to say, this fragrance made its way into a drawer where it sat until I gave it away to a friend. At this point, I visited the fragrance stores that carry the normal crowd-pleasing designer fragrances, but I couldn’t find any that really interested me. I began to branch out into indie/niche fragrances after doing some Googling. My first niche purchase was actually a 250ml flacon of Creed's Aventus (after sampling, of course). After several niche purchases, my first indie purchase was The Red by The Sum, followed by Mosaic by Imaginary Authors.

After trying out a handful of others, I realized that these were quality products that often had greater longevity, but more to my satisfaction, they were far more unique! During this time, that creative "light bulb" turned on and I said to myself that I could probably create something unique as many of the fragrances that I had tried up to this point. The rest is history.

How did you learn to become a perfumer?

I began researching perfumery using publicly available resources, most taken with a grain of salt, but they provided me with theories which I put to the test and figured out which worked for me through trial and error. I watched YouTube videos, documentaries about perfuming, read blogs and articles, and started buying up raw materials where many artisan/indie perfumers start -- Perfumer's Apprentice. There is also an interesting and informative article written by Jean Carles, creator of Canoe (among others), which is available for reading on the Perfumer's Apprentice website. The article was written in the early 1960s, but it is still a good read for any aspiring beginner. 

Since I began, I have made a lot of great friends in the fragrance community. I would not be where I am today if it weren't for the generosity of the many YouTube reviewers and bloggers that have taken time out of their lives to put together a video or article about one or more of my fragrances. I have also been fortunate enough to receive a lot of guidance by a couple of recognizable names in the fragrance world -- Josh Meyer of Imaginary Authors and Victor Wong of Zoologist

So, in short, I am self-taught in that I have not attended any formal courses, but instead made due with the resources available at my fingertips. I learn better through trial and error and not being constrained by traditional methods or the way a textbook says something should be done :)

Tell us about your range?

My range runs the gamut. Bergamust and iloreN are perfect for warm Spring and Summer days, though I wear Bergamust year-round in Texas. Carpe Cafe and Peaches & Campfires are more for the cooler Fall/Winter days. Amongst Waves, Sine Nomine, and THAT Guy are year-round fragrances. I am often asked how I come up with the names of fragrances, and the honest answer is that the inspiration can come from anywhere. With Sine Nomine, I couldn't actually think of a name, so my girlfriend said, "why not that?" And I replied, "what do you mean?" She said "no name or unnamed." I put a little Latin spin on it and came up with Sine Nomine, which loosely translate to "no name" or "without a name." Amongst Waves pays homage to one of my favorite bands, Pearl Jam, with their song, "Amongst the Waves."

My top seller is Bergamust as it's a citrus-dominant fragrance that seems to last for an exceptionally long time. Oddly enough, this is the fragrance in my lineup that took the least amount of time to formulate.

I also have a series that is separate from my main lineup, which is called the Silk Series. The Silk Series is made up of ten fragrances with one “featured note” in addition to a blend of warm amber and woody base notes. Each featured note is the main focus of the fragrance and the warm amber and woody notes serve as a graceful, yet bold dry-down. The ten featured notes within the Silk Series are Bergamot, Black Currant, Jasmine, Lavender, Mandarin, Orange Blossom, Sandalwood, Tobacco, Tulip, and Vanilla. Simplicity is the beauty behind the Silk Series in that it presents the wearer with the ability to combine or “layer” simplistic, yet unique fragrances.

Your fragrances have a birth date on them! Is that the day you bottle the fragrances or when the fragrance was invented?

I've actually been asked this quite a bit. The "born" date on the label is mostly when I settled upon the final formula for that fragrance, but in a couple of cases, like my upcoming limited edition release of a darker version of Bergamust, called Bergamust Noir, will be released on July 7th even though I'm 99.9% complete with the formula.

I like the way you provide notes on the bottle, and give an estimation of how long the fragrances last on your website. Is this sort of transparency important to you?

I think when I first started reading/watching a lot of fragrance reviews, I was drawn to a few key pieces of information: note breakdown, longevity, projection, and sillage. I noticed that a lot of fragrance houses did not provide most of this information, and I know why -- it varies from person to person. But, I figured that if I shared this information, it provides fellow fragrance connoisseurs with at least one frame of reference. The note breakdown is kind of a bonus in that I feel like it's interesting to know what goes into a fragrance. But, what's even more interesting is that you can be totally surprised by how a fragrance smells even if you thought you knew based on the note breakdown. And more to the point, you may not pick up one or two of the notes listed, while the person sitting next to you does. Magic!

What have the biggest challenges you’ve faced been?

Aside from getting my own processes down, the biggest challenge has been forcing myself to call a fragrance ready for release. But, once I do, that formula won't be changing no matter how much I still want to tinker with it (reformulations are usually frowned upon).

Another challenge is figuring out how to get the word out about my fragrance house, in general. We are fortunate in our lifetime to have the World Wide Web at our fingertips. A lot of us would not be where we are it if it weren't for the creation of the Internet, and I am thankful that it has helped me and others get to where we are today. Case in point -- this article on Basenotes! That said, you still run into the lack of an easily-accessible and affordable invention that allows for smelling a fragrance via the Internet ;)

I'd say the third challenge is time management. I have a full-time job (not perfuming) that I am fortunate to have, but I have to juggle my perfuming and my job, as well as a life outside of both of these things.

What are your plans for 2017 that you can share with us?


Amongst Waves
I have several fragrances in the works. But, only one of them is ready to be released, Amongst Waves, set to release early May.

Another big item would be the introduction of a new, more professional bottle and box presentation. My current full-size bottles do not feature crimped pumps, but instead a screw-on/off pump. The new bottles will be bold 100ml bottles versus the 53ml bottles I have now. This will provide the customer with a larger amount of their favorite fragrance at a more economical price per milliliter. I also have custom boxes as well as new sample atomizers. So, it's almost a complete overhaul of presentation. The new bottles will look much nicer on a shelf now.

You can stay up to date on fragrance releases, as well as exclusive sale announcements by following me on Facebook @GallagherFragrances.

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About the author: Grant Osborne

Grant Osborne is the founder and editor of Basenotes. Grant has two children, and a dependence on tea, haribo and bacon.

Website: http://www.grantosborne.com

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    Comments

      • hednic | 12th May 2017 14:36

        Interesting. Didn't know much about this house.

      • scentsitivity | 13th May 2017 18:14

        Nice article! And I like the odd number 53 ml bottle: we need more like that!

      • Cevenol | 14th May 2017 23:27

        From Invictus to one's own niche line in a year... Impressive!

      • RC. | 15th May 2017 21:57

        ^What he said!

      • IsoESuperman | 16th May 2017 01:21

        I can't believe there wasn't a "So what's up with the 53ml bottles?" question!

        Something tells me an email would solve that mystery.