Perfume Reviews

Reviews by JohnPal

Total Reviews: 46

Timbuktu by L'Artisan Parfumeur

I had high hopes for this one. Reading others' reviews and the note breakdown, it sounded like an inventive, challenging unisex that I would bathe in. I was disappointed even after three wears.
More than one spritz of this would act like human repellant- and, due to the high sweetness, fly attractant.
Aside from some pink pepper and a sort of generic fruity accord, all I get is an overbearing, old fashioned, sweet incense that somehow reminds me of old lady bingo parlor perfume.
I suppose my nose isn't yet refined enough to pick apart the notes in something so heavy. I'm going to keep the sample around and check in with it occasionally in the hopes that I am one day able to enjoy it.
05th March, 2017

Yuzu & Coco by Gorilla Perfume

I stand stubbornly by Lush in spite of the fad-like hipster aura surrounding them. Their products have a lot to do with why I began practicing perfumery, and stand in a class all their own. Some rely on gimmicks, but others are genuinely original and well made.
Yuzu and Cocoa sounded like a mistake to me, but after using a sample of the body wash, it started to grow on me. It was available in the Lush Kitchen so I jumped at the chance.
It doesn't list Yuzu on the ingredients list so I imagine that the yuzu note is due to a combination of synthetics and the listed essential oils (bergamot, grapefruit). It opens juicy and tart, with creamy coconut that is suggestive of those cheap tree-shaped car air fresheners. There's something incenselike about it, too.The cocoa is short lived, but the tart citrus and coconut linger on for 4-5 hours.
This is whimsical, true, but it smacks of summertime, beaches, and the kinds of expensive tropical vacations that I can't afford. I love it anyway.
17th February, 2017

Brit for Men by Burberry

Found a small bottle of this for a very low price, so I bought it blind. I spent about an hour at Nordstrom Rack agonizing over what to buy, and settled on this based on the note breakdown.
First: cardamom! I love it. And a bit more mature than the other cardamom-oriented fragrance I own (Tommy).
I do see the powdery-mess that I've read about, but I don't find it to smell like baby powder. Behind the cardamom I get ginger and rose, and an enjoyable synthetic note of some molecule in the vein of Cedramber, but not in the back-of-the-throat-assault way i am used to.
It dries down to a subtle coumarin-sweet, spicy (nutmeg?) cedar thing: a bit disappointed in its lack of oomph, but a good close-quarters fragrance,
While location prevents me from finding much in the vein of niche (or even higher end department store perfumes), this says: all is not lost. There may be a few normie fragrances left to try...
05th February, 2017
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Black by Bulgari

I overlooked trying this one for quite awhile, and after reading some of the reviews I almost put it on my "only if extremely convenient" list. I'm kind of glad I waited, because last year, I may not have enjoyed this one.
It's a strange one. Definitely on the challenging side, not one I expected from Bvlgari.
To me: Dr. Pepper and Cypriol/Nagarmotha. That's what stuck out to me. I am in love with it. I know it's likely the lapsang souchong that gives the smokiness, and with the strange rubber ball note, plus vanilla... I can't even think of what else to say.
Except, if you can afford it, and it sounds interesting, it's so affordable that you might as well spring for it. I chose to get a large decant, in with an order of some other decants, out of convenience.
But it's going to be my next full bottle.
Here's to the strange!
02nd February, 2017

Berlin im Winter by Baruti

I received Berlin Im Winter as a bonus sample from Indiescents.
This is pretty distinctive. Even my newbie nose can tell that there's a lot going on here.
It opens very sweet- heavy on the anise and lavender over a juicy "purple" almost berry-like sweetness. What holds my attention most here is that the busy combination of things going on here reminds me of elemi. It is salty-sweet, making me wonder if by "plum" in the description, they might mean umeboshi: the Japanese preserved plum. This stays savory and as the florals take over for the fruits, I feel like I'm standing near someone who, after finishing a cup of strong coffee, has popped a Choward's violet candy in their mouth.
Salty liquorice (yes to the all-sorts description!) and lavender stick around as frankincense arrives. This isn't churchy "liturgical" frankincense that smolders, but is the oil in a jar, or a handful of dried resin.
After a few hours, this dries down ambery and sweet, retaining the frankincense and salty lavender.
Overall, this is a win. It lasts and lasts. And is never boring. It's even a little challenging IMO. It's definitely worth a sample!
20th January, 2017

Bond-T by Sammarco

I admit my love for chocolatey-sweet gourmands. Throw in a handful of sweet pipe tobacco- I'm in heaven. But ooh they are overdone, and can cause a need for a hefty dose of insulin.
While Bond-T could technically fall into category (as mentioned by Claire V here) with A*Men, it is SO very different in so many important ways.
Upon first whiff, while I was expecting it to scream "CHOCOLATE!" I was wrong. Its sweetness is in suggestion only, with a fresh cigar standing in for pipe tobacco, and a bitter, dry, astringent cacao rather than the milky stuff.
The civet is lost on me (which is just fine) but what I believe is castoreum, and the suggestion of labdanum, combine with a hint of patchouli to form a new sun-baked, dry, earthy whole. The effect is what can only be described as an old tobacco barn filled with aging leather saddles and cocoa shells, plopped in the middle of Arizona....only classier.
19th January, 2017

Encre Noire by Lalique

This is a very intense, pervasive, deep and earthy fragrance. It wouldn't surprise me if there was some vetiver EO in here, but it's coupled with (read dwarfed by)synthetics that drive it directly upwards, and into ones nostrils.
I'm not sure why I like it, but I sure do.
EDIT: I figured it out... this smacks of cypriol. I haven't encountered it much yet (aside from the EO I have), and it's truly interesting...
11th January, 2017

Aqua pour Homme by Bulgari

I tried this at the suggestion of fellow BNers. It's probably the most interesting aquatic I've tried. The citrus top notes are not fruity- they are rounded with an ever present marine quality that lasts through the whole thing. Petitgrain is green and bitter, coupled well with clary sage and stemmy herbal notes. There's a clear, salty, mineral vibe that is missing from any other aquatic I've tried.
Lasts longer than I expected, decent sillage makes it good for work/close quarters. And well worth the affordable price.
10th January, 2017

Sel Marin by Heeley

Opens with a lemony/blue-green marine accord that is completely unlike boring "for men" aquatics.
As the lemon top notes fade, salty/dry comes to the forefront. "Salty/dry what?" You ask. I'm not sure. Gently reminiscent of seaweed and wood, and fresh-fresh-fresh.
There's an herbal undertone, almost liquorice, with a freshness suggestive of mint.
Accomplishes the color and feel of sea water, without being too predictable.
07th January, 2017

Imperial Tea by By Kilian

I am deeply, fully moved by this scent. I've never considered spending this kind of money on a fragrance before, but after sampling it, I have begun socking cash away for it. However, I'm so hooked, that I keep buying decants!
As a newbie, I struggle to do a walkthrough on this one because it seems pretty straightforward. But not boring. The art, in my opinion, is in the ability to recreate the experience of smelling a cup of Jasmine pearls steeping in steaming water. Literally.
My minor complaint, which isn't against the perfumist, is that it doesn't last as long as I'd like. It lasts a solid two hours, then another four hours of dancing in and out and around, sometimes barely perceptible. Something about the dance it does makes it all the more appreciable: the anticipation of the next wave makes it worthwhile when it shows up.

I love it. I can't wait to purchase a full bottle!
01st January, 2017

Fat Electrician by Etat Libre d'Orange

I bought a sample of this after reading Claire Vukcevic's article about men's fragrances every beginner should sample. I guess I thought I would like the "smell of singed electrical sockets", and it turns out that I do. It does remind me of the smell of my mixer after a long DJ'ing session... I mean I get the idea behind the name (and Claire's description).

As a newbie to niche perfumery and this level of perfume study, I have a lot left to smell. When I smelled Fat Electrician, and identified the vetiver note therein, I realized that this presentation was unlike any I've tried so far. In the same way that, as a young cook, I had my mind blown the first time my favorite chef de cuisine scraped a vanilla bean into a sauce used on a sautéed monkfish liver, Fat Electrician makes a case for using vetiver without its usual accompaniments.

I love when vetiver is paired with something sweet, in this case, chestnut and vanilla. And, just like that first bite of monkfish liver with vanilla beurre monté, I am intrigued and surprised, and reassured that THIS is what is meant by "the art of perfumery".

I wasn't sure how wearable this would be, thinking that it would be best viewed from a distance. I was wrong. And the proof is in the empty sample bottles in my drawer.
29th December, 2016

Noir Patchouli by Histoires de Parfums

Upon first spritz, just for a moment or two, I thought "wait... is this mislabeled?!"
Until.... there's the patchouli. And a dirty patchouli it is. Not unlike the smell of opening a fresh bag of potting soil: love it. It walks a strange line of grandma-ness, and in fact, my maternal grandmother wore something that this really resembles.
There's the hint of almost-lemony coriander alright, but the combination of notes forms something almost peachlike, slightly fruity, a little bit floral.
As it dries, I like it more, with the fruitiness mellowing out, and the patchouli and leather taking a humble center stage. By the long drydown, theres a spiciness alongside the sweet, dirty vanilla, patchouli, and leather.
This one relies on suggestions: the patchouli is undoubtedly the star across the board, but the rest of the time, the accompanying notes
transition seamlessly.
I would agree with this being unisex, but I find it starts out slightly more feminine, and becomes less so by the drydown.
29th December, 2016

1725 Casanova by Histoires de Parfums

I bought this by mistake, and while it's nowhere near as interesting as the Histoires I wanted (1740) or the one I already have (1899), it's not bad.
It opens with a delicious citrus and bergamot, then pouf of powder that sticks around for awhile. The bergamot/citrus are nice, but they struggle under the powdery notes. Lavender is also understated but clear.
I get a friendly, soft drydown of vanilla and sandalwood, hints of amber. My favorite part of the drydown is the suggestion of almond: it comes and goes, and is the saving grace that makes this composition interesting to me.
Even still, I'm getting a bottle of 1740. The Marquis de Sade is calling my name.
29th December, 2016
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Bulgari Man Black Cologne by Bulgari

Received a sample of this guy with an order of the Au Thé Noir I splurged on.
Opens with a flowery citrus and rum accord. By rum I mean an unsophisticated Captain Morgan Spiced Rum, but not in a bad or cheap way. There's a soapy vibe to this too, or so my nose believes.
The rum takes center stage, becomes a bit creamy with the help of sandalwood and eventually benzoin. I keep thinking "rum and coke", with the suggestion of spices... I almost smell Dr Pepper!
There's a weird period where this all but disappears. Even more strangely it reappears, and remains a white musk and slightly spiced benzoin for the rest of its short life. About 3 hours.
Not a bad scent, not exactly adventurous but able to hold my interest. I'm a fan of the sweetness and rum notes, and the other things in there to tone that sweetness down. A 5.5/10.
22nd December, 2016

Aventus by Creed

I am reminded of the Ren and Stimpy Show's commercial for "Log"... the line "it's better than bad, it's good!"
I wish I would've gotten into perfumery sooner, so I could have had a shot at what sounds like a fantastic fragrance.
An opening of fresh pineapple and real apples... turns into a phony apple air freshener note. Disappointing! I was getting thirsty.
It becomes greener, like a Granny Smith apple, and it seems that there might be some genuine black currant bud absolute in here. Vegetal, celery-like on my skin. I've lost interest though, because even though it seemed unwearable during the first 15 minutes, at least it was interesting. I'm glad I only got a sample.
20th December, 2016

Comme des Garçons 2 Man by Comme des Garçons

The Our Lady of Victory Basilica in my hometown of Buffalo, New York has a very specific smell. The place itself is somewhat intoxicating: a world of gaudy white marble, worn copper, and cavernous alcoves, draped and drenched in traditional Roman Catholic imagery. It somehow made going to Church a little less excruciating as a kid. But I can conjure up the smell of the place in an instant. And 2Man is a near perfect replica...

Incense. Warm, sticky olibanum, both the smoke and the resin (not phony stick incense, either), heavily spiced with dry nutmeg and allspice berries, toasting cinnamon and cumin seeds.
Candles. Burning, in their brass holders, and recently extinguished (Turin hit that on the head, indeed), and hell, throw the snuffers into the mix too. Dried citrus peel at this point.
Wood. Old and dry, waxed and shiny. Slightly singed, crackling. Cedarwood, certainly pinewood. Pine resin at times.
On my skin, 2Man is dusty, time-worn, and resinous. The olfactory equivalent of the sound of stepping on crunchy, dry pine twigs on stone. I find it intoxicating, dark but not uninviting, and perfect for wintertime.
20th December, 2016

cK2 by Calvin Klein

Now that those of us who were in middle school, awash in either Deee-Lite or Nirvana, back when CKone was new, have grown up, I find the release of this slightly humorous. I love the bottle design, although it reminds me of something I'd label "recovery room chic". I chuckled at the note in the description: "wet cobblestones", being reminded of "..Pale Grey Mountain" which comes with similar descriptions.
After trying CK2, I was pleasantly pleased. It has a wet, clean stone vibe that put me in my place, and seems to have a dose of cedramber (I think) to compliment a stiff grey earthiness that comes from the orris. I am curious about the wasabi, and wondering if it is wasabi leaf they are identifying.
I grabbed a small bottle of this before really giving a few chances, and as it continues to develop, I'm glad I did.
It is all rain and fog, not a cozy blanket but a ride on the El train with a wet umbrella and a hot green tea. It doesn't scream, but it uses an "inside voice", and it certainly gets its point across.
14th December, 2016

Eau des Baux by L'Occitane

In spite of a strong association with an ex I'd love to forget, this fragrance is wonderful enough to associate with new memories. It's got a kind of unique, pleasurable quality that feels like real, honest, round, plump... tasty, but not really truly a gourmand.
The opening, it's a strong one, cypress HEAVY like crushed arbor vitae twigs. Tobacco, nutmeg, spiciness comes next. Genuine nutmeg, like freshly grated. The vanilla lasts and lasts, with tobacco and I get occasional hay (like the absolute).
Perfect for fall, perfect for masculine wearers. An 8.5/10
02nd November, 2016

Eternity Summer for Men 2016 by Calvin Klein

This won't blow anyone's mind or win originality prizes, but it's a sheer, fresh summer fragrance that I am glad I tried without knowing what it was first...
It's got a slightly salty, herbal citrus opening that lacks the heaviness of other "sporty" ones. I admit it: I don't mind calone.
If you can find it marked down, give it a whirl. I'm glad I gave it a shot.
31st October, 2016

Eau Parfumée au Thé Noir by Bulgari

I am glad I didn't judge this one based on my first two wears. The opening put me off, and now I'm glad I've paid attention.
The opening surprised me: very fleeting black-ish tea (VERY fleeting).. I want to say rubbery, faintly smoky, amber... labdanum? Not unpleasantly so, but I was surprised to find it here. After a few minutes, this becomes a tightrope walk between dry wood and crispy black tea leaves, and a gorgeous, gently sweet rose that smells like dried petals crushed by my fingertips. wow.
It lies very close to my skin, and the tea aspect comes and goes, but overall it's a winner. A 7 out of 10.
22nd October, 2016

Eau Parfumée au Thé Blanc by Bulgari

Tea notes are something im on a constant search for, and I blind bought this based on how much I love Au Thé Rouge. It doesn't have the same warm, brewed tea as ATR, but it certainly has the character (for a little while) of dry tea leaves. It isn't a head turner, but the gentle white musk and faintly dry leafiness is pleasant, and not too boring.
22nd October, 2016

Lavender Tea by CB I Hate Perfume

I ordered a small decant of this. I was excited about it- I love tea scents.
It smells like freshly cut lavender stalks in the bottle, with a slight suggestion of dry tea. On the skin, it literally dries to nothing. By the time I found it in the directory to put as my scent of the day- it was gone.
Very disappointed- glad I didn't blind buy.
13th October, 2016

Dior Homme Eau for Men by Christian Dior

This has its place in my "work wardrobe".
It isn't an adventurous romp through a carrot patch like some iris accords I've met, but it's a barely detectable, pleasant fragrance that fits when in close quarters with "normies".
11th October, 2016

Silver Mountain Water by Creed

Another one tried off my "Everyone talks about it" Try List...
Yes to black currants in perfume! Especially when they don't smell like cat urine. This one doesn't. My own attempts at combining cassis and bergamot didn't turn out so well. But this one is lovely. It is a true-to-form cup of earl grey with genuine-smelling black currants.. here come the petitgrain/wood notes. Moving between green leaves and young branches, with a sweet, musky undercurrent, they too smell "real" and linger on. I detected then faintly still about 6 hours into the wear.
A sure fire compliment-getting fragrance that seems well worth the attention it gets. I wonder if I'll change my mind...
06th October, 2016 (last edited: 05th October, 2016)

Terre d'Hermès by Hermès

I get it. I finally tried TdH and I get why it's so talked about. It came in an order of samples that I based on positive BN reviews.

To me, the opening is spiced oranges and lemons. It seems both bitter and juicy, and the presence of peppers is fleeting but influential. It is much tamer than I expected, but it remains curious in spite of its understatedness. I suppose "subtle but interesting" fits perfectly.
the drydown is like the crunch of dry twigs under walking feet, undeniably evergreen. It reminds me of elemi, almost pickled in a way: peppercorns, peppers, and the back-end of citrus.
The kind of subtle, okay-in-an-elevator fragrance that is unlike anything I've ever smelled. Glad I followed suit!
06th October, 2016 (last edited: 05th October, 2016)

HYLNDS - Pale Grey Mountain, Black Lake by D.S. & Durga

When I read about this, it went to the top of my try list. My sample arrived and I wore it to work and school...
It is very different than expected. It does evoke some of the imagery surrounding it: damp morning air, grey skies, and "fog-on-stone"... I'm not wild about the opening: it reminds me too much of cheap hotel mini soaps. Sort of generic on first whiff...
then... a green, woodsy drydown: this must be "it". As a gardener and former chef I deal with plenty of purslane. And I have to admit: it seems to be there. It's a mildly peppery, stemmy-green note that is very much hiking. And I don't know if it is the power of suggestion but I get a note of freshly crushed hemlock needles too.
I gave this a neutral rating. But it gets points for it's ability to conjure up what it promises abstractly: a mysterious, misty woodland with rocky outcroppings, the sound of water lapping a shore, and a week of cool, overcast days by a campfire. Sillage/longevity aren't great, but this is an artistic composition that triggers imagination. It embodies a side of perfumery that I love: imagination, freedom, and willingness to experiment.
If only its price was more tent than luxury hotel...
05th October, 2016

Dior Homme Parfum by Christian Dior

Slightly more thumbs up than thumbs down. I am new to iris, and I appreciate the iris/wood combo with citrus and ambrette, but this wasn't as unique or interesting as I had expected. Does not project well on me past the first hour, but the orris lingers on close to my skin. Glad I checked out a sample but probably won't buy more.
04th September, 2016

Eau Parfumée au Thé Vert by Bulgari

I read about this one and was excited to try it because of the positive reviews I've seen. I am forever looking for tea based fragrances.
The only one in this line that smells like honest to goodness tea to me is Au Thé Rouge. Which I love.
It bugged me: why does this smell so familiar? Until I realized: it does smell like tea. The kind that comes in a powdered form in a tub with a scoop, and is loaded with pretend lemon flavoring and ends up much too sweet no matter how much it's diluted.
Once the sharply carbonated top has mellowed, this becomes pleasant.. but just isn't my cup of tea, so to speak.
17th August, 2016

A*Men Pure Havane by Thierry Mugler

I don't usually buy full bottles until I've spent a great deal of time with something, meaning it takes a lot for me to commit beyond a decanted sample. But when I tested this- and let it sit a few hours on my skin- I went back and got myself one. It was that good.
Initially, for a split second, I was horrified at what I interpreted as the smell of cheap baby wipes. Past that first moment, PH becomes a dreamy, creamy, cherries-and-almonds pipe tobacco trip. Liatrix? Pepper? Coumarin? Molasses? You bet. And as time passes, this remains three dimensional, and smells exactly like an antique furniture store with soft hardwood floors and a freshly unzipped pouch of sweet, grandfatherly pipe tobacco. Can't wait to wear this for fall!
17th August, 2016

The Smell of Weather Turning by Gorilla Perfume

This is hands down my favorite fragrance. Without any hesitation, at first sniff I was immediately transported to a summer evening of watching thunderstorms and jumping in puddles, and picking wet flowers in the fields.
I recently bought a bottle from Lush UK, but I have a suspicion that it was reformulated. I thought I remembered there being other absolutes listed on the ingredients, as well as "nettle" in some form.
It remains wonderful, however. Yes, it's smoky, and yes, it's minty. It's smokiness (to me) is unique, and the presence of real oakwood is sublime. Chamomile tea, aging wood, tobacco pipes, blooming wild mint, wet grass, and of course: rainwater... Seriously.
Whatever it is, it's mysterious and woodsy, it is tall, dark, and handsome. There are aspects of it that have (so far) been impossible to replicate.
My newness to perfumery has me testing and sampling all kinds of different fragrances, old and new, expensive and cheap.. But nothing comes close to this.
09th August, 2016