Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Shaal Nur by Etro

Total Reviews: 27
An aromatic, balsamic and warm opening. There are herbs and woods with a dry incense in the back that shows in the development and then sweeter notes like vanilla and opoponax create a relaxing and powdery base. It's rich, aromatic, resinous, warm and classy.
10th February, 2018
Released in 1997 and truly unisex, however named after an Indian princess (which is so apropos for the aromas found in here). Truly wonderful perfume...the movements are vivid and remarkable. Intelligent, exotic and never disjointed - very high quality ingredients present themselves distinctly. The opening is of very bright, but contrasting citrus (crisp bergamot, warm mandarin & bitter lemon peel) - even a squeeze of sour grapefruit - with a nice dusting of earthy coriander and a light note of smooth rosewood.

Karo Karounde is found in the heart with its interesting peppery quality that begins to warm the scent, blended with a detectable rose note and a nice melange of chopped herbs - rosemary, tarragon and thyme. At this point, there is a green quality that is slightly bitter, but so very realistic & not off-putting. While there are some more notes that waft in and out, this is the main essence (up to this point) - overtones of the citric top show in the heart with petit grain. A nice touch.

The looming base notes are coming through in light, soft wispy plumes. Frankincense and opoponax reveal themselves in the middle of the heart along with the wonderful and very nice vetiver (a touch rooty and well-presented) and patchouli...slightly herbaceous initially, but warms with the smoky resins. Both join with a nice cedar note that is rich and meld with the herbal & floral heart that has all but faded. This stays rather fresh up to a point, but there is a stage that this becomes deep, warm and the vibrancy goes away...not completely, but it fades to the background. The sun is setting.

Shadows fall and this ends as a very cozy scent with great incense and wood...Shaal Nur, the Indian princess closes the canopy over her bed with the resins still warm in the bronze burner, filling her room with magical, seductive aromas drifting on ethereal, misty trails of smoke.

What impresses me most is how it opens so vibrant, lush and high-toned and how it warms so naturally on skin - the evolution is incredible to behold. I didn't spray on fabric. I've always loved the way Etro scents seem to reveal themselves over time on my skin. Shaal Nur evolves about as much as a scent can within a single bottle. The dryness is compelling and what makes Shaal Nur work so well. If the base had oriental notes, it simply would not create this wonderful vibe. The wood all dries out naturally & integrates seamlessly - while the citrus fades with the green herbs, which is rather amazing as you start with so much dampness and greenness well into the heart.

This is an exquisite bottle of fragrance - one that I love with lust & passion. Cheers.

"Daylight dies,
The Camp fires redden like angry eyes,
The Tents show white,
In the glimmering light,
Spirals of tremulous smoke arise, to the purple skies,
And the hum of the Camp sounds like the sea,
Drifting over the sand to me.
Afar, in the Desert some wild voice sings
To a jangling zither with minor strings,
And, under the stars growing keen above,
I think of the thing that I love."

A verse from: "Reverie of Mahomed Akram at the Tamarind Tank"
21st January, 2016
Another masterpiece from Etro. Along with their Messe de Minuit and Palais Jamais, Shaal Nur forms a trinity of dark, warm scents, based on resins, herbs and woods, all three emerging from the house's first decade of creations.

Quoting from the generous Basenoter, who provided me with a sample, "Awesome smoky vetiver. Opens on light spices and citrus, shifts to classic herbs, and quickly settles into a warm and comfortable base of vetiver, (clean) patchouli, and musk. Light touches of incense throughout, but nothing that sticks out. Probably the best of the Etro range." I totally agree with this accurate and succinct summary of the Shaal Nur experience.

An awesome, quiet, assured masculine. The powerful opening blast of citrus reminds me of Guerlain's initial openings. Early Etro creations are both affordable and eminently wearable in a modern scent world of increasingly unpleasant concoctions.
27th November, 2015
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Shaal Nur opens with a really pleasant and perfectly blended woody-balsamic accord surrounded by citrus notes, sweet spices (nutmeg, cardamom, perhaps styrax too), something smelling like balsamic resins (olibanum), patchouli, a really aromatic whiff of green herbs, other woods and a sort of dry, candied, slightly caramelised fruity touch. A fantastic, solid Oriental symphony played around woods. The vetiver note takes soon a prominent role, and it’s a really simple, solid, “woody” dry vetiver – it almost smells more like clean, sharp cedar. Neither a “inky” vetiver (Encre Noire, Private Label) nor a more conventional salty-zesty one like in men classic colognes. More just, well, “woody” with a shade of “earthy”. A really good, even great scent, perhaps a bit underrated: it’s really compelling, irresistibly rich in aromatic nuances from herbal, to incense, to sweet-fruity-resinous, all blended together following Etro’s evocative and peculiar sort of “exoticism”. It’s modernly synthetic though, but it works perfectly. It is much refined and discreet, deceptively “simple” and understated. The drydown is perfectly good as well, becoming simpler and thinner as hours pass and “focusing” on vetiver-incense-woods combo – perhaps a tad monotonous and conventional after a while (“woods and incense”, again...), but pleasant and elegant enough – just not as fascinating as the previous stages. A refined sort of contemporary love child of Etro’s Vetiver and Messe de Minuit. Fair price.

30th January, 2015 (last edited: 17th February, 2015)
Genre: Oriental

Not a promising start: Shaal Nur lands on the skin clothed in alcohol fumes and a harsh citrus accord. Luckily, this opening lasts only a minute or so before it’s engulfed in a cloud of incense smoke, resins, and sweet spices that firmly aligns Shaal Nur with dark oriental scents like L’Air du Desert Marocain, Fumerie Turque, and Jubilation XXV. Prominent vanilla and opopanax bring to mind Shalimar as well, but Shaal Nur is at once dryer and less animalic than Guerlain’s archetypical classic. Lack of civet and conspicuous doses of cedar and frankincense may account for the differences.

Shaal Nur projects well but never to the point of being distracting or oppressive. It grows more powdery as it develops, and eventually settles into a very soft-textured vanilla, opopanax, and cedar drydown. The composition and development are very conventional examples of the spicy oriental genre, but where Shaal Nur excels is in its delicately tuned balance and well-judged proportions. Nothing is out of place, nothing grates, and nothing is garish. (The latter a great danger in this sort of scent – think Opium.) My only criticism is that in a family of scents known for persistence, Shaal Nur is surprisingly fleet in fading. Perhaps a limited lifespan is the cost of avoiding gaudy excess in so rich an oriental.
03rd July, 2014
For all that I love the grand Chanels and the lush Guerlains, this right here is the real workhorse in my collection. It's the only scent that I have a back up for. It is the most versatile scent I own, and I genuinely believe that it is as appropriate for a casual barbecue on the beach as it is a night out on the town. Oh, and it is also unisex. Maybe the most important thing to say about this scent, though, is that it makes me unconditionally happy in a way that husbands, children, and dogs cannot. It is joy bottled.

I agree with Luca Turin who calls this a warm vetiver incense perfume. (However, I do NOT know what he was smoking when he said that Shaal Nur was not a million miles away from Vol de Nuit). The opening is aromatic with herbes de provence, light woods, citrus fruits, and a blurry melange of soft florals. The effect is dry but not bitter, like herbal lemonade that has been made into a sparkly powder. The heart arrives quickly, and is both slightly creamy/soft with opoponax, and prickly/spicy with pepper, rosemary, and nutmeg. The undercurrent of vetiver runs through the scent from top to bottom, but is neither rooty nor sinister. The incense is gentle and uplifting, not gloomy or churchy in any way.

Overall, it is woodsy in the dry, transparent style of Etro, slightly masculine with the vetiver and nutmeg, and quite powdery in the style of Habit Rouge or Shalimar. The dry down is actually very reminiscent of the dry down of Shalimar, I believe due to the opoponax, incense, and herbes de provence aspects they share. This is a good association for me. However, in overall tone and feel, Shaal Nur's light, transparent woods and herbs feel is a million miles away from Shalimar's creamy vanilla and heavy, smoky base. Shaal Nur is a cheerful daytime incense that will cheerfully rub along with you throughout the day, and feels like a precious piece of silk, both beautiful and weightless. There is no smoke, no dark thoughts here - you lift up the piece of silk and you can see the sun through it. That's what wearing Shaal Nur feels like, for me.
09th June, 2014
I think Luca Turin was right when he said that some of the best Etro scents "achieve a Guerlain-like symphonic richness". This is a good one and it does have that Guerlain feel about it. He compared it to Vol de Nuit, but I don't really get that. I have a vintage bottle of VdN so maybe he's comparing Shaal Nur to the current reformulation of VdN, which I've haven't smelled.

Many reviewers have also compared this to Shalimar, but other than the name, Shaal Nur doesn't come of as an oriental composition to me. Instead this opens with sharp citrus notes, which I'm not a big fan of. Thankfully, that phase passes very quickly on me and the scent mellows in to a very ethereal combination of warm vetiver (Luca was also right about that), with faint florals, spices and woods weaving in an out in the background like they're playing hide-and-seek. They come and go but the big vetiver note is the constant. This scent is all about the vetiver and that's fine with me because I LOVE vetiver.

Strangely, many women who have reviewed this say it's too masculine, while many male reviewers say it's too feminine. That should tell you that it either falls somewhere in the middle or this scent is one of those shape shifters that do different things on different people's skin. Maybe it's those mischievous notes that I mentioned before that are playing tricks on people, rearranging themselves according to your chemistry...who knows. Anyway, for an eau de toilette, Shaal Nur has pretty good sillage and longevity. I liked this enough to own a full bottle but couldn't afford it. Instead I used my 1 ml vial, then graduated to a 5 ml decant from the PerfCorurt. All the while I was searching Ebay for a larger bottle. Then I found one with 6 hrs to go in the auction. By the end of the day it was mine and was one happy lady!

I walked into an art opening wearing this last night and the gallery owner said "Wow...what is that you're wearing!" Enough said.
10th October, 2012
The journey through the house of Etro has been a largely frustrating one. There have been flashes of inspiration, but these have often been unfulfilled due to poor execution. I am happy to report that Shaal Nur bucks the trend, and is by a couple of galaxies their most engaging and satisfying pruduction to date. From the beginning it is a moving mass of notes, woody,dry and herbal, and awash with intimated ingredients awaiting arrival.I swiftly conceded defeat in trying to target individual notes, and simply enjoyed Shaal Nur's puissance and blending of diverse energies.

As it dries down, it warms and sweetens considerably, losing the earlier tics and spasms. The sweet and happy ending is not quite as convincing as the previous divergence, but I remain delighted to have found an Etro I can embrace.
31st October, 2011 (last edited: 07th November, 2011)
Etro SHAAL NUR opens with citrus but soon becomes a strong and dark incense perfume with big sillage and excellent longevity. This thick and warm oriental composition is best suited for cold weather, worn under sweaters, and could be worn by both women and men, although I find it more masculine than feminine and would be surprised if it were not being consumed primarily by men.

I do not find SHAAL NUR very subtle or complex and layered, but the strength of these sorts of perfumes lies in their sheer insistence, given the quality of the notes. This woody oriental reminds me somehow of a log cabin in a dense forest of evergreen trees high up in the Rocky mountains.
02nd July, 2011 (last edited: 09th July, 2011)
Excellent ethereal combination of citrus, floral notes, spicy incense and balsams (resins and creams), on a woodsy foundation (musks and cedarwood). The outcome is a dusty, spicy effluvium which arouses a sense of sumptuousness and eastern opulence but not without a touch of modern, western sophistication. An important role is played by rose that expresses its potentiality since the beginning and along the way, across a spicy heart and till a woody-musky base. I wish there had been a much more developed note of resinous incense in the composition in a way to enhance the holy mysticism of the aroma, pushing it more towards the eastern, meditative, oriental side. Anyway still a great creation by a marvellous, marvellous italian brand.
18th March, 2011 (last edited: 15th June, 2014)
I'd read enough about Shaal Nur to know not to judge it by the somewhat harsh (and to my nose very masculine) citrus/herbal topnotes, and they faded pretty quickly anyway. Next up was a beautiful version of vintage Emeraude, but with the addition of some really nice incense making the composition a bit more exotic than Emeraude. I don't detect any of the herbal notes once the initial blast fades, and the spices are very soft. The vanilla is detectable but not obvious which is fine with me. It's clearly very well blended - I have a difficult time focusing on any one note for more than a moment. Overall, I'd call Shaal Nur a comfort scent, soft and warm and cuddly, but it's quite black cashmere.

It feels intimate to me, and it wears very close to the skin. I'm okay with that, but it fades much too quickly. I get woods and vetiver at one stage, and it reminds me of Chanel's Sycomore...that's a very good thing, but the longevity is so disappointing. It's only seems to last about an hour on me.

I really like Shaal Nur. I find it very beautiful and alluring and even a bit mysterious. Despite it's fleeting nature, I give it a thumbs up.
23rd January, 2010
Etro Shaal Nur

One of my favorite incense fragrances is Etro's Messe de Minuit. There is a dry austerity to that fragrance that really connects for me when I want incense, most of the time. Then there are times when I want a more rounded incense expereince and when I am seeking that I don't have to move out of the Etro section in my wardrobe. The 1995 release Shaal Nur is a more lush incense experience as it adds citrus, rose, vanilla and amber to the mix to create the antithesis of Messe de Minuits chilly incense and instead create an incense that feels like a Snuggie.

The top of Shaal Nur begins with a bracing combination of lemon and coriander with rosemary lurking in the distance. The incense is also present right from the beginning and the resinous nature of the incense versus the tart feel of the lemon would be jarring without the presence of the coriander to create an almost bridging note between the two. As a result the top comes off as something quite enjoyable. The heart is supposed to be a mix of four floral notes but the only one that really awakens on my skin is the rose, and this combination with the dry incense is really nice as the spicy aspect of rose complements the incense at the core of this scent. The base is where this turns towards the comfortable notes of vanilla and amber and this is where Shaal Nur becomes like a blanket of soft notes to be pulled tight around you and enjoyed.

Shaal Nur has average longevity and slightly above average sillage.

There are times when I want my incense to be dry and austere but for those times when I want to just feel warmth and comfort along with my incense Shaal Nur is where I will turn.

11th December, 2009
An instantaneous favorite from this house. It smells luxurious and sincere, of good materials expertly assembled, and it has the sumptousness of a classic perfume, as opposed to so many niches which offer an olfactory equivalent to the anemic adolescents populating the catwalks thes days. Citrus-herbal top meets spicy resinous oriental base, allusions to barbershop masculinity wonderfully blend with echoes of Shalimar. Together with the quirkier, more off-beat Messe de Minuit, this is probably Etro's finest.

The full pyramid:
lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, rosewood, coriander
rosemary, tarragon, rose, karo karounde, pomegranate, thyme
cedar, labdanum, nutmeg, frankincense, oppoponax, amber, patchouli, vetiver, musk
02nd November, 2009
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auee Show all reviews
United States
I find this scent very pleasant on my skin. It is warm with just the right amount of spice. It is certainly an exotic and very wearable for men. It does not present itself as being feminine. I agree that it is best for evening wear and cold weather. I will keep wearing this scent on appropriate occasions for as long as it is available. My one regret about this fragrance is that it does not have longevity for me - between two to three hours. Nothing like the longevity of Gendarme EDP, which seems to last all day.
27th June, 2009
Notes: ctrus, florals (rose, narcissus, karo karounde, jonquil), incense, spices (coriander, rosemary), vanilla and amber
The name suggests an oriental, and that’s exactly what this is. It is a typical oriental, with spices on an ambery-vanilla base. I wish the spices were better developed, the florals more prominent – and the amber-vanilla greatly reduced. The amber announces itself immediately, retreats for a while, and then returns in strength. In the middle, the incense and spice are excellent: dark, smoky and exotic. But the sweet amber and vanilla are too strong for me. Others may like it, but I can only give it a sideways rating.
31st March, 2009
Kaern Show all reviews
United Kingdom
Have loved this for years, but always thought it was too feminine for me and actually after wearing it isn't at all -- once you get through the topnotes. SN is sweet, spicy, incensey and quite musky imo. The KK note is in here -- appears in Timbuktu also I think. The sillage and longevity are both good, wouldn't wear in the summer though.
04th February, 2009
Powdery opoponax, touches of Shalimar and its exotic vanilla-laden goodness and the citrus crispness of Eau du Coq, or perhaps another early, unisex toilet water. There's just enough cedar here to balance things out without making the whole affair too woody.

Completely suitable for men and women alike.
A wonderfully tailored fragrance. One of Etro's very best -- no doubt about it.
25th January, 2009
Etro’s Shaal Nur is a dark oriental fragrance whose semi-acrid top note reminded me of Estee Lauder’s style of perfume – Youth Dew in particular. I also caught fleeting whiffs of saffron and amber which petered out after about 10 minutes. As the middle notes of vanilla and incense crept in and softened things up, Shaal Nur became a much more likeable and wearable fragrance. My overall impression of Shaal Nur is that it has a cozy “frankincense and myrrh” vibe and is definitely a fragrance for colder weather. Despite the listed notes below, I cannot say that I detected any citrus, rose or narcissus at all but then I dabbed it on which seems to produce different results than spraying.

In terms of comparison, if you like cuddliness of Shaal Nur, you would also enjoy Cristiano Fissore’s Cashmere for Women or the Ormonde Jayne line.

Per The Perfumed Court, here are the notes: citrus, rose, narcissus, karo karounde, jonquil, incense, vanilla and spices.
13th November, 2008
This has one of the most astonishingly beautiful and refreshing openings I've ever smelled. Citrus, vanilla, woods, and spices in an accord that is more than the sum of its parts. The dry down is not as breathtaking without the citrus to give it oomph, but is still lovely and mysterious, quite resistant to any kind of note identification--if you don't believe me, just look at the disparities in the notes below. The base certainly wouldn't meet any classical definitions of "masculine," but I also don't consider it any more feminine than a couple dozen other unisex niche fragrances, so I don't have any self-consciousness about wearing it. This baby is definitely going into rotation.
07th August, 2008
JaimeB Show all reviews
United States
Citrus-herbal with woody oriental notes of depth and character. Etro has done a very good job on this one. The base notes really work well together, and are responsible for giving this a slightly smoky, mysterious vibe. I think this could work as a daytime scent in cool weather, and as an elegant fragrance for evening dates, especially ones where one wishes to project an air of urbane savoir-faire and coax one's companion to explore an enticing invitation to get to know each other better. The heart note contains karo-karoundé, an "exotic and carnal flower" ( from Africa that figures in a few other scents and lends a real air of mystery, beauty, and sensuality. The incense, opopanax, cedar, patchouli, labdanum, and amber in the base also contribute to making this deliciously deep and rich. Too bad Etro is getting harder to find...
30th July, 2008
And ethereal citrus incense. Smoky and musky in the drydown. Mystical and enlightening. Very nice. I agree that it feels more feminine since I have recently smelled Shalimar which has similarities to Shaal Nur.
08th June, 2008
This is one teriffic citrus. The grapefruit stands out on me, and there are herbs--terragon and rosemary--and plenty of nutmeg. Cool, spicy, tangy, and wet. It works. I beg to differ with the male reviewers: I say it has masculine leaning. Here is my reason: Shaal Nur reminds me of my father's shaving cream--in a good way. I have memories of my sister and I lathering up our baby faces and dragging a bladeless handle across the foam. What a nice fragrance, too.
If men think it is a little feminine, and a woman thinks it is a little masculine, that puts it squarely in unisex territory, which is where Etro does its most excellent creation. Another fine Etro fragrace that crosses over the gender border.
23rd January, 2007
A nice warm oriental not unlike Sandalo. It has more notes going on and is more perfumey though, not quite as warm and rounded. I like the herbs and spices but something in the drydown feels a bit more generic and less oriental than Sandalo.
14th August, 2006
A wonderful citrus opening with a strong rosewood element to provide contrast—beautifully constructed, very classic. The movement then goes to herbals and the rose in a middle that parallels the opening with excellent components and artistic contrast. The base is more musky than woody with a bit of nutmeg for spice and cedar for woody sharpness—I don’t get any incense. This fragrance is classic in construction and notes. It suggests opulence instead of actually being opulent—in that it’s a hybrid: modern and western echoing traditional Middle Eastern. I find it appealing. I also find it too feminine—especially the base. Beautiful to smell—challenging to wear.
20th May, 2006
I understand this scent is geared more towards women, but I really enjoy this. Its another winner for me from Etro. Its a sweet-spicy aroma that I can't get enough of.
31st January, 2006
Yet another Etro that didn't work on my skin, developing a strange synthetic note that annoyed me. A blend of vanille and lemon (think Shalimar Light) that worked very well on paper, just sadly, not on my skin.
15th January, 2006
I didn't like this on first try -- it reminded me of Nuits Indienne [sp?] -- but it has grown on me. (The scent on my skin also varies according to my mood and chemistry.) The effect is of soft woods and spices in an enveloping aura; it has both a bitter and a sweet element, neither of which takes over fully. I enjoy unusual/ambiguous fragrances, and this is becoming a favorite of mine.
18th October, 2005