Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Total Reviews: 73
Kotori Show all reviews
United States
I would not at first label this as an "Iris" fragrance. The Iris is clearly part of the orchestra, but in the beginning it is playing harmony, supporting the melody of vetiver and the fifths of incense like a viola supporting the counterpoint melodies of the violin and cello. The piece itself evokes the crunch of late autumn leaves dried by the sun, or yellowed pages crumbling as they are turned. It is a dry, crisp scent, full of age and mystery. It is the smell of a very old forest or the scent of a rectory inside a stone church.

The Iris supports, binds, and provides the nuance. At first it is the face powder Iris of the makeup kit found below the stage after years of neglect. Later, it is the doughy Iris of a loved one's embrace.

It lasts about four hours before disappearing into the skin.
26th August, 2017
Dzongkha opens as a somber leather fragrance with vetiver. The heart, after a couple hours, is greener, like the smell of the bitter juice from breaking open fresh plant stems. It continues to develop and smell better: six hours in, it's a nice, dark, warm, powdery skin scent.
12th July, 2017
Stardate 20170710:

Starts out as iris in a chypre structure.
Then about an hour in spices start showing up - Cardamom is more prominent than the others. The others blend into smell of Indian spice rack/shop.
I do not like this rendition of cardamom - too synthetic. Lacks the depth of real cardamom.
After a couple of hours the base sets in and stays till the end. Base is peppers in sour milk. Not my favourite.
There is a backdrop of Indian Masala Chai with iris throughout the base and heart period.

Pass
10th July, 2017
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Dzongkha opens on me with a smell of something like MSG or soup or moreso a stock cube - there's something like celery and herbs, there's also something whiskey-like in the nose as a 'higher' note, and a strong Rien-like leather. By whiskey I mean that cool peaty smell of whiskey without any warming clove or honey. It also smells like furniture in some way, reminding me of old rooms. So, not your Auntie Violet's rosewater, I guess! I always remind myself at this stage of the Dzongkha game that it develops - so I'll report back as this happens.
Two hours later and it's the Dzongkha I remember, still somewhat savoury rather than spicy-sweet, but with a softer incense with a little floral on the edges. For me, this is a very grounded fragrance - it reminds me of the smell of corners of my grandparents' house - nothing in particular but the accumulated scents of life - that doesn't sound very appealing but it is a solid comfortable feeling, woody and vaguely human. I remember testing L'Air de Rien and getting something similar but not as smooth as Dzongkha.

Now (7hours) it's a lovely incense-leather that just feels good, calming, and solid.
10th July, 2017
This goes pretty much straight to vetiver on me, and stays there. Doesn't stay for long though. Lovely scent, not sure I need a bottle.
16th January, 2017
Starts out strongly -- lush, almost harsh vegetal green coupled with mint: I think that's the celery/whiskey note some people pick up. There was no spice on me as some have noted; likewise, I pick up almost no vetiver. It's definitely herbal and medicinal in its start: cold, fresh.

Within twenty minutes on me it turns into a slightly smoky incense with a little bit of cardamom.

In the next hour, I still get the incense, but it's tempered by cedar and a rosy peony. It's sweet and powdery, almost like a high-end cosmetic, but not cloyingly so -- it's a bit atmospheric and definitely abstract. I get a little bit of wet stone as well.

My partner thinks it smells like Off! bugspray. I'm miffed at him for mentioning it.

I'm wearing the sample I got right now and I'm about two hours in. It is just beginning to smell of old parchment; this is likely the papyrus note. The incense is there but it's an undertone. I get a bit of iron when I exhale it.

My skin has a habit of turning many florals into baby powder; this is no exception, though it meshes well with the incense and dryness.

I like it a lot, even if it didn't quite match my expectations -- I'm looking for an offbeat signature scent and while I'm not sure this is it, I'll probably add it to my collection in time.
18th November, 2016
Normally I dislike milky notes in a fragrance (Feu d'Issy made me feel physically sick), but this is the exception to the rule. The milky note works so well in Dzongkha, and combines perfectly with the dry powdery Ionone and Cedarwood accord. This is a lovely complex but subtle fragrance.

I have noted the comments made by others that this fragrance lasts for a very long time, and is very powerful. I do not experience this. Maybe I have bought a reformulated version, but I don't find this especially strong, and I don't think it lasts longer than many other fragrances I own. However, I am not complaining. It is no where near as diffusive as Timbuktu, but is much better blended (not that I'm knocking Timbuktu).
24th May, 2016
I’ve struggled with Dzongkha for a long time, and even now, three, four years on, I admit that I’m perhaps only halfway towards understanding this brilliant and sometimes frustrating fragrance. Part of my old problem with Dzongkha is that it smells so little like perfume that I am always wrestling with the question “What the fuck am I smelling right now?” Because, depending on the day, the hour, it’s always something different.

I don’t know what I’m smelling, so my mind defaults to the nearest recognizable object.

Most of the time, Dzongkha smells like the steamy aromas caught in the wool of my sweater when making chicken stock – pepper, chicken fat, bones, celery, salt. It smells intensely savory, almost salty, metallic, and most definitely vegetal. On other days, I spray it on, and it is obviously, immediately a very rooty iris, smelling of nothing so much as potato starch or hospital disinfectant. Other times, my nose shortcuts to a glass of whiskey or to the smell of a wet newspaper, its ink running down my fingers, about to disintegrate into mush.

But then again, sometimes the smell of paper is dry and rustling. Sometimes, there is a fiercely pungent boot polish note, as iridescent and blue-black as a bluebottle’s shell. Sometimes, the iris shows me a petrichor side, similar to the flat mineralic smell of drying rocks and tarmac after a rain shower that features so heavily in Apres L’Ondee.

In the background, there is always a strain of green tea leaves, dry-roasted over a campfire, a waft of incense, and a totally puerile-smelling, soapy overlay of fruit and flowers, faint and smudged like the waxy, wet residue of the bottom of a bar of cheap hotel soap left to fester in a dish. There is a purple cheapness to the floralcy here, a cleaning product whose scent nobody has given much thought to other than the brief to contain a smell that is "like a flower" and "opposite to poo". The first few times I tried Dzongkha, I remember being shocked at the florid, purple floral smell more than any of the weirder stuff.

At some point in Dzongkha’s development, a rubbery, dry leather note emerges and takes center stage, and it puffs on in this mode for the rest of the duration, sweetening and softening quite a bit along the way. It even starts to smell, well, nice. Slightly more like perfume and slightly less than the collected smells of a household.

People are fond of saying that Dzongkha is like Timbuktu but with iris added, but I don’t really get that. For me, Timbuktu is a deceptively simple smoky woods and incense fragrance, with all its magic and power tied up in its uncluttered nature. I wear it to reset my clock when I am feeling upset or out of balance – I find it calming and far more spiritual than any of the acclaimed church incenses out there.

Dzongkha, on the other hand, packs an awful lot of weird stuff into one tight space, and is clearly a Hieronymus Bosch to Timbuktu’s naïve art. When I wear Dzongkha, it distracts me. My mind is agitated, feverishly trying to mentally place all of the odd little flourishes in this library of smells I carry around in my brain. Whether this proves to be stimulating or just plain annoying depends on what kind of day I’m having. So you better believe I think twice before spraying this on.

But still, I spray this on. It’s interesting – it’s art.

There was a thread recently here on Basenotes that posed the question of whether L’Artisan Parfumeur was going out of fashion, and there were a fair few people who wrote in to say that, yes, the house was irrelevant and that most if not all of its perfumes could happily disappear off the face of the earth for all they cared.

Well, get a load of you, you bitches. Before you all slope off looking for the most chemically-powered hard leather bombs with which to blow your smell receptors out or the latest , achingly-cool melting glass bottles that won’t stand up full of liquid that smells like fish eggs, or toner ink, or glue, or whatever niche decides is new and shocking these days, take a moment to remember the Grandmaster Flash of them all, the weird-before-it-was-cool-to-be-weird Dzongkha. And maybe don’t be so quick to dismiss an entire house with quite the back catalog of conversation starters and pot stirrers.

You can't even throw that tried-and-tested (and true) complaint about L'Artisan Parfumeur's fragrances - weak longevity - at the head of Dzongkha. It is not quietly radiant as Timbuktu, it is just as strong and as dense as a brick. This stuff lasts 10-11 hours easily. Of course, whether you'll want it to or not is another matter....
16th April, 2016
Dzongkha is both the name of a language spoken in the Himalayan country of Bhutan, and the designation of the monolithic, fortresslike temple architecture characteristic of that land. This is a very aptly named fragrance, as it is redolent of smells I could imagine inhabiting a sacred space in which sharp incense has been lit, wood fires burned and buttery tea served, since the 17th Century.

Dzongkha is dank and bitter, without being heavy (owing to the juxtaposition of vetiver and peony, no doubt). It's a very interesting fragrance, moody and evocative. I can't imagine wearing it often, as it's more atmospheric than anything else. But I still give it a thumbs-up, because it succeeds as a concept: it has the ability to transport one to realms that capture the imagination.

One caveat: be careful how much you apply, because Dzongkha lasts a long time. For me, one spray outlives a shower and multiple handwashings.
28th March, 2016
A superb green iris/vetiver, cool and refined.

For those familiar with Etro's 1989 masterwork, Palais Jamais, Dzongkha may strike you as a lighter, airier version of that great vetiver.

Here the cool orris tones down the green, green vetiver and combines with minty carrot seed, and warm incense/musk to create a strikingly sophisticated fragrance that is as well balanced as a Guerlain - praise indeed from this reviewer.

I do not get the peony or cardamom scents other reviewers do. My nose does not require them to judge Dzongkha as one of the great vetivers on the market today.
04th March, 2016
Vetiver and leather, with a soft, subdued floral of iris and peony, topped off with a smokey incense. Perfectly blended and balanced.

Dzongkha is the first fragrance from L'Artisan that I've tried and I think it's absolutely fantastic. I love vetiver fragrances and Dzongkha is a compelling take on the note. The vetiver seems to be of the rooty, dry variety and the leather, equally dry and worn. The sweet lilting combination of peony and iris, add a lightness, and the temple like incense inserts an ethereal quality. I didn't get pepper or any sharpness in the opening, and the scent stayed fairly linear for it's duration. I went light on the first application and got average sillage and about 5 hours longevity.

I have a 5ml sample and will enjoy this through the fall. I can foresee purchasing a bottle, as I right away like this one a lot.
Outstanding fragrance and a easy Thumbs Up.
01st December, 2015
Dzongkha is a very well blended fragrance. It is a very dry spicy and herbal composition. At first spray I get the pepper with a blast of Iris. It comes on as very strong, but wait for the dry down. Incense also plays a role here in the background. IMO it is calming and lasts a very long time on me. I like it for the fall when the humidity is a bit low here in South Florida.
07th October, 2015
Genre: Leather

The initial blast of hot, dry, smoky incense is almost hallucinogenic. I’m immediately transported to some half-imagined, ancient landscape that’s at once faintly familiar and disorienting.

An extremely deft peony note soon mellows and rounds out the scent, so that the heart is less austere than the searing top notes. It’s all still very mysterious, and the rich, rich incense just keeps deepening with time. Exotic spices, woods, and balsamic notes flicker in and out of the background as the drydown progresses, but the glowing incense never fully loses its grip.

Dzongkha could pass as a better behaved sibling of Timbuktu; cleaner, sweeter, and less harsh. Dzongkha smolders where Timbuktu has long since charred, making the former a much more wearable scent for me. Lovely for wintertime, and a nice antidote to cold, wet weather. It also lasts better than many L’Artisan fragrances.
12th June, 2014
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gimpy Show all reviews
United States
A heavenly, dusty iris that truly achieves a zen-like vibe.

Meditative and spiritual. I went to bed wearing Timbuktu, Shalimar, and Palais Jamais, and dreamt of this...
11th March, 2014 (last edited: 22nd July, 2017)
I’ve never been a fan of L’Artisan fragrances, let alone the uncontrollably prolific Bertrandingo. But one thing I’ve to admit – in the extremely seldom circumstances where they both work at their best, with decent budgets and some solid inspiration, the results are great. And this is definitely the case. This is easily one of the best woody-iris scents on the market, brilliantly succeeding in blending the utmost versatility and wearability with a tremendous level of creativity and quality. Basically I agree with the reviews (including Luca Turin’s one in his Guide) which connect Dzonghka to Timbuktu, as this is indeed basically Timbuktu with iris, which is amazingly blended within that peculiar sort of transparent cypress-woody and subtly leathery structure adding a powdery, rooty, dry and earthy-waxy texture which fits it just perfectly. It’s like to smell the smoky, greenish, autumnal “papery” woodiness of Timbuktu shyly blossoming in early March. Not a “floral triumph”, just some faint, pastel, still quite dark accent of rooty-floral notes rising from the soil, soon joined by a subtle, warm tea note. This is pretty much of Dzonghka smells, and it’s just achieved perfectly. It’s graceful, elegant, natural, breezy yet very cozy: no cheap musks, no plastic iris. The concept is simple, the execution is clever and well mastered. Just some genuine, palpably realistic sprinkle of orris powder on smoky woods with a “mineral” salty aftertaste and a slighty touch of sweetness which will grow in strenght on the (impeccable) drydown. It’s poetic, complex yet quite straightforward, masterfully executed keeping Timbuktu’s great ability of smelling “airy” but totally substantial. And it smells fantastic anyway. Heart-warmingly austere and very classy. Plus, finally a decently-projecting, decently persistent L’Artisan, for God’s sake. Recommended!

8-8,5/10
16th January, 2014 (last edited: 06th February, 2016)
just as the woollen capes of the monarchs in the mountains of nepal are scratchy as you put them on, so is this fragrance at first wiff. harsh and scratchy to the nose. the green unripe note of litchi gives us an uncomfortable start. But as the wool gets softer while warming up, so does dzongkha. notes of spiced milky tea, wood, metallic incense and an embrace of old leather wind up into a chant of dark and deep voices calling inner peace. an enigmatic fragrance. Quiet and mysterious as the temples of butan this is inspired to.
dark and vibrant colours. Like a belle del Nuit..... worth waiting for to open up
27th December, 2013
I'm glad I bought this

Bought this one on my last trip to Paris, it was on sale and the sales person told me that it is gonna be discontinued.
The initial spray smells medicinal and kinda cloying (I guess it's from the peony and the spices), but the dry-down is simply amazing, it's green and woody. 7 hours latter I still can smell it on my arms, It becomes sweet and incense-y, very calming.
The longevity and the silage is really good. I'm glad I bought this.

11th October, 2013
This is a very very interesting scent.

The burst of peony at the opening is a strong one. But mind you, though this starts (and will finish) essentially as a floral, there's so much more to this fragrance.

It evolves in a most intriguing fashion, evoking the maroquinerie and the incences you can smell in a souk in Marrakech (I havent been to Bhutan yet so do not dare comment on that), amidst a blend of spicy whiffs. Then the leather and spices leave the stage discreetly, to let a rather smoky/sweet incense subtly seduce you. Finally, and here's the only facet of this fragrance that I'm not as keen on, it dries down taking back on a rather floral character, again with peony and now apparently some iris too. A tad too sweet a finale for a fragrance that still takes you through a fascinating journey.
13th March, 2013 (last edited: 26th March, 2013)
rbaker Show all reviews
United Kingdom
The initial burst of spice, berry and fruit and leads to a surprisingly restrained incense on my skin, only to transform, after a few minutes, into impressions of cardamom, tea, leather and wood with a floral touch. Although not close to my skin, it was fairly restrained and eminently wearable in public. Bhutanese incense tamed by the other scent.s Very good sillage with a longevity of about six hours.
11th May, 2012
TRUELY A BHUTANESE SCENT. For those acquainted and in love with the highest grades of Bhutanese incence, Dzongkha Calls!!! On first impression I discern a deep, resinous and vegital blend. The incense is obvious--traditional Bhutanese, It is a close and fragrant version of Nado Poizokhang A or B grade incense. In addition, dry Vetiver is here, balanced with Iris and tangy-sweet Peony which is vaguely reminiscent of a Chinese Herb shop. This reminds me distantly of two of my favorite Galbanum perfumes--Lancome's Magie Noire and Shorell's resurrected Bakir. To Western noses, there may be something of a pepperish (as in pimento) scent in Dzongkha.

This one can be pulled off by an alpha female or male, or a bohemian of either sex. Any other person with any sort of cultural education will know you know...but even if you only spritz this on yourself in private because you love it, it is worth it! Exotic, enticing, thought provoking.
09th January, 2012 (last edited: 03rd February, 2012)
This is a gorgeous and distinctive composition. I get lychee, cardamom, and incense; I wonder if lychee is the same note that many have described as "celery". I don't find the combination at all dissonant.

I'm not a huge fan of lychee and probably wouldn't buy a bottle of this, but I'll definitely use the rest of my sample.

This is slightly sweet without being cloying, which is unusual for an incense scent. Sillage is low to moderate and longevity is nearly 24 hours. Seems to benefit from a relatively liberal application.
29th December, 2011
I like Dzonghka's beginning: it's 100% Duchaufour, with its fruit, berries and signature spice notes, fresh and hot at the same time. Then something disturbing makes its appearance: a fat, oily, foody (but not in a nice way!) note I find also in other BD works (I'm thinking at Sienne l'hiver, mostly) that for a few minutes renders the fragrance very unpleasant to wear. It fortunately passes quite quickly and a sweet and spicy incense settles in, luminous and sightly smoky. An interesting take on incense, but not a choice for me.
21st November, 2011
I got some treats today while buying Voleur des Roses. The SA was kind enough to spray decant a small sample of this and Dzing! She sprayed each frag on identified scent strips, since the decants were blanks. Wow! Dzongkha smells fantastic on paper!!However, after I applied it to my skin I had a whole new ballgame. It came across as dill pickle potato chips crossed with edgy laundry powder. I waited for an hour to see if would settle or metamorphose, and unfortunately it remained just as acrid. Maybe it just overpowers my sense of smell; it is no doubt a powerhouse. I like dill pickles, but I don't want to smell like one. It is interesting, and I am sure others love it, but it gets a neutral from me.
22nd September, 2011
This one opens up with rich spices, accompanied by a faint/velvety tone of orris mixed with a hint of vetiver. Amazing!

Trough time, the velvety aspect tones down and the spicy combo becomes even more prominent, now combined with leather and a hint of incense.

Anyway, a very good scent that truly captures the Buddhist temples aura with a good longevity and projection.
29th August, 2011
The overall effect is a hospital or dental office smell. This is the cold/metallic/disinfectant facet of iris along with overtones of woods, smoke, soap, spices, leather, and flowers. [3 out of 5 stars]
15th May, 2011 (last edited: 18th May, 2011)
Dry woods, orris and peppery cardamom all whirled by a dust of smoky incense. This is Dzongkha under my nose, ritual and sacramental. Dark temples and propitiatory fires come to mind. The woods are dry and herbal and the note of cedar is unseasoned and thirsty blended with rooty vetiver. The note of orris and peonia provide a tad of real sophistication and contemporary consistency to this otherworldly and atemporal concoction. Orris and peonia are the umbilical cord with the real. All the rest is dry-smoky mysticism. The dust is dry for sure, not cold and impersonal as in Black Tourmaline but warm and spicy. In its first step the fragrance is all prickly and rooty incense which is supported by vetiver, undetectable tea note, dry cedar and spices (pepper and cardamom). The blast is really doping and the tea note provide a weird touch of spicy wetness. Just an hint of flowers and a touch of resins somewhere manage to sweeten the blend. A touch of leather closes the round with its masculine strength. The leather appears in its slightly floral silkiness when the humid spiciness starts fading or possibly is the leather with its touch of velvet that manages to mitigate the atomic initial angularity. The final note of papyrus is able to keep up the dryness. Dzongkha is a wonderful scent able to teleport me in the ancient Nikko, a mystic center of Buddhism that I visited in my last trip in Japan. The incense burns for our Nirvana.
05th April, 2011 (last edited: 30th March, 2014)
L'Artisan's foray into the incense game. Every niche firm needs an incense frag, right?!?!?!? Dzhongka is definitely different than most incense frags but is it better? Not really. Has a distinctive "celery" note that pulses loudly. A bit too loud for my tastes but it mellows down to your standard Nag Champa. There's better out there, namely CdG 2 Man and Gucci PH, but if you've got the cash and penchant for celery, than L'Artisan have got you covered.
18th February, 2011
Big giant thumbs up. Superb, amazing, cool. This is the real deal. I wear it in wintertime. There's nothing better.
06th January, 2011
I've come to realize that iris and I will never be friends. If a fragrance has the slightest bit of iris in it, on my skin, the iris pushes and shoves its way to the front of the line, as playground bullies tend to do, and stomps out virtually every other note on its way there. Sigh. I think my chemistry is broken when it comes to iris.

I really wish I got the incense, leather, and woods that everyone is raving about. All I get is IRIS, IRIS, IRIS, IRIS, and a touch of tea.
21st September, 2010
This fragrance begins with an almost shocking blast of spices, which mercifully loses some of its initial potency after about 30 minutes.

At this point the woods take center stage but they are not dried or what carpenters call 'seasoned woods' but instead they are green, like freshly hewn lumber - in my country we have a type of wood called Green Heart, that is what i smell.

Thus, this fragrance is at once woody, fresh and spicy. I like it very much
16th August, 2010