Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Dzongkha by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Total Reviews: 46
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 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
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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
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!

16th January, 2014 (last edited: 06th February, 2016)
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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
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
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)
Big giant thumbs up. Superb, amazing, cool. This is the real deal. I wear it in wintertime. There's nothing better.
06th January, 2011
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
This is a perfume that I like to wear when it is warm outside and I am tired of Guerlain's vetiver. It is a scent that adds sophistication to a clean white t-shirt because it is complex but not confusing. It changes are subtle during the day, more becoming a staid version of its initial self... always recognizable but more understated than the initial top note would lead you to believe was possible. I often hear complaints about the lasting power of L'Artisan's perfumes, but I find this last all day.
15th July, 2010
This is my first post so take it easy on me...Dzongkha is my second flirtation with L'AP after Timbuktu. I would not dare to try to define specific notes of this fragrance so I will go for the overall feeling.. It is bang on what fires for me in a Tomato Juice called BigTom ( sold in the UK. That is not to be detrimental to the fragrance (I love it). It must be the mixture of the ingredients used, I think it could well be the Cayenne pepper that hits me most. Scrummy!
01st June, 2010
Asha Show all reviews
United States
L'Artisan Dzonkha

Notes: Lichee, Cardamom, Peony, Iris, Tea Leaves, Incense (from

For a supposed spiced incense and tea fragrance Dzonkha starts incredibly boozy--like a single malt scotch with dry woods and peaty smoke. The opening accord is intoxicating but short lived, and gives way to the cardamom and tea that I expected from the beginning. Soon after, the tea accord evokes a leathery quality, and combined with cardamom, woody notes and some smoke gives the impression of a dry leather chypre such as the classic Estee Lauder Azuree. Peeking out within the mid notes is an unexpected dose of pepper which carries the spice impression as the cardamom fades. The drydown is spicy, aromatic and slightly sweet with hints of unburned incense resin--at this stage, the leather quality persists along with the pepper. Dzonkha is a very enjoyable ecclectic fragrance, more dry and understated than the equally boozy, leathery, tea-tinged Parfum d'Empire Ambre Russe. Dzonkha is slightly formal in its leather character, but as easy to wear as a well-loved pair of jeans.
15th May, 2010
Dzongkha is a fantastic, almost magical scent, one which I only wear on days I need a little extra contemplative power. I'm surprised to find I enjoy wearing a peony-heavy fragrance, but with the strong incense, the leather and the iris it is definitely male friendly. 100% a try before you buy fragrance, but one that is absolutely worth the lofty price.

Edit: The price doesn't seem so lofty these days, as Dzongkha has undoubtedly been reformulated, and probably weakened. Some claim it was too strong to begin with (especially for a l'Artisan release), so it might not be a terrible move on the company's part to tone it down. Either way, it has remained one of my closest favorites since I first reviewed it several years ago and I'm just glad they kept it on the roster. When I smell it, up close or from a distance, I 'see' peppercorn pink, sky blue, and gunmetal grey. It transports me with each revisit and never lets me down. Most days I think I might want to wear it I'll take a quick sniff of the nozzle and decide it's not the right time or mood, but when it feels like the right wear for the day Dzongkha becomes a singular experience, one which rarely requires reapplication. I wholeheartedly understand that a great many people will be put off by or outright dislike a fragrance like this, but I can guarantee you that it is worth revisiting from time to time because it is not an everyday scent. It is not an office scent, either. Nor is it really a scent made for you to be noticed at galas or events. It is a scent for You, one which dispels the buildup of what you believe fragrance should be, and one which can impart a deep appreciation for the transportive nature of a fully-realized perfume.
23rd April, 2010 (last edited: 07th September, 2016)
This is something you'd wear at a world ecology conference or as a UN goodwill ambassador. It's peaceful and it's strongly connected to Mother Earth. In fact that's how I imagined Terre d'Hermes before I smelled it.Smells expensive and humble at the same time. Represents absolute state of tranquility, challenged only by a beautiful spicy note. I don't imagine many occasions in my real life where I'd choose to wear Dzongkha. Thumbs up for craftsmanship, definitely.
04th December, 2009 (last edited: 08th February, 2010)
Gblue Show all reviews
United Kingdom
fruity-floral opening with deep whisky, sweet incense and wood. good, but not for me.
19th July, 2009
I love this stuff, absolutely love it. Timbuktu is nice but this one is spectacular. If it's an incense fragrance it's only an undercurrent of frankincense, not an incense powerhouse like Heeley Cardinal, Amouage Gold or Etro Messe de Minuit. The most prominent note I get is actually a celery note, it is very fresh and lasts for a couple of hours. There is a slightly sweet floral note in here too. I don't have a whole lot of drill-down detail but this very pleasant, very wearable around the house or around the office, and is one of my new favorite fragrances...
13th July, 2009