Way Off Scenter
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Genre: Woody Oriental
Black pepper would appear to be the note du jour. In the past, pepper would appear to great effect as an accent in woody oriental scents; consider Parfum Sacré, Pomegranate Noir, or Noir Epices. But lately it’s taken center stage in a series of (sadly undistinguished) masculine designer and niche fragrances. 10 Corso Como Uomo, Marc Jacobs’s Bang, and 7 de Loewe have each tried – and failed, in my book – to build something interesting around a core of black peppercorn. Now comes über-luxe brand Amouage with its attempt at “Peppercorn pour Homme.”
Amouage used a big pink peppercorn top note in Reflection Man a few years back, but Honour Man is all about black pepper. While the black pepper-centric scent I’ve enjoyed most in the past, Villoresi’s Piper Nigrum, uses its title ingredient as the basis for a sweet, complex amber oriental composition, Amouage opts for the dry, woody route that confounded the makers of Bang and 10 Corso Como Uomo. What Honour Man has in its favor are depth of composition and quality of ingredients, most notably the frankincense note that shares equal billing with the pepper. Indeed a stark, potent black pepper and frankincense accord leaps out the moment Honour Man exits the bottle and dominates the olfactory stage for quite some time.
The supporting players, which include cedar, nutmeg, and a clean musk, stay out of the limelight until well into the drydown. The drydown pleases me less than the earlier stages, as the musk and cedar smell comparatively crude and commonplace once left standing on their own. Ideally, a scent offered at Honour Man’s price point would make its exit on notes that smelled a little less like shampoo or dish washing detergent. Still, I have to rank Honour Man as one of the more successful recent stabs at the newly popular peppercorn genre, and if your more tolerant than I am of its comparatively slender cedar and white musk base notes, you may find much to enjoy here.
16th June, 2014