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This is one of the giants of the modern age of perfumery.
There are so many different things going on in this scent and really it's almost a wonder that it works at all, let alone flawlessly. Like the women's version, it's immediately identifiable. It's also very, very strong and lasts a long time.
The reason why this scent is such an enigma is because of the push/pull discordant notes that fit snugly between the sweet, foolproof notes. It's hard to screw up a scent with chocolate, vanilla, bergamot and patchouli-- but it's also hard to make such a palatable melange of ingredients rise above the status of cheap room candle and rise to the ranks of the true perfume classics.
Tar, helional and coffee bean are the three notes that make this scent what it is.
The tar is such an unusual note and it does so much to balance out the gourmand heavy nature of this scent. It remains into the drydown, very necessary to keep the whole scent from turning into a melted Snickers bar.
The helional is another odd structural note in this one. Usually helional is employed in aquatic/marine accords without feeling out of the ordinary. Here though, it gives a strange, strong "seaweedy" feel, that evokes almost a dirty lagoon. Strange, but necessary-- it gives a time and place, as well as a slightly worn in feel to the scent as a whole.
Coffee beans are used here to give a bitter balance to the chocolate/caramel/vanilla base. I get the wonderful scent of opening a bag of freshly roasted whole bean coffee and taking in the deep, slightly bitter aroma.
Patchouli has its own inner tension and it works very well as the heart of this scent. Warm, yet having mint facets (and being combined with peppermint here) it has a coolness too.
There's a very rich gourmand quality to this scent, and it evokes more than just the sum of its parts. I smell a busy yet relaxed kitchen around holiday season-- there is some warm sweet anise bread in the oven. There are some after dinner liqueurs lingering on the palate. A kind of anticipation of loved ones being near soon.
I don't wear A*Men very often, but rather save it for special times, usually around the holidays. Believe it or not, as strong as it is--I've smelled it in low doses on people at the gym and it was nice to smell. I don't recommend it as a gym/warm weather scent, but some people can pull it off. It's a scent constructed of massive contrasts. Anything but lightweight, somehow it finds balance and like two Sumo wrestlers on opposite ends of a see-saw, their feet barely touch the ground.
08 October, 2010