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  1. #1

    Default Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelling?

    Joop Nightflight, Mugler Cologne, Iceberg Twice and live Jazz.

    These were the scents I prioritised to smell this week. Two of them (Nightflight and Iceberg) are impossible to locate, and I really have been everywhere. Nonetheless in the last few days of shopping and meeting friends in central london I have smelt some wonderful fragrances. I am still learning to distinguish certain notes.

    I have two questions. Mainly, and the reason for this thread is I want your opinions of the fragrances I have mentioned. Do you like them, do you own them, what would you say about them?

    Secondly: how do you know what some notes smell like? Not stupid notes like 'Iced vodka' but recurrent notes such as 'tonka bean' or 'Cardamom'. I feel that most basenoters have learnt from experience, but without smelling the raw material, are you sure you know what you are smelling? Are there any places where I can smell the raw materials?

    To admins - I appreciate you may find this a newbie question but I feel that this belongs in the 'male fragrance discussion' community as my second question concerns even the most developed noses.

  2. #2

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    achidna,

    Welcome to the forum! To answer your question about how we distinguish notes; it varies per person. I myself smell a lot of similar things, then begin to question what those notes are. For example, you may have different top notes in two fragrances, but if the heart notes are the same, you might be able to detect it...

    Also, I love Nightflight. It's one of my top scents; the bergamot adds a spicy tone, where most others fall flat (such as Onyx and Body Kouros), while the fruity top notes electrify the scent. Live Jazz, though, I can't speak for... I don't own a bottle; but I have tried it before... I'll leave the opinion to someone who actually owns a bottle.

    Hope that helped!

  3. #3

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Welcome achidna.

    The usual recommendation is to find a place that sells essential oils, and smell them.

    You might want to look at this thread, which I found by typing "learning notes" into the search box.

    You can find some other threads on the subject by doing the same.
    Behemoth cut a slice of pineapple, salted it, peppered it, ate it, and then tossed off a second glass of alcohol so dashingly that everyone applauded.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Some notes are quite easy to pick, others less so. Also I imagine it varies from person to person. Cardamon is an easy one if you have ever smelled it- it's a spice which you should be able to buy in a large supermarket or a small ethnic shop which carries a good range of spice. Tonka is very common in fragrances (especially older fragrances) as a base note, it smell a little like vanilla but not as smooth, deep or rich. It often blends with musk.

    After a while of smelling and reading the notes you start to recognise some but remember that they can vary a lot too.
    "Don’t try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. ” - Henri Matisse.

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  5. #5

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Quote Originally Posted by achidna101 View Post
    Joop Nightflight, Mugler Cologne, Iceberg Twice and live Jazz.

    These were the scents I prioritised to smell this week. Two of them (Nightflight and Iceberg) are impossible to locate, and I really have been everywhere. Nonetheless in the last few days of shopping and meeting friends in central london I have smelt some wonderful fragrances. I am still learning to distinguish certain notes.

    I have two questions. Mainly, and the reason for this thread is I want your opinions of the fragrances I have mentioned. Do you like them, do you own them, what would you say about them?

    Secondly: how do you know what some notes smell like? Not stupid notes like 'Iced vodka' but recurrent notes such as 'tonka bean' or 'Cardamom'. I feel that most basenoters have learnt from experience, but without smelling the raw material, are you sure you know what you are smelling? Are there any places where I can smell the raw materials?

    To admins - I appreciate you may find this a newbie question but I feel that this belongs in the 'male fragrance discussion' community as my second question concerns even the most developed noses.
    Mugler Cologne is the only one of the four I know well. I owned it but gave it away to a cousin who needed a scent. I think it's a good, general, all purpose, "I smell clean" scent, made for the market that comes after reading or hearing a lady say, "I don't want a man in cologne, I just want one who smells clean." MC is that clean smell. Almost an anti-cologne in this way. It fits in and is very nice. It isn't that I disregard it because it fits in--I mean that as an observation and light praise.

    I've got Live Jazz too but back deep in the collection and I've never wanted to wear it. I got the bottle cheap and it seemed good enough to experiment with it, but I never followed up. Wish I could weigh in on it for you, sorry. Nightflight and Iceberg Twice I know even less. Sorry again.

    How to get familiar with the notes. It's tough and there are only a few I think I understand. It's been a gradual process for me, and it comes from reading many posts on the site, smelling many scents that claim the same element, and especially scents said to be primarily one element. Vetiver. Sandalwood. Amber. Patchouli. Rose. Jasmin. I make a special effort to smell ones named those names or said to be primarily those scents. I never know with certainty if I'm right. I make educated guesses, and well informed ones. I can't list a dozen things I smell in a single scent, but I might be able to pick out three that drive it. Basil, jasmin, vetiver and citrus in Eau Sauvage. I can pull those all out, and mostly because of experience in my kitchen and experience smelling many scents.

    Carnation and many flower notes I've picked up by visiting florists. Great way to learn a floral note--buy a bunch and bring them home.

    In the kitchen it's possible to get pith, peel, juice and syrup smells of citruses and purchase fresh herbs. Easy to become familiar with mint that way, taragon, and one of my favorites, marjoram. Marjoram is almost like aldehydes, which is a note I seldom pick up right away, but one that Basenoters have pointed out in scents and I've been able to say, Oh yes, they must be talking about THIS quality I smell/thing I smell.

    It's possible to smell or get small vials of essential oils at health food stores, and I've gotten a few just to see what they're like. You can certainly learn a lot of notes this way, but I've been satisfied with how I've done on my own so far.

    Plenty of notes I don't know. Cardamom, and exactly what tonka bean is. I don't get those very well, even after using cardamom pods in the kitchen. I shrug and let the more knowledgeable here tell me those elements are there, but I have a general sense that tonka is a light sweetener to a smell, not quite vanilla like. I've got a general sense that cardamom is a dense dry smell I can't describe well because, like I say, I don't really know it.

    The wood smells--cedar, fir, pine, vetiver, others--come with time smelling a lot of things. I could probably get a lot of notes quicker if I went to the health food store and got some of the oils. I don't smell the raw material, so there's always a risk that my calling a note something might be wrong, and that's okay. I try my best and try to be helpful. When I write about scents I try to write impressionistically about them, and not about all the precise elements or their layers or parts in the dry down. I try to write about scents in the way they make me feel or the things they make me think. Maybe it succedes less, maybe it gives something different to write about scents that way.

    Hope this helps,
    --Chris
    That girl, that bottle, that mattress and me.

  6. #6

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    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Tonka beans smell like vanilla with a little cinnamon, clove, and almonds thrown in for good measure.

    Cardamom has a clinical, medicinal smell.

  7. #7

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Thanks for all your responses, they're been really helpful.

    Next time I'm around a health food store I'll see what I can find. As far as the other, difficult notes to locate, I guess i'll have to make do with educated guesses which will will no doubt improve with time. I always thought that tonka bean smelt like a dry marzipan, the 'bean' in it's name doesn't help. It does make me wonder whether one person's 'X' note, is another person's 'Y' note.

    Leifer: I've always been intrigued with Nightflight. Maybe it's the name, or the bottle design. The way you describe it seems right up my alley, did you test it out before you bought it? Guess i'll have to keep looking, in hope that some odd pharmacy that sells cologne will have a tester. That damn pink bottle's taken over!

  8. #8

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Live Jazz is the lemony one, right? I remember liking the idea for a summer scent, but not being able to get past the cilantro.. I kept imagining Mexican food!

    As far as knowing what the notes are like, just go smell them. It shouldn't be hard to find a place that carries essential oils, if you go looking.

  9. #9

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    i think this is a great thread...i have always wondered the same exact thing. Imo, Perfume and frags are like wine...some smell somethings different and taste things different than others. It interests me that some people will also smell notes in a frag that might not be there, but exist because of the melding of other notes...Chemistry is strange like that. I remember a chem tutor i had and he explained that certain chemicals added to gether will produce a strawberry scent, but if you add to much or too little of one or the other chemical. it might smell like rotten eggs or asparagus.

    look on osmoz.com...very informative about notes and such....great thread though!
    Last edited by jdnba; 26th January 2008 at 08:17 PM.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    [QUOTE=samplermike;1144278]Tonka beans smell like vanilla with a little cinnamon, clove, and almonds thrown in for good measure.

    Cardamom has a clinical, medicinal smell.[/QUOTE

    Right on! Tonka beans are seasoned, spiced, and heavier than vanilla; typically used in "powdery" fragrances, while cardamom is bland by itself; but throw it together with citrus notes and it works wonderfully, you don't really get that medicinal smell!

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Quote Originally Posted by achidna101 View Post
    T I guess i'll have to make do with educated guesses which will will no doubt improve with time...
    Yes you will. And yes they will improve with time.

    Stick around Basenotes, test fragrances regularly, share about them on the boards - and your knowledge of notes will exponentially grow. Just be patient with yourself.

  12. #12

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    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    FYI...tonka beans contain the blood thinner coumarin, which is lethal in large doses, and are banned by the FDA. It is used in some desserts and also as a substitute for bitter almonds in certain recipes. It's also in two of my favorite Creeds: Bois de Santal and Santal Imperial to smooth over the predominant sandalwood note.
    Last edited by samplermike; 27th January 2008 at 01:21 AM.

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    Quote Originally Posted by samplermike View Post
    FYI...tonka beans contain the blood thinner coumarin, which is lethal in large doses, and are banned by the FDA. It is used in some desserts and also as a substitute for bitter almonds in certain recipes. It's also in two of my favorite Creeds: Bois de Santal and Santal Imperial to smooth over the predominant sandalwood note.
    Tonka bean is also very prominent in the drydown of Jaipur Homme EdP. To my nose it does smell like a somewhat darker, spiced vanilla note, but I find it hard to distinguish from vanilla in the presence of other sweet notes. Coumarin (besides being a common rat poison and an important medical agent) has been a significant fragance note in and of itself. It's another sweet and persistent note that I find hard to isolate from others like vanilla, tonka bean, and benzoin. I play it safe by describing these notes and their various combinations as "vanillic notes" in my reviews and descriptions.

    To get an accurate impression of the cardamom note, it helps to toast whole kitchen cardamom seeds (not the pod) in a hot skillet. This will release their uniquely scented oil. The pre-ground cardamom sold in most supermarkets doesn't smell iike much of anything, and teh papery pods themselves are entirely scentless.

    I've found it relatively easy to learn most of the common wood notes, including cedar, sandalwood, cypress, and rosewood, from sampling various fragrances that use them and through familiarity with the woods themselves. As a landscape and horticultural professional, I'm long familiar with most of the major floral notes and can distinguish them with relative ease. As suggested above, sniffing flowers is a good way to learn these notes. Live flowers generally work better than cut ones, as the fragrance of cut flowers weakens and alters with age. Florist's blossoms stored under refrigeration can be almost impossible to smell.

    Hope that helps!
    Last edited by Off-Scenter; 27th January 2008 at 05:29 AM.

  14. #14

    Default Re: Some scent opinions & Identifying notes. You sure that's tonka bean you're smelli

    I own both Live Jazz and Nightflight. Unfortunately I'm not too good at identifying notes. They are both citrussy in the initial sprays, but then dry down very differently; Live Jazz stays very lemony and minty, while Nightflight does a complete turnaround.

    Nightflight - Lots of lemon and bergamot with pinapple thrown in initially, dries down to a very light, fresh, almost laundry-like fragrance. The dry downs inexplicable, but I really love it, as does my girlfriend. Its got a little bit of sandalwood, a bit of laundry detergent, and some other notes I cant really identify.

    Live Jazz - Lots of Lemon and mint, not quite as 'fresh' as Nightflight in the initial sprays but stays with the lemon and mint througout the dry down. It doesnt project as much as Nightflight, but would be more suited for a very hot day - its alot lighter, and the citrus & mint stays there right until the end.

    I'm sorry if I couldnt be more specific. They are both great fragrances, but you should really try both on your skin. Luckily for me they are both readily available near my house.
    Nightflight is strange on me; it will disappear after an hour or two, then about 5 hours later (or even the morning after, if I've sprayed it on the night before) it will come back out for a 30-60 minute burst. Live Jazz has more longevity on me.

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