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  1. #1

    Default Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    It seems that Caronís Yatagan is a bit of a cult favorite here on Basenotes. The descriptions of a strange, sour ultra-masculine scent that divided opinion piqued my interest so I ordered a sample to try it for myself.

    Initially, I wasnít particularly struck by it. It certainly didnít repulse me the way that it seems to affect some people, but neither was it love at first sniff. I simply didnít smell what all of the fuss was about.

    However, over the course of the following weeks and months, I found myself returning to the little sample vial of Yatagan to give it another go, to try it again and attempt to work it out. I then realised that the vial was nearly empty and I was nowhere near done with this curious fragrance. I needed to take the plunge and buy a full bottle.

    Of course, why settle for one bottle when there is the opportunity to get two - a contemporary one (the same as my sample) and a vintage one - and compare the contents to determine whether the oft bemoaned Caron reformulation has neutered the beast that is Yatagan. So thatís what I did! I thought some of you might be interested in my thoughts on these two incarnations of Yatagan.

    A note on what Iím comparing. My contemporary bottle is the version that is currently widely available: itís a 125ml bottle, the cap is silver and the label is white with red writing. The vintage version is the immediately preceding formulation: itís a 100ml bottle with a black cap and the label is red with white writing. I know there were earlier versions with a stylised yatagan sword image on the label but I donít know if the contents differed from my vintage version.

    I must admit that I think my vintage bottle looks really cheap! The writing on the label is slightly fuzzy and the cap seems oversized. Even the atomiser has a slightly utilitarian feel to it, like it is the same type that might be used on bottles of fry-lite sunflower oil spray to help people regulate their cholesterol.

    You will see some online retailers advertising Yatagan using a picture of the old packaging. These graphics are more often than not incorrect. If the bottle for sale is 125ml/4.2oz then itís the new formulation.

    Both versions of Yatagan open with a quite pronounced note of pine needles. This isnít a sharp, chemical smell like bathroom cleaner, though, this is a far drier. It reminds me of the smell of the ground in a forest of conifers. These places are often shady, cool and moist (especially here in Scotland!) but occasionally there are pools of light in which the forest floor has been warmed and dried. The pine accord in Yatagan is the scent of those needles, dried brown in the sunlight, crushed underfoot and mixed with the earth on which they lie.

    This pleasant earthy pine smell is the only ďdirtyĒ note that I pick up in Yatagan. I have to confess that I simply do not get any of the sweaty animal odours that so many celebrate or complain about. The loins of the Mongol Horde do not march past my nose! To me, Yatagan simply isnít the obnoxious fiend that its reputation suggests it will be. Instead, it is a stylish, dry herbal fragrance. At least, thatís what the current formulation is. The vintage version is something more.

    As the pine settles down it is joined by the bitter vegetal tang of artemisia and what, to me, smells like tobacco although Iíve never seen tobacco mentioned as a key note in this fragrance. This is a compelling mixture, but in the vintage formula, the tobacco is much much richer. It brings to mind moist pipe tobacco in a leather pouch which, together with the artemisia and dry pine notes is beautiful and compelling. I love this part of Yatagan. The notorious celery seed accord is present in both versions - I happen to like it! - but it is less prominent in the vintage formula, being better balanced by the richer tobacco-like notes.

    The two formulations each dry down with half an hour or so. While the current version settles into a pleasant but faded echo of the mid-notes, the vintage version changes again - the artemisia remains but the tobacco-note diminishes and is replaced with a slight suggestion of toasted coconut. I know that may seem a little ridiculous, and perhaps a bit off-putting, but Iíve sniffed and sniffed again and itís definitely there, just around the edges and certainly not in a nasty suntan oil way.

    Both formulations are pretty loud when initially applied. However, the initially strong pine top notes calm down within a few minutes and the sillage on both is fairly modest thereafter. Both scents actually become quite subtle - picked up by those leaning close to you rather than people on the other side of the room. Masculine, yes definitely, but nothing like the lewd, hairy, macho monster that I was originally expecting. I find the longevity of both versions a little disappointing. The new version has the edge, actually, but both seem to peter out before the five hour mark, although body heat will revive them somewhat.

    Iíve read that that the current version of Yatagan is regarded as one of the better Caron reformulations. It certainly hasnít been totally ruined but comparing it side by side with its predecessor it seems thinner and less interesting which is a real shame. Iíll keep my bottle of the current version and will use it when I want reminded of Yataganís dry, herbal charm. But when Iím in the mood for more than a memory, when I want Yatagan that is rich, fascinating and complete, when I want to experience it, I will reach for that cheap and nasty looking vintage bottle.

    Please excuse the length of this post. Perhaps I'm getting a bit carried away but I was determined to do a thorough job! Iíd be interested to read other people's thoughts about vintage vs. contemporary Yatagan. I'd be particularly keen to know if this fragrance has been reformulated more than once.

  2. #2
    AromiErotici
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Nice post and review. I have the current formulation and as much as I enjoy it, I believe your view of the previous release.

    Good info here for future purchase considerations.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Yes, thanks a lot for that great post Largo!
    I don't own Yatagan but I sample it pretty frequently...as you said (and as others have noted too), there is something about it that makes you want to smell it one more time, it leaves you hungry for more! I may need a bottle soon.
    I also love reading side by side reviews...
    Last edited by arlecchino; 4th September 2009 at 03:10 PM.
    ďI wanna say something. Iím gonna put it out there. If you like it, you can take it, if you donít, send it right backÖ."

  4. #4
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Fantastic summary of the old vs. new. I have smelled three different versions and I can agree with most of your assessments. I personally do get a slight animalic feel to the vintage juice, it doesn't smell like civet, but perhaps castoreum. I do not smell toasted coconut but skin chemistry always reveals different elements to different people.

    The vintage juice is my favorite version and I purchased a large decant of it recently so I never have to run out of it again.

  5. #5
    AromiErotici
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Damn you people......it's stuff like this that makes me buy more bottles of stuff.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Mike, I know what you mean about the animalic [I]feel[/I ]to the older formulation, but when I really thought about what I was smelling it seemed to come more from the balance between the artemesia (quite a curious note, really) and the tobacco-like mid-notes. However, I'm sure the castoreum is working its magic in there somewhere.

    I'm sticking by the toasted coconut, though. It's definately in there!

  7. #7
    Banned giannis's Avatar
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    I believe that the packaging of vintage formulation is an olive color box box with a white color turkish yatagan as label.
    Last edited by giannis; 4th September 2009 at 03:43 PM.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Great post, Largo. Any tips on where to pick up a vintage bottle?
    "Donít try to be original. Be simple. Be good technically, and if there is something in you, it will come out. Ē - Henri Matisse.

    "Wear R de Capucci" - Hirch Duckfinder

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  9. #9
    AromiErotici
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by hirch_duckfinder View Post
    Great post, Largo. Any tips on where to pick up a vintage bottle?
    Yes.......click here
    http://cgi.ebay.com/ws/eBayISAPI.dll...=STRK:MEWAX:IT

  10. #10

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Hirch, I bought my vintage bottle on eBay. (All the way from Toronto! For some reason, there seem to be very few sellers in Europe compared to north america. Odd when you consider that the stuff is manufactured in France by a French perfume house.)

    As I wrote earlier, watch out for sellers using stock images of the older packaging. If the bottle is 125ml/4.2oz then it’s the new formulation, regardless of what's shown in the picture. I have been stung before! My seller had taken a photo of the actual bottle for sale so I felt comfortable that I was buying exactly what I was after.

  11. #11
    vita odorifera
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by Largo View Post
    ...However, I'm sure the castoreum is working its magic in there somewhere.

    I'm sticking by the toasted coconut, though. It's definately in there!
    Just like the with a pipe organ, where two tonal ranks with different voices, produce a "phantom" 3rd voice or tonal colour, when played together, castoreum (which is definitely a key player in Yatagan) must be in acting accord with some other heart- and/or base-note on your skin, and produces the tobacco note you mentioned, since tobacco is not a note in Yatagan. I have not detected this note on the formulations i have used. Coconut, however, is a listed note.

    Very enlightening post, Largo (name of one my favourite organ pieces). Please keep 'em coming.

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  12. #12
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by mikeperez23 View Post
    Fantastic summary of the old vs. new. I have smelled three different versions and I can agree with most of your assessments. I personally do get a slight animalic feel to the vintage juice, it doesn't smell like civet, but perhaps castoreum. I do not smell toasted coconut but skin chemistry always reveals different elements to different people.
    Definitely castoreum.
    Currently wearing: Augusto by Mazzolari

  13. #13
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    The difference between Yatagan on skin and on paper is really remarkable for me. On paper, it was a rather flat, slightly sweet, woody-ambery pine. On my skin, it was a dark, smoky, sweaty, meaty horror that made me feel like I was in a cannibal's smokehouse getting kippered alive.

    I kept on re-reading the descriptions on Basenotes and trying it again, but my impression has never varied.

    I've lost my decant now, and I can't help wonder if it was a deliberate attempt on the part of my subconscious to save me from myself.

  14. #14
    shamu1's Avatar
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    I haven't smelled the vintage, but I definitely smell an animalic note in the base of the new version. It smells "meaty" and dirty to me, and I love it.

    I can understand why so many people regard Yatagan as such a macho scent, but personally, on my skin it's a nice warm, slightly spicy herbal fragrance. It's awesome.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Believe it or not, I find Yatagan quite similar to Polo Green which has to be one of the best sellers of all time. You will hear more about the similarities when I finalize my Yatagan review.
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

    Egon Schiele - Self-Potrait


    My classics: Dior Homme EdT, YSL Rive Gauche PH, Helmut Lang Cuiron, L'Occitane Neroli (vintage), Davidoff Zino, L'Occitane Eau des Baux

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  16. #16

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Hey, I just scored the vintage (black cap/splash) on Ebay for $20!!! I will post more when it arrives, and I have a chance to smell it.
    "I exist for myself, and for those to whom my unquenchable thirst for freedom gives everything, but also for everyone, since insofar as I am able to love - I love everyone. Of noble hearts, I am the noblest - and the most generous of those that yearn to give love in return. - I am a human being, I love death and I love life."

    Egon Schiele - Self-Potrait


    My classics: Dior Homme EdT, YSL Rive Gauche PH, Helmut Lang Cuiron, L'Occitane Neroli (vintage), Davidoff Zino, L'Occitane Eau des Baux

    http://www.basenotes.net/wardrobe/2976

  17. #17
    AromiErotici
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by manicboy View Post
    Hey, I just scored the vintage (black cap/splash) on Ebay for $20!!! I will post more when it arrives, and I have a chance to smell it.
    http://www.grapheine.com/bombaytv/mo...a540471a2.html

  18. #18
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by AromiErotici View Post
    TOTAL LOL!

    I became a Yatagan convert from a sample of vintage, but I do love my bottle of the new stuff. I would not discourage buying the new stuff at all.

    BTW, great comparison, Largo.

    Manicboy - looking forward to your comparison with Polo green. Pine Wars!
    * * * *

  19. #19

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    I definitely get the musk and castoreum in the drydown and this is the current version. In fact, the animalic drydown is my favorite part although I enjoy the herbal notes too. This is a very unique creation and imho a masterpiece.
    I used it (vintage) abundantly as a teenager a hundred years ago. Back then, I enjoyed fragrances tremendously but wasn't familiar with all the individual notes as I am now. I enjoy this juice in a different way now and still appreciate it.

  20. #20
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by manicboy View Post
    Hey, I just scored the vintage (black cap/splash) on Ebay for $20!!! I will post more when it arrives, and I have a chance to smell it.
    I had that bottle in my sights too but didn't bid because the seller wanted US$28 postage to Australia.

  21. #21

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Iíve decided to bump this thread because I recently got hold of an even older bottle, containing what I think may well be the original formulation of Yatagan. Itís the version with the stylised sword on the label and olive coloured box. You can see it on the left of the line up Iíve assembled: three generations of the same family!

    Yatagan small file.jpg

    Iíd be interested to know when each of the formulation changes were made and whether there are any other versions out there (surely not?!).

    How does it differ from the later two versions that Iíve described above? By far the most obvious difference is the presence right from the start of a much more prominent green note in addition to the pine of the other versions. Unsurprisingly, this isnít a fresh accord, itís a very dark, bitter, note. It puts me in mind of bruised and broken plant stems. Iím not sure if this is artemisia, galbanum, the interplay between the two, or something else altogether.

    This bitter green note persists through to the drydown, where it settles in alongside a warm, mossy, slightly ambery base. The coconut I find in the red label version isnít obvious, but Iím sure itís there ;-).

    What strikes me about this version of Yatagan is that the ingredients appear to be of better quality. I guess its age means that it contains real castoreum but I can't say I've noticed it being any more animalic than the later versions. I do, however, think that this and the other original ingredients combine to produce something which feels more solid than its successors (which, as Iíve already stated, I also like). Sure, it softens as it dries down, but the individual elements of the scent remain in balance until the end.

    The extra bitter green-ness of this edition of Yatagan also makes it the oddest version of the three. In that respect, itís closer to what I was expecting from Yatagan in the first place, having read about its fearsome reputation. While I wouldnít worry about wearing the later versions in just about any situation, I would definitely think twice about splashing on this early version for, say, a day at a conference for work. Thatís not to say I wouldnít wear it, Iíd just think twice about it! Itís not a monster, though. My wife, smelling it on me at the end of the day and having no idea what it was, commented how nice I smelled.

    Is it my favorite formulation? Yes, I think it is.

  22. #22
    odysseusm's Avatar
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    This is a bump that is very welcome! Thanks Largo, and I think we would do well to dub you Mr. Yatagan in recognition of your work on this. I have the middle bottle, so I am intrigued to hear about the older and current versions.
    Please consider this an invitation for you and others to check out and join the Coneheads social group here on Basenotes. I'm going to reference this thread there, in the archives.
    Cheers, ody
    odysseusm

    "The force that through the green fuse drives the flower // drives my green age..." Dylan Thomas

  23. #23

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Thanks for the side by side review and the update, Largo. I really like the forest floor picture you paint - I think it's very apt.

    I have the black cap splash bottle on the left. I bought it at a small hole in the wall 'Chemist & Perfumery' here a few months back, along with some Eau de Patou and other stuff most of which I think was stocked in the 80s.

    I had read the reviews and was surprised to find it exactly as shamu1 describes it - quite warm, a little spicy and herbal, quite beautiful. I splashed a bit on in the car and the lady driving loved it - always a good sign. Will look out for the new one to try - the local Caron stockist just got Third Man in so it may show up here.

  24. #24
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Great reviews Largo ,
    I agree with ody , you should be dubbed Mr Yatagan ,

    I also beleive other Yatagan threads with anywhere near as much info as this should be compiled & placed under yours in order of importance !
    All hail King Yatagan

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  25. #25

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Boy do I wish that Yatagan smelled to my nose, anything like how you describe it. For the way you've just described it you've made it sound just wonderful, and just like something I'd thoroughly enjoy. ... And even going by it's supposed notes I really thought I'd be sure to just luv it !

    HOWEVER ... I'm afraid I get absolutely no pine, I get no "forest" or "undergrowth", I get no tobacco , I get no coconut, or the artemisia or even the castoreum (which I like !) ... I get none of it ~ nothing ! ... Unfortunately the only thing I do get, very loud and clear, is the celery seed note. And to my nose the celery is just plain nasty, and tramples over everything else ! Apart from that, the best way I can describe how it actually smells to me, is pretty much like the stale mop head and dirty water, after cleaning my kitchen floor. Exactly like that ! ... Totally distasteful !

    I have also sampled both the contemporary and a vintage one from decades before. And to me I was actually surprised that they were still so very similar. One felt slightly smoother and the a bit dirtier (the vintage), whilst the contemporary one has a slightly brighter and more intense celery note (unfortunately for me !) ... But otherwise I thought the difference really quite minimal and negligible.

    As for the notes, coconut is actually supposed to be one of them. Though I could not smell it, at all, in neither of the releases. ... These are it's supposed notes :
    Top : artemisia, lavender, galbanum, wormwood, petit grain and bergamot;
    Heart : carnation, patchouli, jasmine, vetiver, pine tree needles and geranium;
    Base : labdanum, leather, amber, musk, coconut, oakmoss and styrax and castoreum.

    I'd luv to understand why this frag filled with notes I actually luv, just manages to smell so damned unpleasant to me !!?? (Or why, when I'm usually much more able to detect individual notes with not too much trouble, they just totally elude me in this one !!??) ...
    Last edited by Sybarite; 24th October 2009 at 12:15 AM.

  26. #26

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Having tried Quorum, I am feeling less the need to try Yatagan. They both have a mass of notes that are all over the place. Are these two variations on a similar theme?

  27. #27

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by vonMises View Post
    Having tried Quorum, I am feeling less the need to try Yatagan. They both have a mass of notes that are all over the place. Are these two variations on a similar theme?
    No, I don't think they smell anything alike ! ... And though I don't think much of Quorum, I would choose that over Yatagan any day !

  28. #28
    Dimitrios's Avatar
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    Quote Originally Posted by vonMises View Post
    Having tried Quorum, I am feeling less the need to try Yatagan. They both have a mass of notes that are all over the place. Are these two variations on a similar theme?

    yes !! Quorum & Yatagan share the same chaotic theme , but are varied & nothing alike , so if big Q & Y don't agree with you seems like you may not like
    Bijan for Men
    Trussardi Uomo
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    Krizia Uomo
    & many others .......
    I couldn't live without em

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    *** SPECIAL - LUI ROCHAS , 3.3oz Sealed ***

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  29. #29

    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    There is an even older version of Yatagan with a more round cap.

    I have the 2nd and 4th version.

  30. #30
    Dimitrios's Avatar
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    Default Re: Yatagan - vintage vs. contemporary formulation.

    then upload a pic Zen !

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