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  1. #1

    Default Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I don't know why I didn't realize this before but it hit me today, the drydown of Givenchy Play Intense smells heavily of labdanum. Actually, I think this note may be responsible for why so many people consider the scent to smell synthetic as actual labdanum is a strange smell not immediately associable with anything familiar, hence even natural labdanum may smell synthetic to many.

    The essential oil of labdanum has an almost terpenic, pine like opening, and then transitions into a warm, kind of leathery scent with hints of pepper, tar, coffee, light tobacco, etc, while not really smelling just like any one of them. It also has a tiny hint of an animalic side to it. The texture is very very resinous, which makes sense as labdanum is actually a resin.

    Labdanum absolute smells smoother and tones the terpenic notes way down, and is also more leathery.

    Anyhow, if you wear Play Intense and wait about 3 hours after application, after most of the sweet notes have faded and the slightly leathery, woody base is prominent, that's mostly labdanum. There is a hint of patchouli and coumarin, which combined give a kind of chocolate like tone, but most of the woody and thick, resinous, syrupy (as some have noted in their reviews) or tar-like notes (also noted in reviews) are primarily thanks to labdanum.

    I've heard that labdanum is the closest smelling thing to real ambergris, and in some ways I imagine it to be so, as labdanum is not sweet at all like the synthetic ambergris notes, but instead a very rich, warm, complex and multifaceted note. Anyhow, realizing this notes prominence in Play Intense has really elevated my appreciation of the scent.
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  2. #2

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Once you have smelled labdanum, you realize it's near impossible to describe some of these scents. As difficult to describe labdanum, myrrh would be just as hard. Or how about opoponax.

  3. #3

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I drew a blank and then this hit me: Labdanum from L'Occitane. Try to sample this as labdanum is the mid-note.

    http://usa.loccitane.com/FO/Catalog/...prod=32EP075LA
    "No sweet perfume ever tortured me more than this." Desert Rose by Sting and Cheb Mami, Album 1999.

  4. #4

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Primrose View Post
    I drew a blank and then this hit me: Labdanum from L'Occitane. Try to sample this as labdanum is the mid-note.

    http://usa.loccitane.com/FO/Catalog/...prod=32EP075LA
    Yes, I like this one very much. I had low expectactions but it is very nice.
    Evenstar

  5. #5

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Sample Donna Karan's Labdanum if you can. It is very much like the essential oil and is great for layering.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I'll have to check out these other recommendations. I still stand by my original assertion though - starting at about the 2 to 2.5 hour mark, Play Intense smells strongly of labdanum. It smells like a natural labdanum, too, as it is rich and multi-faceted.
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  7. #7

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I second the Donna Karan version, very dry. The L'Occitane was softer and slight sweet.
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  8. #8
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    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Salvatore Ferragamo's F pour Homme Black is very rich in labdanum, even more than DK's Labdanum. Its drydown is so similar to that of Tom Ford's Amber Absolute, a labdanum bomb.
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  9. #9
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    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I LOVE the complexity in labdanum. Laurie Erickson from Sonoma Scent Studio often uses labdanum absolutes in her compositions, esp Ambre Noir.

  10. #10

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Two labdanum-heavy fragrances I like are Tom Ford Amber Absolute and Profumum Ambra Aurea. For cheap thrills, Kuumba Made Amber Paste is great.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I get a lot of labdanum from Comme des Garšons Ourzazate. To me, labdanum sometimes gives me the olfactive equivalent of the color of rust. Almost sweet and salty with a slight olive/sage inflection. Sometimes I even get a bit of a strawberry facet.

  12. #12

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I agree with SculptureofSoul's observation re labdanum and ambergris. Sort of a vegetal ambergris the way ambrette or costus are vegetal musks. Both ambergris and labdanum have a golden, hazy feeling to them - I always think of Byzantine icons when smelling scents rife with either of these notes.

    There is a park nearby me where a large hedge of cistus ladanifer was planted on the southern edge. If I walk by at the end of a warm sunny afternoon, I can sense a "halo" of scent rising up from the heated leaves. Sometimes, if it's very hot, the leaves are beaded up with a small amount of resin. Needless to say, I walk by whenever conditions are right!

  13. #13

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I agree with the color associations of rust and gold.. I sometimes get an ochre feeling from it, too.

    Oddly, a strange association came to mind when trying to think of what it smells like. It has a bit of an, and this is going to sound strange, earwax note to it. No, it doesn't smell just like earwax, but there's a hint of that kind of waxy, sourish aroma, although in labdanum it's much more pleasant than in earwax. Am I off my rocker or does this make sense to anyone else?
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  14. #14

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    would it be silly to say that labdanum smells like a vinegary/salty-smokey leather? Im still trying to figure this stuff out.

    either way, i am loving it in La Nuit de L'homme Le Parfum right now.

  15. #15

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by JonB View Post
    Once you have smelled labdanum, you realize it's near impossible to describe some of these scents. As difficult to describe labdanum, myrrh would be just as hard. Or how about opoponax.
    Near impossible to describe some of these scents? Hell, its near impossible to pronounce some of these scents!

  16. #16

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by cformosa4 View Post
    would it be silly to say that labdanum smells like a vinegary/salty-smokey leather? Im still trying to figure this stuff out.

    either way, i am loving it in La Nuit de L'homme Le Parfum right now.
    It's more of an amber-like resin. They also use it for incense. Someone above mentioned "Byzantine" and "glowing", which is an accurate description if you know what that means.

    The "real stuff" comes from Crete and it's harvested in a rather unique way. It's basically a mop with leather strings attached and the labdanum sticks to it. Then it's scraped off the leather with a knife.

    Last edited by adonis; 11th July 2011 at 09:36 PM.

  17. #17
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    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by slvrbckgorilla View Post
    near impossible to describe some of these scents? Hell, its near impossible to pronounce some of these scents!
    lol!

  18. #18

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Penhaligon's - Douro
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  19. #19

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I love how an old post can be resurrected only to yield better and more current answers than before! Good luck "Want to know what Labdanum smells like?"!


  20. #20

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Thanks everyone for the info.

    A lot to try.
    Last edited by hedonist222; 30th October 2013 at 02:58 PM.

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  21. #21
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    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by cformosa4 View Post
    would it be silly to say that labdanum smells like a vinegary/salty-smokey leather? Im still trying to figure this stuff out.
    I've never smelled a labdanum that was remotely vinegary or sour.

    The animalic component is quite strong to my nose. I get a "fresh, clean saliva" impression from it. As if you were to lick something and smell it after.

    I agree with SoS's description otherwise. The biggest labdanum accords I've run across are in CSP's Barbier des Iles (where it's mixed with castoreum) and Bogart Witness (mixed with cinnamon and musk).
    Last edited by MonkeyBars; 13th June 2012 at 09:23 PM.

  22. #22
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    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Pays to search BN from time to time. I'm trying to figure out when I've actually smelt Labdanum. This gives me an idea.
    What do insomniac perfumers do to fall asleep? They count chypres!

  23. #23
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    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I just tried Ambrosius which is mostly labdanum to my nose. It has the sweet fruity aspect, and the clean-musky saliva thing too.

  24. #24

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    What about Untitled - Maison Martin Margiela?

    Ooooh that's interesting! I've had Untitled in my collection for ages, but never really been able to connect to it, it smelt a little like Muguet and ashtray, but now you point it out I can smell a substantial Labdanum note in it! I might have to return to this one and explore it more.

  25. #25

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    SOS's decription is spot on!

    I've long been a fan of this note, especially in the labdanum-heavy Ambra Aurea (Profumum) and Incense (Norma Kamali).

    Last year, I purchased 1oz of labdanum absolute. It's thick and gooey like home-made honey, so I diluted it in perfumer's alcohol at a ratio of 4:1. It still feels sticky on the skin but is easier to manage at 80% the original concentration.

    It's marvellous stuff!

  26. #26
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    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    My Labdanum "Oil" has a sweet and sour Christmas tree resin smell. Very nice smell.

  27. #27

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Many of the vintage frags I wear have "cistus labdanum" or just labdanum listed in the note pyramids.' If you read the BN reviews for Guess' original men's frag (1991), you will find a review that says it begins with a smell of "hot vinyl and overheated electronics." This kind of quality (though I don't entirely agree with that description) is shared by quite a few frags of that era, including vintage Third Man and Pierre Cardin Pour Monsieur (which I think is from the early 70s), and it's in some "women's" frags I've tried (I think one of the Opium flankers). Anyway, whatever it is, it usually softens up over time and smells a lot better. My guess is that this is what people are talking about here, because nothing else listed would account for it. I think of it as a kind of "dirty" rubbery smell.

  28. #28

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Wonderful stuff.
    Of all the ambers I've tried, I find Ambre Sultan most faithfully captures the soul of labdanum.

  29. #29

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Fate Woman

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  30. #30

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    I was under the impression that labdanum has a peculiar sweetness to it as well. Is this correct?
    "Mama used to bathe me in Youth Dew bath oil."

  31. #31

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Buysblind View Post
    I was under the impression that labdanum has a peculiar sweetness to it as well. Is this correct?
    I'd describe the sweetness as somewhat honey-like, but mostly (as described above), labdanum is resinous, smokey, earthy, tending towards leather.

  32. #32

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by gandhajala View Post
    I'd describe the sweetness as somewhat honey-like, but mostly (as described above), labdanum is resinous, smokey, earthy, tending towards leather.

    Thank you gandhajala. There's a peculiar note in Noble Cedar, that's sort of like a sweeter, higher frequency amber, that I think is labdanum. It's not a note I've smelled very often. But hearing the words "earthy" and "leather" makes me think I could be mistaken.
    "Mama used to bathe me in Youth Dew bath oil."

  33. #33

    Cool Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by SculptureOfSoul View Post
    I've heard that labdanum is the closest smelling thing to real ambergris, and in some ways I imagine it to be so, as labdanum is not sweet at all like the synthetic ambergris notes, but instead a very rich, warm, complex and multifaceted note. Anyhow, realizing this notes prominence in Play Intense has really elevated my appreciation of the scent.
    Oil of cistus labdanum does smell rather sweet, ambery, incense-y, with a bit of a terpenic quality. It kind of has animalic nuances of lanolin, the natural grease that sheep produce to waterproof their wool coats. I personally think the smell is heaven on earth; burning it as incense smells like archangels have just flown by. In mainstream perfumery, I'd say classic Chanel ╔GO¤STE owes its whole character to cistus lab.

  34. #34

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    It smells like amber -- check out the Le Labo

  35. #35

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    After smelling the essential oil a few days ago, I can confirm it smells nothing like amber.

    Amber is soft.

    Labdanum smells pungent.

    I smelled the Chanel essential oils labdanum customer sample.




    Last edited by hedonist222; 10th March 2014 at 04:15 PM.

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  36. #36

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Indeed, labdanum smells more leathery and deep than other resins. Still, it is used in ambers, as a part of the whole package.

    Nice set of vials - is that something they sell, or are they following Dior, which put out a dozen or so vials in their exclusives counters?

    cacio

  37. #37

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Mouthwatering set cacio. But alas, it's not for sale.

    No matter how much I coerced or how much I offered the SA (:

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  38. #38

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    After smelling the essential oil a few days ago, I can confirm it smells nothing like amber.
    I quote from Wikipedia

    '...Labdanum is the main ingredient used when making the scent of amber in perfumery ...'

  39. #39

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Labdanum to me smells like a rich and somewhat smokey resin with a syrup-like sweetness. Sometimes I get undertones of faint leather and a mild dustiness.

  40. #40

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?


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  41. #41

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
    It smells like amber -- check out the Le Labo
    Quote Originally Posted by Kaern View Post
    I quote from Wikipedia

    '...Labdanum is the main ingredient used when making the scent of amber in perfumery ...'
    Used in amber is not the same smells like amber.

    If labdanum smelled like amber, they'd just use amber instead of concocting accord of several notes replicate smell amber.

    I urge you to smell labdanum essential oil.

    It's divine.

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  42. #42

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    The Le Labo set costs $500, and had it been on sale, the Chanel would have costed twice as much, if not more. Definitely more convenient to place an order with perfurmers apprentice or the like.
    But these sets are very useful to smell in store.

    cacio

  43. #43

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Be careful if you work with labdanum absolute, it's a pretty sticky dark material...pretty hard to get out of clothes FYI...I learned from experience. Labdanum Absolute smells divine, but it is about the consistency of molasses, probably thicker and it's a pretty difficult material to work for the uninitiated as it needs to be heated to become workable in terms of drops. Just keep that in mind if you intend to get the absolute.

  44. #44

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Definitely a very knowledge enhancing experience.

    Plus quality. It plays a role.
    The Dior essential for smell as high quality the Chanel ones.
    The beeswax absolute is something else.

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  45. #45

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by hedonist222 View Post
    Used in amber is not the same smells like amber.

    If labdanum smelled like amber, they'd just use amber instead of concocting accord of several notes replicate smell amber.
    .
    Amber doesn't really have much of a natural smell so that would be hard. It is a musky, spicy, syrupy representation of ambergris. -- in it's perfume state.

    I don't want to be picky but if the 'main ingredient' is labdanum -- I'm thinking amber may actually smell like labdanum (in it's perfume state).

  46. #46

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

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  47. #47

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Parti Pris Terry de Gunzburg.

    Huge labdanum in the opening.

    Didn't try out on skin though. But I presume the labdanum more well prevail throughout wearing. Labdanum isn't the kind of note that evaporates away quickly.

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  48. #48

    Default Re: Want to know what Labdanum smells like?

    Quote Originally Posted by adonis View Post
    It's more of an amber-like resin. They also use it for incense. Someone above mentioned "Byzantine" and "glowing", which is an accurate description if you know what that means.

    The "real stuff" comes from Crete and it's harvested in a rather unique way. It's basically a mop with leather strings attached and the labdanum sticks to it. Then it's scraped off the leather with a knife.

    Cool. Learned something today!

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