Perfume Directory

Timbuktu (2004)
by L'Artisan Parfumeur

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Timbuktu information

Year of Launch2004
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 787 votes)

People and companies

HouseL'Artisan Parfumeur
PerfumerBertrand Duchaufour
Parent CompanyPuig Beauty & Fashion Group
Parent Company at launchFox Paine & Company > Cradle Holdings

About Timbuktu

Timbuktu is a shared / unisex perfume by L'Artisan Parfumeur. The scent was launched in 2004 and the fragrance was created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour

Timbuktu fragrance notes

Reviews of Timbuktu

My review is for the EDT. I purchased this as part of a miniature gift set less than two years ago.

Bright, fresh citrus, followed sharply by wood. My overall impression is of a walk through a pet store: they keep it clean and spray the Windex as liberally as their institution can afford, but the smell of those hamster cages cannot be denied.

After three hours, Timbuktu wore me out. The piercing cedar-chips smell did not relent and did not evolve. I conceded defeat and washed it off.

Please don't wear this to work, unless of course you don't like the people you work with. But if that's the case, just quit.
15th March, 2021
Timbuktu is like catnip to me. I put it on and have my wrist to my nose every 5 minutes. I could roll in this perfume. I have some delicious smells in my wardrobe but none that call me in such a flat out sensual way. I remembered when it came out they told me it was for men - and I thought I could not keep my nose and hands off a man wearing that. But now that it's unisex and I'm not put off by the vetiver (which I'm not a big fan of) I'll be the one wearing it! What is it that makes Timbuktu so addictive to me? Is it just me? I laughed to myself when I read the smell was inspired by a Mali richual called Wusulan, a West African tradition of female made incense intended to bring love. If this perfume is an aphrodisiac, that may partially explain my obsession ... but is it my chemistry or something in the perfume itself? The genre? A note? I read it's one of the best masculines for women, like Eau Sauvage. However, I had to throw out my smelling strip for Eau Sauvage out it was irritating me so much. Any insight is appreciated.
20th January, 2021
Timbuktu is one of a group of scents from the noughties that feature North African themes. Others include Gucci pour Homme - papyrus, Un Jardin sur le Nil - mango, L'air du Désert Marocain - incense.
This one is based on a women's incense from Mali, an atmosphere cleanser - and aphrodisiac - all at the same time. Duchaufour's take on it is sharp and clear, and then resiny, fruity and sandy. A kind of desert sweet 'n' sour.

4*

Boxed 2ml vial, part of a sample set
03rd November, 2020
L'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu (2004) would eventually become known by some as the origin of the species for fragrances like Terre d'Hermès (2006), Encre Noire by Lalique (2006), JB by Jack Black (2010), Patchouli by Murdock (2010), and others heavily based on the Iso E Super woody aromachemical. Created by journeyman niche perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, the idea behind Timbuktu was to capture the spirit of the African fragrance ritual called "Wusulan" practiced by Mali women. In particular, a flower called karo karounde is used, which is similar to jasmine but with an almond-like facet, combining with the rest of a bright and dry aromatic accord that replicates the incense and papyrus smoke also found during the ritual. Timbuktu was originally part of the Travel Collection, meant to evoke exotic locales in design, and released before Puig purchased the house then cheapened the packaging of the bottles to the plastic-capped black and white designs they currently use. All told this is the ur-example of the unofficial genre typically attributed to Hermès, doing something that nobody else at the time had thought of doing, then undoubtedly copied or at least inspiring the perfumers behind everything I've mentioned. Timbuktu will never get the credit it deserves thanks to the low-exposure of L'Artisan Parfumeur as a house (zero advertising since inception in 1976), but this is the brand that invented "niche" as we know it, and they stick to their guns regardless of who owns them.

Lovers of the dry, woody, transparent style this scent helped launch will probably also love this fragrance too, but people not convinced by Jean-Claude Ellena or Nathalie Lorson's efforts with Hermès and Lalique respectively may find more to chew on here with Timbuktu, since this is a far more complex fragrance than them. In true niche fashion, Timbuktu is an unholy mess design-wise, with contrasting notes like dried mango and pink pepper in the top alongside cardamom, mixed with notes that accentuate the otherwise-standard grapefruit and orange also here. The heart has a "frankincense lite" feeling, the aforementioned "jasmine almondine" karo-karounde flower (with some assisting geraniol for brightness) and a smoky papyrus note, all which help to lift and add texture to the core. The listed frankincense is not particularly lucid so I question any actual olibanum being here, but sour-smooth benzoin is definitely detected alongside the unusual floral notes. The base is where things feel most like what would later come, with Iso E Super and vetiver doing a well-known dance for fans of either Terre d'Hermès or Encre Noire, but with patchouli terpenes that veer closer to the aforementioned Murdock Cologne. Wear time is over 8 hours and projection is not monstrous, although this feels a bit more "solid" than most things in the vein (also read: more sillage). Best use for me is casual spring through fall, as it wears quite light and fresh despite the heady notes listed. I wouldn't bring Timbuktu into an office, because it's not loud, but has some elements that may furrow a brow (like the mango).

L'Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu is a pioneering citrus woody incense "chypre"-like fragrance, using a structure and accord later popularized by Hermès and a handful of others, but with a cult following that will sing its praises over those others in a heartbeat. It's easy to see why, as this is way more sophisticated and a bit more artistic (also read: challenging) in the way it fuses a dried mango and pepper opening, then stuffs "incense" and unusual floral notes in a concoction that is otherwise now seen as a garden-variety citrus, woods, vetiver, and a light patchouli fragrance most likely to be worn by men. I also don't find this particularly "earthy" since the vetiver is more restrained. Timbuktu feels pretty masculine in the dry down, but I won't put it past anyone for liking the brisk complexity of the scent, so draw your own conclusions over who should wear this gender-wise. If you're already a fervent fan of Terre d'Hermès and don't like a lot of overlap in your collection, then you might run into the same problem if you smelled JB by Jack Black or Patchouli by Murdock, in that Timbuktu is very much its own scent but feels redundant since it serve the same situations thanks to a familiar drydown, much like trying to choose between powdery barbershop fougères after a shave. There's also the little detail about the niche price tag for Timbuktu, making it the worst choice value-wise among it's younger siblings. In any case, this is well done, and first to bat for a popular style even if doomed somewhat to obscurity in the shadow of more-hyped niche brands. Thumbs up.
17th August, 2020
A legend for a good reason. Bertrand Duchaufour practically invented this style and his work for L’artisan is some of his finest. Timbuktu(as well as the sister frangrance, Dzongkha) is incredibly evocative: it achieves its aim of conjuring a “temple”(perhaps the famous Djinguereber Mosque) without resorting to one-dimensional incense. The mango note, here, is the real surprise and it gives the perfume an opening that hints at its many contradictions: wet and dry, rich yet austere and, most poignantly, meditative while sensuality indulgent. And it smells great!
23rd May, 2020
Nice intro, followed by a drydown found in Terre De Hermes Parfum - Vetiver & ISO E Super. This came first, but found my nose second.

TDH Parfum has a better intro, by far, and a better transition into the base. And a better base.

For my money, I'll take the TDH Parfum. But props to LP for Timbuktu's quality, and for getting there first.
23rd March, 2020

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