Winter Warmers Round Up

28th November, 2012

After an incredibly short lived summer in the UK, we have segued immediately into winter and seem to have completely missed out autumn (arguably The Best Season). So, with the nights drawing in and the weather getting progressively Siberian, we need some warmth from our scents. Basenotes tasked me with sniffing out the best of the new launches and relaunches that suggest warmth, coziness, or a sultry, smoky feeling.

For Women

Whilst the flankering of Bulgari's fragrances may be completely out of control, there is no doubt of the consistent quality of the line. Jasmin Noir L'Elixir, the latest twist on Jasmin Noir - originally created by Carlos Benaim & Sophia Labbé - is a voluptuous and dark white floral, thick and dense without being cloying, yet warm enough to enjoy in the winter. (Notes: Bergamot, Candied Orange, Pink Pepper, Sambac Jasmine Absolute, Tuberose, Balsam Fir, Golden Musk)

Guerlain's latest, La Petite Robe Noire is hard to dislike. It's the equivalent of the teenage makeover movie, where the terror of Insolence is calmed down to a much more amiable and "pretty" girl. Thierry Wasser is looking to the future as well as nodding to the past in his recent creations at Guerlain: hints of tea suggest a smokiness, amongst a brightly fruity top and a gourmand iris, classic Guerlain "tribute" vibe in the base. It's pretty addictive. (Notes:Black cherry, Bergamot, Red berries, Almond, Bulgarian rose, Turkish rose, Licorice, Black tea, Aniseed, Tonka bean, Vanilla, Iris, Patchouli)

Hermes had one of the best Ambergris focused fragrances on the market for a long time in the original Eau des Merveilles by Nathalie Feisthauer and Ralf Schwieger. It was a tough act to follow. In L'Ambre des Merveilles, in house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena has added a sticky benzoin-vanillic amber accord to the dry ambergris note to create a meditation on the differences and similarities of the amber notes. Men shouldn't be afraid to try this one. (Notes: Patchouli, Labdanum, Amber, Vanilla)

Lancôme have launched La Vie Est Belle (Life Is Beautiful), created by a trio of talented perfumers: Anne Flipo, Olivier Polge and Dominique Ropion. The scent itself is a deliciously sweet, edible Iris, with lots of vanilla around the berry top notes. (Notes: Blackcurrant, Pear, Iris, Jasmine, Orange blossom, Tonka bean, Vanilla, Praline, Patchouli)

Prada launched Infusion d'Iris Eau de Parfum Absolue earlier this year. An evolution in the drier, sweeter direction from the original Infusion d'Iris - focusing on the resinous base, but still imparting the powdery, soapy brightness and clarity that Daniela Andrier has become renowned for in her creations for Prada. (Notes: Tunisian neroli, Orange blossom, Italian iris, Benzoin, Tonka bean, Madagascan vanilla)


Diptyque have released Volutes, by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin. A smoky tobacco based resinous number with a dry, spiced-bread quality. Disguising a very soft suede-like leather effect amongst the powdery resins, this is an intriguing 'your skin but better' kind of warmer-upper, which needs to be sniffed by someone up close to really enjoy it. (Notes: Pink Pepper, Saffron, Madagascar Pepper, Tobacco, Iris, Immortelle, Myrrh, Styrax, Opopanax, Benzoin.)

Serge Lutens creative collaborations with Christopher Sheldrake are well known for resulting in various rich woody and oriental fragrances, and Uncle Serge doesn't disappoint with Santal Majuscule - just don't expect a full on Sandalwood like his Santal de Mysore. Santal Majuscule is gourmand, with the bread and pastry feeling of Jeux de Peau, a spicy and burned sandalwood note, as well as plush rose. (Notes: Rose, Tonka Bean, Rosewood, Sandalwood, Cocoa)

For Men

Aramis Gentleman is a new flanker to Aramis, which although opening with a typically fresh piquant top note, has a wonderful warm woody-tobacco base that is worth the wait for. (Notes: Laksa Leaves, Black Pepper, Ginger, Saffron, Oregano, Cedarwood, Haitian Vetiver, Tobacco Leaf Absolute, Myrrh, Ambergris)

Balmain have recently relaunched and rebottled most of their line - and Carbone de Balmain is the masculine standout from the lineup (although anyone with a working nose would be wise to sniff out Amber Gris). Created by Perfumer Nathalie Lorson, this masculine is smoky, dark, woody, and incense laden, and is a fantastic replacement for anyone mourning Gucci Pour Homme. (Notes: Bourbon Pepper, Elemi Resin, Fig Leaf, Violet Leaf Absolute, Green Ivy, Frankincense, Siam Benzoin, Musk, Vetiver)

Cartier's most recent launch, Declaration d'Un Soir, was created by Mathilde Laurent. With a warming hit of spices in the pepper heavy opening, it retains the airy woody style of the original, so is perfect for those who want something suggesting warmth, but not on the heavy side. (Notes: Pepper, Cardamom, Cumin, Nutmeg, Rose, Sandalwood)

Tom Ford, with his proponence towards all things Black or Noir, has launched Tom Ford Noir (please - don't confuse it with the slew of other Noir or Nuit releases this season) - rich in patchouli and a very soft, but totally addictive powdery opoponax accord. This one's going on the wouldn't-mind-a-bottle list. (Notes: Bergamot, Verbena, Caraway, Pink pepper, Violet, Black pepper, Nutmeg, Tuscan iris, Geranium, Bulgarian rose, Clary sage, Opoponax, Amber, Indonesian patchouli leaf, Vetiver, Civet, Vanilla)

I'm struggling to pick a favourite from the bunch, but I am extremely fond of Tom Ford Noir, Declaration d'Un Soir, Carbone de Balmain and L'Ambre des Merveilles. But as with all perfumistas, it's just a question of which to get first.

What are your favourite winter scents, either new launches or wardrobe staples?


About the author

Nick loves scent and co-runs @FragrantReviews, a 140 character fragrance review project. Visit the blog for an archive of the reviews.

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About the author: Nick Gilbert

Nick has been working in the world of fragrance for over 15 years. He is co-founder of Olfiction, a creative scent agency offering fragrance development, training, copy and content production. He is frequently quoted in the press and has provided perfumery training globally, from London to Seoul.


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    • Persolaise | 30th November 2012 11:09

      A wonderful round-up, thank you. And I definitely echo your thoughts on the Hermes!

    • Katie Puckrik | 30th November 2012 22:38

      Nick, you're such a good perfume writer - clear and unfussy. I feel like I know exactly what every one of these smells like, even if I haven't tried them all yet.

      - - - Updated - - -

      Oh, and this winter I'm loving Miller Harris La Fumée Arabie and Penhaligon's Sartorial.

    • Kiliwia | 1st December 2012 01:46

      Good choices and a great article. Also, love your Fragrant Reviews.

    • Gblue (article author) | 1st December 2012 16:41

      Thank you Persolaise, Katie, and Kiliwia!

      I still have to get round to sniffing La Fumée Arabie!

    • bonsai | 4th December 2012 14:10

      Thank you for the wonderful descriptions. Santal Majuscule and Volutes are also on my "want" list and I'll make sure to sniff the rest of them.

    • danny1967 | 5th December 2012 16:16

      volutes edt is the best release of the autumn, i also agree with katie's choice of miller harris la fumee arabie, not bad at all.

    • Kagey | 12th December 2012 20:28

      Thanks, Nick. A wonderful review of scents. I'm happy to see you included TF Noir, as that's been my latest addiction. And now I'm dying to try Carbone.