My singular sniffing tour of Philadelphia

Last weekend we were in Philly to attend a dear friend’s celebration of life (what she had called a “hereafter party,” adamant that she did not want a funeral) at her favorite Irish pub. It was very well done and 100% heartfelt and no-nonsense, just like she was. She kept things real and connected people who mattered to her, to each other, and the gathering accomplished that, too. Laughter, check. Tears, check. Raunchy Irish sing-alongs, check!

May we all also live to earn the telling of great stories by our friends when our time comes.

Philly is a familiar city to both my other half and me, but most of our friends that we made there have moved away to other states or countries and many shops and restaurants have changed over the years, even since our last visit before the pandemic started, so it feels half foreign at the same time.

“Philly Skyline/Phanatic” by Marcie Blaine Artisanal Chocolates—this one is a crispy hazelnut praline

One of the positive changes is that the niche perfumery Perfumology, which used to be located in King of Prussia, is now in Old City among many art galleries. I made a point to visit, of course, and was lucky enough to meet the owner, Nir Guy. When I remarked that I’d never seen so many bottles of 4160Tuesdays perfumes in one place outside of their studio in London, he replied that it was something they were proud of, carrying the whole range. Many of the bottles are labelled in perfumer Sarah McCartney’s own handwriting. The store is beautifully arranged and holds deceptively more lines of perfume than the space would suggest; I couldn’t stop marveling at the simple brilliance.

Probably the largest selection of 4160Tuesdays perfumes (the full range) in the United States

On my last several visits to perfumeries, I would take out my pen and write the names of each perfume I tried on the blotter; this time, I decided not to put that stress on myself and just spray, sniff, and go with the flow. Inevitably, I forgot what some of them were and had to retrace my steps, but it worked out.

I tried Ormonde Jayne Montabaco Verano in the blue-tinted bottle and found that it was fresher and much more floral than the original, of which I own both the regular and Intensivo versions. I prefer what I already have.

I tried several from Zoologist Perfumes, although I will admit I was equally impressed by the visual line-up of animal illustrations, including the box for Chameleon that has reflective rainbow lettering. It’s no surprise that this is one of Perfumology’s bestselling brands.

All the animals!

I tried many other perfumes, without being able to do them justice. The one I ended up buying was a bottle of 4160Tuesdays Drive Them Wild eau de parfum, which I’d sampled a couple of years ago (included when I bought Red Queen on a visit to the old studio in 2019). It’s inspired by Dolores del Rio and uses ingredients you might find in a Mexican garden—per the brand, “Blood orange, red mandarin, osmanthus and orange blossom dance around a chypre heart, with vanilla, tonka and cocoa absolutes spiced with black pepper.” Nir was also very generous in including samples from Le Jardin Retrouvé (my selection when he asked what I might like to sample), a house I look forward to exploring more.

For any perfumist(a), Perfumology is definitely a highlight of a trip to Philly if you find yourself there.

P.S.: I had left my mask on a table next to a blotter sprayed with Zoologist Perfumes Tyrannosaurus Rex overnight. The mask absorbed the scent and I wore it all the way on the flight back to Boston (even though the federal mask mandate was recently dropped). It really wasn’t that scary to me—the opening was very much birch tar a.k.a. barbecue, gradually showing some animalic snarl with rose oxide before turning mostly resinous with predominant incense, tempered with coolness by the floral aspect (which manifested more by cooling the resins than by their own identity).

3 thoughts on “My singular sniffing tour of Philadelphia

  1. It looks like a great destination for perfumista sniffing tour.

    I have a couple of favorites from Le Jardin Retrouve brand (Cuir de Russie, of which I have a travel spray, Rose Trocadero and sandalwood – don’t remember the name). But I don’t like their new bottles.

    Liked by 1 person

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