First week of 2023 told in fragrance samples

Starting the year without a specific perfume project in mind, I was inspired to follow along with Portia’s New Idea 2023 goal to use up a decant or sample per day, at least for a week or so. With my trophy vial shadowbox having accumulated a round number of 200 emptied sample vials (plus 8 mini or travel sizes) over the last 4 years, it seemed like an apt thing to do!

This is a deeper (3-inch deep, 13×13-inch) shadowbox containing 200 vials, which is a lot roomier than the one it replaced that looked almost full with 100 vials.

My OCD has prompted me to “thunk” most of my samples already over the last year, so I don’t have many left, but might as well push through the last of them. Here’s what I’ve done so far.

Sunday, Jan. 1: Maher Olfactive Orris Forest—A refreshing scent, where the operative word to me is “forest.” What strikes me most prominently is juniper, which made me happy as juniper was on my mind after encountering the shaggy bark variety in Arizona last week. I don’t really pick up the orris over the lush greenery of pine, moss, and a load of other aromatic plants.

Monday, Jan. 2: Jeroboam Ligno—When I first tried this about 3 years ago, it was the first perfume that gave me an impression of being “erotic.” It may still be the only one. It’s very “masculine,” musky in a dark, smoldering way, even a little smoky; heavy on creamy ambergris and patchouli smoothed and shined by more patchouli, pine, clary sage, geranium, and bergamot. Heart notes include castoreum, orris, and saffron, which I don’t perceive individually but can certainly believe. The first hour or so is bliss. Gradually the scent gets drier. In past wears it devolved into the smell of needing a shower, but it didn’t this time.

Tuesday, Jan. 3: Élisire Oderose—This was on rotation during the holidays and did double duty because my travel spray of L’Occitane Herbae broke and spilled in my suitcase; luckily the glass shards stayed in the original box. Oderose evokes the bright pink of the prickly pear margaritas I tasted in Arizona (more sugar and ice than tequila), projecting a jammy rose tinged with the fruitiness of the raspberry and orange top notes. It also smells metallic to my nose, which makes me think a heavy dose of rose oxide is used, but it may also be the mischief of the listed artemisia, oakmoss, and incense notes.

Wednesday, Jan. 4: Maher Olfactive Santal Auster—Opens woody, green, and plastic. Quickly becomes a moist, fruity oud tempered with patchouli. After a short while, it turns dry, with the patchouli still strong and a powdery incense dominant. The powder comes from the crumbled incense, and the fragrance feels light, despite resinous ingredients and being at 30% extrait concentration. I wish the sandalwood were more perceptible.

Thursday, Jan. 5: Jovoy Paris Private Label—This is a dry, dark wood, reinforced by vetiver and patchouli. Like being inside a whiskey barrel… not that I have ever actually done that. The papyrus sedge note gives it an inky quality. Linear, strong, and very long lasting.

Friday, Jan. 6: Atelier Materi Cacao Porcelana—Unbelievably smooth milk chocolate, without any air-bubble defects. Not too sweet, and no tart after-bite from many sugary chocolates. Initially, there is a coolness that makes “porcelain” a fitting descriptor. It soon warms up into the spicier, slightly boozy aspects of what I would have pegged as vanilla, but instead tonka is listed. A synthetic floral whisper of jasmine laces through the development of Cacao Porcelana, which maintains its veneer of refined chocolate with an ever-so-fine dusting of powder. One of the best cacao perfumes I have smelled.

Saturday, Jan. 7: Olfactive Studio Flash Back in New York—When I first wore a sample of this a few years ago, it was a hot summer day and I was traveling to New York for a client engagement. I soon grew self conscious as I realized I smelled like I’d been smoking cannabis, and started imagining how the conversation might go if I had to explain to my clients that it was the perfume! Nobody commented on it, and the engagement went relatively well with only a few hiccups unrelated to fragrance. Today’s impression (it’s a cool, but not very cold, winter day): Flash Back in New York opens like a tribute to Le Labo Santal 33 with a higher dose of peach. There’s a lot going on, with movement between listed top notes of cumin, saffron, linen (you mean strong aldehydes!?), and clary sage. Soon the leather with an undertone of violet becomes prominent, and blends well with the constant papyrus note that I love from fragrances like Santal 33, Maison Crivelli Papyrus Moléculaire, etc. Other listed notes include jasmine, birch, vetiver, and tonka, which I believe contribute to the airiness and smoothing, slight sweetness to the overall leather-woody composition. Eventually it becomes drier and the isobutyl quinoline facet of hard leather makes itself known. It’s growing on me.

Writing about a different perfume each day seems to have slowed the week down for me. I think I’ll reward myself with a break from it and wish all a good weekend!

2 thoughts on “First week of 2023 told in fragrance samples

    1. So glad to learn it was you who coined it! I had seen the word many times on others’ blogs and wasn’t sure who originated it. This might be the first time I’ve used it myself on here. Great word, thunk!


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