Reviews of Armani Privé Bois d'Encens by Giorgio Armani

A minimalistic, airy, and remarkably boring concoction of frankincense over a polished cedar or Iso E Super base. Despite critics and bloggers writing a paeon of praise to this bellwether of bellwethers of the incense genre, I was never able to ‘get’ its supposed complexity. To my nose, it is a micro explosion of black pepper and frankincense e/o inside a very small (but perfectly chic) black vase. Though perfectly formed – well, everyone keeps saying it is anyway – it is too featureless to leave much of an impression on me.
12th January 2023
This has been reformulated, or something. I tried this years ago and adored it but couldn't afford it. that soft, incense-y woody comfort scent was just so lovely. I recently resampled this from a new bottle and it's loaded with that cheap aroma chemical that Armani has started to put in absolutely everything. I think it is a synthetic commonly used these days to boost wood notes, but I refer to it as Screamwood, as it is a screaming rubbing alcohol note that burns my nose and overpowers every other note in there. Look for the older bottles.
24th December 2022

This fragrance features frankincense and woods, making it one of the best from the Prive Line, and possibly worth the money if you're a big fan of frankincense. Luca Turin gives it a four-star rating, but describes it as "incense animalic." While I do get the incense note, I don't find it to be animalic. It's wearable and slightly cozy, thanks to the sweetness from the labdanum. It's not a boozy or densely sweet scent, as it doesn't lean in that direction.

The Prive Line may be hard to find, but it should be available at retailers like Holts, Saks, or Nordstrom. It's definitely worth trying a sample.
19th March 2022
Great incense scent, with a vetiver/pepper twist.
Probably one of the best, maybe even the best (in terms of scent).
Unfortunately it has poor performance, unacceptable at that price point, thus a neutral rating.
1st June 2019
Armani Prive Bois d'Encens is yet another solid offering in the Prive line, understandably a staple in the line since its 2004 inception as it offers a bold, mostly-wintery, mostly-masculine contribution to the line that seems otherwise slightly lacking in the current line-up.

It's extremely spicy at its onset with lots of pepper and woods, and then almost immediately begins to calm down to be only very spicy, but still quite spicy and woody, as a resinous, semi-sweet base starts to unfold. It feels like the sweet rather than the animalic side of resins, though, nothing too untamed, the pepper perhaps being the wildest aspect of the whole risk.

The result is a masculine winter fragrance that's elegant for formal and nighttime wear but still has the air of being a men's anytime signature scent for cold weather, especially.

Performance is solid, well above average on projection and great on longevity.

I definitely recommend trying this out. I waited far too long to try my sample.

8 out of 10
3rd August 2018
Initially green, dry, unsweetly resinous, like a cracked branch of cypress. For me this makes it much more wearable than Heeley's Cardinal, vividly close as I find that one to neat frankincense smoke.
Unfortunately have to agree with others about the low mileage from this, especially for something as inherently tenacious as frankincense.
Thumbs up while it lasts.
13th June 2018
Safe bet for fans of incense. Definitely doesn't shy away from showing it's synthetic-smelling mechanics, but they combine with piney, churchy frankincense for an amped up, long-lasting, arid, fuzzy incense extravagnza for a good 6-8 hours. Fits into the genre with Avignon, Full Incense, Lavs etc. but I have found it to be the most satisfying for an incense fix. I recently gutted my perfume collection to narrow it down to favorite essentials and Bois d'Encens isn't going anywhere, it'll be on my shelf for the rest of my life.
5th March 2018
Really nice smell- frankincense to me- but the projection & longevity are poor at best, even after spraying clothing. Overspraying didn't seem to help either. I get an occasional whiff of it 3 hours after application and when I asked someone what they thought of it, they couldn't smell it and their nose was almost right on my neck. Someone else mentioned it was more of a skin scent and that is correct. For this kind of performance, it's worth nowhere near the asking price. This is something I'd spend $60-$70 on, not $200+.
Neutral rating only because of the smell.
28th February 2018
I know incense and incense blends from an association with a monastery that made its own. Frankincense is essentially sweet and signature "incense" is derived from mixing it with other resins and woods (myrrh, rose, cedar) to create a rich, multi-layered fragrance which, when spooned over live charcoal, creates the smoke for liturgical ceremonies, dispersed through censers, swung around the altar.

What my nose picks up here is simply pepper and cedar - dry, bitter and rather nasty - this is the scent of "burnt" incense, not in the sense of consuming by flames, but in the sense of hard, black, ruined, finished incense, the point at which the censer should be retired to avoid offending the noses of both the congregation and the deity being honored.

It is a poor performance, and a joke considering the price. If you want true and beautiful incense, try Etro's Messe de Minuit, a quarter of the price and four times as good.

29th January 2016
First sniffed this in 2004 at Sak's.
The Dry Pepper grabbed me, the Vetiver shook me,and the Frankincense sealed the deal. It was the first Armani, for me, that captured the essence of elegance since the Vintage Eau Pour Homme.
In 2008 I purchased it along with a pair of Black Label Gray Flannels.
It remains as my favourite of the Prive Line.
10th January 2016
An excellent, mysterious incense fragrance, actually my favorite, it realy is a skinscent so if you are looking for "statements" avoid. It starts of peppery and then follows a pungent ambery, slighlty animalic note (labdanum) along with a light airy franckincense which also reveals a citrusy vibe. Then it dries down to a mainly musky cedar with some vetiver. Personally I find all the phases extremely beautiful and I adore the fact that it wears as a cologne. If you like incense BLIND BUY IT.
20th February 2015
Without question, this is the highlight of the line and one of the best frankincense perfumes on the market.

It's basically a cerebral chin-stroker of a frankincense with cedar facets that are balanced out by what seems to me to be some kind of floral note. Frankincense can be quite bitter, and here it's smoothed over in a way that exalts the material's richness. There are some spices present, but they're really just there for texture rather than flavor. It's a cold scent–not quite as sharp as the similarly-themed Avignon–but chilling all the same. However, it has a calming, meditative quality to it that offsets some of the coldness. It's linear and it winds down to Iso E quite fairly quickly, but it's really all about highlighting the frankincense–and that's what this does well. It feels like a solinote, so if you're looking for a more developed perfume, I'd turn to Clive Christian's V or perhaps Sahara Noir, but this is great for what it is, and it's by far the best thing from the line.
7th January 2015
Bois d'encens by Armani is a realistic, balsamic, piney, resinous and grey incense, still stuffed with Iso E Super but well disguised in a more "organic" way, less futuristic than other incenses like Avignon – and also less heavily liturgical, more natural, mystical and woody. The family is the one comprising Casbah by Piguet or Exultat by Maria Candida Gentile. More exotic than those, Bois d'encens is also more "grey" and a bit darker. Basically that's it, a sophisticated incense cloud with spices on top and woods on the base. A must for incense lovers – for all the others, it can soon turn into boredom. For me? Despite the enthusiastic reviews I find it well made and undoubtedly classy, but honestly a bit shallow.

8th August 2014
Armani Prive - Bois d'Encens
This a special gem in the Armani Prive-line up. Such a simple perfume but yet incredible rich, thick, layered and also airy smelling. This is superb blending, especially for the all-natural ingredients: hot black pepper, cool yet spicy, salty vetiver and hissy-peppery resinous frankincense. These aromatics were chosen with much care and attention. I guess there were a lot trials made before the exact right combination of oils gave the right effect- but what a marvelous accord this is.
This smells far away from the most masculine's- this one focuses more on what's happening inside its form than on the form itself. It moves from light to dark, from soft to raw-edgy, and back and forth. It plays a game with light and dark, casting shadows her and there, giving it a very dynamic interplay. It projects airy-green and dark-earthy notes at the same time. The fresh black pepper harmonizes with the peppery topnote of the frankincense that has the most complete scent-profile of top, mid and base. The vetiver is all the way green: fresh greenish on top, more of a solid rooty-dark green in its dryout. The frankincense acts more as an introvert while the vetiver is more extravert, it radiates more lightness and freshness and becoming more stronger and dominant in its dry-out. Then, Bois d'Encens gets a darker tone, almost of sweaty animalic wet fur, a sort of musk-tone. I guess the salty rooty-earthiness of the vetiver and the sticky stony-resinous from the frankincense are responsible for that.
Its nice to smell a frankincense-based perfume that stays away from the smoky-dusty inside of a church-perfumes. Bois smells more of the outside- like a mixed forest of pine- and broadleaf-trees after a long night of raining that's being warmed up by a very hot sun, early in the morning, during springtime. Damp, fresh-green, wet, humid and at the same time hot, dry and sweet, sticky-resinous. Definitely a perfume with a heart that beats with an analogue pulsation, not with the digital precision of an alarm clock. A masterpiece. Get it while stock lasts cause this one is gonna hit the perfume-Hall Of Fame...
30th April 2014
This is what every incense scent should be like.

I'm not talking about the smell but about the way the scent aura envelops the skin and transports the wearer to a calm ethereal place (in this case, it's the inside of an old stone church in Italy).

Incense itself when burned, is light in volume, airy and never overwhelming. This is exactly what bois d'encens is all about.

While other scents mix the incense with patchouli or amber to give it more volume and thickness, Bois d'encens gives it to you like it is and that's what i love about it .

Whenever i wear this, i feel like everyone and everything around me should be quite and calm. I know this sounds selfish but it's the truth and i can't help but feel that way.

Bois D'encens: Selfish incense.
23rd March 2014
The mix of vetiver with a spicy incense sounds simple - but is is extremely well done. Neither heavy nor dark on my skin, not fat and more of a certain elegance. Great quality ingredients, some development in spite of it's simplicity, great silage, good projection and a splendid longevity of nine hours. Finally an Armani that ticks all the boxes. A great scent for sunny autumn days.
12th January 2014
This is easily one of my favorite fragrances. It's magical. Like being in an old church deep in the woods. Incense, pepper, woods, blended perfectly. It's powerful, but not overwhelming. I get a lot of compliments on it and I never get tired of wearing it. I probably wouldn't wear it in hot weather though, definitely for fall and winter IMO. It's one of the jewels in my collection.
5th March 2013
Bois d'Encens by Giorgio Armani - Initially, one is treated to a surge of peppery incense. A pepper triumvirate, consisting of black pepper with its woody and smooth facets, a slight barnyardy, white pepper, as well as a tart, pink pepper, marries with a sumputously resinous frankincense, with its wondrous pine and ever-so-slight, lemon accents. A whisper of juniper berry, with its gin-like aspect, tiptoes here and there. Transitioning to the heart, this thrilling opening is tamed somewhat by a woody vetiver. This genteel vetiver imparts its green freshness with undertones of tobacco and shoe-tree cedar. The frankincense, darkening, diffuses a mystical aura reminiscent of a Roman Catholic High Mass celebration. Cedar leaves, with their menthol-ish character, flutter about subtly. Segueing to the mellowing base, this splendid melange is imbued with an able cedar, which infuses its slightly camphoraceous and balsamic woodiness. And, a luminous frankincense appears lifted by magical salicylate. A captivating drydown ensues. Regrettably, although this composition is masculine and elegant, it remains a skin scent with below-average longevity.
19th July 2012
ohh. sigh. This is my very favourite incense I think. It's very simple. It's very present. It's very evocative. Black pepper. Incense. And some thing else that gives it a translucence or luminosity. It seems so much its own thing as to be archetypal! I too yearn to drain every bank account, maybe trade in the car, to have "enough" in my possession.

1st June 2012
If I could afford I'd buy all the stock I could and wear forever. Love at first sniff.
Wonder if No 2 son would notice if I didn't pay his University lodgings this month?

Update:- I never did get a full bottle. I fell out of love & Bd'E fell into the friend zone. I still have the majority of the decant I bought through BN 9 years ago.
Why the friend zone? Bd'E is cold, both in scent & personality. I prefer some warmth in both my fragrances & people. Whilst grandly constructed edifices may inspire awe they do not inspire love
6th January 2012
Simply stunning and standing on the highest places of my personal incense based fragrances parade, just few steps behind those pillars as my lord Black Tourmaline and others favourite of mine as Norma Kamali Incense, Tauer's Incense Extreme, Shams by Memo (which is an aoud based fragrance but nicely incensey in its olfactory outcome), Incensi Villoresi, Messe de Minuit Etro, Kyoto CDG and Dzongkha. Averagely "bodied" (but initially a bit rubbery, resinous and almost dense), incensey and balanced enough to be ranked as a real dark and gothic incense based fragrance in its dusty boise liturgical soul. The juice itsel, starting with a real dusty and pungent blast (black pepper, juniper, spices), evolves towards a slightly rooty and woodsy real incense with the green-dark boise' boldness of the vetiver and hints of secret patchouli. The outcome is a cool-warm whiff of resinous conifers, cedar and smoky frankincense  while the smoothing elements (not listed....,labdanum, florals, amber?) are minimally dosed and hidden just in order to barely  sweeten the juice and to introduce a touch of marketing  appeal. The mildness of woods and some resins enhance the pleasure of the final issue that is surprisingly bold, modern and charismatic in comparison with many of the other incensed fragrances (many of those are too introspective  and out of time). The smell itsel and the relative atmosphere remind a bit those coming from some burning candles or oils in a shadowy room. The packaging is excellent, the price is dreadful. Highly recommended anyway.
24th September 2011
This, ladies and gents, is one of the most underrated perfumes in the fragrance world. Warm, smoky, and slightly lemony incense with that dusty undercurrent that top-shelf frankincense from Oman is known for is flawlessly framed on one end by deliciously spicy notes of pepper, and by mellow balsamic woods on the other. It's entirely delicious, and I've never smelt such a high quality frankincense note anywhere in perfumery - not in Amouage, not in Tauer, and certainly not in CdG. Not only that, but the supporting players do a perfect job of highlighting the beauty of the frankincense.

If you're enough of a frag aficionado to be browsing this site, then you owe it to yourself to at least try Bois d'Encens. Yes, even if you don't like so-called incense frags.
8th April 2011
This is a masterpiece! Dark, gothic, deep and mysterious liturgical incense. Together with CDG avignon, this stays at the top of church inspired fragrances and it's surely one of my favourites. It's pungent almost astringent in the opening to turn much more softer, warm and earthy during drydown. Pepper, some coniferous, vetiver and animalic hints give birth to a multi-faceted incense based composition that while smelling dark and gothic it's incredibly elegant in its minimalistic approach. Not too powerful but definitely remarkable. If you want your incense to stay close to the skin but to result incredibly distinctive at the same time, there's nothing like Bois D'Encens.

The original packaging came in a precious wood bottle and was available as a 50ml EDP at a quite unaffordable price. They now made a "smarter/cheaper" version with a dark glass bottle coming in a 100ml EDP size. Highly recommended!
5th March 2011
The quiescent Bois d'Encens draws on myrrh,  black pepper, and (especially) frankincense for its austere charm; comparisons can be made with Diptyque's L'Eau Trois, and Comme des Garçons' Ouarzazate and Avignon, respectively. What Bois d'Encens lacks in novelty (L'Eau Trois appeared in 1975), it makes up for in temperament: whereas the CdG Incense series is synthetic-smelling and occasionally harsh (I'm going to blame the budget rather than Duchaufour), the Armani interpretation is terrifically smooth and poised, with a lightness of touch that prevents the incense from overwhelming. The overall effect is meditative rather than smothering.

With regards to the serious difference in cost between the CdG and Armani scents, I think a good question to ask is: could the money saved on buying a slightly lesser version within a genre be used towards buying another scent, in a different genre, able to provide more enjoyment than the quality advantage you've forsaken? It's what most of us would do intuitively, and the answer will depend mainly on the extremity of the difference in quality and the value accorded to that genre in your wardrobe. Speaking for myself, the difference in quality here is certain, but I can think of genres or notes other than incense for which I'd prefer to pay more for a comparable superiority. So, I'll stick with my Avignon despite the excellence of Michel Almairac's Bois d'Encens.
10th February 2011