Berlin im Winter fragrance notes

    • lavender, mastic oil, rose, iris, cassis, plum, myrrh, frankincense, irish coffee, nooud, amber, leather

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Modern Naturalism.

Where perfumery's ambitions were once limited to re-presenting the smell of flowers, often one at a time, with Berlin im Winter perfume has returned to the simple aim of portraiture. Not with flowers or even a garden walk, now the reference is drawn from the interior world that most of us inhabit. So, possibly this is more of an interior landscape - because there's no principle actor here, just a background array to give atmosphere (to the wearer - one assumes).

It's like a café - or bar - where boozy and sweet notes predominate (even to the point of feeling a bit sickly at first) and this is backed up with bitter notes : woody, coffee and smokey (how retro! - smoking indoors). And perhaps there's cake too...

The odours effectively transport you to this undefined place of congeniality, but why Berlin?
Being a snug and enclosed space there's no sense of winter in this sweet and convivial scent, but then - as if someone opened a door and let in a draught - it develops a cool myrrh-like note; clever perfumery this - going from warm to cool, and sweet to dry...

But, as somebady just mentioned to me, it smells "bizarre", with a note that's a bit like a stuffy cellar; varnish and the yeasty smell of barrels (the early showing of lenticus & myrrh perhaps?)

The note of myrrh extends into the drydown to finish with more than a hint of Bertrand Duchaufour's Timbuktu (2004). Which illustrates the point that this leans on the romantic overtones of its name for context. Without that pointer you could interpret this in completely different ways; a café bar in Berlin or a mythic location in central Africa.

In the same way, if you saw a 16th century oil painting of a man in a moustache, goatee beard and ruff collar, without reading label you couldn't be sure if it were Sir Walter Raleigh or an unknown Venetian you were looking at.

You may have noticed I'm referring to this as a 'scent' and not a perfume. For the early part of its development it feels like a 'parfum d'ambience' that's gone from illustrating a background to taking over the show with full intent. Which - to my mind - makes it close to unwearable; the sort of thing that would try to Wear You and keep you hidden behind its heavy facade.

Berlin im Winter is interesting in that it tries something different from the norm, and - on it's own terms - it's not unsuccessful.

But there’s more than one thing about it that's borderline unpleasant, and so, if it really were the scent of - lets say - a cellar bar in West Berlin, it would soon have me heading for the exit in seach of some other place that's a bit more salubrious.
30th April 2023
Think of a miniature painting – all that detailing and finesse compressed into a tiny space – and then blow it up to an expansive canvas, but with the filigree intact, and you come close to the initial impression that Berlin im Winter makes on this wearer. It is almost overbearingly rich; essentially an amber but sending wave upon wave of dry and dark coffee tones, bursting with resinous warmth, evoking the mushroomy, organic richness of a forest floor in autumn, the density of dried fruit and leather, even dried sweat. It's a canvas in rich browns and purples and thus probably not to all tastes, but for all its obstinate power and insistence on being only itself, I find it curiously moreish. If some of the older Lutens perfumes, like Arabie, find favour with you, then Berlin im Winter could also join your select group of strong-willed friends.
I'm less keen on the peaty, Marmite-cured tobacco impression of the later stages. But this is a perfume with a long evolution and beyond the tobacco bog, there's an almost soapy woodiness to the recue.
1st November 2020

BLUF: One of the most unique and well thought out fragrances I've come across. Niche creativity with 80's designer performance. Just fantastic.

Really neat opening, a different kind of dark. Immediately I detect plum, damp synthetic woods, lavender, and a little iris...but it's not waxy or powdery. Instead it is velvety soft to the touch and dark purple, almost brown. The way the fruits, incense, and faint coffee note interplay is really comforting and beautiful, as it all lies atop a gently humming lavender base. As it dries it takes a decidedly more balsamic turn but it doesn't lose what I liked about the opening. It's not linear, but it's close; fine by me because I love everything about every part of this.

This probably isn't helpful information, but if I really try, it ALMOST smells like organic decay in a temperate rainforest a la Oregon Coast Range. Were the sweeter plummy/cassis aspect not there, it might smell a bit like digging in the groundcover at the base of a huge Western Hemlock where the permanently shaded damp forest floor is composed of shed bark, spent pine needles in the throes of decomposition, sap, and other plant detritus. I find both the scent and the imagery it conjures absolutely beautiful, almost Zen-like for me.

There is a pronounced density during the lifespan of Berlin im Winter (and many from Baruti - all Extrait de Parfum), which by the way, has longevity that is just short of permanent, but it's not an overstuffed/impenetrable type of dense. There is still room for the notes to breath. I seem to smell a compact core of balsamic woods, both ripe/juicy & leathery dried fruit, and resins, around which the rest of the notes (a dark rose/lavender combo & faint coffee) orbit on irregular elliptical tracks - coming into clear view and then zipping back off into space, only to show up again after you've forgotten about them.

rbaker - "A contemporary masterpiece"
purecaramel - "Masterpiece? Oh, yes."
myself - "What they said."

Some will find this weird and unwearable. For others, like myself, it will give you a warm and fuzzy feeling that there is hope for modern perfumery yet.

I eagerly paid full retail for a bottle within hours of trying the sample a good friend graciously sent me. Few have connected with/left an impact on me the way Berlin im Winter has, I'll surely never be without it. I've been wearing it for close to a year now and have been daunted by reviewing it, as I am with many of my favorites. Part of me wants to write a FrankieChocolate story about it, but I won't...or is that what I just did?
6th February 2017
I received Berlin Im Winter as a bonus sample from Indiescents.
This is pretty distinctive. Even my newbie nose can tell that there's a lot going on here.
It opens very sweet- heavy on the anise and lavender over a juicy "purple" almost berry-like sweetness. What holds my attention most here is that the busy combination of things going on here reminds me of elemi. It is salty-sweet, making me wonder if by "plum" in the description, they might mean umeboshi: the Japanese preserved plum. This stays savory and as the florals take over for the fruits, I feel like I'm standing near someone who, after finishing a cup of strong coffee, has popped a Choward's violet candy in their mouth.
Salty liquorice (yes to the all-sorts description!) and lavender stick around as frankincense arrives. This isn't churchy "liturgical" frankincense that smolders, but is the oil in a jar, or a handful of dried resin.
After a few hours, this dries down ambery and sweet, retaining the frankincense and salty lavender.
Overall, this is a win. It lasts and lasts. And is never boring. It's even a little challenging IMO. It's definitely worth a sample!
20th January 2017
Berlin Im Winter has a very heady opening of sweet coffee, lavender and berries. It all blends together to give the initial impression of a very strong liquorice with a candy sweetness that puts me inside a big bag of Liquorice Allsorts. It's a heavy scent, packed full of calories, thick, resinous and molasses-like. To my nose, quite gourmand.

Of the three people I let sniff this, no-one liked it and one asserted “it smells like you've just opened a bag of liquorice allsorts”, so I wasn't alone in my impression. Even still, I can't say I dislike this fragrance, it's just that it prominently contains a few things I don't really enjoy; sweetness and coffee I'm not crazy about in fragrance (in a cup, absolutely!)

Longevity is good, as is sillage. I didn't get much in the way of development; on my skin it stayed the same until it faded away many hours later.

I'm giving it a thumbs up for originality (I know of no other perfume I could compare it to) and although it's not to my taste, it's certainly not a bad fragrance.
2nd November 2016
Berlin Im Winter is a rich resinous juicy (plummy, red/black berrish) leather-centered accord (a leather-iris-cassis dominant accord) with a plain aromatic initial vibe (strong lavender), hints of woodiness and a profound kind of vintage aura (a retro background). Leather is immediately heady but opening is mostly mastered by cool lavender and juicy fruitiness (plum, cassis, may be tangerine). Cassis stands out supremely. It seems to detect a vintage violet all around (actually iris and berrish fruitiness give this illusion), something genuinely retro, incensey, dusty, mouldy and stuffy (but at same time kind of plastic, medicinal and plummy-gummy-berrish). There is all around this vintage petroleous-rosey oudish (and kind of soapy-floral victorian/barber-shop at same time) vibe conjuring me more than vaguely several Histoires de Parfum's classic issues (mostly Petroleum and Rosam) while I detect as well a neo-chypre syrupy/fruity synth combination which I've previously detected in several 4160 Tuesday's neo-vintage (for instance The vintage cities: Paris 1948 jump on mind). Along the way the juicy-syrupy-resinous fruitiness stoutly resists as joined to leather, oudh (an hay-like and myrrh's mastered oud a la L'Artisan Parfumeur Al Oudh), aromatic patterns and soapy iris. Frankly is out of me catching this "irish coffee"'s vibe while I can definitely see the dominant cassis with its redolent-juicy-aromatic twist. There is something "evocatively" rainy, dodgy, retro, mysterious, solitary and sad in this "berliner" dark-fruity Baruti's elusive (unisex) creation. What this creation is going to be evocative about? May be is evocative about the old Berlin of the 80's still grey and rainy. I have no news about it but my imagination conveys my mind back in that gloomy Berlin which I've visited for the first time in the far 1980 and which was so different from the dynamic and "bright" contemporary Berlin. I suggest to wait dry down and most of all avoiding to be fooled by the strong resinous mark you feel for long on skin while I recommend everyone to enjoy the long (more structured) projection by catching at distance its multifaceted sophisticated twist.
3rd October 2016
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