Rosé Noir by Gallagher Fragrances

The latest release from Gallagher Fragrances is Rosé Noir, an aptly-named shift from the earlier Rosé All Dae to the darker side, a sweetish mix of rose, apple, and sugar, still, but with black leather and oud as the main other ingredients, and the effect is really pleasant, a sort of dry-leather-meets-fruity-rose. I like the balance of dry, floral, and sweet elements, probably a bit easier for some to enjoy, especially those after more traditionally masculine options, than RAD, but comparably versatile and perhaps even higher-performing, very impressive.

The wafts I get are general more leather-intensive than rose-intensive, anyway, comparable to RAD in the very blended experience that is provided by the mix of notes. It’s very enjoyable, particularly with the cooling weather in my part of the world.

Rosé Noir is priced at $115 in the new 50ml opaque bottle size, which I think will be a nice middle ground between the 30ml and longstanding 100ml sizes.

8 out of 10
Dec 2, 2021

St. Vetyver by D.S. & Durga

D.S. & Durga St. Vetyver is a robust vetiver-laden mix, somewhere between fresh and ashy/earthy, with touches of classic fougere in the background, perhaps as a function of some of the other notes—for example, orange, pink pepper, sea grass, and clove. There’s complexity but a relative ease of wearing, and I suspect that vetiver fans in particular will find this to be quite the treat.

It’s a very strong fragrance, and probably comes off being a little darker due to its strength. I like it overall at the intersection of classic, provocative, robust, and creative. It’s roughly about as dark of a vetiver fragrance as I like to wear, though something like Lalique Encre Noire a la Extreme is a singular exception when some of the ashy vetiver dominance if ceded in favor of resins. It’s a study fragrance with a good amount of range from fresh to dark, a year-round option that I might not wear in the heat of a summer day but otherwise feels like a sophisticated, interesting option.

The retail pricing for St. Vetyver is $260/175 for 100/50ml, very much in line with most of the house’s offerings, though the 100ml size is currently on sale at FragranceNet for $171. It is sold via the house website as well as boutiques like Tigerlily Perfumery, from whom I obtained my sample.

7 out of 10
Dec 1, 2021

Jazmín Yucatan by D.S. & Durga

D.S. & Durga Jazmin Yucutan is a 2020 release from this Brooklyn-based niche house, conjuring the tropical bright floral, green experience one might expect from the name. It opens with a loud, fairly sharp statement led by white florals, drying down into a floral, green, resinous, semi-spicy mix featuring copal and cloves. This is a very interesting creation overall, not in my typical tropical wheelhouse as I usually opt for fruitier/sweeter options (like Six Scents Urban Tropicalia, or perhaps the Dua Brand’s Exotic Fruits of Dua), but for those that want steer clear of something overly fruity or sweet, Jazmin Yucutan is a really nice option, and as with pretty much everything I’ve tried from D.S. & Durga, is high-quality.

The retail pricing for Jazmin Yucutan is in line with the rest of the house, at $175 for 50ml, and it is sold through the website directly, boutiques like Tigerlily Perfumery (from whom I bought a sample), and department stores like Nordstrom and Saks Fifth Avenue. It performs well, particularly for a fresh fragrance, and I’d recommend sampling it.

7 out of 10
Nov 30, 2021

Mond by Slumberhouse

This is first full wearing of the latest release from Slumberhouse, Mond, described as the crisp spice of autumn air, with notes involving a lot of fruits, vanilla, amber, woods, tobacco, and booze. The intersection of cherry and apple seems prominent, not too tart, with a sort of creamy, boozy, resinous arrangement of spices, honey, balsam, and vanilla. It strikes me as a sort of upgraded variation of Baque, with a better assortment of stewed fruits and overall better balance among the fruits, resins, spices, and hints of tobacco. I do not perceive a specific evolution on my skin, but rather varying wafts of the different elements with each sniff. With some sniffs it comes off a bit more syrupy, with others, a bit spicier. In total, it lands quite sweet while not being saccharine, and having plenty of nuance and depth.

To get some of other basics out of the way, Mond is dense and strong and performs very well, stronger than the other most-recent Slumberrhouse release, Fjerne, even if not as superlative as some of the darker, well-known perfumes of the house like Norne, Jeke, Ore, and Sova. I imagine that Mond not being dark as some of the aforementioned releases makes it a bit more wearable for many, like Fjerne, or previously, like Kiste. I tend to gravitate toward the very darkest and strongest fragrances in the line, myself, but it’s certainly nice to have options like Mond or Fjerne that provide the quality and concept without quite as much as intensity. That said, Mond is still pretty darn strong.

Mond was previously released in the 30ml bottle size (of the past couple of years) for $180 but is now available in a new 50ml size for $260, seeming available in a presale at both Luckyscent and Fumerie.

Overall, I’m pleased with it, even if it’s not among my very favorites of the line, and I’d recommend fans of the house especially to seek out a sample.

7 out of 10

Nov 17, 2021

Fox in the Flowerbed by Imaginary Authors

Sampling the latest release from Imaginary Authors, Fox in the Flowerbed, probably the most floral-forward fragrance from the line since the likes of L’Orchidee Terrible from the earliest days of the house. Fox in the Flowerbed combines white and yellow florals (jasmine and tulip, respectively) with frankincense, wildflower honey, pink peppercorns, sliver thistle, and alpine air, as the notes read, with the last of these being the imaginary note, as much as it would be lovely to capture some air from the alps.

For me, the fragrance is “fresh floral” first, with a lightly spiced background, and finally the frankincense underneath, but as with any effective fragrance, it’s really the combination / intersection of several elements that makes it so interesting. It’s at the same time light and robust, refreshing and invigorating yet comforting, and I get a bit of déjà vu when wearing it but at the same time, I do not recall a floral fragrance so balanced in its various elements.

Is it inherently a bit feminine-leaning, to my nose? Sure, but not distractingly (let alone prohibitively so), and even though I do not generally gravitate toward floral-leaning fragrances myself (with notable rose exceptions), Fox in the Flowerbed works really well for me, and I imagine it’s going to be a surprisingly big winner for a lot of otherwise floral-weary men. As with pretty much everything in the Imaginary Authors catalogue, though, this new release is quite comfortable unisex.

Fox in the Flowerbed has the same outstanding Imaginary Authors pricing of the past six years, at $95 for the full-size 50ml, and $38 for a 14ml travel size, with individual samples and sample packs available. I believe it may only be sold on the IA website for now but should be available in all of the usual points of sale (i.e. great boutiques like Perfumology) soon.

Bravo to Josh Meyer for this latest creation. Leave it to him to create a beautifully blended floral fragrance, with a lovely story and fox imagery to accompany it.

8 out of 10
Nov 15, 2021

Triptych by Kerosene

Sampling latest release from the house of Kerosene, Triptych, lovely, fresh, floral/woody blend of rose hips, lemon, geranium, pepper, ambergris, cedar, and sandalwood. It has a timeless, unisex, versatile appeal, vivacious yet comforting, really a jack of all trades. It might among the most agreeable, easiest-to-wear perfumes from the house, and while not a loud performer, still makes a nice impression without being too sharp or overly floral, nor terribly spicy. It’s unusually well-balanced and pleasant. I’ll have to give it some more tries to determine if it’s something I want in my collection but I’m glad to have gotten my nose on it and it has a nice place in the line, not redundant with another offering. Bravo to John for this creation.

Triptych is sold via the Kerosene house website as well as great boutiques like Tigerlily Perfumery and Indiescents, with the same pricing of $140 for 100ml that remains very reasonable for niche/independent perfumery.

7 out of 10
Nov 11, 2021

Eldritch by Pineward Perfumes

The other latest US release from Pineward Perfumes, Eldritch, is among the most provocative and intense of the line, involving (like most of the line) pine and fir, but also leather, myrrh, patchouli, oolong tea, opoponax, smoke, and oakmoss. It’s dark, spicy, a bit animalic, slightly herbal, and almost a bit savory,

It definitely feels like pine/fir/spruce-focused than most of the line, a bit of a pleasantly Slumberhouse/Hendley-esque deviation into the dark and spicy that provides some of the resinous, campfire vibes of repeat-mentions Norne and Fume, respectively, so Eldritch should prove an interesting try for those familiar with those fragrances in particular.

Overall, it leans toward the animalic and spicy more so than resinous and smoky, and it’s a little bit less my cup of tea than some of its contemporaries, but like all things Pineward, it’s a pleasure to try and I’d recommend fashioning a sample, especially with the weather cooling down in the northern hemisphere.

Pricing for Eldritch is the standard $135/80 for 37/17ml for the line, and it is compounded at 33%, very high, like most of the line (around or just above 30%, generally).

7 out of 10
Nov 10, 2021

Velvetine by Pineward Perfumes

Pineward Perfumes Velvetine is a nice sweet/woody/spicy mix with some dirty hints as well, with notes of ambergris, cypress, vanilla, clove, labdanum, and fir. It has the fir/cypress center that so many in the line have, with a relatively safe balance between the dirtiness of ambergris and the sweetness of vanilla, both quite noticeable, along with the clove, providing the spicy midway between dirty and sweet.

Velvetine does have a smoothness that lends credence to its name, and does feel like one of the more agreeable options at the house, not so pine/fir/spruce-intense as it is a sort of sweet/spicy/woody ensemble, which, like pretty much the entire line, conjures both the cooler weather and the outdoors.

It’s definitely giving me a bit of déjà vu, as well, in its comfort, so while it’s a little less boundary-pushing than some of the other entries in the Pineward line, it’s very easily lovable and performs well, and is another great entry in the line.

Its pricing, like the rest of the line, if $135/80 for 37/17ml.

8 out of 10
Nov 8, 2021

Treacle by Pineward Perfumes

Sampling Pineward Perfumes Treacle, probably the most intense offering from the house that I’ve tried so far, with listed notes of tobacco, lapsang souchong tea, molasses, raisin, and honey, with (I believe) the lapsang souchong tea being the foremost contributor. Overall it somehow is both intensely sweet and intensely spicy, almost animalic, and pushes the extremes on both ends. Half of it leans toward the cinnamon sweetness of a cinnamon bun; the other half is a resinous spiciness to the point of nearly smelling like gasoline/petrol.

Its opening is very powerful but it does calm down a little bit and is a little bit easier on the nose, overall, after a couple hours of wearing, but I still find it to be most challenging, probably most daring entry in the line, but overall still well put together, just a like, not a love, though.

Treacle is priced at $135/80 for 37/17ml like the rest of the line, not cheap but for dense juice, well crafted, and neatly engraved bottles, the line’s pricing remains reasonable to me in the current market.

7 out of 10
Oct 27, 2021

Steading by Pineward Perfumes

Sampling Pineward Perfumes Steading, a spicy, resinous, borderline animalic blend that might be among the most provocative of the house that I’ve tried so far, with listed notes of tobacco, hay, beeswax, barley, dried needles, poplar, hops, maple, and wisps of peat smoke. The hay in particular seems prominent, and reminds me of the hay note in Slumberhouse Sova (in which it is similarly central), complemented by woody notes, the resinous beeswax, and a touch of sweetness via maple. It has the effective of being an ensemble of fall/winter notes, creating a mostly outdoorsy vibe that nonetheless has roughly foody aspects added to it, not as purely outdoors as the more arboreal entries in the line but not particularly gourmand-like like Apple Tabac or Revelries.

Steading is certainly a bit less safe than some of the other woodier entries but I love it all the more for that. Again, I’ll need to retry it alongside some of the others but this is an easy love for me.

Steading has the same pricing as the rest of the line, at $135/80 for 37/17ml.

8 out of 10
Oct 26, 2021

Revelries by Pineward Perfumes

Sampling Pineward Perfumes Revelries, a sweet and spicy blend that pivots away from pine/fir/spruce and leans rather toward Apple Tabac in that it’s quite sweet and more gourmand-leaning, Apple Tabac being the most unlike the others I’ve tried from Pineward so far. Revelries brings notes of raisin, rum, clove, and cinnamon to the forefront with the vaguely apple-ish vibe throughout, though leaning far more on the other four notes. It has the effected of a mulled cider with a mix of dried and stewed fruits, opening a bit spicier, especially with the clove, but giving way to the apple/raisan blend. I prefer the dry down, overall, as the spiciness might overshadow the sweetness at times in the opening.

Revelries isn’t my favorite of the line but it might be among the most unique that I’ve tried so far, and perhaps the opening just takes a little getting used to. Nonetheless, it’s dense, rich, and has a nice transition from the spicy opening to sweeter dry down, very seasonally appropriate for the cooler weather, a common trait of the line.

The pricing for Revelries is the same as the rest of the line, at $135/80 for 37/17ml, so not inexpensive by any means but still appropriate for the level of craft.

7 out of 10
Oct 25, 2021

Oxylus by Pineward Perfumes

Sampling Pineward Perfumes Oxylus, pine-centric but characterized by use of juniper, vetiver, and myrtle, creating a green, spicy, fresh angle that positively reminds me of the holidays, in fact, more than some of the other entries in the house. At the same time, it has some of the dirtier, soil-like aspects of a number of the other fragrances in the line.

Not as unique as Mukrwood but less familiar than Fanghorn II, pivoting toward some of the greener aspects of Boreal, Oxylus is yet another very interesting entry in the Pineward line and if sounds good, I recommend checking it out. Ordering the sample pack seems like a no-brainer so that you can sort out some of the nuances among the fragrances, some of which are quite similar but each of which clearly has its own nuances. Oxylus, like most of the others, though, is easy to love.

Oxylus’ pricing is the Pineward line’s standard $135/80 for 37/17ml and like the rest of the line, the performance is very good.

8 out of 10
Oct 22, 2021

Murkwood by Pineward Perfumes

Sampling Pineward Perfumes Murkwood, another dark, brooding, woody entry from this house of seemingly many such options. There are some similarities to the dark spicy pine resin aspect of Fanghorn II, but Murkwood has a funkier animalic quality to it. Listed notes are fir balsam, black hemlock, lapsang suchong, moss, incense, bitter myrrh. There’s a vague damp, dank, mossy quality to it that is more prominent than in some other offerings in the house or contemporary fragrances of a similar ilk.

Whereas Fanghorn II brings to mind other entries like Dasein Winter Nights and Slumberhouse Norne, Murkwood has a more distinct character, something even dirtier, grittier, more boundary-pushing. I quite like it, overall, like the other entries, and I’m thinking more and more that I’ll need to do some side by side comparisons between some of these after I’ve sampled them all.

Pricing is standard for the line, $135/80 for 37/17ml, not by any means cheap but this is an interesting fragrance, and while my tastes are a little more suited to Boreal or Fanghorn II, Murkwood is more unique while similarly being dense and strong.

8 out of 10
Oct 21, 2021

Fanghorn II by Pineward Perfumes

Sampling Pineward Perfumes Fanghorn II, a pine/fir fragrance with listed notes include silver fir, moss, lichen, pine needles, wet soil, and damp vegetation. It’s woody, dark, resinous, a bit piney and green, and is effective as a standout fragrance in the approaching cooler weather in the northern hemisphere.

Fanghorn II has a reminiscently dirty pine resin vibe that draws comparisons (for me, at least) to Dasein Winter Nights and Slumberhouse Norne, which themselves lean woodier, darker, and dirtier than, say, the more barbecue-leaning smells of La Curie Incendo or Hendley Fume. This is a welcome family, but as with Cotswold, there is a familiarity that makes Fanghorn II a bit less distinct that some of the other entries, but this is a great entry in the line and a great fragrance to offer, as this will fit the bill for some, its dark juice filling a void for some fragrance fans currently out there.

And, in fairness, the standard Pineward pricing of $135/80 for 37/17ml is a bit lower than Slumberhouse’s, albeit higher than most of the other examples. Still, I probably owe Fanghorn II a side-by-side with Norne and Winter Nights to weed out some of the differences, but my conclusion is that Fanghorn II is also a great fragrance, like them, perhaps not quite as potent either but comparable, scent-wise, and worth smelling. I’ve really been pleased with everything in the sample pack so far.

8 out of 10
Oct 20, 2021

Cotswold by Pineward Perfumes

Sampling Pineward Cotswold, a smoky, sweet, resinous mix featuring cedar, vanilla, oak, and pine, noticeably less green and fresh than Boreal, and with less pine than Bindebole, and without the apple of Apple Tabac. It’s a layered yet straightforward blend that really works for the cooler weather and strikes me as a staple, agreeable offering for fans of natural, dense blends like this, midway between and spicy while being dark and resinous throughout, the resin itself being unclear but not giving me a distinct vibe of, say, myrrh or olibanum.

Some immediate comparisons that come to mind, while not remotely replicas, are, with their more distinguishing notes in parentheses: Kerosene Broken Theories (tobacco), Slumberhouse Ore (pepper), and Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser (myrrh), as each has a vaguely similar arrangement of vanilla/woods/resins while having a notably distinct aspect/note of its own. Cotswold is more agreeable and central than any of the others, so it’s an easy recommendation to try even if it is less boundary-pushing than the comparisons.

Overall, I love Cotswold, and it hits the mark, even if I feel like I’ve smelled it before somewhat in other fragrances. Performance is great, and the pricing is the same as the rest of the line, at $135/80 for 37/17ml.

I could see this being a crowd favorite of the line, particularly for those looking for something less pine-centric.

8 out of 10
Oct 19, 2021

Boreal by Pineward Perfumes

Pineward Perfumes Boreal is my third sampling from the house, a 2020 release in their initial year, described as a mix of pine needles, mint, cedar, resins, moss. Like Bindebole, it’s a fittingly cold weather-reminiscent pine-rich scent that fits with the concept of the house as described on its website by perfumer/owner Nicholas Nilsson. The mint aspect predictably fades a bit within the first hour of wearing but remains a part of the blend, which, with its high concentration (31%) and dark green juice, is appropriately strong, even from the dabber, even if perhaps note quite as strong as Bindebole. Frankly, Boreal’s greenness and the minty tingle associated with some outdoor plants makes it a bit more realistic and familiar than Bindebole, even.

Another immediate comparison that occurs to me (as a way of describing Boreal) is something midway between Dasein Winter and Winter Nights, with a good balance of darkness (resins), brightness (mint), and greenness/woodiness (pine). Within the house, it’s a touchy mintier and brighter than Bindebole, which leans darker/woodier/more resinous, overall. Still (and I hope this continues to be the case), it’s nice to have two great entries in the house that have similarities but different emphases, with Bindebole perhaps being the night to Boreal’s day.

Pricing is consistent throughout the line at $135/80 for 37/17ml and again, the performance is very strong.

Bravo to Nick on these fragrances—I’m really impressed with the line through my first three tries of Pineward, and the concept seems so perfect for the cooling weather in the US.

8 out of 10
Oct 18, 2021

Bindebole by Pineward Perfumes

Pineward Perfumes Bindebole has an official note breakdown of poplar bud, pine needles, ambrette, crushed leaves, and cedar. It provides a heavy and authentic pine accord with some vaguely resinous background, a dark blend that is nonetheless somewhat green in the way that pine is, but not in a sharp, tingly, even minty way as sometimes can be.

I’m quite impressed by this. Even though the fragrance does not lean much in the direction of a resinous, dirtier fragrance, it nonetheless is realistic, dark, and dense, and really does a great job conjuring the outdoors while being a smooth and wearable perfume.

Bindebole has the same pricing as the rest of the house, at $135/80 for 37/17ml, and performs quite well, in high concentration (30% or so for all of their fragrances). The juice on the website’s photo of the bottle looks to be a darker green, in fact, which is nice

8 out of 10
Oct 14, 2021

Apple Tabac by Pineward Perfumes

Apple Tabac is my first sampling of the house of Pineward Perfumes, based in the Western US, which launched last year in 2020 but that I just discovered recently by chance, featuring many scents inspired the temperate forests of the region, curated by perfumer/owner Nicholas Nilsson.

Apple Tabac fittingly involves a lot of red apple, but not a ton of tobacco, immediately reminding me of apple cider and similar, spiced apple products (apple brandy, perhaps apple sauce), so very comforting, delightful, and mostly gourmand-like, with the notes of resins and dry fruits featuring prominently. It does not smell exactly like a food item, as the tobacco is part of the mix, but the blend is quite sweet and rich, and leans more toward a stewed / cooked apple vibe than a fresh apple, at least to my nose.

Apple Tabac pivots leans toward a daring, darker scent but in the scheme of cold-weather-evocative perfumes is fairly safe and agreeable, and I think that actually makes for a great introduction to a brand. Even those like me who adore a number of the darker, edgier scents of Slumberhouse or Hendley might nonetheless take comfort in Apple Tabac, as it hits the “stewed fruit with spices and resins” combination very effectively.

Performance wise, it’s quite strong and dense; I applied very little juice from the dabbers before a scent bubble was present, and I can fairly easily smell the fragrance on my neck and wrists more than an hour into wearing.

Apple Tabac (and every perfume in the catalogue) is priced at $135/80/20 for 37/17/4ml, with individual samples sold for each, as well the sample pack of all 11 scents (1ml each in dabber vials) for $45, which is what I bought.

7 out of 10
Oct 12, 2021

Chipmunk by Zoologist Perfumes

The most recent release from Zoologist is Chipmunk, fittingly a nut-heavy composition that has woody, fruity, and slightly spicy/animalic accords, as well, fostering the habitat and diet of the rodent subject, looking sharply uniformed in the house's signature artwork. It instantly feels pretty harmonious, with balance among the hazelnut and spices, most importantly, with just the touches of fruit (quince), and a sort of oaky feeling throughout, and I'm impressed at how restrained it is but that it involves some bold, interesting touches. It definitely has a very blended effect, without many of the individual spices and other notes being all that distinguishable, the hazelnut being the main standout, but relatively subtle when compared to, say, a note like coconut that would usually announce itself more loudly.

Overall, though, Chipmunk is among the more understated offerings from the house, even with its wealth of interesting notes, yet it performs pretty well and feels niche and somehow off the beaten path, even though its main elements are familiar and comforting.

Chipmunk is priced at the standard $165 for 60ml in extrait concentration and is sold by great boutiques like Perfumology, which sells samples, as well as the house site, which also sells a 10ml travel spray for $45.

I'm quite impressed with this recent release. Congrats to Victor Wong and his team for another lovely addition to the house. I might have to nab a bottle.

8 out of 10

Sep 10, 2021

Popped Cherry by Dua Fragrances

Popped Cherry is the Dua expression inspired by Tom Ford Lost Cherry. It's a bit more cherry-intensive and sharper, with more bite than the original, while the original is a bit creamier and more resinous. Both have the sensibilities of balsam and tonka, a bit powdery and quite sweet, and overall an intensive, mostly-gourmand, immersive experience. And of course Dua is somewhat more affordable and practically pocket-sized, so convenient. So while it doesn't mimic the original exactly, Popped Cherry is a welcome variation of a great scent, and a great scent in its own right–my first bottle purchased with the current, slim design with crimping a little under 3 years ago.

8 out of 10
Sep 1, 2021

Over the Chocolate Shop - Cinder Toffee by 4160 Tuesdays

The Over the Chocolate Shop Afters Variant with Cinder Toffee / Caramel fortunately still has the very fittingly chocolate-intensive (chocolate powder with nuts, mainly) original along with the interesting additives, providing a slightly creamy, slightly metallic aspect that yields only a slight departure from the main concept but still keeping it very much a part of its delectable gourmand family. Caramel and toffee might be among the most natural partners for chocolate (save perhaps peanut butter) and it makes for a great fragrance, a fun variation of the original, perhaps 80-85% the original with the slight tweaks, still excellently-rich and high-performing.

8 out of 10
Aug 9, 2021

Cedrat 37 by Le Labo

The latest City Exclusive release from Le Labo is Cedrat 37 (Berlin), released this year. It very much embodies the “cedrat” citrus/woody concept that has been often been used successfully, and this follows suit, with a fresh/tart citrus, ginger, woods, musk, and ambergris, so virtually the exact same note breakdown as last year's release, Citron 28 (Seoul), especially considering “cedrat” and “citron” may have a lot of overlap. Still, Cedrat 37 is the cleaner, bright counterpart to Citron 28, even if Citron 28 may have a bit more of a realistic bitterness and greenness to it that Cedrat 37 does not.

Overall, Cedrat 37 is a nice, agreeable, easy winner of a woody citrus fragrance that is especially apropos in warmer weather, and seems to perform adequately, but it's difficult to regard the standard City Exclusive pricing of $485/319/134 for 100/50/15ml as appropriate for this type of fragrance that neither strikes me as all that innovative, daring, or distinct, but perfectly good while not being amazing.

7 out of 10
Aug 6, 2021

Citron 28 by Le Labo

In the month before the City Exclusives month, I'm finally sampling last year's Le Labo City Exclusive release, Citron 28 (Seoul). Right from the start, it's an easy winner and quite pleasant, a fresh, semi-bitter/spicy citrus-dominant blend with very realistic green qualities to it. The listed notes are lemon, ginger, jasmine, musk, and cedar. I'm not sure why there's a slight bitter sharpness to it, but my best guess is that that's the citrus ingredients pivoting toward the citron fruit itself, a more bitter, less edible citrus fruit that's one of the original non-hybrid citruses. The woody/musky side is there, too, but mainly in the background, with the lemon/citron/ginger/jasmine aspect being most prominent. It's a classic case of “what's not to like?”–an easy-to-wear citrus that certainly fits the current summer weather in the northern hemisphere.

The pricing for the Le Labo City Exclusives has always been pretty high, and has increased steadily but not horribly in recent years, now $485/319/134 for 100/50/15ml, so while it's a nice fragrance overall, it hardly merits the cost, especially when contrasted with some of the richer and more complex offerings from the City Exclusives subline (i.e. Poivre 23 London and Benjoin 19 Moscow, priced at $290 for 50ml in 2016). In fairness, Le Labo's creations are generally good or great, but I'd certainly recommend sampling Citron 28 because it's a good fragrance. It's a great time to order a sample pack of City Exclusives from Luckyscent (in the US) or the Le Labo site as bottles are only sold in the month of September. I look forward to trying latest City Exclusive release, this year's Cedrat 37 (Berlin).

7 out of 10
Aug 5, 2021

El Goodo by Happyland Studio

Happyland El Goodo is a 2020 release that dropped around the beginning of the pandemic, and it's been sort of a comfort fragrance ever since as its blend is boozy and grapey (with a featured note of brandy) but smells a bit like grape bubblegum, which provides its own nostalgia for me. Added to the mix are other fruits, beeswax, oakmoss, cedar, labdanum, and white musk, per the note list, and they mostly feel correct, as the mix has a resinous, creamy side to it and a sort of generally fruitiness.

The grape aspect fades slightly over time, with the dry down being a bit more centered around the beeswax, labdanum, cedar, and white musk, I'd say, but there's still an aspect of brandy in it throughout its life. I've really never tried anything quite like it, either–it scores very, very high on account of its uniqueness and general appeal, attributes common to the growing Happyland catalogue.

And overall the fragrance performs well, like most releases from the house, and it is priced very reasonably, at $55/$42 for 50/30ml. I'd certainly recommend trying it out if you haven't; 5ml samples are very conveniently sold on the site.

8 out of 10

Jul 29, 2021

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