Sylvetiver

Quorum Silver by Antonio Puig

Misled by some reviews that called this a "one-note cedar bomb" or likened it to smelling a freshly cut log, I was disappointed to discover that this is *not* primarily or exclusively a cedar fragrance. Instead, "silver" is the key word: it is dominated by a sharp blast of what seems like ozonic metal. Only after I became more familiar with the scent could I begin to untangle the elements of this slightly screechy, synthetic cloud: primarily the pepper-ginger accord, which is framed by secondary notes of slightly soapy musk, slightly sweet tangerine/mandarin, and soft vanillic amber, all on, yes, a bed of light, transparent cedar. The opening pairing of lemon-orange citrus with piercing ginger and black pepper creates a chaotic, clanging tustle between the cool, metallic, sharp citrus, ginger, and pepper notes; as the citrus burns off, the ginger and pepper provide a slightly more natural and gradual transition to a cedar heart, whose raspy edges are rounded off by hints of nutmeg-cinnamon-clove and some vanillic amber. Thankfully, since I dislike lavender, it isn't really detectable as its own note and, if present at all, just adds to the prickly zing of the airy pepper-ginger. Despite the spice notes, QS is never really gourmandy, and instead remains too angular and abstract to be mistaken for anything you can find in the kitchen. The cedar is distinctive and pleasantly woody, but constantly paired with that buzzy, zingy, artificial pepper-ginger—far away from the natural woods I had hoped for.

After my initial disappointment, I've since come around to like this fragrance a lot. But not as something I would regularly wear—still too bright, slightly sweet, and synthetic for my taste. Rather, it makes an excellent room spray, especially bathroom freshener. It has good sillage and excellent longevity (7–8 hours), especially on fabric, where it lasts 24+ hours.

If you're looking for a more straightforward and natural cedar-pepper accord, consider Azzaro Visit, which is a simpler pairing of pink pepper and cedar—slightly cooler, drier and less sweet, less intense, with a more relaxed and transparent vibe—or Comme des Garçons Sequoia (red pimento pepper and cedar) or Wonderwood (mostly cedar). And if you like metallic-spicy synth woods à la CdG, this is a very cheap way to buy into that neighborhood. Overall, an excellent value.


Woody Perfecto / 107 by Parle Moi de Parfum

Enjoyable bergamot-tangerine and light vetiver opening that reduces to minimally noticeable sandalwood-cedar skin scent within 1.5 hours. Quality notes but short lived and merely pleasant.


Bottega Veneta by Bottega Veneta

Topnotes of watermelon jolly rancher and wet dough dissolve into a watery, slightly sweet calone-infused smooth suede, which becomes more powdery and elegant as it dries down. Not for me but a decent leather that could appeal to others.


Aura for Men by Jacomo

Jacomo Aura opens with an intense blast of lemony lavender riding a wave of icy-spicy synthetic ginger, with a green juniper undertone. A bit of floral violet(?) emerges a few minutes in. The lemon and ginger notes persist into a floral, green-tea heart, which rests on a semisweet, creamy, soapy base. Here the tension between the sharp green floral note and the creamy, soapy undertone is well balanced. After about two hours, the heart transitions into a semisweet vanillic amber base, underpinned by cedar and sandalwood, with notes of nutmeg and cinnamon and traces of the piercing green ginger from the opening and hints of the tea. Projection is excellent from the topnotes to the heart in the first 1–2 hours, but lower, fading to skin scent, in the drydown. Longevity is good at 5+ hours.

I'm surprised more reviews don't mention the floral notes, which I'm apparently quite sensitive to, but aren't mentioned in the official notes. I can only guess the "sage" listed in the notes means clary sage and this has been created with linalool, also present in lavender. The florals don't make this fragrance feminine–the green notes and piercing ginger keep it unisex. But since I don't like florals generally, I would like this scent better without them. Although I won't be wearing it, this is a well composed fragrance and excellent value, so it still gets a thumbs up. Yes, the bottle is cool too, and the neon green communicates something of the piercing intensity of the ginger-green opening, even if it fades to something much more conventional and well behaved.


Pino Silvestre by Silvestre

Sampled from a recent (reformulated?) tester. Pino Silvestre opens with a bright, slightly camphorous lemon and herbal (thyme?) note, which transitions to more garden/kitchen herbs (rosemary?), then a dominant floral-lavender musk that remains rather jagged and piercing for the first half hour before it smoothes out and settles down, and a balanced lemon-herb-musk accord emerges. The lemon-lavender-herbs combination, along with the bright, jagged intensity of the opening, all create associations with cleaning products for the first half hour, after which the herbal-musk accord takes it in a more earthy, natural direction. While the bright lemon-thyme opening creates a loose impression of pine, I don't detect any pine or coniferous notes for the rest of its run.

Although I was expecting to like this more than Agua Brava because of reviews saying the herbs made PS a more complex fragrance, I prefer the subtle handling of vetiver, musk, and woods in reformulated AB, which also has a bit better longevity. PS fades to skin scent in 1–2 hours. Perhaps the vintage version is more impressive . . .

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