most challenging scents. | Basenotes

most challenging scents.

jal123

Active member
Apr 9, 2020
just wondering what others think about what is challenging and what isn't.Im relatively new to the fragrance world but own 40+ bottles and many samples.
To date ,the most challenging to me is Hyrax by Zoologist.wow....
 

Andrei Bolkonsky

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2020
Muscs Koublai Khan is the most challenging fragrance I've ever smelled. It smells like Serge Lutens' balls. Sorry but it is true. The basenotes are more challenging than planning a trip to the moon.
 

Ifti

Well-known member
Aug 5, 2016
Recently thouught this whilst wearing Rituals Sultan de Muscat - quite a rough and raw compositon.
I mean there's plenty of stuff - like VCAPH - huge animalic vibe, some barn yard ouds ( EO1), that take hrs to mellow out and so forth - yet the Rituals stuck me as particularly abstract/angular/ no polishing of or mellowing out here. Haha thinking it's a 'layering' frag
 

Heawns

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2008
I've yet to explore the Zoologist, will add it to the list for next year.

For me there's two categories
1. the smell is at odds with norms or ones own idea of perfume
2. the smell is annoying

Rien by ELDO is something I put in category 2. The scent itself is perfectly fine and nice but it's just too potent somehow.

In category 1. I'd probably put Une Fleur de Cassie by Frederic Malle, and also Yatagan by Caron (I like the first one but I have no love for yatagan 5/5 and 1/5 respectively from me). Maybe I'd put Montale Cuir d'arabie in category 1. as well, it actually smells a lot like real fresh leather (like what's not really ready for use yet) and somewhat fecal --- really like cuir d'arabie by montale but in the end not something I'd buy (I used several samples).
 

Heawns

Well-known member
Nov 16, 2008
Muscs Koublai Khan is the most challenging fragrance I've ever smelled. It smells like Serge Lutens' balls. Sorry but it is true. The basenotes are more challenging than planning a trip to the moon.
I agree it's challenging but I think it's for me more in the way that Dries van noten par frederic malle is challenging -- it can easily get annoying. MKK to me the problem I have is that it's almost too sweet in a weird way, like it tends to give me headaches and make me feel spaced out. But sure it is animalic, but I think montale cuir d'arabie is several notches beyond as far as that. But the MKK I used was from like 2015 or so.
 

Ken_Russell

Well-known member
Jan 21, 2006
From a personal viewpoint alone, including but not limited to:

Quartz Homme by Molyneux- cold, stony, almost abstract and neutral smelling mineral scent

G Man by Gainsboro-flinty smokiness with a near powerhouse darkness

Kouros, a few Marbert scents, vintage Jovan Musk- civet and/or other animalic notes taken to extreme, almost unlikely beast mode levels
 

KBF1972

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Aug 23, 2013
I agree with Oudh Infini. To me this basically smells like a horse stable full of manure with rose petals stomped into it.
 

GoldWineMemories

Well-known member
Nov 22, 2019
The only thing I've found that is challenging is tuberose. thyme, immortelle and heavy camphor, because I don't want to smell these on me not that they're bad. I think your nose gets used to anything that's made well so that initial shock goes away never to return. Marlou's 50ml for instance isn't that shocking. However, I don't like it because of the immortelle and this disgusting burnt rubber/plastic note that sometimes comes out. I guess the idea to "challenge" rubs me the wrong way because it was either made to smell gross in which case that's silly imo, or it just is different than you're used to and when you become accustomed to it it's no longer challenging, OR it has a note you don't like in which case it's hardly challenging just unappealing.
 

JJ The Terrible

Well-known member
Mar 2, 2020
Muscs Koublai Khan is the most challenging fragrance I've ever smelled. It smells like Serge Lutens' balls. Sorry but it is true. The basenotes are more challenging than planning a trip to the moon.

Two more scents to add to the Scents Not Listed list; Serge Lutens Balls and Planning A Trip To The Moon

......must be new releases.
 

PrinceRF

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 3, 2020
I think that heavy animalics, ouds, and certain blends based around leather, tobacco, or any "unusual" notes tend to be challenging to most of the general public.
 

Andrei Bolkonsky

Well-known member
Feb 20, 2020
I think that heavy animalics, ouds, and certain blends based around leather, tobacco, or any "unusual" notes tend to be challenging to most of the general public.

I love the barnyard ouds, the balsamic ouds, the animalic ouds. But I can't stand the Body Odour of true Musk. I don't wanna smell a "deer rear part". I cannot explain why, but it is true.
 

Tilt

Well-known member
Aug 9, 2019
Marlou - 50 ml d'ambiguite. I like it though!

Do you wear it outside? Total respect if so.
I clumsily spilt some of this over the sample vial while trying it around six months ago and then, shocked, put it in my big glass jar of samples. That jar still stinks of it to this day.
 

Pallas Moncreiff

Well-known member
Dec 16, 2018
As Heawns mentioned, there are types of challenging scents.
Let's say:
- Beautifully made but one is unable to discern notes easily
- Annoying and have that screechy, loud plasticky notes whose presence is mentally irritating
Personal scent-note dislikes are amongst the above, eg lilac and barbershop-accord for me. Any perfume with these two, is very difficult for me to bear.
- Folks unfamiliar with raw Oud oils may find them very difficult to assimilate, its like nature pushing your capacity to call it a scent right to the edge of the cliff.
The indoles of Jasmin essential oil and certain scent-molecules in Tuberose absolute-- dear Lord! The last one is like a wild animal shrouded albeit in white floral scent.
Just unbelievable.
And then... now these are a class by themselves.
- Avante garde, way-of-the-left field scent notes like the metallic blood-notes, truly odiferous components (the volatile sulphuric compounds), the ozonic AC, etc in the scents.

So, if there is a challenging one for me, it is from the last category and it is ELDO's Sécrétions Magnifique... magnifique, mon pied!!
It is harbor bilge (amp the volume high and put metallic and milk notes in it) being presented to you on a bed of flowers-- a merely bad smell is a bad smell but SM takes it a notch higher, because it is how these scent-notes are layered on one another, how it evolves, that is where the kicker is (rather, gut-punch is a better word!).
I've wondered how do folks working in their production factories tolerate it.
 

woodnotes55

Well-known member
Oct 27, 2016
Well the answer depends on how you define this.... there are plenty of things that smell bad that could be challenging. I'm going to define this as scents that it appears a majority of people on BN like/think are quality or even excellent scents, that I have trouble finding why....

Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet - it's ok. Sometimes good. But a lot of people love it and describe things I don't seem to find so far....

Goutal Sables - have vintage... maybe should sell it!!! People say it smells like maple syrup which would be great, but it doesn't. Whatever it does smell like, feel like people 15 feet away are running away.... just can't wear this in public yet.
 

Pallas Moncreiff

Well-known member
Dec 16, 2018
I'm going to define this as scents that it appears a majority of people on BN like/think are quality or even excellent scents, that I have trouble finding why....Penhaligon's Hammam Bouquet...But a lot of people love it and describe things I don't seem to find so far....
Goutal Sables - have vintage... maybe should sell it!!! ... Whatever it does smell like, feel like people 15 feet away are running away.... just can't wear this in public yet.

Hah, your comment cracked me up. :)
I know Hammam Bouquet-- it's all good if we're talking among perfume lovers, but try wearing it to an office and then follow the frowns.
Sables-- geez, what maple syrup. Yes, well done with immortelle flower but it is not an easy scent to begin with. The vintage bottles smell stale, dated like an attic.

If we are talking in that vein, then FK's Baccarat Rouge 540 and Creed's Aventus are extremely challenging to me.
I have tried multiple times but I keep on staring at the moulettes, thinking, nah... not that good. It just isn't. No matter the hype.
Have seen dynamic HSA w/GC done by a friend (chemist), and looking at the components vis-a-vis price... Hah. Don't get me started. What a hoax.
 

CaineBCN

Active member
Apr 26, 2018
Do you wear it outside? Total respect if so.
I clumsily spilt some of this over the sample vial while trying it around six months ago and then, shocked, put it in my big glass jar of samples. That jar still stinks of it to this day.

I only had a sample but I didn't have the guts to wear it outside to be honest.
 

blackaroma

Well-known member
Apr 16, 2020
In the general sense I think something that's furthest away from the trends, something like Montale's Aoud Cuir d'Arabie, wild base animalic heavy, but that doesn't make much sense to me I can rock ACdA even in the summer while if I wore something like Eros or Layton they'd keep screaming "this isn't you, who are you kidding!" with each breath, even when I can relate to a sticky sweety enough to wear it (Tuscan Leather/Godolphin) I literally lose a portion of my impeccable confidence and ridiculous ego doing so, and that's what I call a real challenge I don't feel like taking part in. Not often.

In short anything that doesn't matches one's taste and character, in my case sweeties.
 

Pallas Moncreiff

Well-known member
Dec 16, 2018
blackroma: your response is so intriguing.
Where the feel and persona of a perfume is clashing with the self you know yourself to be-- that would be challenging indeed.
 

Kaern

Basenotes Plus
Basenotes Plus
Apr 2, 2008
Monsieur - Malle
it really stinks

Can't think of any 'designer' examples -- it sort of defeats their object to make one
 

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