Discovering Phoenix Botanicals, again.

Saffron Veil Close UpPhoenix Botanicals caught my eye nearly two years ago when I bought their terrific Wild Rose Lip Balm on a whim, but I was unaware that fragrances had become a part of their repertoire as well. Irina Adam, creator of Phoenix Botanicals contacted me recently, and asked if I would like to sample some of her all natural perfume oils. Having been impressed by her lip balm, I decided to take her up on her generous offer, and I am so glad I did.

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Cocoa Sandalwood by Sonoma Scent Studio

“Current” by Leigh Viner

Cocoa Sandalwood is one of the most dynamic fragrances I have experienced in a long time. It moves through its stages with a quiet force that is palpable, alluring, and in the end, becomes an intimately beautiful sandalwood fragrance.

The opening notes do not hint much to a sandalwood experience though. Like I said, this a dynamic perfume and it has an interesting itinerary. Initially, the first wood encountered is cedar, charged with coffee and cocoa, all very pure. When I say pure, I mean there’s no pencil shavings to the cedar, no roughness, just smooth dense wood. And the coffee is not bitter and the cocoa is not sweet. The three notes are solidly together, opening the fragrance on sure footing, without a lot of embellishment.

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Hindu Honeysuckle by Providence Perfume Co.

A little vial of Hindu Honeysuckle arrived at my door a few weeks ago, a welcome surprise during this time of remodeling chaos (see below). Currently, my perfumes are tucked away safely in the attic, save for a select few, so I welcomed the opportunity for something new and different. When I read the PR card that accompanied my sample, I was both reluctant and intrigued.

Jasmine sambac, not honeysuckle, is the featured floral, and since I’ve been hit with a case of jasmine fatigue, I admittedly had to hold back a heavy sigh. Then the word “coriander” popped into view, and my interest was sparked. Coriander encompasses so much of what I love in a scent. It’s a culinary spice of course, so it’s slightly piquant with a vibrant citrus back note. At the same time, coriander is also sweetly floral which lends itself beautifully to perfumery.

Because honeysuckle oil is very difficult to extract, making it rare and quite costly, you won’t find it in Hindu Honeysuckle. In lieu of this delicate blossom, Charna Ether, the nose behind Providence Perfume Co, created a “honeysuckle accord” with Indian Jasmine Sambac, Indian coriander, vetiver, rose absolute, botanical musk seed, and bergamot.

As mentioned above, jasmine sambac is the dominant note, and a glorious one at that. This jasmine is so clear and vivid that it radiates sambac’s pure essence. It smells just like the spicy and musky sambac concrete that I purchased at NYC’s Enfleurage a few years ago. Like coriander, sambac also possesses a bright citrus quality that is heightened by the use of bergamot in Hindu Honeysuckle’s blend. It is not indolic in the slightest which would have detracted from its vivid and powerful opening.

Jasmine sambac continues to be a strong presence throughout the evolution of Hindu Honeysuckle, but within the heart, coriander and ambrette emerge, grounding the fragrance with earthen musk. In the drydown, I took note of vetiver before realizing that is was actually vetiver. After a couple hours of skintime, Hindu Honeysuckle became surprisingly powdery in that powder-without-sweetness way that only vetiver can provide. The merging of vetiver and coriander in this final stage is wholly unique and really lovely.

For an all natural perfume, I found Hindu Honeysuckle’s sillage and longevity to be more than impressive. It lasts on my skin for an entire day, and its scent wafts with moderate strength from top to heart, and then gently through the drydown. Charna is now offering a 10 sample coffrett or you can buy individual samples as well. Along with Hindu Honeysuckle, I strongly recommend trying Osmanthus Oolong. It too is really special.

Hindu Honeysuckle is available at Providence Perfume Co. $115 for 1oz, $26 for 6ml, or $7 for a sample.

Disclosure: A sample was provided to me by Providence Perfume Co. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Image of Jasmine Strings from Wikinut


November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest

November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest is not a line from a poem, although it would be a lovely one if it were. On second thought, maybe it is a haiku that also serves as the name of a perfume. Regardless, these words and the accompanying fragrance feel very apropos at this moment because even though the Northwest is known for its evergreen glory, the city of Portland is surrounded by the deciduous splendor of fall.

Leaves are freshly fallen, and the soil is damp of course. The infamous rain has arrived. Fireplaces are being stoked once again and the outdoor smells of fall are among us. November in the Temperate Deciduous Forest- let’s call it November for short- is one of those fragrances that not only echoes these autumnal smells but also enhances them and makes them feel more vibrant.

November is a 2011 release from Jill McKeever of For Strange Women Perfumery. Jill’s product descriptions are vividly romantic, and the one for November is no exception. Her analogy of lapsang souchong tea brewing on a forest cabin’s wood buring stove could not capture the mood of this perfume more perfectly.

November starts with a smokiness that curls through the air, caressing the skin rather than consuming or overwhelming it. Lapsang souchong possesses a roasted, smoked scent and flavor and I wonder if Jill used a tincture of that tea since it is seems so prevalent in the opening. Additionally, a delicate lacing of neroli gives sparkle and a gentle floral quality to November’s rustic beginning. There’s also a minty quality that lends a fecundity and depth to the forest scene outside the cozy cabin.

The heart of November explores the richness of the woodland soil, digging up dark earth, roots and meandering mushrooms. The forest floor is now under your nails, knees damp with rain soaked dirt and crushed leaves. November is a long day of trekking through the trees, with an olfactory treasure as your reward.

The resins from the woods around you imbue the skin with a scent that is piquant, yet suggestive of an animalic muskiness. The fact that this is a perfume oil augments the process of November melding into your skin and becoming a fluid part of your natural scent, after much time spent in the temperate deciduous forest.

November is available at For Strange Women at etsy. $40 for a 1/4oz bottle.

Disclosure: I purchased this sample myself from For Strange Women. Opinions in this review are my own. I was not financially compensated for this review or any other.

Image by Raceytay on