This is the time of year when I start looking back as I assemble my short list for the best perfumes of the year. One thing it does for me is I spend so much time looking at the new tree in front of me that it forces me to look up at the entire forest. In the perfumed world that is 2020 one trend was honey that was not honey. What I mean by that is many perfumers wanted to have the sweetness of honey in their perfumes. They also wanted to avoid using actual honey. That ingredient sometimes balances on a knife edge of lovely and not so lovely. Which is why it is not one of my favorite ingredients. Leave it to the creative perfumers to teach me something new. My latest instructor is Mandy Aftel and her Aftelier Perfumes Violet Ambrosia.
I have always been a fan of the ingredient broom flower. It has a dried sweetgrass vibe which I would not necessarily think of as a honey surrogate. Ms. Aftel is not working with run-of-the-mill broom. She has an absolute which has aged for twenty years plus. She says that is what amplifies the honey characteristic of the ingredient. Violet Ambrosia shows that off.
The perfume opens with the violet and broom together. Violet has always had a slightly candied quality to me. Ms. Aftel is using a distillate which gives that some life. It adds to the scent of this aged broom. The richness supplies a honeyed effect, but it comes via that sweetgrass I know from more pedestrian versions of the ingredient. I kept thinking this was a botanical version of honey like ambrette is of musk. It forms a softly vibrant accord around which the rest of the perfume develops. Some powdery mimosa and carnal ylang-ylang sing of innocence and not. Violet leaf adds a focus before things diffuse too much. Vanilla and sandalwood form an appropriately warm woody foundation.
Violet Ambrosia has 12-14 hour longevity and is primarily a skin scent.
I have been looking back over the year to remind myself of the best. Violet Ambrosia will be on that list. I must thank Professor Aftel for her latest lesson, on broom, to this ever-curious perfume lover.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample supplied by Aftelier Perfumes.