When I lived in Boston there was a place I went to escape the summer heat out in the Berkshire Mountains in western Massachusetts. It was an easy hike up to a stand of birch trees on the edge of an overlook where I could revel in the coolness of the place. As I would eat my lunch among the trees, I always marveled at how the birch smelled. Especially when I was familiar with it as its perfumery use as birch tar. It is that ingredient which makes up many leather accords. I would sit among the real thing and think there was a different woody freshness like a heftier cedar. I have often wondered why there haven’t been fragrances which attempted to use this face of this ingredient. Olfactive Pharmacy Betula shows how to do it.
Olfactive Pharmacy is a new brand which just released their first three fragrances. Founded by two brothers who are pharmacists in Cologne, Germany: Oliver and Holger Dubben. They wanted their brand to represent the perfume ingredients which are also reputed to have therapeutic uses. Betula represents the birch. The Dubbens chose to collaborate with perfumer Mark Buxton to achieve their vision. Mr. Buxton forms a fragrance of wood and leaf finding a balance between the two.
It opens with a citrus flare of sunlight via citron. The use of citron instead of lemon allows for the green undercurrent of that to mesh with the set of green vegetal notes representing the leaves of a tree. This reminded me of looking up at the sunlight through the canopy of birch leaves. The woodiness becomes a bit more prevalent as we move forward. It seems that Mr. Buxton diluted birch tar down until it comes closer to the bark of the tree. The green leafiness also rises in volume to match the woods. Over the base there is a slightly watery earthiness as vetiver takes its woody green nature as a foundation for Betula.
Betula has 10-12 hour longevity and average sillage.
Betula is a version of birch you haven’t found in perfumery much. It is a perfect midsummer fresh alternative to the vetiver and cedar stalwarts. Betula makes a grand debut for die bruder Dubben. I look forward to what the future holds.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample I purchased.