The way owner-creative director of Scents of Wood, Fabrice Croise chose to engage me was to send me three mystery samples. It worked. I was interested enough to want to know more. One of the three stood out because instead of wood the keynote was orange. After receiving other samples it seems as if the use of fruit is where M. Croise’s concept really rises. Both Scents of Wood Orange in Chestnut and Plum in Cognac show it off.
The second half of each name is the type of wood-aged alcohol used to host the perfume oil featuring the keynote from the first half. In both of these cases that extra layer of scent adds a lot. Another thing that has an effect are the perfumers M. Croise chose. They clearly had fun employing this alcohol as part of their design.
Orange in Chestnut by perfumer Carlos Benaim– This would have been on my Top 25 list of last year if I knew what it was. It’s likely to be on it for this year. What is so appealing is M. Benaim takes an uber-orange accord and contrasts it with a very dry woody accord. In between the two is the chestnut-aged alcohol.
That orange accord is made up of bigarade, neroli, and orange blossom. This is a lush mostly citrus given softness through the floral components. Early on that subtle chestnut reminds me of the trunk of a summer-warmed orange tree. In counterpoint are austere ingredients of cedar and amber xtreme. The latter can just obliterate everything else in a perfume. M. Benaim keeps it on a tight leash. Turning the the wood accord into a hot desert wind cutting through the orange grove.
Plum in Cognac by perfumer Pascal Gaurin– This is the one which really shows off the possibilities of this approach to making fragrance. This isn’t truly a woody perfume. It is a syrupy boozy gourmand with wood highlights. M. Gaurin uses the cognac wood-aged alcohol as a piece of the boozy pool upon which his fruit floats.
This opens with a rum-infused plum. It has a fruity narcotic scent profile. In the early moments a spicy swirl of cinnamon forms a spiced fruit cocktail. The rum has a richness to it which I am ascribing to the presence of the cognac wood-aged alcohol. This is full-bodied perfume making. It finishes with a warm accord of vanilla and vetiver.
Both have 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
It was these two perfumes which removed my thoughts of M. Croise’s idea being a gimmick. These are some of the best perfumes I’ve smelled this year or last. I didn’t know that fruity woody was what I desired until now.
Tomorrow I will do a set of quick reviews of the remaining samples I have.
Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Scents of Wood.