Colognoisseur Best of 2021 Part 3: The Top 35 New Perfumes of the Year


To begin with the context of the list, I tried 621 new perfumes since January 1, 2021. That is about a third of all new perfume released during the same time frame. The list below is the best 5.6% of those I got to try. As you see in the title it has expanded a bit from the usual Top 25. I found that when I looked back, I had a tight list of 35 I was pleased with. I decided to make them all worthy of the main list with no Honorable Mentions this time around.

The Top 10 (Perfume of the Year candidates)

10, Diptyque Kyoto– The best of the four perfumes in celebration of the 60th anniversary of the brand. The magic of beetroot, and perfumer Alexandra Carlin turns this into a stunning fragrance.

9. Editions de Parfums Frederic Malle Synthetic Jungle– Perfumer Anne Flipo turned in a sappy green thicket of a perfume.

8. Zoologist Chipmunk– Creative Director Victor Wong and perfumer Pia Long create a modern interpretation of those classic woody masculine perfumes of decades ago.

7. Azman Two Minutes After the Kiss– You might think there is nothing new in an oud-rose perfume. Perfumer Cristiano Canali will make you think again.

6. Masque Milano Lost Alice– Creative Directors Alessandro Brun and Riccardo Tedeschi team-up with perfumer Mackenzie Reilly for a gourmand inspired by Alice’s Tea Party.

5, Francesca Bianchi Luxe Calme VolupteFrancesca Bianchi lives on the edge in her perfume making. This time it is the edge of sensual passion in this year’s sexiest fragrance.

4, Puredistance No. 12– Creative director Jan Ewoud Vos told me to give perfumer Nathalie Feisthauer’s perfume time to mature. When it did a magnificent powdery chypre was there to enjoy.

3. Rubini NuvolariAndrea Rubini and his creative team including perfumer Cristiano Canali take you for a drive on an F1 track all the way through the checkered flag.

2. Amouage Material– Creative director Renaud Salmon and perfumer Cecile Zarokian turn in the most audacious gourmand of the year using the tritest of ingredients, vanilla. By turning it inside out and back again they define something entirely new.

1. Amouage Silver Oud– All the reasons are in yesterday’s Perfume of the Year post. The short version: M. Salmon and Mme Zarokian made me care about oud again.

The Rest of the Top 35 in Alphabetical Order

Aesop Eremia– The apocalypse has never seemed so appealing.

Aftelier Perfumes Joie de VertMandy Aftel uses a vintage anise hyssop in a hymn to green.

Anatole Lebreton Racine Carre– This perfume is the answer to, “What is the square root of licorice?”

April Aromatics Wild Summer Crush– The exuberance of the summer and the possibilities of love explode on my skin with joy.

Chanel Paris-EdimbourgOlivier Polge is creating his own niche at Chanel with the Les Eaux. This is the best of them, so far.

Chris Collins African Rooibos– The best tea-inspired perfume of 2021.

Comme des Garcons Ganja– Everything Comme des Garcons has done well for thirty years, and counting is right here.

Diptyque Venise– This reminds you that Venice is not just water and canals. It is also the gardens on the islands.

DS & Durga St. Vetyver– I hear Jimmy Buffet in my head every time I wear this.

Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris– Sometimes things are simple. Geza Schoen adds iris to Iso E Super. It is as good as it gets.

Freddie Albrighton Mabel’s Tooth– The most fun I had with a perfume all year from a new independent perfumer.

Hedonik Divine PerversionFrancesca Bianchi’s leather line has a perfume to match.

La Curie GeistLesli Wood finds the wood smoke hanging in the pine trees.

Laboratorio Olfattivo Vanagloria– This is a version of a vanilla throw blanket from Dominique Ropion.

Maison Crivelli Lys SolabergNathalie Feisthauer takes you to summer in the Great White North as the lilies bloom.

Maison Crivelli Hibiscus Mahajad– Perfumer Quentin Bisch creates a red-colored gemstone floral.

Milano Fragranze Diurno– The best of the new line by creative director Alessandro Brun. Perfumer Julie Masse uses a brilliant Amaretto accord to call up the echoes of the Lost Generation.

Naomi Goodsir Corpus Equus– Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour forms a horsehair leather fragrance.

Parfum d’Empire Mal-AimeMarc-Antoine Corticchiato can make perfume from anything, including weeds.

Phoenecia Perfume Oud Elegance Rose and Oud Elegance Incense– Perfumer David Falsberg gave two visions of no BS oud. Both are enhanced by the ingenious use of a hyraceum tinctured alcohol.

Sarah Baker Loudo– This combination of a cherry cordial and oud was as compelling as it got.

Scents of Wood Plum in Cognac– This was the perfume which made Fabrice Croise’s concept come to gourmand life under perfumer Pascal Gaurin.

Shalini Fleur JaponaisShalini and perfumer Maurice Roucel make a delicate artistic perfume.

Tom Ford Private Blend Ebene Fume Rodrigo Flores-Roux wakes up the echoes of the early days of the brand.

Zoologist Snowy Owl– At the end of last year I eagerly awaited this collaboration between Victor Wong and perfumer Dawn Spencer Hurwitz. Snowy Owl was even better than I could have imagined.

That’s a wrap for 2021. I’m looking forward to what 2022 has in store.

Mark Behnke

New Perfume Review Phoenecia Perfumes Oud Elegance Rose and Oud Elegance Incense- Where the Real Oud Is

There are so many things in perfumery which have started since the first number in the calendar year changed to 2. If there is an ingredient of the last 21 years which encapsulates the changes in Western fragrance it is the rise of oud from 2002 to the present day. To fragrance fans in the East oud is what many of them encounter in everyday life. For those of us who knew nothing of it the revelation was immediate. The craving for more almost insatiable, and so the brands gave us what we wanted. There was a time when it seemed every new release claimed oud in its ingredient list. In most of those cases it was an oud accord made up of less expensive materials given some texture with a tiny amount of the real thing. As perfume consumers became more sophisticated there were places to go encounter authentic oud essential oils. Once you smelled your first of those you could become lost in the pursuit of different varieties. One of my most prized perfume possessions is a little wooden box containing thirty single-sourced oud oils. I was one of those forever enchanted with the world of oud.

The unfortunate side effect is there are those who will claim to use real oud, who do not. Because relatively few have ever smelled the real thing most don’t know they aren’t. It has been something I have seen become more common in recent years. I’ve wanted to be able to point those who love oud to something where they can experience the real thing. Phoenecia Perfumes has given me that opportunity with the release of Oud Elegance Rose and Oud Elegance Incense.

David Falsberg

Phoenecia Perfumes is the brand of independent perfumer David Falsberg. Ever since discovering his fragrances in 2013 he has been a perfumer who uncompromisingly brings his vision to life. Part of that is it takes time. He releases new things as they feel right to him. He also must find the right sources for the ingredients which complete his scents. What comes out of this process are perfumes which provide an emotional response as well as an olfactory one.

For both new ouds he chooses classic pairings oud and rose, oud and incense. They are excellent choices because it makes it easy to compare to all the other versions of these duos out there. It allows anyone the opportunity to compare an authentic experience. One of the smart things he does is the alcohol used in both extrait strength fragrances is prepped with a tincture of Africa stone or hyraceum. It is an invitation into a deeper world of oud.

Oud Elegance Rose is a duet of both the named ingredients. He uses two roses from Morocco and Persia. He blends four different ouds. In both fragrances he has sourced them from ethical and/or sustainable sources. I feel certain that if he just put the two roses and four ouds in a bottle this would have been quite good. He uses a set of complementary notes to bring out the best in both. The inherently spicy roses are given an herbal contrast through rosemary along with a leathery glow in saffron. The oud is given some cedar to remind us that it is a wood and some civet to amplify the animalic heart of these ouds. Mr. Falsberg uses cumin to stitch these two pieces together with amber to provide a warmth not unlike the braziers oud chips are burned in.

Oud Elegance Incense follows a similar path in its development. Although the incense does get a moment to stand on its own. He takes an austere olibanum swathing it in a citrusy floral veil. It is a lovely opening as Mr. Falsberg has another blend of five ouds with which he uses as the incense’s partner. This comes together more naturally because at the core both oud and olibanum are resins. The difference is oud also has a woody component and that is enhanced through sandalwood. It adds a comforting woodiness underneath the incense and oud. The animalic side of oud is less present than it is in Oud Elegance Rose. it is probably the biggest difference in the oud part of the experience between the two. Depending on what appeals to you that might be the best way to choose only one.

Both extraits have 24-hour longevity and wear very close to the skin. Because of that these are very personal perfumes which can be worn anywhere.

Mr. Falsberg is one of my favorite independent perfumers because he does not compromise. He asks perfume lovers meet him on his own terms. If you make the choice to do that a fantastic new world awaits.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples provided by Phoenecia Perfumes.

Mark Behnke