New Perfume Review Ramon Monegal Flamenco and Faisa- Never Too Late


In yesterday’s column I reacquainted myself with the Ramon Monegal perfume collection. I found that over ten years ago I probably didn’t give it a fair shake. Trying things again has changed my initial thoughts. Now that I have the brand back in my consciousness it is time to look at some of the more recent releases. In Ramon Monegal Flamenco and Ramon Monegal Faisa I find an evolution of the brand.

Ramon Monegal

Ramon Monegal is based in Barcelona which makes it natural for him to tap into some of his indigenous influences. I became aware of the dance of Spain, flamenco through a friend of my mother’s. She was the choreographer and star of a show featuring the dance at a local Spanish restaurant. Sometimes we would stop to pick her up as she was finishing her session with her dancers. One of the things that made an impression was the aggressive foot stomping which is part of what makes flamenco what it is. It is a series of rapid staccato motions which flow. Which is what the perfume named after it reminded me of.

It begins with a blast of tart apple over slightly leathery saffron. This is the sound of the castanets before the dance is begun. Once released a deeply opulent rose and orange blossom provide the romance. A base of amber, musk, and sandalwood provide the stamp of the foot. The entire development moves through staccato phases which flow just like the dance.

When I tried Cuirelle way back when I found it to be an oddly composed gourmand. Sr. Monegal intentionally designs a gourmand in Faisa.

As in Flamenco it opens on a top accord with saffron. This time he spices it up with anise and cinnamon. Both amplify the leathery quality of saffron. Then Sr. Monegal adds just the right amount of oud to create an even deeper leather accord. This comes off as a subtle sleight of hand. There is an intermezzo of jasmine and rose lilting through the leather. This all gives way to an ooey gooey caramel accord. It coats the leather in sweetness. Throughout the latter stages it as if the leather is trying to extricate itself from the sticky matrix. That give and take is what makes Faisa so enjoyable.

Looking at these two perfumes I see a brand and a perfumer who have taken giant leaps since I first tried them. I may have stopped thinking about them a long time ago. I’ve learned not to repeat that error.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Ramon Monegal.

Mark Behnke

Catching up with the Monegals: Agar Musk, Cotton Musk, and Mon Patchouly

I never expected to be regularly writing about perfume for this long after I started twelve years ago. From the beginning my interest has been in trying the latest perfumes. I’ve always enjoyed the rush of encountering the new. The downside of that is an early decision on a brand can keep me from seeking it out. Especially over the last year or so I have been learning that attitude has kept me from enjoying some great perfume. Sometimes I get a second chance as I have with the Ramon Monegal perfume collection.

Back in 2010 when Ramon Monegal debuted here in the US it was another of these multi-perfume debuts. One thing that hasn’t changed over the years is my antipathy towards this marketing choice. Even back then I wasn’t going to spend valuable time while in NYC concentrating on one brand. So I looked at the names and decided on two which seemed to have my favorite ingredients. Impossible Iris and Cuirelle promised me iris and leather. I got a fruitier floral than I liked and a weird gourmand. I walked away that day thinking the beautiful inkwell bottles were the best thing. I probably tried one or two over the years but none of them made an impression.

Now we come to today. Sr. Monegal reached out and offered to send me a set of samples. I thought it was worth the effort to give them a second look. It is a confirmation of a couple of things I have always believed.

Ramon Monegal

One is when faced with large debut collection it is just as easy to find the ones you won’t care for as the ones you do. In the sample set were three that were likely on that counter the day I walked away disappointed. Looking again eleven years later these three were much better examples of the style.

I am going to do three short reviews of those today. Tomorrow I am going to do a review of two more recent releases which I think bear a similarity.

I probably shied away from Agar Musk because the whole agarwood/oud thing had become tiresome. A weekend in NYC was going to have me smelling oud over and over. This comes to the second benefit; I have different tastes now than I did then. This time the rough-edged medicinal oud hit me in just the right spot. This time there was a leather accord which harmonized with the oud. This is just the assertive oud I have come to really enjoy.

Cotton Musk surprisingly gave me a favorite floral where I didn’t expect it. Sr. Monegal combines rose and gardenia in vibrant duet. Over time incense, and vetiver insert themselves between the petals. The base is those promised laundry musks sweetened with vanilla providing some grounding.

If only I had chosen Mon Patchouly all those years ago. From first sniff this is the kind of patchouli I like. This flows through the florals of geranium and jasmine into a full spectrum patchouli at overdose. It is all the elegance of great patchouli given life through incense and oakmoss. Of everything Sr. Monegal sent me this is the one which changed my initial opinion the most.

I believe I have become a better observer on perfume over the years. Which is why when Sr. Monegal gave me this opportunity it changed my mind. I need to be more diligent in trying the new even if I think I know the brand. Thankfully, I can remedy that tomorrow as I review Faisa and Flamenco.

Disclosure: This review is based on samples supplied by Ramon Monegal.

Mark Behnke