Bois Bourbon by Decennial

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: cinnamon, saffron, lavender, black rose, heliotrope, cedar, birch, oakmoss

Comment: Bois Bourbon is a Luckyscent exclusive
To commemorate its tenth anniversary, Luckyscent launched four exclusive fragrances dedicated to the city of Los Angeles, with each one reflecting a different aspect of that city.

With the exception of Lys du Desert, this collection was conceived by Jerome Epinette. Bois Bourbon focuses on LA's rich literary history and is a sweet and spicy woody affair. It commences with a suggestive booziness, accentuated by spices and a discreet molasses-like sweetness. One doesn't really detect any florals, but the gradual emergence of cedar is unmistakeable.

Later exhibiting a subtle smokiness, once again, its performance on the skin is very underwhelming. For such an important milestone, one would have expected Luckyscent to really pull out the stops.


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Nuit Épicée by Decennial

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: rhubarb, cumin, violet, cistus, black amber, praline, almond, blond woods

Comment: Nuit Épicée is a Luckyscent exclusive
To commemorate its tenth anniversary, Luckyscent launched four exclusive fragrances dedicated to the city of Los Angeles, with each one reflecting a different aspect of that city.

Composed by Jerome Epinette, and inspired by the LA nightlife, Nuit Épicée is more of a woody-amber offering than a gourmand, interwoven with soft and creamy chocolate facets. Both the rhubarb and cumin are relatively subdued, but the violet is discernible from the offset. With a faint wheat-like milkiness, the almond comes more into play as the composition reveals its final act.

Like most of the Decennial fragrances, Nuit Épicée suffers from insubstantial sillage and below average staying power. It also suffers from smelling like a Nasomatto-lite clone.


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Lys du Desert by Decennial

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: bergamot, green lily, rose, iris root, cistrose, cedar, ambergris

Comment: Lys du Desert is a Luckyscent exclusive
To commemorate its tenth anniversary, Luckyscent launched four exclusive fragrances dedicated to the city of Los Angeles, with each one reflecting a different aspect of that city.

With Andy Tauer at the helm, Lys du Desert is an olfactory portrait of LA's rugged desert surroundings. Lys du Desert also shares a similar olfactory concept to L'Air du Désert Marocain, thus making Andy's involvement all the more logical. However, it ultimately comes across as a mishmash of recycled past achievements.

Opening with what could be best described as a mixture of orange syrup and root beer, Lys du Desert is pretty much a pared down version of either Incense Rosé or Une Rose Chyprée, with the woody-amber foundation of L'Air du Désert Marocain grafted on. To be frank, for such a momentous occasion in Luckyscent's history, one expected something a lot more daring and unique.

Unsurprisingly, it's dry, warm and woody, with a sweet floral core. The green lily imparts a soft verdency, during the top notes, and the ambery aspect is well-executed. Beyond that, there's just too much déjà vu – so much that it smells like a discarded prototype for an old fragrance idea. However, by comparison, one does prefer Lys du Desert over Incense Rosé (but not over the fuller and richer Une Rose Chyprée).

For its many shortcomings, Lys du Desert is still the best Decennial fragrance out of the four, which says more about Andy's skills as a perfumer than his sense of originality. Notably stronger than its siblings, both longevity and sillage still could have been a little better.


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Santal Sacré by Decennial

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: elemi, ginger, frankincense, papyrus, Australian sandalwood, white musks

Comment: Santal Sacré is a Luckyscent exclusive
To commemorate its tenth anniversary, Luckyscent launched four exclusive fragrances dedicated to the city of Los Angeles, with each one reflecting a different aspect of that city.

Developed by Jerome Epinette, and based on LA's "contemplative culture of spiritual and physical health" (yes, seriously), Santal Sacré is a musky sandalwood effort, with light touches of ginger and frankincense. It's clean, soft, linear and a little creamy, with the papyrus adding a gentle moist woodiness to the proceedings. However, it hardly produces any sillage and disappears within four hours.

With the sandalwood becoming dryer, during the drydown phase, it's inoffensive but also unsatisfactory to wear. The high price tag doesn't help matters either.


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Grenadille d'Afrique by Aedes de Venustas

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: bergamot, juniper berry, lavender, violet, milky white tea accord, African blackwood, Haitian vetiver, cistus labdanum, musk
"Aedes de Venustas' seventh scent explores the age-old landscape of Africa in a tribute to ancient ebony..."

Also known as African blackwood, which is a member of the rosewood family (from the Dalbergia genus) and is no longer regarded as ebony (exclusively reserved for the Diospyros genus), Grenadille d'Afrique is categorised as a balsamic woody offering and was created by Alberto Morillas.

Compared to Alberto's previous fragrance for this house, Grenadille d'Afrique is a notable improvement over the synthetic woody-amber mire of Palissandre d'Or. While musky, powdery and subtle in its general demeanour, it exhibits a pleasant combination of creamy, woody, vegetal, balsamic and flint-like attributes.

With a lovely juniper-led opening, the star of the show is ultimately the Haitian vetiver, with its nutty earthiness weaving throughout the composition. Also, discreet traces of violet are occasionally discernible. Exuding a soft sweetness from the labdanum, the transition from beginning to end is relatively smooth.

Although Grenadille d'Afrique doesn't reach the heights of the first four frankincense-based releases, it's still an improvement on Aedes de Venustas' last two duds. However, what prevents an extra star from being awarded is its lack of presence on the skin, which is a pity as its low-key woodiness does possess some charm.


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Cierge Lune by Aedes de Venustas

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: crystalline accord, pink pepper, black pepper, ylang-ylang, Madagascan vanilla, frankincense, suede, amber, musk
"Inspired by the scent of the mysterious night blooming cereus, also known as the Queen of the Night..."

Supposedly a rendition of "the dark side of vanilla", Cierge de Lune was developed by Fabrice Pellegrin, who's also responsible for many of Diptyque's more recent offerings.

Overall, it's a highly synthetic vanilla scent, with a prominent waxiness, that's along the lines of a lesser version of Givenchy's Organza Indecence or even the ghastly Pi Eau de Parfum. With a floral core, its general aroma is very similar to low-quality benzoin, infused with hedione and some other harsh aroma chemicals.

Providing moderate sillage and reasonable longevity, it smells woefully artificial, cheap and nasty. Undoubtedly, it's the worst Aedes de Venustas release to date and is a complete scrubber.


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Palissandre d'Or by Aedes de Venustas

*****
Year: 2015

Notes: ambrette seed, coriander, pink pepper, nutmeg, cinnamon, patchouli, Virginian cedar, Chinese cedar, Alaskan cedar, Copahu balsam, Sri Lankan sandalwood, ambroxan
"Palissandre d'Or is a journey into the quintessence of wood."

Palissandre d'Or is a stylistic departure for this house, not only due to the surprising omission of frankincense but also because of the composition's general aroma.

Composed by Alberto Morillas, it's a sweet, sharp and slightly fruity exploration into spices and woods. Where previous Aedes de Venustas offerings were variably airy, Palissandre d'Or is both darker and denser. Consisting of three different types of cedar, smoky tea-like nuances are discerned amongst an obscure woody sweetness. With the ambroxan ever increasing its presence, the creamy emergence of the sandalwood smooths out some of the rough edges.

Personally, one found it to be a bit of a disappointment, especially concerning the cedar and ambroxan cocktail (smelling sharper and more artificial as the drydown progresses). However, on a positive note, its staying power is admittedly excellent.


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Copal Azur by Aedes de Venustas

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: salty notes, ozonic notes, cardamom, patchouli, amber, myrrh, three different extractions of frankincense, almond, tonka bean
"Mayan incense, rising from age-old temples. Lashes of sea spray and whiffs of the jungle..."

With Bertrand Duchaufour once again at the helm, Copal Azur is both a unique and interesting interpretation of the incense theme, which utilises a tropical premise.

Consisting of three different extractions of frankincense, the copal-like opening possesses a cerulean hue, with an oriental underscore of amber, myrrh and tonka bean. Such an unorthodox introduction is utterly captivating – cardamom fused with ozonic and salty notes, which is more chlorine fresh than marine fresh. Sadly, once this highly intriguing mélange of accords fade, all that's left is a sweet and generic ambery frankincense trail.

Performance-wise, it provides moderate sillage and good tenacity.


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Oeillet Bengale by Aedes de Venustas

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: bergamot, white pepper, black pepper, cinnamon, frankincense, cardamom, turmeric, clove, saffron, China rose, ylang-ylang, vanilla, benzoin, labdanum, Tolu balsam
"A rose that wants to be a carnation, set ablaze by an exotic spice explosion."

Based on the listed accords, as well as Aedes de Venustas' previous two releases, it's become very clear that, like Amouage's golden era, frankincense is integral to this house's olfactory identity.

With Oeillet Bengale harbouring the French name for 'carnation', it actually refers to a variety of China rose (or Rosa Indica Caryophyllea), bred by the late floral painter and botanist Pierre Joseph Redouté. But, interestingly enough, the aroma of Aedes de Venustas' third fragrance is inspired more by the name and appearance of this genus of rose than its actual scent.

Conceived by Rodrigo Flores-Roux, Oeillet Bengale is a spicy floral-oriental, which smells like a more feminine version of Amouage's Jubilation XXV. With a fruity-floral core, this aspect is sandwiched between a rich array of exotic spices and a creamy oriental foundation. As for the frankincense, it's delicate and wispy throughout the composition's lifespan.

Unfortunately, the drydown is too dull and tellingly synthetic. That's a shame as, with admirable projection and lasting power, Oeillet Bengale is probably Aedes de Venustas' most potent offering to date. However, this could possibly be due to the generous serving of ambroxan in the base.


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Iris Nazarena by Aedes de Venustas

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: ambrette seed, juniper berry, star anise, clove, Rose de Mai, iris, frankincense, leather, oud, patchouli, vetiver, woods, musk
"The rare Iris Bismarckiana is also known as Iris Nazarena because it grows mainly in the mountains east of Nazareth."

Created by Ralf Schwieger, Iris Nazarena opens with a wonderfully bone-dry and vegetal iris note, accentuated by some ambrette seed and a hint of juniper. Any sweetness discernible, at this stage, is more of a carrot-like sweetness, with spicy nuances from the star anise.

For a few moments, the composition is further sweetened by some rose and frankincense, before a dark suede accord directs things into a woodier, earthier direction. Resting on a woody-musk base, the impending drydown emits dusty, salty and leathery facets, with faint traces of the iris-infused opening still persisting.

Never too heavy or cloying, it's a lovely union of iris-leather that initially offered so much promise. Unfortunately, sillage is underwhelming and a liberal application is required to make it last beyond the four hour mark.


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