Category Archives: Montale

Boise Vanille – Montale

Thanks to a wonderfully generous Suzanne – I received my lovely decant of Boise Vanille the other day from Eiderdown Press.
Having only read Memory Of Scent’s Boise Vanille review as a reference as to what this may smell like – it took my by surprise!
So here it is…

Boise Vanille opens with a sharp, intense blast of bergamot, lemons at industrial chemical strength (the best way ;)!), and within minutes, a bizarre sour cloud edges its way up from the base.

Over the next thirty seconds, the cloud surrounds the citrus fruits, engulfing and incorporating them into a heated, sharp accord of screaming cedar wood and pepper. The pepper penetrates the bergamot skin which together create an uncomfortable high-pitched light up top, which I’m pretty sure is surrounded by a blast of aldehydes. The scorched cedar wood splinters through it’s aldehydic casing, and the sour/bitter accords radiate off the skin – taking on the persona of an extremely classical fragrance composition.

Citrus>>pepper>>cedar – a very modern composition blown up in intensity (as opposed to it’s more usual transparency – I’m thinking a larger-than-life Jean-Claude Ellena style piece of work here). The classical quality comes from the use of soapy aldehydes which scrub up this combination into something almost squeaky clean, but with a very slight sweetness coming up underneath – it’s very unusual.
Bizarrely in this stage, it reminds me slightly of the quick fragrance I made whilst on my perfumery course in London – an aldehydic animalic. The reason I compare it, is because somehow, the cedar wood almost takes on a sticky labdanum quality – maybe even a nutty castoreum. The first time I tested Boise Vanille, I’d have sworn these two ingredients hid in the base – but they only make a brief appearance in the heart (must be a mirage). There is definitely a fine, black fragrant sheet in the centre of this fragrance, it is almost translucent but holds this mirage of resinous labdanum and earthy aromas of castoreum. I also pick up faint whiffs of medicinal eugenol and even green cardamom. Yet again, these may be down to this shapeshifting whisper in the middle – still surrounded by the leading cedar and pepper (with the citrus slowly evaporating).

Vanilla’s dominant appearance is short and sweet, appearing after about an hour – a quick, creamy glimpse of sweet vanilla, intermingles in a harmony with the remnants of the almost barbershop opening. The vanilla in balance with the heated cedar, reminds me of the same relationship style as the honey and cedar in Miel De Bois – although these are entirely different fragrances.
The vanilla retreats again but now remains in sight; blended with the slightly almond-y aroma of subtle tonka, the base tames the high-intensity of the cedar whilst remaining completely de-sweetened.

I get a faint waft of myrrh in the base as well – although it may be the de-sweetened vanilla providing that dense “breathy” smell that I always pick up in myrrh notes. A scrubbed up patchouli ever so slightly fluffs up the base with a rich greenery, almost undetectable – and in the same style as Christopher Brosius’ unfamiliar patchouli in Patchouli Empire.

The sillage throughout Boise Vanille is much more pleasant than the fragrance is close up – the vanilla provides a sweet edge almost from the get-go, but I only detected this when testing the fragrance on someone else. The scented throw from Boise Vanille, and it’s close-up screech, almost come across as two entirely different fragrances – the start and finish are also almost unidentifiable as the same fragrance. It’s an everchanging, challenging composition that I would consider far more about the woods than the vanilla. The other complicated aspect of it is that whilst it’s “challenging”, it is almost classical in an extremely dated fashion – with the barbershop, aldehydic citrus up top and dry pepper and woods – a fougere even (there is a hint of lavender in the opening – soooo quiet that it wasn’t worth mentioning).

I can’t quite make my mind up on it just yet, but it’s been fascinating to explore – and unlike anything I normally wear. I’ll be sure to live with it for a little while longer and I’ll update if I find any changes :P This is also the first non-oud Montale I’ve tried which has definitely prompted me to try more of their offerings. If they are as surprising and unpredictable as this one, then I’ll have a great time working my way through them  - Thanks Suzanne! :)

Boise Vanille 50ml Montale $110 – Luckyscent
Decants available from Eiderdown Press (link above).

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Montale – Aoud Lime, Dark Aoud

I thought I’d divert from my O’Driu spree and crack on with a few fragrances in my sample box that I haven’t reviewed yet.

I really want to like Montale, I want to find a fragrance by them I’ll really enjoy. It’s not working out for me so far though, I have been disappointed with the few oud offerings of theirs I’ve tried… so here’s two more.

Aoud Lime opens with Montale’s classic oud accord – a sharp and pungent gluey oud. I use the word “gluey” because it reminds me of an intense industrial glue, other people describe it as “bandaids”… it’s medicinal whatever it is.
It is a synthetic oud (which I have absolutely no qualms with) and there’s no arguing that the oud is flat and linear not like the real deal or more complex synthetic accords like that of Le Labo or By Kilian. However, once you are familiar with the Montale oud it becomes pleasant, always predictable and yet very comfortable.

My problem generally lies with the surrounding notes in the Montale ouds. Whilst I’m more than happy to sniff away at the linear oud accord, the rose (which is the next dominating note in Aoud Lime) is always extremely dull. I found this in Aoud Queen Roses also. It is classical, soapy and completely uninteresting. There’s nothing peppery, earthy or even “full” about the rose accord. It is instead reminiscent of a basic rose essential oil or scented soap.

I have never tried Black Aoud, which is probably the Montale signature fragrance, however I heard that this was identical with the addition of saffron. The saffron is much-needed in this composition and thankfully it’s on par with the rose in intensity. The saffron provides a lovely fragrant warmth and gives Aoud Lime a dusty texture.

To be honest, Aoud Lime remains linear from here on with all notes slowly calming down in harmony throughout it’s life. I actually am enjoying this more second time round. I think I’m just taking it for what it is and going in with low expectations.
In the same sense that I was discussing the simplicity of my L’Eau D’Ambre Extreme, I feel like if I owned this, it would be a basic enough composition for me to reach for it if I didn’t know what else to wear. It is pretty much these single three notes, in a pleasant, strong, long-lasting oud dominated fragrance. Nice.

Dark Aoud is a little bit more up my alley. I will admit before I start this review, that I did have to have a quick cheeky look at the notes list just to confirm what type of wood I’m smelling: Sandalwood.

I’ve always thought of sandalwood as a soft, creamy wood. I guess I was wrong! Maybe at times anyway. Here however, the sandalwood is bone dry, aged and dark. The reason I ordered this sample was because I heard someone say it smelt like a crypt, and now I can’t get that image out of my head.

I got ahead of myself there. Let’s start from the beginning:
Dark Aoud opens with a blast of dark, dusty, and bizarrely subdued sandalwood. I say subdued because Dark Aoud feels completely devoid of topnotes and it feels as though the basenotes are instantly present. It feels like you’re smelling “into” the fragrance because of how powerful yet muted the wood accord is. That probably doesn’t make much sense, but it’s the best way I can word it descriptively. Basically, it is a potent sandalwood completely devoid of any sweetness. It creates an atmospheric mass of dark matter around you when it’s on the skin and it radiates a smoky coolness.

The oud is much more subdued, almost non existent in Dark Aoud, completely the opposite of the other Montale oud offerings I’ve tried. This instead is all about the wood. It probably sounds extremely boring, and honestly, all I’ll say is it’s extremely simple. However, I find this one accord much more intriguing than the three in Aoud Lime.

Dark Aoud doesn’t smell like a fragrance, it instead smells like an atmosphere… a surrounding scent, or maybe the scent of a place you’ve just been still hovering on your skin. The whole time I’m thinking of this “place” I’m still thinking of the crypt image. If you’re not familiar with the smell of sandalwood like myself, I’m sure the fragrance is much more interesting than it needs to be.
It reminds me of walking into a library or a museum and going “It smells wierd in here…” – Dark Aoud has that kind of muted, old smell.

Having shared my thoughts on this oud, I’ve actually come to like it more and more over the last twenty minutes or so! I think I may just be adding it to my wish-list, more for a novelty factor. I actually think I’d wear this a lot! It’s fascinatingly simple, and I feel like it suits me perfectly.

Well there we go! I have found a Montale I like :)

Montale  Aoud Lime 50ml EDP – $110
Montale Dark Aoud 50ml EDP – $110 both available from Luckyscent

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Red Aoud – Montale

I’ve been intrigued recently about the mix of oud with gourmand notes. So I decided to give Red Aoud – another random colour/descriptive word/rose anatomy and oud combo- by Montale a shot! I’d read this was their gourmand meets oud offering and people seem to like it…

Red Aoud opens with the smell of pepper – as in, red bell pepper… and biscuits, if I need to be more specific, amaretto biscuits. It’s…interesting, and I actually kind of like this bit. The bell pepper smell disappears relatively quickly (thankfully) but it leaves behind a spicy stain.

I also smell some peppery rose, although it’s pretty well hidden. Instantly, kind of out of nowhere, comes a big dusty saffron blast which pretty  much takes centre stage from here on. If all of this sounds like too much, you’re right, it is. Just like Sex Panther, this stuff stingsss the nostrils.
The feel from here on is a dusty saffron, some spicy Montale rose, the faintest…faintest dribble of oud, and some bizarre spicy biscuit smell which all together melds into a cocoa kind of smell… It leaves my confused face frowning like reading this most likely does.

Red Aoud smells more like a candle than a personal fragrance. I really couldn’t imagine wanted to smell like this. The blend is so overwhelming it almost reminds me of a headshop - it smells very hippyish, but not in the typically patchouli/joss stick kind of way. You’ll have to smell it to realize what I’m talking about.
The oud is only just about there, so, it’s not an oud soliflore that’s for sure, but then again thankfully it’s not another failure of a rose/oud combo belched up with a new name.

It is interesting, I will give it that. Unfortunately though, it doesn’t smell good, and that’s the main thing.
The bizarre thing is, I actually really don’t think I’m exaggerating, it just sounds like I am, and I’m finding myself re-reading what I’ve written to try to tone done the complicated mess of description.
So I’ll sum up with my usual:

All in all, a bell pepper stained biscuit clouded by a bundle of dusty saffron, a traditional rose and some gluey oud blended together to create a hippy lover’s cocoa…

Red Aoud Montale 50ml EDP – $110 Luckyscent

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Montale – Aoud Queen Roses & Oud Cuir D’Arabie

I still haven’t found my perfect oud, but I figured a while back that these two would be a good place to start.
The first on I tried was Aoud Queen Roses by Montale. A rose/oud combination that I thought would be a little calmer on the senses in order to introduce me to the world of oud. Ok, so, Montale probably isn’t the best for a real oud experience, but it’s a pretty good start :)

Aoud Queen Roses opens with what I have no discovered is Montale’s classic “oud interpretation” I’ll say – and that’s not a bad thing! I’ve grown to really like it, even if I’m sure it has very little of the complexity of true oud. Anyway, I’m not “one of those” people so let me carry on. The oud in AQR opens how many people describe as “band-aid-y” but, I’m not American, and my plasters dont’ smell like this. It’s much more of a glue note to me, it’s like a dried gluey-medicinal smell, and I really enjoy it. It is intense and not all that pleasant on first spritz, but it does warm on you.

Pretty much straight after application an over-the-top obvious rose starts to pop through. It’s a bright, soapy, classic rose, and I was a little dissapointed with this at first. I was expecting something a little more complex, maybe earthy or the complete opposite – ethereal. I can understand the great connection these two notes have together, they work wonderfully, but this fragrance just seems incomplete to me, it is relatively linear, and you pretty much of the gluey oud, and the classic rose, squashed against each other but never quite merging together. In the dry down AQR gets tamer and tamer and what you’re left with is a classic rose soliflore, and it’s not that extraordinary. This fragrance isn’t bad, it’s just not what I expected, I still want to find a great rose/oud, but, maybe not from Montale?

I ordered my sample of Oud Cuir D’Arabie as I want “an oud” and I love my leather, and this was supposed to be the best combination of the two. Having received a five star rating in Turin and Sanchez’ Perfumes The Guide (which I have learnt is only good for a brief overview for a fragrance), I thought I was in for something pretty awesome.

Oud Cuir D’Arabie blasts out yet again with blinding medicinal - gluey oud, and a raw animalic leather, it does smell filthy at first, and I love that so much! It’s like a Pritt stick has been wiped on the floor of a stable. This slightly dirty – poopy – leather, starts to calm down after a couple of minutes, allowing the oud note to take more of a centre stage. It seems the Montale’s open with a shout and then their voice runs out pretty quickly. They become much more wearable after just a minute or two.

Yet again, unfortunately, this is pretty much all their is to OCdA… the leather which becomes just a nice, plain, rough leather, and the oud. There is nothing else really here. It starts to get a little smoky some time into the wear, and after a couple hours, there is a faint rose/musty smell, reminicent of the dry down of AQR. After some hours on different arms, these fragrances smell pretty similar.

I would really like to try more of the Montale oud’s, I’m sure there are some wonderful ones out there. But to me, they are simple. I guess this is understandable really as they seem to push out another oud combination 3 or 4 times a year. It took me a while to choose between getting a sample of Aoud Queen Roses, Aoud Damascus, Aoud Rose Petals, Black Aoud etc.

Another thing that confuses me about the Montale ouds, is that, I thought oud was mainly a basenote? After all, it is supposed to be so deep and complex and last for hours and hours, the fact that the oud in Montale appears to be a top and heart note before disappearing into the base, just suggests that I’m not getting the best bang for my buck! Just a thought…

These two samples did lead me on to an oud hunt though, one which I still haven’t fulfilled. My best sample so far has been L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Al Oudh… I know I know! Probably not the best example of a true oud, but animalic, powdery, medicinal, spicy, I just found it an awesome introduction to an oud dominant fragrance and I’ll definitely be getting another sample of that some time soon if nothing else comes my way! I’ve heard great things about Mona di Orio’s Oud, but, I’m weary of trying a sample of something I could never afford.

Any suggestions for me?

Montale available from Luckyscent:
Aoud Queen Roses 50ml – $115 RRP
Oud Cuir D’Arabie 50ml – $130 RRP

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