Bois D’Armenie opens with a bitter myrrh and pink pepper undercut with a potent, creamy vanilla/benzoin mix. A trail of incense smoke quickly comes up front – any harsh, peppered spice and citrus notes smoothed and dissolved by the almost gourmand like notes underneath.
At times during the opening it kind of makes my mouth water, but the resins underneath take it away from being anything edible. A hint of patchouli comes in from the base, paired with the sweet vanilla it gives off a subtle cocoa aroma (in the same way that Angel does but not as sweet and… tacky). The cocoa mirage never gets sweet or cloying, in fact it’s pretty translucent, with the bitterness of incense and myrrh, patchouli and a touch of labdanum counterbalancing the benzoin overload that runs throughout.
As it begins to settle and the fruity peppery notes disappear, what is left is a relatively straightforward benzoin, the incense releasing a slight metallic scent, and a trail of smoke gently underneath. The amber base is a little irritating, and the patchouli comes in and out of focus – I’m never too sure how well it fits in here.
The texture dries down a little powdery (amber/iris?), and the straightforward bitter/sweet/smoky vanilla finishes Bois D’Armenie, relying on the disguised patchouli and a labdanum stain for support – given translucency by a clean musk. It sounds complicated and lush in writing, but it falls pretty flat on my skin very quickly, the top and heart vanishing within minutes and the base taking over for a linear drydown.
It’s nice enough whilst it lasts, but nowhere near complicated, rich or, embarrassingly, powerful enough for me to consider it the masterpiece that so many do.
Bois D’Armenie 75ml Guerlain – £??? Guerlain Boutiques