I had tried Encre Noire a hell of a long time ago after briefly reading about it online and spotting it in a local little fragrance shop. I didn’t think much of it at the time, but then again, I was very new into my fragrance journey, and simply remember being overwhelmed by the dense translucent woody thing that later turned out to be Iso E Super… At the time, I was hoping for a big dark inky thing…
Still! A Facebook friend shared an online link for 100ml of Encre Noire for only £22 delivered, so I sprung for a bottle, having recently been craving vetiver and vetiver only. For this price – it was worth another shot.
Encre Noire hits the skin with a pretty pure, direct vetiver note. No citrus freshening up the opening (yes!!), not over the top herbal notes taming this into a more “cologne-like” composition (yes!!), just an earthy, dry vetiver… the way I love it. It’s pretty light to begin with but has a nice density; the thick earthiness, whilst dry as a bone, has a weight to it on the skin, and Encre Noire feels like it skips any top notes and greats straight to what you want… if of course, this is what you want.
An unexpected note of mint joins the vetiver after just a minute or two… on first sniff, I was a little disappointed, hoping this wouldn’t trail off into a light minty/green scent. Thankfully, it’s rather nice. Whilst the vetiver is warm and dry, the mint adds a little more texture, it floats above the vetiver in an ever-so-slightly toothpaste-y (at least from a distance) fresh layer, not at all culinary, or too reminiscent of hygiene products! The leading note keeps it in line, and whilst it isn’t my favourite part of Encre Noire… it doesn’t hang around too long. Was it necessary? Well, they could’ve chosen something a little more interesting we’ll say…
The mint gradually fades, leaving behind the vetiver with a sideline translucent greenery that I can’t put my finger on, and the Iso E Super that begins to push heavy in the drydown. So, the Iso E Super (very quickly for those who don’t know), is an aromachemical that almost has a presence rather than a smell… it’s a slightly woody, slightly vetiver smelling, slightly greenish smell with a real weight to it. By weight, I mean whilst it smells almost clear, it’s texture is thick! It blobs on the skin, anchoring ingredients to it, whilst throwing it off your skin as well. Making sense? I guess not. The weird thing about this ingredient is it seems to disappear and reappear from time to time. Encre Noire feels like it’s vanished after a couple of hours, but then give it an hour, and I catch a quick whiff of it as I turn my head. It’s a quality that I can never decide whether I like or loathe, but here, I just go with it.
The late drydown is all vetiver, soft dry woods, a little clean musk with a smidge of liqourice? It’s dry, green, earthy, and nowhere near as “dark” as people make out. The whole fragrance is relatively translucent, but as I’ve repeated too much already, quite “thick” with a (synthetic) weight to it. I wish the mint was non existant… but it doesn’t bother me in the slightest.
To be honest, I have actually lived in Encre Noire for a few days now, day and night. I’m drawn to it a lot as something desperately easy to wear, and comfortable enough to want to wear it whenever and wherever. It’s drew a couple of compliments at work which is a rarity (I guess for once because I smell a little more less overpowering and “flowery” hahaha!). Still, there is something charming about Encre Noire… No, it isn’t a “masterpiece” as those guys clearly restricting themselves to the designer and masculine side of the fragrance world often claim, but it’s pretty damn good for such a small price. Recommended.