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The days run together. The leaves are falling, the flowers are dying, the nights are cold. It’s Hallowe’en this weekend but the plague has cancelled trick or treaters. Pumpkins will glow on doorsteps but I crave amusement during this dark time. A costume? why not? A witchy wig, black velvet gown, magic broom, and a magic potion. 

My magic potion is WitchMusk from House of Matriarch ( Black No.1,The Longing,  Violet FlameFitnessence). Perfumer Christi Meshell definitely added a big dose of her creative magic to this 2018 perfume. Declared on her website as The Fragrance of Magic, 93% organic, 98% botanical, and 99% natural, with unusual notes such as broom and sabinene, this spiced vanilla musk is so deliciously addictive you know that it could only be worn by good witches. 

The opening of WitchMusk is wonderfully strange, haunting like music in a minor key. Vanilla, mild at first, is immediately backlit by a subtle resinous accord of nutmeg, bitter chocolate and pepper, and dark earthy aromatic woods. It is truly unusual, fresh and green and spicy all at the same time, and so addictive I can’t stop sniffing my wrists. 

I’m almost disappointed when the dry down moves into the heart, but not for long because this next stage is just as tempting. The honeyed scent of broombush flowers mixed with dry hay and evergreen needles merges with musk, creating an accord in the heart that settles in, warmed by amber and patchouli. Even this  musk note is different,  avoiding the typical "skank or clean" musk profiles, a musk that seems generated from a secret source deep in the earth, and is smooth as satin. WitchMusk purrs like a cat in your lap, soft, smooth, warm and powerful, hypnotizing your senses. 

The magic continues in the base, as vanilla comes back, dark and delicious. Through the long dry-down, WitchMusk radiates this intriguingly delicious and sensual warmth – the vanilla and musk accords are in perfect balance, just enough sweet, just enough spice and woods, and exactly the right musky cat to make WitchMusk a magic potion. 

WitchMusk - the Fragrance of Magic. Perfume Magic. 

WitchMusk is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $12.00 for 1 ml.

Note: Sabinene is a natural monoterpene ..from the essential oils of plants such as Holm oak, and Norway Spruce…it is one of the chemical compounds that contributes to the spiciness of black pepper, and is a major constituent of carrot seed oil… is also present in the essential oil obtained from nutmeg…


Vetiver grass used as windbreak

Regular readers of this blog know that vetiver is a favourite fragrance note of mine. The roots of that aromatic grass that grow in Haiti and India is the star attraction in many of the scents that I own: Vétiver pour Elle by Guerlain, Vétiver by Annick Goutal, Vétiver Oriental by Serge Lutens, Coeur de Vétiver Sacré by L’Artisan, Vetiver Dance by Andy Tauer and Route du Vétiver by  Maître Parfumeur et Gantier. So, why did it take so long for me to discover Vetiver Insolent by British perfume house Miller Harris, I wonder? I could come up with dozens of excuses on my part, most of them involving work and family, but part of the reason was the way the brand was handled.

Miller Harris was founded by perfumer Lyn Harris in 2000. She built a home business into a global one and sold it to London-based global investment outfit Neo Capital in 2012. After Harris left in 2014, the brand seemed to shift in to idle for a while and was often overlooked despite producing some outstanding fragrances that are vegan and contain no phthalates, artificial colorants, parabens and formaldehydes.

Then, in 2016, Miller Harris went through a rebrand. Perfumers like Julie Pluchet and Bertrand Duchaufour created fragrances for them, and they changed the packaging and presentation of the scents. This was also the year nose Mathieu Nardin, of Robertet, created Vetiver Insolent.

Vetiver Insolent opens with a note of fresh, bright nose-tingling bergamot, joined by earthy, woody black pepper, sweet cardamom and smoky, resinous elemi. It is fresh, rich and spicy and could easily go to the dark side if not for a floral heart of earthy, powdery iris and fresh, herbal, aromatic lavender rounded out by resinous, balsamy amber. As it evolves, vetiver at the base starts to rise up through the fragrance. Truth is, the vetiver had been lurking there right from the top, but now it blooms rich, deep and dense, each facet highlighted by what came before so that all its aspects – woody, green, earthy, smoky - are on display. Even oakmoss evokes the forest floor, while tonka bean gives it warmth and sweetness.

The drydown is balsamy, resinous, woody and earthy, but not dark and heavy. Vetiver Insolent is so well designed that the vetiver has enough space in it to allow the other notes to lift it while still keeping the fragrance vetiver-centric, making it smooth and alluring and giving it a vintage vibe that draws people in. It is simply a superb piece of perfumery.

The Miller Harris website says that Vetiver Insolent ‘conjures the summertime tradition of weaving vetiver roots into a curtain, placed at a window and drenched in water to cool and scent the air.’ This is precisely the experience I get from wearing Vetiver Insolent.

Some vetiver fragrances are best worn during cool/cold temperatures, a few are better suited to warmer days, but Vetiver Insolent can be worn all year long. I think this is one of the things I like most about it, cause now that I’ve found it, I want to wear it all the time.

Vetiver Insolent is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00. for 1 ml.

Image - wikimedia commons - Vetiver grass windbreak at Pono Grown Farm Centre, Maui , Hawaii, Forest and Kim Starr, Nov. 23, 2015

Welcome to

"She smelled the way the Taj Mahal looks by moonlight."

                                                                       Raymond Chandler

We are Gwen and Kay, two perfumistas making our scent journey in the cool, clear North.  We are also BFFs - we hang out together a lot, travel together - so we try, buy and share fragrances.

What started out as a shared interest grew into a hobby, and has now become our obsession.

We’ve spent many evenings with a glass of prosecco, a little cool jazz playing in the background, spritzing, sniffing - “How does this smell on you?” and, sadly, sometimes scrubbing.

We’ve tested and tried hundreds of samples over the years, and when we deemed a fragrance ”full bottle worthy” (FBW), one of us has tracked it down and bought it. We now own a lot of really great perfumes, and we continue to buy bottles of what we think is the best of "niche" as new scents are launched.

Also, we include many perfume "classics" that are the foundations of modern perfumery - like Shalimar, Chanel No.5, Eau Sauvage - plus other perfume "gems" that have been discontinued, or were ahead of their time when launched but now fit perfectly in the Niche category. 

With so many exciting discoveries, we can’t help but talk about our passion with other friends. Wherever we go, people ask “What is that perfume you’re wearing? Where can I get that?” So we end up sharing a bit of our “juice” with friends. But the circle has grown, so we've started this website to let others buy and try samples from our collections and experience the fragrant beauty we write about.


We blog

We blog once a week and post a story about a scent from our collections, and add it to our Decant Store. We're not scent critics, so these aren't negative reviews. We love all our fragrances  - that’s why we bought them! But we describe how we think they smell, and share our stories about why we love them - maybe you’ll rediscover an old flame, or fall in love with a new scent.

Or we post conversations about whatever has grabbed our attention recently. Or we write about a specific perfume note,  and offer a Decant Pack, which allows you to explore new territory by trying 3 or 4 fragrances in a special pack at a special discount price.

We sell

We sell 1 ml. decants - .7 ml volume once you allow for the stopper in the vial - filled from our own bottles in our collection because the only way to experience a fragrance is to try it on your own skin. We take the fragrance from its original bottle and decant it into a smaller brand-new, 1 ml sterilized glass vials so that you can try it on your skin to see if you like it.

Through our Decant Store you'll have access to some of the world’s greatest niche scents, hard-to-find fragrances, and classic favourites. 

When you click on the Decant Store tab you’ll find our personal descriptions of each of the fragrances we currently offer from our collection, then you can add them to your Shopping Cart.

Let's be clear (this is a disclaimer!!)

  • We don’t sell full bottles of any fragrance - just .7ml decants. We only sell decants  from the perfumes we've bought.... because we love them.
  • We don't re-sell manufacturers samples.
  • We don’t represent any perfumers or distributors, so we don’t have every scent from a whole line of perfume.
  • We aren’t being paid to promote any product or scent.

If, after sampling a fragrance, you decide that you must have it, i.e. it is FBW (full bottle worthy), and you can’t find it, e-mail us and we will direct you to the best source we know – retail store or online source.

We provide

A place for you to learn about scent, and to share your fragrance experience with others. Click on the section called Resources, under My Perfume Notes (see top right), where  you'll find a Glossary, and fragrance FAQs. You'll also find two great tools we've created - Handmaps and My Sample Perfume Notes - so you can keep track of, and record your own scent experiences.
We hope you enjoy, and visit us often. Leave your preconceptions behind, look around, see what’s on offer, read the Blog, share your experiences and discoveries, and join the circle.

It’s just us.