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One of the fastest-growing categories of niche scents today are ones that conjure winter all year round. We're talking about the smells of a cozy fireplace crackling away in a log cabin blanketed with snow, in a pine forest in winter: burning wood, bracing cold air, smoke, and often booze. Think the forest and wood-smoke of Dasein's Winter Nights or the burning wood and chestnut smell of Maison Martin Margiela's By The Fireplace. Some writers call this category Lumberjack Scents, some call it Log Cabin scents, but no matter what we call them, they all have two things in common: they tend to be woody and unisex.

You'd think such fragrances are purely seasonal, best suited to cold weather wear. While there is some logic to that since cooler skin allows smoky, heavy scents to evaporate more slowly there's this:

'Franco Wright, the co-founder of the popular Los Angeles boutique Scent Bar and the online retailer Luckyscent, has seen a demand for perfumes that smell like being swaddled in lumberjack flannel, even in a city that stays balmy all year round. By reminding us of simpler times and pleasures, even the most powerfully rugged winter scents can gift us a feeling of extreme coziness," he said.' The evocative feeling of coziness these fragrances give trumps temperature.

This is why I'm sharing Burvuvu, from indie American niche house, January Scent Project, with you at the end of February just as March is on the horizon. I suspect I'll be wearing it for some months yet.

The founder of January Scent Project and the nose behind Burvuvu is self-taught perfumer John Biebel. Biebel is also a fine artist with a BFA in Painting and Photography, musician and a former contributor to Fragrantica. Burvuvu, the ninth fragrance in the line was launched in 2018. As for the name, Biebel likes to make up the names for his fragrances so they have an identity beyond just one language like English, say or French. For Burvuvu, he wanted a name that "captured the sensation of what a fuzzy geranium leaf felt like between the fingers. So, it had to have a cozy, humming, buzzing sound to it, something like a purring or a cooing, sexual sound."  

On me, Burvuvu opens with a bracing bright note of fresh ginger and a camphourous burst of aromatic red cedar. It is immediately familiar - ah, yes, the smell of the cedar drawers in the bureau of my childhood bedroom. Geranium joins in, green and herbal, boosted by anisic basil, it becomes heady when it combines with the cedar. As it calms down, the rose facet of geranium introduces a note of rich, lush Turkish rose that enhances the cedar that's been brushed with honey. The interplay between the rose and the cedar takes place against a backdrop of earthy patchouli. I also smell mushrooms, and it takes me right back to mushroom hunting in the autumn forest. Take about creating a sense of place. then it gets warm and spicy from cinnamon and peppery angelica. It’s as though we’ve come inside after a walk in a pine forest. Soon the smoky, tarry aspects of Texas cedar appear – a whiff of smoke from the chimney of a log cabin. Then this gorgeous woody fragrance stretches out into a sensual, animalic beast by way of musk and castoreum, tamed with a sweet, cozy note of amber.

Burvuvu is my new crush, a rich, dark aromatic forest scent that tells its story languorously over time, drawing you deeper into the forest with each whiff.

Burvuvu is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.

Image - Wikimedia Comons - Paul Itkin, November 2016

 

 

 

Sedona Sweet Grass

 

Sometimes I laugh, sometimes I groan when I see the names of new perfumes that are launched. It’s my gut response to the degree of self-absorbed irrelevance or shameless pretension that these whacko names convey. I like simple names that draw me in, that tell me what I’m going to smell or at least give me a few hints, stir some memories and start my brain buzzing with anticipation. 

Sedona Sweetgrass has a name that does just that. I read about this 100% natural perfume on the Providence Perfume Company site, and in a flash I was there. Memories of driving in Arizona through Sedona with my husband on a beautiful spring day. I see the ancient awe-inspiring Red Rocks on the horizon and smell the scented dry desert air rushing in through the open windows… 

Red Rock State Park near Sedona, Arizona

Charna Ethier, the very-talented artisanal perfumer and owner of Providence Perfume, says her unisex EdT was inspired by the red rocks of Sedona. Piñon pine, sweet grass, sage, vetiver, and mezcal by the sparks of a campfire are the notes she lists. Slightly outdoorsy, she says, but Sedona Sweetgrass is so much more than that.

It seems that the main ingredient, sweet grass, has deep cultural importance and a history that spans millennia…

From Wikipedia…”Hierochloe odorata , commonly known as sweet grassmanna grassMary’s grass or vanilla grass, and as holy grass in the UK, bison grass in Europe,  is an aromatic herb native to northern Eurasia and North America. It owes its distinctive sweet scent to the presence of coumarin[ notes of hay and vanilla]…Sweet grass is widely used by North American indigenous peoples from many different Nations. Among many of the Plains Indians it is considered one of the "four sacred medicines". Though being used for many purposes, its main purpose for many tribes is to attract good spirits…”

From bodhitree.com…”Burned to promote happiness, open heartedness and harmony, sweetgrass is a sacred plant like sage that has long been used in …smudging ceremonies… …sage clears negativity and sweetgrass brings positivity. To many noses, sweetgrass has a distinct, vanilla-like scent, although to others, the aroma is more like that of a freshly mown lawn or a bale of freshly cut hay. 

The opening note is resinous piñon pine, from the pine tree family unique to the southwest United States, aromatic and green and woody and outdoorsy. Here it’s edged with burning sage and vetiver, slightly bitter and green. And then the sweet grass floats in over these opening notes, its rich aromas of fresh-cut grass and hay and vanilla blending with the aromatics into a deeply relaxing accord that is lightly sweet, soft and comforting. I can feel the negativity leaving, the positivity moving in. 

And with the familiar notes of incense and wood smoke emerging and smoldering quietly through the dry-down, Sedona Sweetgrass reaches a sweet spot. The fragrance smells familiar, it feels earthy and real, but at the same time is airy and light, a scent from a heavenly place.This is not a fantasy scent, it is a very real natural scent that is soft, calming, meditative. 

I think Charna Ethier has perfectly translated the olfactory experience of the ancient smudge ceremony into the language of scent. All the same ingredients are there. And it is the sweet grass, the sacred medicine of North America’s First Nation people, that gives Sedona Sweetgrass its fluid transcendent beauty.

I was wearing the fragrance a few days ago when a friend dropped by for a visit. She never wears fragrance but as we hugged hello, she blurted, “Omigod, what are you wearing? It smells so grassy and GOOD. It reminds me of home.” She grew up in the Southwest. When I told her about it, that it was called Sedona Sweetgrass, she said, “No wonder I love it. Perfect name! Sweet grass always smells heavenly!.” 

A perfect name for a perfect perfume.

Sedona Sweetgrass  is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.

Wikipedia.com - Red Rock State Park

providenceperfume.com - Sedona Sweetgrass 30ml. bottle - 

 

 

Welcome to perfumeniche.com

"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.

WHAT WE DO

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 perfumeniche.com, 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.