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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…”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. - Red Rock State Park - Sedona Sweetgrass 30ml. bottle - 





I was at the optician’s getting my new glasses fitted a while ago. I’ve known Cynthia for some time now, and while she was adjusting the frames, she said, ‘You write a perfume blog. What do you think of Santal 33?.’ Before I could say anything, she jumped right back in. ‘I just love that fragrance. My boyfriend loves it on me, I love it on me and whenever I wear it people want to know what perfume I’m wearing. You know, I think Santal 33 is my soul-serving scent. Mother used to wear….’  At this point, I confess, I began to think about what to have for dinner but snapped back to reality when she told me how much those fancy-schmancy new frames cost.

Back at home, I was checking emails while I waited for the pasta to cook, when an email from a very close and very dear friend, Beckie, dropped into my ‘Inbox’:

‘In case you haven’t seen….

Two references to the same perfume within an hour of each other? Coincidence, or was the universe speaking to me?

I followed Beckie’s link and was rewarded with an entertaining story of how Santal 33, from niche perfume line Le Labo, came to be.

Fabrice Penot and Eddie Roschi, who had both worked for Giorgio Armani fragrances, launched Le Labo in 2006, with ten fragrances and one candle - Santal 26. The fragrances were well-received, but the candle was not – until hotelier Ian Schraeger discovered it at the time he was renovating the Gramercy Park Hotel and had Le Labo create a smokier version high-end for the hotel lobby. Guests of the hotel noticed the smoky, woody scent and started showing up at the Nolita store asking about it. A room spray followed, but people began wearing that as perfume. And then the penny dropped.

In June 2010 Penot joined a large group of people that were watching the World Cup on a TV screen inside a bar on the corner of Prince and Mott streets. He noticed that the guy standing in front of him smelled terrific. Penot was transfixed by the smell and finally asked the guy what perfume he was wearing. The guy told Penot that it wasn't  a perfume but a room spray that he buys at a little store on Elizabth Sreet - Le Labo.

And that is how Santal 33, Le Labo’s star fragrance was born.

Overcooked pasta aside, the universe was speaking to me and I listened. Now I am a very happy Santal 33 devotee.

A small caveat: the name and number of all Le Labo fragrances refer to the ingredient with the highest concentration – in this case sandalwood - which means that the name of the fragrance might bear little resemblance to what the fragrance smells like. The number refers to the number of ingredients in the fragrance.

This makes breaking their fragrances down note by note challenging (as it can be for most fragrances, truth be told) as it’s the way the ingredients are blended and how they react on the skin, that tell the story, but I’ll give it a go.

On me, Santal 33 opens with the metallic, green scent of violet followed by a dry, woody jolt of Australian sandalwood. I smell cardamom. Its spiciness warms the wood. There’s smoke, sensual and hypnotic drifting over the smell of soft, worn leather. Just when I think this is getting a bit masculine in tone, powdery iris adds a sophistication to the fragrance that changes my mind. Cedarwood extends the woodiness and adds a beautiful, balsamy scent. Ambrox, musky and animalic adds a richness to the blend.

The drydown is like nothing else I own. It has an understated sensuality that beckons and pleases for hours.

Oh, I do like it when the universe speaks to me.

Santal 33 is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.

Image - - Flowers of Indian Sandalwood (santalum albums), Hyderabad, India by J.M. Garg, 20/09/2008

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.