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Jubilation XXV – Musings on ice-storms and incense - January 3. 2014

Photo - Wikipedia - Toronto Ice-storm December 2013


Happy New Year!

2013 went out like a lion, and that lion is still roaring as we enter 2014 – it’s COLD outside! In fact, Winnipeg, Manitoba, yesterday registered a daytime temperature that was -53C, with the wind chill – colder than the surface of Mars. That’s cold, folks!

We had a huge ice-storm in Eastern Canada on December 22, and  Toronto was hit hard. The city’s arbor is aging, and many of the old giant maple, elm, and birch trees snapped under the weight of the 3 - 4 inches of ice which coated everything outdoors. Huge trees toppled, heavy branches snapped, falling on power lines leaving over 750,000 households without power, including Yours Truly. Christmas was somewhat different than planned, to put it mildly, but we were warm and safe with relatives until power was restored six days later. It was a Christmas to remember.

But this big city is a mess – tangled broken branches are piled up on streets in every neighbourhood, and it will be weeks before city work crews can clear them away, and months before the broken trees are tended to. The landscape has changed, and I’ve had a feeling of real loss walking along familiar streets that now look so different, their crowning beauty transformed and diminished. Mother Nature can be brutal, and I know time will restore the damage, but still….

I’m going to cheer up and talk about Amouage Jubilation XXV, a gift that had my name on it in the mound of gifts under the Christmas tree. The wrapping included a note which said it "Must be shared with ME”. A gift from my husband, of course - how sweet! and how unlike him! It’s an incense fragrance I’ve wanted it for a long time. He's not a big scent hound, but he knows it’s very special, so special that he’ll want to want to wear it, too!

Gwen has written about Amouage Gold for Women. Amouage is an ultra-luxury perfume house started in 1983 by Sultan Qaboos bin Said of Oman who founded the company in order to reconnect with the Arab tradition of luxury perfumes. But he did it with a twist by hiring perfumers trained in the classical French tradition, and requesting powerhouse fragrances using the best of materials, sparing no expense. In 2007 Christopher Chong was the new Creative Director who hired Bertrand Duchaufour to create two anniversary scents, Jubilation 25, a floral for women, and Jubilation XXV, an incense for men. It was the start of a new, more refined aesthetic direction for Amouage, according to Mark Behnke at CaFleureBon:

Jubilation XXV shows the hallmarks of an aesthetic that has seen, arguably, one of the best runs of creativity in any perfume house over the last six years. Where Amouage was, previously, all brute force perfumery, Jubilation XXV had a gentle lyricism to it without sacrificing projection.”

For me, Bertrand Duchaufour’s signature is his incense accord. I re-ignited my perfume addiction when I discovered in New York his Timbuktu and Dzongkha incense fragrances from L’Artisan Parfumeur, spiritual, meditative incense fragrances that seem to float in cool mountain air and are like no other incense fragrances I know. He also did Avignon for Comme des Garçons, which is truly the smell of incense in a stone cathedral, accumulated from centuries of celebrating mass. His scents for Eau d’Italie also reveal his focus on incense, but with a more floral expression - the original Eau d’Italie and the exceptional Paestum Rose.

The incense story in Jubilation XXV is very different from all these. Duchaufour is known for his interest in cassis, or blackcurrent as a top note – the Enchanted Forest is the fullest expression of his play on the cassis note - and Jubilation XXV has this distinctly tart fruitiness right out of the bottle. It’s wonderfully interesting as it forms a slightly sour-bitter accord with coriander, cinnamon, clove, and a perfectly zesty orange citrus.

This initial accord is soon joined by frankincense. The magical resin immediately gives the fruit accord some weight, pulling it back from sweetness and focusing on the spice. These are all very distinct notes, but they are singing in five-part harmony voiced by angels! Into the heart with rose and more resin from guaiacwood, honey, orchid, everything in balance with the frankincense front and centre but never stealing the show. As Jubilation XXV develops, more resinous notes are added to the  mix – moss, cedarwood , and oud -  but they are tamed by musk, sweet myrhh, patchouli, and salty hints of ambergris. The unique maple syrup/curry accord of immortelle flower reveals a hint of leather in the deep dry-down.

Jubilation XXV is a vibrant symphony of rich notes and complex accords, it is divinely sumptuous, and a harmonious perfection. It is also a bright, colourful, and happy incense fragrance, with a unique personality – it comes and goes, it plays hide and seek, but at all times it is well-behaved and never intrusive. The incense seems to come alive on your skin and reads your moods, receding into the background when not needed, stepping forward when required to soothe your soul.

This is obviously a fragrance made by a talented perfumer using the best of high quality components. With Jubilation XXV Bertrand Duchaufour has taken his incense journey to an entirely new level – to the mountain top! I'm 99% certain I'll be sharing it.

Today, we're adding Jubilation XXV to our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00.

P.S....2014 is the Year of the Horse, and in Chinese astrology the Horse year is known to bring good luck and good things. I hope he brings all good things to all of you.