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La Myrrhe - Le meilleur (December 1, 2010 New Fragrance Listing)

Tis the season….figgy puddings, five golden rings, gold frankincense and myrrh ….so this seems like the perfect time to talk about La Myrrhe by Serge Lutens.  Well, really, anytime is the perfect time to talk about La Myrrhe cause it’s just that kind of frag, but most people’s first encounter with myrrh is as one of the gifts of the Three Wise Men, but in fact it goes waaaaay back.

Myrrh is pretty interesting stuff. It’s the dried gum resin from trees of the Commiphora species (which are native to Yemen). The resin is a reaction to a wound in the tree that goes through the bark all the way through to the sapwood. Since ancient times myrrh has been highly prized for its fragrance, its medicinal qualities and as an embalmer.

Ancient times, you say? How ancient? So ancient that the word comes from a Greek myth. This poor chick, Myrrha, was tricked by Aphrodite into having an incestuous relationship with her father Theias, the king of Assyria. When her father/lover discovered the trickery he went after Myrrha with a knife. To save her the gods changed her into a tree. Theias’ knife struck through the bark right through to the sapwood and Adonis was born from this wound. Now that’s what I call natural childbirth. Myrrha definitely had issues, and who could blame her, cause myrrh means ‘bitter’.

Enough background, let’s fast forward to La Myrrhe by Serge Lutens. Created in 1995 by Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake, La Myrrhe is an “exclusive” which is available only at his Paris store, Les Salons du Palais Royal Shiseido.

The opening is a blast of medicinal myrrh amplified with aldehydes. It doesn’t have the camphorous oomph of Tubéreuse Criminelle’s opening, but it is a showstopper nonetheless. Mandarin orange adds a citrusy/sweet note, lotus gives it a floral dimension and bitter almond plays on the bitterness of the myrrh. These soften the sharp resinous myrhh, while at the same time allowing it to shine.

Soon, the lovely licorice aspect of the myrhh comes forward. Honey at the heart rounds off more of the medicinal edge, sandalwood adds a woody note and pepper berries give it some heat, but just a little. Amber and musk expand the heat in the drydown, but La Myrrhe never gets really warm.

Not really warm or really sweet or really floral, Serge Lutens’ La Myrhhe is a showcase for the unique notes of myrrh, and the total sum of its parts is a gorgeous fragrance. Now I understand why the Three Wise Men brought myrhh as a gift, but don’t wait until Christmas to try it - La Myrrhe is all-seasonal, baby!

La Myrrhe is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $8.00 for 1 ml.