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Santal Majuscule – Do you believe in magic? – January 20, 2014 New Fragrance Listing

Sandalwood saplingd - photo courtesy of Wikipedia

When was the last time you experienced magic? Not the OMG-I-never-thought-I’d-get-that-stain-out-of-my-favourite-sweater kind of magic. I mean, when did you last experience the creation of something seemingly impossible through the use of natural means?


OK, I’ll go first….the moment I smelled Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens.


Sandalwood is an aromatic wood from the genus Santalum, part of the same botanical family as European mistletoe, that, unlike other woods, retains its fragrance for decades. Over time, sandalwood has become a key ingredient in perfumery – its soft, woody, creamy, milky scent makes it the perfect base note, and since it stabilizes more volatile materials in a frag, it’s an excellent ‘fixative’. It also plays nicely with white flowers, like gardenia, jasmine and ylang-ylang, making it a key ingredient in many ‘floriental’ fragrances. 


Where would perfume be without sandalwood? Well, we’re beginning to find out. The highest quality sandalwood comes from Mysore, India but over-harvesting of this slow-growing tree has made product scarce to the point that it has become an endangered species, forcing suppliers look elsewhere, like Australia, for product. Here’s the rub: Australian sandalwood has a much harsher scent profile than that from India.  


Santal Majuscule is the third Lutens’ fragrance to showcase sandalwood, after Santal Blanc and Santal de Mysore. “Majuscule’ means ‘capital’ and the Lutens website describes Santal Majuscule as “Sandalwood written in capital letters, full scale and life sized!” And it’s based on Australian sandalwood. Here’s where the magic starts…right out of the bottle with sandalwood and Damask rose. As body heat warms up the fragrance, it gets more complex – the sandalwood develops a sweet, sweaty, animalic woodiness, while the lush, creamy rose has a soft fruity, apricot facet. In the Middle East, Damask rose is used to flavour desserts like Turkish delight, rice pudding and ice cream, and it offers some of that sweetness here, giving Santal Majuscule a delicious gourmand aspect while keeping it way south of sweet-tooth territory. Then, a note of cocoa gives it a rich, deep, dark smoothness. Santal Majuscule is the smell of ecstasy. 


The drydown is dry, balsamy, rich, woody and warm – it is the smell of ecstasy with a heft that keeps me reaching for it on cold winter days.


Perfumery is chemistry, but it takes a kind of magic to transform Australian sandalwood into something sublime and then coax complementing facets of rose and cocoa and add them to it, but Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake did it beautifully with Santal Majuscule.


Santal Majuscule was my latest magic moment – now it’s your turn to experience one.


Today, we’re adding Santal Majuscule to our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00.