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Smuggler’s Soul – A different sandalwood experience


Image - - Original LUSH store in Poole, Dorset, UK, by Njlawley, May 21, 2012

“Nice”, he said.

“Nice what?”

“Nice scent. Nice smell. ”

My son is a man of few words, so when he says he likes a fragrance I’m wearing, I really pay attention. I was wearing Smuggler’s Soul by Gorilla Perfume.

I came off the subway into the Eaton Centre in downtown Toronto the other afternoon, walked past the LUSH store and immediately did a U-turn right into the store. It was packed with customers and I wanted to see what was going on. Turns out it was just business-as-usual, customers stocking up on bath, skin, and hair care items to get ready for the big Spring reveal (which BTW, according to today’s attempted snowfall is still just a figment of our imaginations)…so I headed directly to the perfume testers, and spritzed a couple of fragrances: Smuggler’s Soul and All Good Things. Then I left before the inimitable LUSH bath-bomb waft  began to cloud my thinking.

Every perfume lover knows that it’s impossible to judge a fragrance from the first few minutes on your skin, and this is especially true of the Gorilla line. Original, sometimes weird, but always interesting, in addition to being excellent quality for the money, Gorilla perfumes are the creation of the father-and-son team of Michael and Simon Constantine, both self-taught perfumers who also own LUSH. Gorilla fragrances are hand-blended in-house by LUSH and are composed mostly of high quality natural essential oils and distillations which they personally source directly from global producers. 

“We are an antidote to boring mass-market scents and a movement to get people excited about good quality perfume.” If you don’t know about LUSH, check out the UK website

Natural fragrances tend to react differently with skin chemistry, so I knew I had about an hour to shop before I got into some serious wrist-sniffing to decide which one pushed all the right scent triggers for me.

Smuggler’s Soul was the winner. This is sandalwood, sandalwood and green vetiver, which makes this fragrance different and original right out of the box, since the sandalwood note is most often matched with dark or rich notes such as vanilla, patchouli, amber or musk. The Gorilla creative team love sandalwood, they’ve travelled around the world to find sustainable sources, and have written a story about their experiences in their graphic novel named On the trail of the Sandalwood Smugglers. "Sandalwood is a beautiful oil which has been used for centuries, it is an oil we love and we are very excited to be able to tell its complex and amazing story." Hence the name Smuggler’s Soul for their sandalwood fragrance.

Smuggler’s Soul uses two types of sandalwood – Rosewood oil (Aniba Rosaeodoro) and Sandalwood (Santalum Austro-Caledonicum Vieill). The first few moments are strong, vibrant with resinous oils layered one on top of the other - lemongrass and green vetiver and the two sandalwoods, forming an accord that smells soapy and oily from the mix of resins but oddly dry, like dry body oil. It’s fresh and green and very alive.

After five minutes, Smuggler’s Soul has a classic masculine vibe which begins to lighten as the lemon note becomes juicier and sweeter and the sandalwood note warms up, releasing woody aromas like the scent of fine sawdust in a wood-working studio. Tagetes (marigold) oil with its waxy quality and faint smoky almost boozy undertones, is layered into the mix, which is the lead-in for a long and wonderful dry-down.

After thirty minutes, Smuggler’s Soul is humming, radiating warmth and good feeling. The waxy marigold note transforms into a feminine powdery vintage lipstick note, a la Frederic Malle’s Lipstick Rose minus the rose, harmonizing perfectly with the sweetened lemongrass and vetiver accord, yin and yang. An hour in, the sandalwood accord moves into the spotlight and stays there for hours, its distinctive creamy powdery woody character offering hints of spice and sweet, and calming balsams. The mind’s eye can see the beautiful wood grain polished to  satiny perfection, smooth as silk and warm to the touch. 

Smuggler’s Soul is unisex, an extremely well-made fragrance with excellent staying power and a well-calibrated waft, and for sandalwood lovers, this unique fragrance featuring their favourite note paired with green vetiver is an experience they shouldn’t miss. There’s nothing else like it.

After I bought my bottle, I checked to see if Luca Turin had reviewed it in Perfumes The Guide 2018. Yup, there it was, with 4 Stars: “ Smuggler’s Soul simply radiates mischief and glee. Wonderful.” 

Smuggler’s Soul, as my son noted in his understated style, is a nice smell. After further discussion he admitted,  “It smells great, I really like it. I’d even wear it if I had a bottle…”

So there you have it, my son and Luca Turin came to the same conclusion about Smuggler’s Soul, sort of...who wouldda thought….? 

As for me, I’m loving Smuggler’s Soul as we segue ever so slowly into Spring. Its fresh warmth makes me feel hopeful and happy, just the same way warm sun on bare skin makes me feel.  And that’s what Smuggler’s Soul is supposed to do, according to the LUSH website, because it’s a “…warm, woody and rich fragrance that can soothe and uplift even the darkest of moods…”

Smuggler’s Soul is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.

Read about other Gorilla Perfume fragrances we've listed in our Decant Store:

Breath of God and Lust

Image - Smuggler's Soul bottle,