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Aqua Allegoria "Bergamote Calabria"  - courtesy of

Stores are open now in Toronto so I visited the Guerlain shop, just to see what was new or interesting and to chat with the Sales Reps who always have some exciting tidbit from the perfume world. I was there about an hour, talking and spritzing and listening, which revived happy memories of hours spent in the Guerlain store on the Champs Elysee in Paris a decade ago. 

I can’t count how many fragrances I sniffed that rainy spring day in Paris, but I clearly remember testing every single fragrance in the Aqua Allegoria collection. I loved the iconic bee bottles with the gold mesh honeycomb wraps, they looked so shiny and sleek lined up in a long row. But the scents were citrusy and fresh, sunny and cheerful, and didn't match my mood. I bought the classic Apres l’Ondee and the limited-edition parfum Quand Vient La Pluie, two very soft melancholic floral scents filled with magical notes of heliotrope and iris, almond and violet. Maybe the grey Paris rain had something to do with my choices.

Guerlain says the Aqua Allegoria collection was the first collection of intensely fresh fragrances in perfumery. Launched in 1999 and with new scents introduced every year since then, there are now over fifty scents in the distinctive Allegoria bottles. These Eaux de Toilette have the freshness of a cologne, and the hold of a Guerlain perfume.."and the guiding thread of the collection is bergamot, a precious citrus fruit, “Calabrian green gold”, a key ingredient in the Guerlinade…”

I left the Guerlain counter in Toronto with a bottle of Aqua Allegoria Bergamote Calabria, a newer scent in the collection from 2017 but one that revives the original brilliant focus on fresh citrus notes. Opening with a delicious citrusy splash of limey bergamot and orangey petitgrain with its distinctive bitter edge, the fresh accord soon expands and softens, sending up aromatic wafts of Earl Gray tea dusted with dried cardamom and ginger.

As it dries into the heart, the bergamot accord sweetens just a little and very slowly, blending with floral white musks and warm woody notes so that the dry-down smells clean and natural. In the base the bergamot is more herbal rather than citrus, making Bergamote Calabria warm and inviting, a perfect unisex scent with the magic of Mediterranean summer air. 

An Eau de Toilette, the scent has moderate duration with a subtle waft, the opening is very different from the drydown, which is something I love, and it smells great on clothes and skin, although it isn't a skin scent. Minimally sweet with lightly spiced  herbal and woody nuances in the far dry-down, Bergamote Calabria has an enchanting citrus radiance that sits firmly in the pleasure zone.  

Made with Calabrian gold, this is perfume gold, and it is a beautiful summer scent that can be worn and enjoyed by everyone.

Bergamote Calabria is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $6.00 for 1 ml.


Image - "Il Nostro Chinotto" - Wikimedia Commons - by romainbehar, Feb.14, 2019

Italians love their chinotto. I'm talking about citrus myrtifolia, of course, a compact tree that is native to southeastern Asia and now grows all over Italy, but primarily in Liguria and the south. The tree is part of the citrus family and bears a sour, bitter fruit that resembles a small orange. The fruit is best known by its Italian name, chinotto (pronounced kee-NO-toe), a diminutive of Cina ("China"), a reference to the fruit's origin.

So, just how much do Italians love chinotto? The trees are planted in gardens and on terraces in pots and containers. Wherever it can be grown, it is. And even though the fruit is eye-wateringly bitter, the flesh fibrous and seedy with little juice, Italians make the most of it. They use chinotto in marmalades, jams, marinades, chutneys and teas. They eat it with bread, cheese, fish, poultry and rice dishes. They candy it whole for a sweet treat at Christmas.

And they drink it. Chinotto is the key ingredient in Amari, those bitter Italian herbal liqueurs, like Cynar and Campari – think Spritz al Campari. But you most likely know chinotto from the popular carbonated Italian soft drink called Chinotto. Known as the Coca-Cola of Italy, Chinotto isn't as sweet and more bitter than Coke, and I wager there isn't an Italian bar, restaurant, trat or store anywhere in the world that doesn't offer Chinotto.

You can grow chinotto, you can eat chinotto and you can drink chinotto. Still, my favourite way to experience it is when I wear Fior di Chinotto parfum, from Italian niche line Abaton, a family perfumery located in Savona, Liguria, in northern Italy.

The Abaton website tells their story: 'Over 300 years ago, the Chinotto plant was brought to Savona from China by a Savonese sailor. The unique climate created by the proximity of the mountains to the sea made Savona the perfect environment for this plant to thrive, and this charming Italian town became its new home. The bitter citrus of the plant came to be highly regarded among navigators, who believed it was an amulet that protected them from diseases and danger on the high seas.'

Marco Abaton, a perfumer, has created three fragrances centred on chinotto essential oil from fruit grown on his family's farms. For me, the best of the three is Fior di Chinotto.

It begins with a bright, effervescent note of bitter orange, softened with a note of sweet juicy tangerine making the opening pretty and feminine. I settle right into it. Soon, a note of Damask rose wafts up to my nose. It's lush and a little powdery. I fall further into it and pick up the scent orange flowers – rich, heady and jasmine-tinged. Fruity notes support the flowers, giving them more depth and dimension. The heart blooms with more white flowers: indolic, opulent jasmine and heady, voluptuous tuberose flanked by a note of chinotto flowers that are citrusy, sweet and aromatic - they round out the white flowers beautifully. Patchouli contributes a green earthiness, while cedarwood gives it a soft woodiness. A kiss of honey adds just a lick of sweetness that leads to a note of sweet, warm amber. White musk adds a touch of warmth and sensuality that takes the fragrance from feminine to womanly, while precious woods give Fior di Chinotto a beautiful finish.

The drydown is refined and sensual, with those white flowers staying right to the end, with nothing to eclipse them. It's the intermingling of the creamy and luxurious flowers, especially in the parfum concentration, that made me realize this is the white floral I've always wanted but didn't know it until I smelled Fior di Chinotto.

Fior di Chinotto is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $7.00 for 1 ml.


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.