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Sacreste – incensy and fresh and spicy

Of all the notes in perfumery, incense is one of the most popular. It's not surprising, really, when you consider that incense has played a role in religious rituals in Christianity, Hinduism, Islam, Judaism and Buddhism, Taoist and Shinto, so most people are familiar with its scent. And, since incense's religious use has its origins in antiquity, it's a scent that people have known and shared across cultures for thousands of years. It's no wonder then that 'churchy' fragrances never truly go out of fashion. I must admit that since discovering fragrances like Incense: Avignon, Cardinal or Timbuktu and Chembur, I have developed a real appreciation that borders on obsession for them.

Which brings me to Sacreste by Italian niche line Laboratorio Olfattivo.

Launched in 2018 as part of Laboratorio Olfattivo's Black Collection, Roberto Drago, owner and art director for the brand, says in an interview with Fragrantica that "Sacreste was born from the study of another perfume that I try to achieve for 8 years. Two years ago I received a proof from Luca Maffei characterized by a famous incense that I liked very much. On that note we worked, we refined it making it sensual, we gave it volume up to the final project, which I particularly love."

I particularly love it too.

At this point, I usually translate the name of the fragrance, but I can't find a translation anywhere. Is it an Italian word for some religious rite? Is it an ancient vessel in which incense is burned? In the same Fragrantica interview, Roberto Drago, gives us the answer: 'The word Sacreste does not exist in the Italian language, I invented it specially for the perfume. You could see some recognizable parts like "sacre" or "crest" because it's about incense and church'.

A fragrance so special, a new word had to be created for its name. Sounds about right.

Sacreste opens rich and sweet, smoky and resinous from cistus labdanum. Elemi, a fragrant resin with its balsamy/pine and citrusy scent, is the perfect counterpoint to the labdanum and prevents Sacreste from becoming a heavy, dark church scent. Aromatic cardamon's sweet and resinous nature boosts the labdanum while adding a spicy warmth. Saffron adds its characteristic leatheriness and softness to the opening. As it blooms, the true heart of Sacreste is revealed. This fragrance is built upon two incense types – one bright and clean and the other smoky, dark and rich.  They form a double helix – a pair of of parallel scent strands intertwined around each other – that show different aspects of incense at different moments throughout the course of wearing it: at times it's smoky, at times it's sweet, sometimes woody or earthy or dark. A note of black pepper, hot and bracing gives a spicy brightness to the juice and an unexpected note of limette sends a sweet, fresh citrusy shot throughout the fragrance every so often. The incense stays right down to the woody base of cedarwood and guaiac wood, soft warm, woody Cashmeran, and rich ambery, woody Ambermax. Musk is here, too, ensuring a smooth finish.

Sacreste dries down to a refined, intimate skin scent that is a siren call to anyone who comes near. What I love most about it is how the heavy aspects of incense are all there, but the experience of the fragrance isn't heavy, dark or moody.

Sacreste is the reason why 'churchy' scents never go out of fashion.

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

Image - Wikimedia Commons - Burning Incense Stick - Antan, 08/13/2010