I felt the need to re-introduce myself and explain a few things about how I write about perfume. I do not pretend to know a lot about perfume, I just like it a lot and we have developed some sort of communication: perfume tells me stories and I use it to recreate ambiances, alter my mood, talk about myself in a subtle but characteristic way. And when I decide to write about a scent it is because I think I have an angle on it. It spoke and I listened.
I mostly write about perfume I own and have worn time and time again. All my posts in the category Full Bottles belong to this long term relationship. So when I decide to write a post I already have something specific in mind. Still I put on the perfume myself and keep mental notes of what I smell. When I am ready to write I sit down and keep actual notes while smelling the perfume. I follow its progression and write down notes or things I am reminded of. I have a rather limited repertoire of notes I recognize, just the basics. I wish I had a larger memory database. I do not aim to pin down every note reported in official note listings. But after I have written the core of my post I visit sites with note listings and other’s reviews trying to verify what I smelled or sometimes identify new things that were just on the brink of entering my mental olfactorium. For example I have never smelled guaiac wood so the note is not immediately recognizable. I have smelled several fragrances that reportedly have that note though. So obviously through some mental process I slowly start to pin it down and isolate it. When I wrote my review of Un Bois Vanille I picked up a woody note that reminded me a bit of hairspay. The word “guaiac” flashed in my mind for the first time. I verified it through Birgit’s review of the same perfume, so I can safely say that I have now pinned down this note. Something similar happened with opoponax and this is how I mostly expand my ability to pin down notes. Of course from time to time I manage to get hold of raw materials and this helps a lot but I think that real knowledge of an ingredient for me comes from the process I described. Some times I just pick an accord that directly transcribes to my mind as a smell I already know and I leave it at this, like the halitosis/ degenerated cellulose accord of Urban Musk and the summer lunch pyramid of Angel Schlesser Homme. I particularly enjoy these posts because they are very personal and tightly interwoven with my memories. They may be a little hard to approach and relate to for readers but this is how I write about perfume.
My reference sources for perfume notes are Parfimo with the very intelligent interactive note listing and Parfyym, the largest database of note listings I have found. It is in Esthonian (I cannot believe no one has offered to translate it yet) but works just fine if you start navigation in it with Google translate.
On my Quick Sniff series of posts I just express my first impressions from testers or small decants. I have paid for most of them. Some where sent by dear friends like Suzanne of Eiderdown press and Saif. Some given as a promotion with bottles I bought (like Vitriol d’Oelliet and L’Eau Froide) or as part of mass promotional campaigns (like the Killians). I have never been offered targeted promotional samples, not that I wouldn’t like to, but if I do I will disclose this information. Sample wearings do not allow me to fully unlock the composition of a fragrance but it is the best I can do with the limited volume and time I have with this particular perfume I am writing about, so take my comments with a grain of salt. A large one.