Kerosene Unknown Pleasures: some pleasures can never be forgotten

Unknown PleasuresToday I received a wonderful little package with a small sample and the sweetest message inside:

Hi Christos

Here is a sample of Unknown Pleasures. If you don’t like gourmands, please dispense into the garbage!!!


I do not like gourmands, indeed. But I have great admiration for John’s talent so I would never throw away anything he would send my way. And Unknown Pleasures is definitely a gourmand but with a lovely twist incorporated inside. In fact right in the opening. The first mouthwatering pleasure it delivers is that of bitter orange marmalade. Tangy, bitter and sticky sweet it projects a deep orange aura and just made my mouth water. I can also smell a good dose of bitter orange leaves. This is what Bigarade Concentrée should smell like! I love bitter tastes and aromas so obviously I enjoyed the opening, especially because this is a note seldom used in perfumes, even in the ones that reside in the world of gourmandise. The bitter-sweet theme continues with the addition of  a caramelised immortelle/coffee note. This is another favourite of mine so things are looking (and smelling) very good! The combination of candied bitter orange and caramelised coffee create an illusion of the classic British Christmas Pudding minus the spices: candied fruits, whiskey and stout! What makes this a real perfume and saves it from the scented candle territory, where Jeux de Peau got lost  forever for me, is the addition of all bitter intricacies that make a wonderful contradiction to the sweet, comforting notes. The thick, bitter-sweet opening very slowly fades out into a base of vanillic baby custard, powdery and dreamy.

Unknown Pleasures is not a perfume I would rush out to buy but it has fascinated me with the way it develops the gourmand theme by using unexpected notes. My sample vial wouldn’t close after the first opening so I had to use it all at once. I cannot describe how much I enjoyed this! I kept smelling and smiling all those familiar, home, childhood smells. The Kerosene trademark texture is there and I have to marvel at how well John handles sweet compositions. At the moment Fields of Rubus is very high in my “to buy” list and the Unknown Pleasures experience was shockingly more pleasant than I expected. If you liked Jeux de Peau you have to try this! My only remark is that the name does not predispose for the incredibly warm and familiar vibe of the composition.  Unless the reference points to Joy Division through the olfactory Brtishness it exudes. And to use John’s own words………………………. Enjoy!

Notes from Parfumo: Earl Grey tea, Beeswax, Bergamot, Tonka bean, Caramel, Vanilla, Waffle cone

Notes from my nose: bitter orange leaves, bitter orange marmelade, stout, baby custard

Kerosene Perfumes available from House of Kerosene


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. As a huge Joy Division and Kerosene fan, I have definitely been looking forward to this! Somehow, I was thinking it would be more tea-like than Christmas custard, but I am still excited. Thanks for the review!

  2. I’m not one for gourmand fragrances either, but I adore anything with orange notes (either orange blossoms or bitter, Seville oranges), so your comments made me sit up. Caramelised coffee and stout, too? Count me in. I really want to try this badly now. The fact that it references Joy Division is an added plus. (Now, when will someone come out with a Sisters of Mercy, Depeche Mode or New Order-inspired perfume?! 😉 )

    Thank you for a lovely review, Christos.

  3. smellythoughts

    Sounds fantastic Christos! I still haven’t tried any of Kerosene’s line. Love your thoughts on this one though – the bitter orange to immortelle made my mouth water just reading it! Nice one 😀

  4. That’s an amazing review. when I read about a release of this one I though “I need to sample this thing” you’re a lucky guy you’re friends with John, the perfumer of Kerosene

  5. Very lovely review, Christos. Orange marmalade is one of my two most favorite preserves (I’m also wild about black currant, which I realize has nothing to do with this perfume … it’s just that you’ve made me hungry with all of your gourmand descriptions here). 😀

    Orange marmalade, stout, caramelized coffee … this sounds very good indeed. The only thing that might not side well with me is the immortelle: sometimes I love it (as in SL Chypre Rouge) and quite often, I find it nauseating. I did quite like the immortelle in the sample of Sables you sent me.

  6. The brand doesn’t appeal to me but it’s always nice to read about perfumes that move.

  7. Interesting. I can’t say I’m a fan of gourmands either, but if you’re going to smell foody, at least use unusual tastes! I love caramel coffee but I’m also with Suzanne — the immortelle scares me off. What was the duration of this one? I’ve sampled three of Kerosene’s scents and they never last on my skin. 😦

    • It was very good but most Kerosene perfumes last very long on my skin. Wood Haven and Sntalum Slivers are exceptions, they were very fleeting and Whips and Roses had good longevity but rather close to the skin. Unknown Pleasures was totally satisfying in that aspect.

  8. Hayven

    Ohh, this sounds right up my alley. I’m going to have to get a sample! Great review.

  9. MicheleM

    It is indeed yummy!!! My favorite is Copper Skies, this one falls right behind.

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