These reviews are written by Tania Sanchez.
Who is Nelly Rodi? Any relation to Nelly? Do Oompah Loompahs work in Nelly’s Scent Factory? These things I cannot tell you. Instead, I will tell you what the scents smell like to me. Even though I have a cold. And because of that, I will also tell you what some of the scents smell like to my husband, who’s a real sport about these things.
#1: INCENSE I’ve smelled a lot of incense scents in my day. Or at least, that’s what I feel like. People are always telling me, “Such and such a scent is a beautiful incense scent!” and I smell it and think, “Does incense not smell like I think it smells?”
This, on the other hand, smells beautifully, directly, and plainly of a warm, deep, rich, smooth almost salty frankincense note, one of the best I’ve ever smelled. This incense doesn’t have the dank chill of Messe de Minuit or the bright bleached quality of the top notes of Passage d’Enfer. (It does remind me of what Passage d’Enfer turns into after you’ve been wearing it a few hours.) It’s fairly linear. But that’s because it doesn’t have to be anything else. It’s like what they say about cooking; if you have great ingredients, you don’t have to monkey with them—just let them shine. This is a great frankincense, and they had the sense to show it off.
Over time, rather than move into a different mode, it just develops a dark, mild, sweet balsamic tone that creeps up on you, without losing the glory of the original frankincense note. If I could have just one bottle out of this set, it would probably be this one. So far.
Husband: “Incense! Expensive incense!”
#2: RHUM It smells like Ambre Sultan, but more boring. It also smells sort of like paper products.
Husband: It smells like rum-flavored Lifesavers.
(We like it okay, as it’s a nice, subdued, complex blend of spices and and amber and woody things and all those scents that say “oriental” together, but we aren’t crazy about it. Will is fairly certain he was a pirate in a former life, and when asked whether this would be an appropriate pirate scent, rum being essential for the buccaneer lifestyle, he answered that it wouldn’t be as piratical as Ambre Sultan.)
#3: CARDAMOME Begins with a cardamom topnote so true to life, so full, so great, you’d sell your mama for it. But the high lemony character of the cardamom takes over after a few moments of cardamom heaven, and that’s how it stays: a high lemony green cardamom pod, reminiscent of lemon verbena. Much, much later, an interesting dirty, grubby note comes out.
Husband [forced to sniff the drydown]: “…It’s strange…it’s weird…” [backs away, making a skeptical face] Me: “What?” Husband: “It’s nice…but…I don’t trust my nose. It’s too weird!” Me: “Well, what do you think it smells like?” Husband: “…pot and latex?”
#4: CACAO Utterly misnamed, this one begins with a blend of flat Coca-Cola and plastic dollhead. Mind you, as a kid, I liked drinking flat Coke and sniffing the heads of dolls. So I liked that. And now you know too much about me.
I waited for the chocolate. Eventually, I get something sort of like the “chocolate” scent that they’d put in chocolate-scented erasers or scratch-n-sniff stickers, which you could think of as chocolate if you saw the word CHOCOLATE written on the thing you were smelling, if it was brown, and if you were desperate. But really, it’s not chocolate. It’s this eerie smell of wet burnt wood. … It does get sweeter as time goes on. I guess at this point, a couple of hours in, it finally does smell like chocolate, but like artificially flavored 99 cents per bottle chocolate syrup, not like a Godiva truffle.
Husband: “I ate that once! Come back, I’m going to want to smell that again. It was like a marshmallow, or like mochi, a candy, puffed. It was pink. It was some kind of confection, doughy, sweet…God, I wish I knew what that was. I must have been very very young. Of course I wanted it, because it was a sweet, but at the same time, there was something cloying and artificial about it…I can’t place when it was or who gave it to me…it was pink. I know I ate that. I can remember it so clearly.”
Me: “Was it a Mallomar?”
Him: “Don’t be silly. I eat Mallomars all the time. This was something else. Just say it was a bizarre sweet that I had when I was a child and was ambiguous about.”
See Tania’s reviews of Nelly Rodi’s 5-8.