Praline, a confection of sugar and nuts, is something I enjoy preparing as much for the smell as for the taste. When the caramel begins to darken and send forth its voluptuous, heady aroma, I always wish I could capture precisely this perfume in a bottle. Most caramel gourmand ideas in fragrances, however, are far too sweet for my tastes, without the nutty bitterness that is essential to the aroma of praline.
When I first heard about Parfumerie Generale’s new limited edition fragrance Praliné de Santal, I was hesitant, imagining a cloying, dense mélange. I should not have worried. Praliné de Santal hits all of the indulgent nuances of a true gourmand, while steering clear of the sugary, cotton candy effect. While most gourmand fragrances go heavy on vanilla and musk, Praliné de Santal makes woods the center of its composition. The darkness of woods is the initial impression of this fragrance, with a delicious, toasted bread note underpinning the creamy richness. It is not an overly complex perfume, and while it develops to reveal richer sandalwood and sugared almonds facets, it essentially maintains the original character.
Praliné de Santal might be compared to Serge Lutens Jeux de Peau and Issey Miyake Le Feu d’Issey, two sophisticated gourmand fragrances. All three fragrances share a similar roasted peanut and baked bread note, although Praliné de Santal is lighter, less nuanced and substantial overall. For those who found Jeux de Peau overly dense and heavy, the lite version might prove to be a good thing.
I find Praliné de Santal very appealing and comforting, reminiscent of my occasional indulgent breakfast of crepes filled with praline paste. Its moderate sillage means that it will not announce your presence before you enter the room, unlike Jeux de Peau , but this is not necessarily a bad thing.
Parfumerie Generale Praliné de Santal includes notes of sandalwood, heliotrope, hazelnut, Virginian cedar, and cashmeran. Available from Luckyscent, The Perfume Shoppe, Les Senteurs, First in Fragrance, and directly through the Parfumerie Générale website. 50ml, $100; 100ml, $150 of Eau de Parfum.
Photography © Bois de Jasmin