Smoke and Ashes

Please give a warm welcome to Elisa Gabbert, a new Bois de Jasmin contributor. Elisa’s first brush with perfume greatness came in the form of a bottle of White Linen lotion from her grandmother. About 20 years later, she fell down the rabbit hole after reading “Perfumes: The A to Z Guide” cover to cover on a flight. Currently she lives in Denver and is the content marketing manager at a small software company based in Boston. She also writes poetry (with collections including “The French Exit” and “The Self Unstable”) and is a founding member of Denver Poets’ Theater. You can discover her poetry and reflections on other things at her blog, The French Exit.

If we were wired properly, the smell of smoke would read as a warning sign. Yet I don’t associate smoke with Colorado wildfires or the carcinogenic properties of cigarettes and burnt toast. Instead, smoke conjures all things cozy and delicious: passing whiskey around a campfire, worn leather gloves, blown-out candles, the whiff of vanilla pipe tobacco when you pass a dapper old fellow on the street. I love smoke in my food (lox, bacon, barbecue,  smoked paprika, chipotle chiles) and I love smoke in my perfumes.

incense-smoke

Because smoke comes from fire, it’s an inherently warming scent, so as the air gets crisp and I pull out my scarves and fall jackets, I start craving my smoky perfumes. There’s a bit of magic in them – it makes sense that crushed rose petals would smell something like rose, but it’s somehow less obvious that you can bottle the effect of gray wisps rising in curls from ash.

To achieve a smoky illusion, perfumers use a number of different materials, from natural to man-made. The dry smoke sensation in perfumes like Chanel Cuir de Russie comes from birch tar. Traditionally used in tanneries, this rich and dark material is inextricably linked with the smell of leather. The synthetics like isobutyl quinoline (think of Robert Piguet Bandit) smell less like burnt wood and more like new car leather. Cade oil (also known as juniper tar), resins like styrax, labdanum, and opoponax, and animalic materials like castoreum also have smoky nuances.

The effect can be as subtle as in Guerlain Shalimar or as pungent as in Comme des Garcons Tea. In fact, I never understood Shalimar until I came into a bottle of an older vintage of eau de cologne, in which the smoky touch of birch tar was much more pronounced than in the current version. Smoke notes can bring a masculine edge to a feminine oriental or go as butch as leather chaps – or feel as abstract and genderless as autumn air.

Here are a few of my favorite smoky scents.

L’Artisan Tea for Two and Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb

It took me a while to get around to sampling L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Tea for Two; with a name like that I imagined a humble, unassuming little thing. But I received a sample in a swap and was blown away, and since then I’ve been collecting as much as I can get. It’s intensely smoky in an almost savory way – like charred meat – but the smoke is balanced with a beautifully restrained cinnamon note. Tea for Two instantly transports me to a big leather armchair in a library with a fireplace and red paisley wallpaper. The sillage surrounds you like a soft throw. Sadly, Tea for Two is now pretty difficult to find. Though not as deeply smoky, the leathery gingerbread of Viktor & Rolf Spicebomb comes pretty close.

Le Labo Patchouli 24

Perfumer Annick Menardo has a gift for deceptively simple perfumes; scents like Bulgari Black and Dior Hypnotic Poison are about as pared down as you can get while still being interesting and surprising. Black is Menardo’s most well-known leather scent, but it smells less like the inside of a Bentley and more like a tire store: a distinctly pliable note of rubber, sweetened up with tons of vanilla. Patchouli 24, on the other hand, is almost a pure birch tar experience, an accord halfway between smoldering wood and polished leather. It’s the distilled scent of a far-off fire. If you love woodsmoke and aged leather with minimal adornment, or just want to know what birch tar smells like, this is your girl.

Sonoma Scent Studio Winter Woods

Winter Woods is not a leather scent, but a rich, animalic amber with a fiery glow. A slew of woody, resinous materials (including guaiacwood, cedar, sandalwood, and labdanum) are given a smoky cast with birch tar and cade oil and a sultry, salty backdrop of castoreum, ambergris, and musk (synthetic and cruelty-free). As in L’Artisan’s Tea for Two, the edginess of the smoky, slightly acrid materials provides balance against the boozy, vanillic amber drydown, allowing Winter Woods to be comfortingly sweet. I haven’t tried every amber on the market, but I’ve tried a lot of them, and there’s really nothing else like this.

Six Scents M

Part of the Memories collection from Six Scents, for which each perfumer was asked to create a scent based on the memory of a designer, M is perfumer Yann Vasnier’s interpretation of “Rebellious nights spent up til dawn; dancing, meeting friends and finding love.” For once, the brief and the perfume are in perfect synchronicity. M is instantly ravishing, a nighttime perfume as sexy and mysterious as brushing up against a stranger. Like Gucci Rush, it smells mostly synthetic, and that’s partly why it works – the leather is rendered hazy through a chemical note like a smoke machine; then there’s the velvety musks, milky fruity notes, and nutty tonka bean combining for an effect like hot breath fogging up a cold window. Then, surprisingly, it dries down to an almost pure cardamom note. This must be the cleanest-smelling dirty perfume there is.

Soivohle Sonoran Leather

Liz Zorn has done several excellent leather scents; the two we own (this one and Meerschaum) are among my husband’s favorites. Sonoran Leather goes so far in the spicy, smoky direction it actually smells like gunpowder. Wickedly sulfuric, searingly hot and dry, it’s powerfully evocative of a high desert sun and the tang of gunsmoke that hangs in the air after a round of skeet shooting. One of the strangest leathers of all time – wear it to feel like a cowboy.

What are your favorite smoky scents?

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, incense smoke at Senso-Ji Temple, Tokyo, Japan.

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121 Comments

  • rosarita: Hi Elisa, you have gotten my attention with this post as we share some perfume favorites. Have to put Six Scents M on the must try list. Currently I’m enjoying Imaginary Authors Memoirs of a Trespasser; perfect for fall, it’s wood smoke and vanilla. Very nice. October 8, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you for the recommendation! I’ve been curious about the Imaginary Authors line, some of them sound really appealing. October 8, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

  • Martha: I think that Incense Pure by Sonoma Scent Studio is the smokiest I’ve ever smelled. This is one that I have layered and probably will continue to do because I like slightly sweetened smokiness. October 8, 2013 at 8:17am Reply

    • Elisa: Laurie at SSS does smoky scents so well! I also really love Tabac Aurea. October 8, 2013 at 9:37am Reply

  • Connie: Incense Pure is great, and I also really like Tabac Aurea, which reminds me a bit of L’Artisan’s Tea for Two. October 8, 2013 at 8:58am Reply

    • Elisa: Tabac Aurea is one of my all-time favorites. October 8, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

      • Louise: In case I missed it, SSS Fireside Intense is a wonderful smoke scent-a bit woody, a touch rubbery, full blast smoke. Wonderful. October 9, 2013 at 9:14am Reply

        • Elisa: I think I have a sample of that one, I need to dig it out now that it’s smoke weather! October 9, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

  • Lucas: Hi Elisa!
    We know each other from some earlier times, don’t we?

    I loved reading your post. I myself am not a big smoky maniac but I totally agree with you on SSS Winter Woods, it’s a great scent, warm & animalic. I have a bigger decant of that one (would be a bottle if SSS weren’t so hard to get to Poland) October 8, 2013 at 9:23am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Lucas! You have probably seen me comment here and on NST!

      Winter Woods is the first bottle that I bought from SSS. Now I own almost all of them! October 8, 2013 at 9:38am Reply

      • Lucas: For sure it was NST. And probably FFF?

        Wow, I’m envious 😉 My favorite SSS is Sienna Musk October 8, 2013 at 9:46am Reply

        • Elisa: That one reminds me of birch beer! October 8, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

  • FeralJasmine: I love Spicebomb on my husband and Winter Woods on me. In some perfume-related correspondence I learned that Winter Woods doesn’t actually contain any vanilla, but wouldn’t you swear it’s there? Some facet of the amber, I suppose. I not end to try Tea for Two as soon as possible, but suspect that the Zluz Zorn would be too much or me. Might need to sample it just to make sure, though… October 8, 2013 at 9:28am Reply

    • Elisa: Oh, interesting! I wonder if it contains styrax — styrax smells a little like vanilla and is sometimes used in amber accords.

      The Liz Zorn is pretty intense! October 8, 2013 at 9:45am Reply

    • Brian: Perhaps there is some sort of balsam in there; they usually smell rather vanilla-like, especially benzoin. March 13, 2014 at 6:50pm Reply

  • Portia: Hey Elisa,
    Congratulations on your first post. It is fun and informative, I’d never have put Spicebomb and T42 in the same category but since you’ve said it I want to do a testing, and will. So happy you mentioned SOIVOHLE, I love their work but haven’t tried Sonoran Leather yet.
    Portia x October 8, 2013 at 9:43am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Portia, thank you! Spicebomb is definitely more of a mainstream version of T42 (love that abbreviation), but there’s a strong family resemblance. Happy to meet another SOIVOHLE fan, I think her line is underrated. October 8, 2013 at 9:49am Reply

  • briony: I smelled Cartier’s La Treizieme Heure last weekend. For some reason I was expecting iris – totally erroneously – because it’s all smoky patchoili and lansang souchong. That said, I did like it. But then I do love me a smoky scent. Tea for Two is one of my all-time favourites. I also love Avignon and Patchouli 24, but they’re a little overpowering to wear in polite company. October 8, 2013 at 9:52am Reply

    • Elisa: That Cartier sounds right up my alley! October 8, 2013 at 10:01am Reply

  • Julie: Hello Elisa. Welcome! Your post today is exactly why I love this blog so much. It transports me into another world of pleasures. I forget for a bit that I’m reading this from my desk at a small rural Missouri town. I love where I’m at but that doesn’t preclude me from having a love of all things beyond my doorstep. Thank you for the distraction this morning.
    I have a deep appreciation for all kinds of fragrances. My growing collection does not currently include a smoky scent. But my next adventure into fragrance will have to now meander in that direction. I can’t wait to start trying. October 8, 2013 at 9:57am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Julie!

      Perhaps you could start with a gently smoky leather, like Shalimar or Cuir de Lancome, or a gently smoky incense like Black Cashmere. Good luck! October 8, 2013 at 10:02am Reply

      • silverdust: Now that you mention it, my first bottle of Cuir de Lancome arrived yesterday, a blind buy for me after reading the rave reviews on its leather component.

        *sigh*

        I was expecting at least some leather note, but only got amber. Here’s hoping there’s a generous return policy!

        BUT, I’m so grateful for the smoky/incense list. They’re my fave, as I feel I’m a ‘fumer anomaly: no white flowers, fruit, amber or patch!

        One of the best leathers was the original Azuree. Even though EL says the formula has never changed, it’s just not the same.

        Welcome to the blog. You’re off to an auspicious start! October 8, 2013 at 1:50pm Reply

        • Elisa: Oh, I hope you’ll consider giving CdL another chance! I wasn’t sure about it the first couple of times I tried it, but now it’s truly one of my all-time favorites. I think you have to let the saffron note settle a bit. (But, yes, the styrax in the drydown is pretty amber-y.)

          If you like Azuree, you would probably like Aramis too — also a leather chypre, but less citrusy. October 8, 2013 at 1:55pm Reply

        • Hannah: I felt the same way about Cuir de Lancome. Cuir de Russie isn’t what I want in a leather perfume, either.

          For ashes, I like Hilde Soliani Bell’Antonio. My mom is a heavy smoker and it smells like her coat. So me it isn’t a sexy scent but a comfort scent. October 8, 2013 at 2:06pm Reply

          • Elisa: Perhaps you’re not a birch tar fan. I find that different people perceive leather in different ways. For example, I don’t get any leather from Bottega Veneta (I do like it though). October 8, 2013 at 2:18pm Reply

            • Hannah: Patchouli 24 is one of my favorite perfumes….
              My favorite leather is Cuir Ottoman. October 8, 2013 at 7:59pm Reply

              • Elisa: I guess you like birch tar then. 🙂 October 8, 2013 at 8:11pm Reply

  • Phyllis Iervello: Wonderful post Elisa! October 8, 2013 at 10:02am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Phyllis, I’m very happy to be here! October 8, 2013 at 10:03am Reply

  • nikki: Hello Elisa!

    Such a lovely review of smoky perfumes! I love smoke (fire, not cigarettes) as well, in conjunction with Scotch!

    I completely understand your Shalimar reference as I wore Shalimar extrait on several occasions and people did not recognize it as Shalimar. The ancient extrait is so different from the overly sweet new stuff I find.

    While Comme des Garcons’ Avignon is more of an incense, frankincense to be precise, scent, I feel it is smoky, like cooling smoke, smoke in dark churches….

    Looking forward to some more of your insights! October 8, 2013 at 10:21am Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks very much, Nikki! I am still learning to appreciate Scotch, which I always thought smelled like Band-Aids. There’s a bar in Denver that makes a Mezcal Old-Fashioned which is lovely!

      I agree on Shalimar. I bought an old, sealed bottle of Eau de Cologne at an estate sale and then didn’t open it for almost a year because I was worried it might be bad or I just wouldn’t like it. How wrong I was. It’s sensational, and lasts like today’s EDP’s. October 8, 2013 at 10:26am Reply

  • Anka: Hi Elisa,
    thanks for an inspiring post! I’m not very familiar with smoky scents but now I desperately want to try Sonoran Leather and Winter Woods.
    My favorite smoky scents so far are:
    Bvlgari Black, which immediately evokes adventurous feelings and wanderlust.
    PG Cozé – I love the scrumptious coffe-dark chocolate smokiness.
    ELdO Like This – it smells smoky to me although it doesn’t contain neither tobacco nor leather. It’s a very warm and comfortable fragrance, perfect for October and a walk through tress covered in multi-coloured leaves. Maybe it’s the immortelle with a slightly sweet pumpkin-orange-note which smells a bit “burnt” to me… October 8, 2013 at 10:28am Reply

    • Elisa: Black is such a classic! I especially love it on my husband, where the sweetness is more surprising.

      I haven’t tried Coze, but it sounds delicious — going on my sample list. From the same line, I love Cadjmere. Just a perfect creamy, woody vanilla. October 8, 2013 at 10:34am Reply

  • Marsha Smith: Hi Elisa and welcome! My favorite of all-time smoky scent is the smell of my husband’s hair after he cooked on the grill! My favorite smoky scents in a bottle are Shalimar and Black Cashmere. I would love to try some of the others, but have never quite had the chance yet. October 8, 2013 at 10:35am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Marsha, I know that smell! Once this summer I spent a little too long sitting by a firepit in a friend’s backyard and went to bed smelling like a BBQ myself!

      Black Cashmere is such a lovely combination of ashy incense and clove. It’s one of my favorite uses of clove in perfume next to Tabac Aurea and Sacrebleu. October 8, 2013 at 10:41am Reply

  • Sabine: Hallo Elisa,
    I also love smokey perfumes. Have you tried the weird and rather wonderful Voice of reason from Lush? October 8, 2013 at 10:50am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Sabine! Voice of Reason has some of my favorite notes (rose, sandalwood, tonka), so I’d like to try it. I don’t believe my local Lush store carries them yet, I’ll have to go harass them about it! October 8, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

  • Zazie: Loved your evocative and informative post!
    The reason I love Shalimar so much is because of its smoky leather and powdery softness.
    I’ve never smelled a really vintage version (I have an older bottle from the 1990s – but that one is waaay less leathery and animalic than the current parfum: it smells more like straight up caramel. Not my style).
    The only two very smoky perfumes I can think of are Encens flamboyant by AG (I almost sense the fire, it’s so smoky it burns!) and Chanel’s polished Sycomore – a smoky vetiver.
    Now I want to try winter woods. 🙂 October 8, 2013 at 10:52am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Zazie!

      Ambre Fetiche from the same AG trio is also very smoldering. And I just recommended Sycamore to a friend who was looking for a wedding perfume for her soon-to-be-husband. She loved it! October 8, 2013 at 10:55am Reply

  • Anne of Green Gables: Hi Elisa, thanks for the terrific post! Unfortunately, I haven’t had a chance to try any of the perfumes you mentioned but Tea for Two (too bad that this has been discontinued…) and Winter Woods sound especially appealing. Do you happen to know any perfume that smells like a crisp autumn evening with a hint of wood burning from a fireplace? October 8, 2013 at 10:56am Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Anne! Winter Woods definitely has the “wood burning” part down but is perhaps not so crisp. Have you tried Ormonde Jayne Woman? It’s like an amber crossed with a green chypre. October 8, 2013 at 10:59am Reply

      • Anne of Green Gables: Thanks for the suggestion, Elisa. I’ve heard many good things about it but haven’t tried it yet. I should try it during my next sniffing trip in town. October 9, 2013 at 6:16am Reply

  • nozknoz: Great topic and post!

    Amouage Ubar is intensely smoky to my nose. I don’t like it at all, but it has many fans. I totally agree with you – I never appreciated Shalimar until I found an older EdT in the boule bottle.

    I also have some old Lanvins and Schiaparellis that have a lot of birch tar and other banned ingredients (I’d like to go fumigate IFRA with them!!!). They are great in the fall.

    Sometimes a touch of vetiver creates an almost smoky impression in the right context. One of my favs is BK Liaisons Dangereuses, a rose-plum scent that I love in the fall. October 8, 2013 at 11:13am Reply

    • Elisa: Ha! Love your plan with IFRA.

      What an interesting point about vetiver, it’s an ingredient that’s in so many perfumes but I somehow rarely pay attention to it. But I think you’re right — it adds to the smoky character of many Tauer perfumes, for example.

      I also love Liaisons Dangereuse, especially that almost savory coconut top note! October 8, 2013 at 11:18am Reply

  • Douglas Bender: Welcome Elisa. Really enjoyed your post on smoky scents. Reminded me of a conversation I had earlier this year with Dita Von Teese about our mutual love of burning leaves, a scent that definitely peeks its head out in her Erotique. For me, I like to temper some of the smoky notes you mention above with some guaiacwood or elemi to really push the burning crackle smell of a fire.

    Looking forward to more new posts from you. October 8, 2013 at 11:15am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Douglas! Have you tried M. Micallef Gaiac? It’s very nice. October 8, 2013 at 11:20am Reply

      • nikki: MFK’s Amyris has Gaiac wood and is magnificent! October 8, 2013 at 1:18pm Reply

  • Cornelia Blimber: Hi Elisa! Compliments on this interesting post. Of the perfumes you mention, only Spice Bomb is familiar to me. I like the initial part, but the sweet vanillish drydown spoils it for me. With my cigar (yes, I smoke cigars, Panatella) and my Johnny Walker Black Label I prefer Racine (Maître Parfumeur). I love smoky perfumes, so I will try the other ones from your article.
    If incense counts: my fav. is Bois d’Encens. Other beloved smoky perume: Idole de Lubin. A strange smell, in the beginning pure rhum, but it develops into a fine leather.
    Other favorites are Cuir de Russie (of course!) and Palais Jamais and Shaal Nur by Etro. October 8, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Cornelia! Idole de Lubin has been on my sample list for a long time. I love boozy perfumes! Ambre Russe is another one you might like. October 8, 2013 at 12:30pm Reply

  • Annikky: Elisa, thank you for a lovely post and welcome! I’m a fellow lover of all things smoky, I could probably eat anything – including wood – as long as it’s smoked. I adore campfires and fireplaces (they are common where I come from) and the scent of burning leaves.

    The most intense of all smoky fragrances I’ve tried must be SSS Fireside Intense. It can be difficult to wear, but it’s still enjoyable. I’ve also just smelled Goutal’s Eau du Fier and it’s quite something. Cuir de Russie is one of my absolute favourites, but I don’t really think of it as a smoky fragrance, although the smokiness is definitely there.

    If I had to pick a favourite among the truly smoky, it wouldn’t be a fragrance at all, but a candle: Diptyque’s Feu de Bois. Compared to some of the tar-bombs (no offence! love tar-bombs!) it’s quite subtle, but still pretty unconventional for a room scent and just beautiful. Perfect for this time of year. October 8, 2013 at 12:46pm Reply

    • Elisa: I feel the same way that you do about smoky foods and smoky atmospheres. I’m about ready for fireplace weather!

      If I ever win the lottery I am going to treat myself to Diptyque candles for life. 🙂 October 8, 2013 at 1:43pm Reply

      • Patricia: Hi Elisa, and welcome! I’m with you on those Diptyque candles :). October 9, 2013 at 5:46pm Reply

        • Elisa: Thank you! October 9, 2013 at 5:55pm Reply

    • Austenfan: Do you like the Eau du Fier? October 11, 2013 at 7:25am Reply

      • Annikky: Yes, I do, and I’m grateful for the chance to try it. But it really is powerful, I only sprayed a tiny amount and it was quite enough – I don’t think I could have handled much more.

        Such a shame it’s discontinued, I’d love to own a bottle just to have it on hand. October 15, 2013 at 4:23pm Reply

  • Jay: hi elisa, really enjoyed your post! i love tea for two as well, and treasure the remains of my bottle. It’s so rich and complex. Spicebomb is a little too sweet for my tastes but I think I would like it very much on a man.

    I am a big fan of incense fragrances as well, like CdG’s incense series, and Etro Messe de Minuit. October 8, 2013 at 12:56pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks Jay! I am on my second decant of Tea for Two and always on the lookout for bottles. I agree that Spicebomb is sweeter, but I still enjoy it.

      Have you tried YSL Nu? It’s one of my favorite incense fragrances. October 8, 2013 at 1:44pm Reply

  • iodine: Welcome Elisa, beautiful post to begin!
    I love the smell of smoke, more feeling it in the air- hmmm Autumn, falling leaves, fireplaces crackling in the living room..- than wearing it on myself, though certain resinous, smoky hints of incense, myrrh or opoponax are mostly appreciated! My favourite smoky fragrance is Feu de Bois Dyptique candle- the illusion of a fireplace! 😉 October 8, 2013 at 1:12pm Reply

    • Elisa: Another Feu de Bois lover!

      I love a little hint of myrrh in a fragrance — I learned from this blog that some of my favorites include it, like Donna Karan Gold. October 8, 2013 at 1:46pm Reply

  • Alice: What an interesting article – thankyou! I’m also a tea for two fan. Loved it on first sniff many years ago, bought it, found it a bit overwhelming, then panicked when it was discontinued, bought a back up bottle…..and luckily now love it all over again. The trick for me is to reserve if for autumn/winter, when I pull it out and wear it a lot, especially at weekends (more casual than smart, for me). October 8, 2013 at 1:31pm Reply

    • Elisa: I’m glad you enjoyed it Alice! Tea for Two always makes me feel so warm, so I definitely reserve it for cooler weather. October 8, 2013 at 1:47pm Reply

      • Alice: I have just realised… Are you the Elisa that likes Rossy de Palma by ELd’O? If so, then we share 3 favourites: t42, RdeP and liaisons dangereuse October 8, 2013 at 2:50pm Reply

        • Elisa: Yes, that’s me!! We must be scent twins! October 8, 2013 at 2:54pm Reply

          • Alice: How exciting! I’ve never had one before.

            I count all 3 of those as ‘adventurous’, rather than classic, elegant, smart, quiet, sultry…..my own rather basic descriptors.. All of these types are fine, but my special favourites are the adventurous ones. October 8, 2013 at 3:18pm Reply

            • Elisa: You’re right, they are adventurous! I have a fondness for bold, even impolite perfumes. (Explains my love for Maurice Roucel.) October 8, 2013 at 3:23pm Reply

              • Alice: In that case I look forward to more posts from you! October 8, 2013 at 3:25pm Reply

  • Parfumista: Hi Elisa, inspiring post. Puredistance Black has a gentle and refined smoky passage in the basenotes and I love this new creation as a whole, not just the smoky part. Carner Barcelona D600 has a addictive smoky note which is close to cigarette smoke. The “just lit” cigarettenote of Royal Vintage by M.Micallef is also great. October 8, 2013 at 2:15pm Reply

    • Elisa: Here is where I should admit I’ve never smoked a cigarette and have no happy associations with the smell. 🙂 I find it interesting that I can love the smell of pure tobacco so much, but cringe at the smell of lit cigarettes and cigars. October 8, 2013 at 2:20pm Reply

  • NeenaJ: Terrific post, Elisa! I adore Winter Woods and most of SSS’s non-floral scents, especially Forest Walk and Incense Pure. I’ve got a sample of Spicebomb that I need to pull out and give a second chance – the first try did not agree with me. October 8, 2013 at 2:30pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thanks Neena! I’m a big fan of SSS’s roses, too — Vintage Rose is particularly swoony for me. October 8, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

  • Eva S.: A warm welcome to to to you Elisa, and thank you for this lovely post!
    This summer me and my husband spent three weeks in Colorado and Wyoming, walking in the mountains and riding horses. We had a great time, how I love the mountains in your area!
    And now to my question; is there a perfume for this feeling: a cold morning in the mountains with a distant fire somewhere… October 8, 2013 at 3:17pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you Eva! The mountains are incredibly beautiful here. I would love to find a scent that smells like your description! It’s not smoky, but the next scent I’m reviewing, L’Eau Mixte, actually reminds me of the feeling of a gulp of mountain air, because it’s so refreshing and bracing.

      Also, Juniper Ridge makes great outdoorsy smelling incense and room sprays. October 8, 2013 at 3:21pm Reply

  • Dubaiscents: Welcome and wonderful first post! I too love smokey scents. They remind me of the wood stove my parents keep going all winter long to heat the downstairs of the house. My favorite smokey scent is Amouage Interlude Man, no question about it! October 8, 2013 at 3:43pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you! I still have a lot of exploring to do in the Amouage line. The price tags scare me, but the ones I’ve tried are beautiful. October 8, 2013 at 3:44pm Reply

  • Donelle Talintyre: Hi Elisa, really enjoyed your first contribution on this blog. For smoke I just can’t go past SL Encens et Lavande, bribed a girlfriend to find the Shiseido store in Paris last year to buy me a bottle. I treasure this perfume, the dry cinders in this is captivating, more than a perfume, it is an experience. Also for a BBQ I really like SSS Fireside Intense, scorching hot this one. I was unwittingly the purchaser of the last bottle of T42 in Australia, and am very grateful to Libertine Parfumerie for supplying it. October 8, 2013 at 4:01pm Reply

    • Elisa: The last bottle! Lucky you.

      Gris Clair also has an interesting dry/ashy angle. October 8, 2013 at 4:03pm Reply

  • Jennifer C: Another Rossy de Palma fan here. 🙂 I love the smell of fireplace smoke in the air when the weather gets colder. I want to try SSS Winter Woods now after reading this. It sounds perfect for fall/winter. I love Bulgari Black, and I am enjoying a sample of PG Coze that I got recently. It’s like a vanilla ashtray on me, and I thought I was going to be uncomfortable with that, but it kinda works. I’m wearing Serge Lutens Boxeuses today, which is one of my favorite leathers. It’s kind of like Bottega Veneta’s badass big sister. SL Chergui is another favorite of mine for tobacco. Crossing my fingers and hoping the bottle I ordered will arrive today. 🙂 I’m also really wanting to try Cuir de Lancome.

    I thought I would like ELdO Jasmin et Cigarette, but it was just too true to its name for me. I like the smell of pipe tobacco, cigarettes not as much. The day I wore it, I kept getting a whiff of myself and thinking, “Who’s smoking? Oh wait, that’s me.” October 8, 2013 at 4:11pm Reply

    • Elisa: Yay RdP!

      Chergui is great, and I also love the drydown of Cuir Mauresque. It’s just barely smoky.

      I’ve been nervous about trying Jasmin et Cigarette for that reason! October 8, 2013 at 4:14pm Reply

  • Austenfan: Another welcome from a fellow smoke lover!
    I spent an evening near a wood fire recently and my hair was just filled for days with this wonderful dark and smoky scent.
    My ultimate smoky fragrance is Goutal’s Eau du Fier (discontinued). I like Tea for Two, although I don’t find it very smoky, Lonestar Memories is nicely smoky as is Cuir de Russie.
    Your post has reminded me of the fact that I need to order some Labo samples. Patchouli got a great review in The Guide and has been on my to sample list for a while.
    For a quick fix I just open a tin of Lapsang Souchong tea and inhale; no health hazards and a wonderful “smoky” experience! October 8, 2013 at 4:20pm Reply

    • Elisa: Lonestar Memories is a very interesting smoky scent. I also love L’Air du Desert Morocain which to me has a gas station note! October 8, 2013 at 4:26pm Reply

  • Debbie: This is so well-timed for me as here in Edinburgh the leaves have turned colour and are starting to fall, and there’s something about the smell of decomposing leaves that sparks my craving for smoky scents.

    I have just ordered Miller Harris La Fumee which has the birch tar note I’m particularly fond off and sets it apart from other incense-laced perfumes. Until it arrives, I’ve been anointing myself with Penhaligon’s Elixir oil and EDT which although technically not smoky, it has enough incense, sandalwood and cedar to suggest a smoky quality.

    To round off the current obsession I’m also awaiting an oil called Sweet Lodge Smoke from The Scent Works. It’s actually for candles and soaps but I plan to put it on cotton balls and place them at the back of radiators so the smell gently fills the room as it warms up. October 8, 2013 at 6:09pm Reply

    • Elisa: La Fumee is another one I need to try! And I’m going to copy your cotton ball trick this winter. October 8, 2013 at 7:36pm Reply

  • amy: Hi Elisa,

    I love your first post! I happened to pick Coze today for it’s chocolaty smokiness.

    My other smoke favorites include Goutal’s Amber Fetiche, Donna Karan’s Black Cashmere, Miller Harris La Fumee and my “Holy Grail” which is April Aromatics’ Calling All Angels. October 8, 2013 at 7:50pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you so much, Amy! You stumped me with one I’ve never even heard of: Calling All Angels. Going to look it up now! October 8, 2013 at 8:10pm Reply

  • Poodle: What a lovely surprise to find a post by you on here! Also lovely perfume choices. I love smokey perfumes too. I wish I had stocked up on Tea For Two but when I bought my bottle I didn’t know it was disappearing. I love Winter Woods as well. I’m going to have to try some of your other selections. October 8, 2013 at 9:03pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hi Poodle! I hope you enjoy some of them. (In any case you’ve got a package on the way from me!) October 8, 2013 at 9:37pm Reply

      • Poodle: Sending yours tomorrow too. 🙂 October 9, 2013 at 2:21pm Reply

  • Natalie: I loved your first post and completely relate to your love affair with everything smoked, which for me includes everything from tea in the form of Lapsang Souchong, trout and even Whiskey (Talisker single malt).
    When it comes to perfume, I can’t go past Serge Lutens’ Ambre Sultan for the ultimate smokey decadence.
    I also like to layer this perfume from time to time with my favourite of his Fille en Aiguilles. October 8, 2013 at 9:55pm Reply

    • Elisa: Mmm, smoked trout! Don’t tell anyone but I’ve been known to eat a whole container of lox by myself …

      Fille en Aiguilles is beautiful, and the SL’s lend themselves so well to layering. I also like Chergui with Cuir Mauresque. October 9, 2013 at 9:06am Reply

  • minette: welcome, elisa.

    ambre sultan is one of my favorite incense, and thus, smoke scents. i know it’s supposed to be amber, but it’s all smoky incense on me.

    i also love paestum rose, which has a cooling incense smoke note.

    also a big fan of cuir de russie (my grandmother wore it, too). can’t stomach birch tar when it’s front and center as in tauer’s lonestar memories, but when it’s in the background i can do it.

    my favorite room spray is diptyque’s feu de bois, which smells like woodsmoke on the winter wind. i’d wear it as a perfume.

    and though it’s subtle, there is incense smoke in chanel no. 22. it smells like the incense they burn in orthodox churches. October 8, 2013 at 10:44pm Reply

    • Elisa: I think of amber and incense as kissing cousins, but amber is sweeter and incense is more austere.

      You are all really giving me lemmings for Feu de Bois! October 8, 2013 at 11:27pm Reply

      • Hannah: I think amber is more for fall/winter and incense is more for spring/summer. Of course, it depends on what kind of incense. I wear Black Cashmere the entire year but it is a cold weather incense, in my opinion. Zagorsk smells like winter but that’s why I’d wear it in the summer time. Wearing it in the winter would be kind of like turning on the air conditioning. October 9, 2013 at 2:22am Reply

        • Elisa: I like that system! I do wear Nu more when it’s hot, I’ve noticed. October 9, 2013 at 9:02am Reply

  • Figuier: What a lovely post! You almost sold me on incense and smoky perfume…Not my favourite genre, in general. Of my favourites Attrape-Coeur has incense in the base, and the wood-smoke in Indochine is lovely, but I don’t typically enjoy straight-up incense on my skin.

    I love smelling it wafting in the air or off other people, though, so the more of you incense fans there are the better for me 🙂 October 9, 2013 at 5:57am Reply

    • Elisa: I actually prefer the smokiness of a great leather to incense most of the time, but I take my smoke where I can get it! October 9, 2013 at 9:03am Reply

  • rainboweyes: Although I wouldn’t consider myself a lover of smoke scents, there are a few perfumes – where the smoky notes are less pronounced, though – that I enjoy wearing, especially in the autumn. My top favourite is Dzongkha with its beautiful incense note but I also like Diptyque Volutes and Artisan Parfumeur Passage d’Enfer. I blind-bought a bottle of Tea for Two a while ago but it was much too strong and I had to swap it.

    As for leather scents, I also prefer the lighter ones, such as Ann Gerard Cuir de nacre or Hermes Kelly Caleche. October 9, 2013 at 7:19am Reply

    • Elisa: I’m sorry I didn’t get your bottle of Tea for Two! 🙂

      I have been wanting to try Cuir de Nacre. October 9, 2013 at 9:04am Reply

      • rainboweyes: Oh, I really wanted to love it but it was just too much smoke for me… Apparently it is a quite popular scent, though, so I don’t understand why it had to be discontinued…
        But I think it’s still available online in Artisan’s webshop, isn’t it?

        You have to try Cuir de Nacre, it’s a wonderful transitions scent for the autumn, I’m wearing it a lot now, before temperatures drop and I will have to reach for my heavier, earthy scents – Iris Silver Mist, Equistrius, Iris Pallida etc…

        By the way I enjoyed your post a lot and look forward to reading your future contributions! October 9, 2013 at 2:25pm Reply

        • Elisa: Thank you!

          I tried to order it just after Christmas from the L’Artisan site and later got an email saying it had been listed in error and was no longer available … I bought myself a bottle of Spicebomb as consolation. October 9, 2013 at 3:00pm Reply

          • Hannah: My friend interviewed the CEO and she said she said the line was pared down as they expanded into more stores but some of the discontinued scents may be in the Paris boutique and some will be reissued in the future. October 9, 2013 at 3:07pm Reply

            • Elisa: Reason for hope, thanks for sharing! October 9, 2013 at 3:24pm Reply

  • solanace: I can’t understand why on Earth they had to discontinue Tea for Two. October 9, 2013 at 8:55am Reply

    • Elisa: I know, I keep hoping they’ll see the error of their ways. October 9, 2013 at 9:05am Reply

      • rainboweyes: Maybe they’ll bring it back as a limited edition? I keep my fingers crossed for all T42 lovers! October 9, 2013 at 2:27pm Reply

        • Solanace: Hope it will not cost 4 times the price, though! October 9, 2013 at 2:32pm Reply

          • rainboweyes: I just checked their e-boutique – it’s still there! The price is 95€/145$.
            I remeber buying my bottle at 43 euros, though, I guess it must have been on sale then…
            However, I bought the reissued Ananas Fizz this summer and it was only a bit more expensive than the regular line. But they only had 100ml bottles 🙁
            I still hope they will relaunch my beloved Iris Pallida one day… October 9, 2013 at 3:52pm Reply

            • Elisa: Hmmmm… dare I attempt to purchase it again?! October 9, 2013 at 3:55pm Reply

  • Ann: Am behind in my blog reading so late to this game… But REALLY enjoyed your post! October 10, 2013 at 1:28am Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you so much, Ann! October 10, 2013 at 1:35pm Reply

  • sara: love smoky scents! Shalimar, Tabac Blond, Cuir de Russie. fave birch tar scents are Le Labo Vanille and ELDO Tom of Finland. THAT one is a birch-tar bonanza! October 12, 2013 at 2:26pm Reply

    • Elisa: Ooh, I need to try Tom of Finland then! October 13, 2013 at 9:34am Reply

  • hajusuuri: Nice seeing you here, Elisa. I think I need to renew my e-subscription to this site as somehow I stopped receiving notification about new posts!

    Anyway, last week, I found a brand new bottle of Tea for Two at a Blue Mercury and snapped it up right away….of course I was hoping that it was on sale but alas, I paid full price but it was well worth it.

    As to smoky perfumes, the one I am hoarding, but really should not, is Dark Passage by Andy Tauer. It is birch tar heaven!

    Bvlgari Black and Spciebomb are also favorite smoke scents. October 12, 2013 at 11:57pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hi and thank you! I’ve had a little decant of Dark Passage for a while that I haven’t tried yet. Sounds like it’s time to break it out! October 13, 2013 at 9:35am Reply

  • Alice: Just thought of another one …Wazamba! Fabulous smoky perfumes, one of my favourites! October 25, 2013 at 8:53am Reply

    • Elisa: I love Wazamba! I finished a decant and would eventually like a bottle. October 25, 2013 at 9:36am Reply

  • David: Hello, Elisa. Since I see you have another post up today (December 19) I’ll point out that I’m messaging you from your “Smoke and Ashes” post of October 8. Welcome; I’m new here too but also mostly a “beginner” with perfume.

    I’ve spent the last day and a half reading your post and comments and making a list of “smoky” juices to order (samples of, lol) and sniff. I’ve particularly liked the way you differentiated different “types” of smoke and named specific fragrances in which to try and smell the distinctions you’re making. We’ll see if my nose is up to the task.

    The reason for THIS note to you, however, is because of a comment you made, saying: “I have a fondness for bold, even impolite perfumes.”

    I realize that bold or impolite can mean many things to each of us, I’m still searching for the best mytho-poetic way of dedscribing who it is I see myself being “perfume wise”. It’s turned out to be a bit of a challenge. “Impolite” is part of it. Skanky, dark, moody, sultry, dangerous are others.

    I have already a long list of perfumes to sniff. I am now in the process of grouping them by note so that I will be able to learn something about individual notes as I look for my HG scent.

    I can only tell you that much earlier in my life I *loved* Kouros (the original) and was complimented on it often…the only scent I’ve ever worn that had that effect.

    So… What say you? …any “Impolite”, skanky scents for men?

    Best Regards

    …and the radio station the birds listen to is the Music of the Spheres 😛 December 19, 2013 at 3:04pm Reply

    • Elisa: Hi David! Thank you for your comment and I wish you luck on your smoky perfume sampling journey!

      My husband has some big heavy-hitters in his collection — I especially love Le Troisiemme Homme and Paco Rabanne pour Homme on him. Both are fougeres, so they would fall in the same category as Kouros. Liz Zorn’s leather and patchouli scents are also great and somewhat impolite. 🙂 If all else fails you could wear vintage Joy or Bal a Versaille for some floral skank! Or Muscs Koublai Kahn for the sultriest musk of them all … December 19, 2013 at 4:08pm Reply

      • David: Thank you, Elisa. Le Troisiemme Homme is new to me and the Zorns I saw in your post only yesterday.

        I’m about to take on the Fougeres fragrance family now : )

        I appreciate your time and thought; best of the Holiday Season to you and yours. December 19, 2013 at 4:43pm Reply

  • Ren: Oh my god. I LOVE this post! I’m an essentials junkie and just got my hands on a bottle of cade – I’m in love with it but realize that it’s a bit much to walk around smelling like a bonfire 24/7. I was hitting the internet for some inspiration and stumbled across this – count me inspired! Your lyrical descriptions are gorgeous.

    Keep up the great work! Love your writing, this blog, and your other blog!

    xoxo January 26, 2014 at 12:32pm Reply

    • Elisa: Thank you! January 26, 2014 at 1:07pm Reply

  • Patti Guarino: Did I happen to miss a rec of Annick Goutal Encens Flamboyant? That’s the smokiest there is!!!! September 28, 2014 at 9:17pm Reply

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