Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur : Perfume Review

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Andy on his love of incense.

If there’s one thing I smell to feel better, it’s frankincense. Whether I need a break from typing, am feeling stressed, need to be jolted awake—I often simply reach for my pouch of frankincense tears and take a deep whiff. Even if I rarely find the time to conduct an incense ceremony all my own, just a brief inhale of frankincense has come to feel like a special, private ritual to me. I mention my habit of smelling this special resin because Aedes de Venustas’s Copal Azur, created by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, captures every element of frankincense I love, from brisk piquancy all the way down to rich, balsamic sweetness.

copal azur

Soon after Copal Azur melds into the skin, it emanates with the sparkle of citrus zest and spices, calling to mind the act of crushing peppercorns and cardamom pods together in a pestle. As this initial fiery sizzle begins to soften, the frankincense starts to shine through with a nearly pine-like, aromatic freshness. The overall effect is bracing and crisp, uplifting enough to widen one’s eyes for a moment, but devoid of any rough edges.

As Copal Azur wears on, the resins seem to heat up, the bracingly spicy impression all but faded. The frankincense loses its initial coniferous edge and becomes more dryly woody, and the perfume takes on an almost mineral, salted quality. Like fleur de sel sprinkled on a slick of smoky caramel, this saltiness works beautifully with subtly sweet amber, which starts to seep in through the warm resins. In this stage, the perfume starts to feel smoldering and dreamy, like the mesmerizing sensation of watching curls of sweetly scented smoke rise from a censer.

Later, Copal Azur reaches a marriage of frankincense’s deep, balsamic sweetness and the vanilla-labdanum duality of amber, a combination so seemingly ancient that it makes me feel that I am not merely wearing this perfume, but anointed by it. This drydown is not only beautiful, but also lasts well, and I find myself surprised by how well it lingers as I sniff my wrists many hours later.

On the whole, what makes Copal Azur so interesting is its progression from crispness in the top notes to caressing smoothness in the heart. So interesting is the interplay of bracing and soft elements that I’m drawn to Copal Azur again and again, just to experience that transformation.

On one hand, the natural, rugged quality of the frankincense in Copal Azur reminds me of Tauer Incense Extreme, on the other, the bolstering of smooth woods calls to mind another Duchaufour creation, Comme des Garçons Kyoto. Like many incense perfumes, Copal Azur does not shout, but rather envelops the wearer in a warm veil of fragrance. For all these beautiful qualities, I’m apt say that Copal Azur is just about as lovely an incense perfume one could wish for.

Extra: Top Favorite Incense Perfumes :: Incense Fragrance Notes

Aedes de Venustas Copal Azur Eau de Parfum includes notes of ozone, salt, incense, cardamom, patchouli, myrrh, amber, tonka. 100 ml/$245, a purse spray with three 10 ml refills/$195 ($110 for only the refills).

This review based on a PR sample sent by the company.

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30 Comments

  • Rebecca: Sigh. I wish you wouldn’t write such beautiful evocative reviews. 🙂 I don’t own a frankincense fragrance and now my greedy little heart lusts for one. Is there any other frankincense fragrance, possiibly less pricey, that you particularly recommend? January 23, 2015 at 10:20am Reply

    • Rebecca: Oops. I see that you thoughtfully included a list. Thanks. January 23, 2015 at 10:21am Reply

    • limegreen: I agree with Rebecca — This is such an eloquent review, Andy. I can “see” the progression of Copal Azur through your words!
      Rebecca —
      If you like a non-sweet vanilla to go with the frankincense: Have you tried diptyque Eau Duelle edp (I think it’s more frankincense lovely than the edt)? January 23, 2015 at 11:20am Reply

      • Rebecca: No, I haven’t tried it!. Thanks for the suggestion. January 23, 2015 at 11:53am Reply

      • Andy: I agree with limegreen, Eau Duelle is a great recommendation for a somewhat different take on incense. It’s soft and comfortable, quite versatile too. If you like a dry vanilla, it’s worth seeking out. January 24, 2015 at 10:51am Reply

    • angeldiva: Rebecca,
      My thoughts exactly! lol Well done , Andy.
      P. January 23, 2015 at 4:43pm Reply

    • Andy: I’ve very much enjoyed Tom Ford’s Sahara Noir as well–it’s not exactly inexpensive, but it’s a similar blend of incense and amber, and it’s delightful! January 24, 2015 at 10:47am Reply

  • Hamamelis: Thank you for a lovely review Andy, your words are scented! I ordered a sample after reading it, as it contains several of my (now) favourite notes and I am curious to smell how they come together here. And…a long time ago the first holiday with my husband was in Yucatan, which I believe partly inspired this perfume, at least that is what the marketing says. As far as incense goes I love YSL Nu (Rebecca, in Europe that is not so pricey, and also can be found on Ebay in the old version, I have the Collection one (decant)), and Tolu, and look forward to exploring Copal more. January 23, 2015 at 11:24am Reply

    • Andy: I hope you enjoy your sample! I’ve never been to Yucatan, but with perfumes like this one, it’s always fun to see if wearing the fragrance really does evoke the exotic locales that are described in the ad copy. January 24, 2015 at 11:39am Reply

  • Sandra: I like a lot of Amouage scents because of their use of frankincense.
    Thanks for the review! Enjoy your weekend January 23, 2015 at 12:34pm Reply

    • Andy: It makes sense, I suppose, since Amouage is based in Oman, where some of the best quality frankincense in the world is harvested. I will have to make a more concerted effort to explore the line! January 24, 2015 at 11:41am Reply

  • Mel: Your review makes me feel like I’ve luxuriated through a $245 bottle already! Thanks for the memories! January 23, 2015 at 1:26pm Reply

    • Andy: Glad to hear you enjoyed this perfume! While I don’t achieve it often, it’s always a very satisfying feeling when you finally do reach the bottom of a fragrance bottle, isn’t it? 🙂 January 24, 2015 at 11:44am Reply

  • Joy: Beautiful review! Eloquent description. This is one for my wish list. I can picture the sun and fragrance melding together. January 23, 2015 at 5:18pm Reply

    • Andy: With your mention of the sun, I’m reminded that while it is rich, Copal Azur might be very nice to wear judiciously in hot weather–I can just imagine how this fragrance would “bloom” in the heat. January 24, 2015 at 11:47am Reply

  • james1051: I love Copal Azur! One of my favorites from 2014. I have been wearing it to work this winter. Tis a tad pricey, however! January 23, 2015 at 8:57pm Reply

    • Andy: This perfume was among my favorites from 2014 too. I agree, the price is up there, but I appreciate that all of the Aedes fragrances I’ve tried thus far have been top-notch. January 24, 2015 at 11:51am Reply

  • Alicia: Thank you for this review, Andy. I suspect that I’d like this Copal Azur since I love CDG Kyoto my favorite in their collection of incenses. January 24, 2015 at 5:37am Reply

    • Andy: I too love Kyoto, and I agree–if you enjoy your incense backed up with some smooth cedar wood notes, you’ll likely appreciate Copal Azur too. January 24, 2015 at 11:52am Reply

      • Victoria: Your mention of Kyoto made me realize at last what the drydown of Copal Azur reminds me of. I notice the same woody, pencil shaving like note there too. January 25, 2015 at 3:15am Reply

  • solanace: Your depiction literally made my mouth water, Andy. This sounds outstanding. Never tried any of the AdV frags, but they seem very interesting and well made, overall, even if pricey. Well, we can always get decants, that’s how I manage to wear my Amouages, but that’s a heck of a gorgeous blue bottle. January 24, 2015 at 5:42am Reply

    • Andy: The Aedes perfumes I’ve tried so far (all excepting Oelliet Bengale) have all been excellent quality, even if they are rather pricey. As you’ve mentioned, decants, or the more recently offered 10ml travel sprays are definitely a good alternative option. January 24, 2015 at 12:09pm Reply

  • Hannah: The Aedes perfumes haven’t been my style at all so far, so I haven’t been sure if I want to try this. The comment on saltiness does make it more interesting to me. I’m planning on going to NYC sometime this year, so I’ll probably smell it then.
    I’m thinking about getting another frankincense perfume, Sahara Noir. January 24, 2015 at 2:31pm Reply

    • Andy: Copal Azur and Sahara Noir share many similarities, but if you’re after a more classical amber and frankincense blend, Sahara Noir would be my pick. That mineral, salty quality of Copal Azur is definitely interesting though, even if the fragrance doesn’t turn out to be your style. January 24, 2015 at 2:51pm Reply

      • Hannah: I’m not necessarily looking for a frankincense/amber blend. And there wouldn’t necessarily be reason to choose one over the other (ignoring that saving the money is already going to take a while). I have a list of perfumes that I might want to occupy a specific space in my collection and the top contender is Interlude Woman, but my second favorite on the list is Sahara Noir and it is under $200. I’m not totally sure what the connection between the listed perfumes is. They all seem to be dark and oily, though?
        I’m also looking for salty perfumes. I’ve looked at samplers that feature salt and most of them don’t seem to be what I want. Right now I have Eau des Merveilles, and I’ve looked into Elixir des Merveilles but I think it is probably too sweet. So I have another salted alternative. January 26, 2015 at 10:26pm Reply

        • Andy: Sounds like a worthwhile search, even if it’s not an easy one! At one point, I too was especially interested in finding some salty perfumes, and I too liked Eau des Merveilles for this quality. Ambre des Merveilles, if I’m remembering correctly, is similarly “salty,” but is somewhat plusher than the original. Or, if you like vetiver, try Encre Noire or Sel de Vetiver for a briny effect. January 27, 2015 at 8:27pm Reply

  • Austenfan: I’ll make sure to make this part of my next purchase order. I’m not a huge incense fiend but I really appreciated Iris Nazarena when at last I tried it last month, so another offer from this line merits a try at the very least. January 25, 2015 at 5:56pm Reply

    • Andy: I too love Iris Nazarena, it’s my favorite iris and incense fragrance. I prefer it to the more popular Dzongkha, for example. Definitely feel free to share your thoughts on Copal Azur once you’ve tried it–I find the Aedes de Venustas perfumes very competent, on the whole. January 25, 2015 at 11:01pm Reply

  • Figuier: What a beautiful review! Incense by itself never appealed, but recently I’ve been craving its clarity, ideally shorn of its religious connotations (I am not a fan of church incense). I ordered a sample of Kyoto a while ago and am still waiting for delivery; in the meantime, I might go to the Liberty and try this; it sounds as gorgeous as the Iris one, albeit totally beyond my budget. January 29, 2015 at 3:40am Reply

    • Andy: Between the two, I do prefer Iris Nazarena, but then again, I’m an iris fiend, so that may be a notable factor. I don’t find the incense in Copal Azur “churchy” at all, despite the fact that it’s a relatively straightforward frankincense, and if you find yourself liking Kyoto, I think you’ll appreciate this fragrance too. January 29, 2015 at 5:43pm Reply

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