Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Atlas, Texas and Virginia cedarwood

Good pencils are made with cedarwood. It’s the smell of a boring lesson when the only legal entertainment was to sharpen a pencil and this is how the essence of the Texas cedar smells like.  The Moroccan cedar doesn’t smell of pencil shavings – there’s much more to it:
from real animal musk through sweet aroma of heated wood to vanilla-benzoin resinous drydown. There’s also a Virginia cedar whose essence smells very tender with somewhat fruity (pear?) nuance.   

Synthetic cedar-related aroma chemicals smell flat and bitter compared to the real thing:
Ambroxan – warm golden woody nuance for perfume composition, the musky and a little bit bitter side of the cedar smell.
Iso-E-Super – weak aroma of the dry cedar bark. Beautiful on its own it lends warm radiance to other notes in a perfume.
Cedramber and Palisandrol smell quite similar to each other and both quite unpleasant too. They go like a sharp splinter up your nose to your brain. Palisandrol is the most nauseously bitter. Nevertheless they are quite common in mainstream perfumes (and car fresheners) and are used for that “resinous woody accord”. If you have smelled these synthetics once you will recognize them anywhere no matter how small the quantity.
Cedril acetate – tender, sweet, a bit animalic cedar nuance.
Cedarwood almost never gets a solo part in a perfume. Nevertheless it is quite evident in the following compositions:
Cedar as it is: Let Me Play the Lion (LesNez) and Straight to Heaven (Kilian).
Sweet cedar: Feminite du Bois, Bois et Fruits, Cedre (Serge Lutens), Bois Farine (L`Artisan Parfumeur), Cedre (Esteban)
Bitter, resinous cedar: Molecule 02 (Escentric Molecules)
Fresh cedar: Declaration (Cartier), 1725 и 1828 (Histoires de Parfums)

Declaration (Cartier) mandarin, cardamom, Virginia cedarwood, vetiver, amber. One of those archetypal masculine perfumes. Declaration’s idea is somewhat repeated in 1828 (Histoires de Parfums), Cedre (Esteban), Pi NEO (Givenchy) and many others.
Let Me Play the Lion (LesNez) pencil shavings, smells like a mix of the Texas cedar essence and Cedramber. If you miss that school smell from a pencil sharpener.
Straight to Heaven (Kilian) almost the same as in the Lion but 5 times the price. (It’s got the black silk tassel after all!).
Feminite du Bois (Serge Lutens) bold (for its time) feminine fragrance with a cedar (!) note. Sweet prunes and cedarwood rhyme according to the sweet honey feel: warm sauna wood and plum jam. To my taste that Prunol-like note comes up too often in Lutens’ creations. Everything which is Bois et … in 1,5 hour smells invariably of that apricot-plum jam.
Bois et Fruits (Serge Lutens) lemon tart.
Cedre (Serge Lutens) candied tuberose with cinnamon in a cedarwood box – a disturbingly tart scent.
1725 (Histoires de Parfums) weather-worn dry wood and lavender. Welcome to Elsinor.
1828 (Histoires de Parfums) pine needles, Altas cedarwood essence, nutmeg and vetiver. 1828 differs from Declaration in that slice of grapefruit on top and nutmeg instead of cardamon in its heart... still very close.
Cedre (Esteban) rustic relative of Declaration, all flimsy stuff removed. Just vetiver and cedar.
Escentric 01 (Escentric Molecules) good example of Iso-E-Super and smart marketing. Dilute well something that costs about 10 euro per kilo (and smells good), put that into fancy bottles and sell the final product for a 100 times more. And they do not hide the idea. Ingenious! There’re even a masculine and feminine versions.
Eccentric 02 (Escentric Molecules)  Iso-E-Super
Molecule 01 (Escentric Molecules) Iso-E-Super
Molecule 02 (Escentric Molecules) ambroxan.
Diamonds (Emporio Armani) ambroxannie little thing.
Dark Amber & Ginger Lily (Jo Malone) ambery warm wood nuance taken to the extreme.
Sweet Lime & Cedar (Jo Malone) No. Lime and cedarwood do not rhyme at all and smell of cheap lollipops and sour amber. Where did the patchouli go wrong?
Bois Farine (L`Artisan Parfumeur) cute Play-doh scent (cumarin or heliotropin?).
More cedarwood fragrances:
Cedre Blanc (Heeley)Atlas cedar
White (Comme des Garçons)
Cedre Sandaraque (Parfumerie Generale)
Bois et Musc (Serge Lutens)
Vie de Chateau (Parfums De Nicolai)


  1. Lovely to read this in English. I've tried very few of these. But I do have a Cedre Blanc by Heeley that's as yet unsniffed. I must try it this evening.

    Your comment on Jo Malone is interesting. I think Jo Malone's perfumes are (with very few exceptions) cheap and nasty. What's your opinion?

  2. Thank you! We should say Joe Malone is imagination-wise challenged or something. To me most of the range is unwearable - too obvious a note - there must be some room for imagination and mystery in a perfume. Heeley is just the opposite - soooo much body and detail. And I have a feeling that the best cedar is still somewhere among the unsniffed.