5 Nui Cobalt Reviews: Feu Follet + Cait Sidhe + Naiad + Vila + Frost on the Whiskey
So, one of the first houses to offer me press samples after I opened my Official For Real Blog With A Domain Name And Everything was Nui Cobalt. I've been wanting to try them for a while. To be honest I didn't know where to get samples and found their website kinda confusing - but a lot of their scents looked right up my alley. I was super stoked to get an opportunity to sample them like this.
Speaking of samples - Ajevie actually offers Nui Cobalt decants. So if you've been wanting to try them and are hesitant to blind by check out [ here ]. If the scent you want to try isn't in stock shoot Ajevie and email and let them know the demand is there - they'll probably work it into their schedule!
All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest 2-3 days after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box. I did crack them open to sniff them directly after arrival, and with a couple to do an initial test. The reviews are not based off of these initial impressions - though if a rest did change the smell I’ll note that.
I’m doing a half-hour skin test with each perfume. They are always applied to skin that has either been washed or hasn’t had perfume on it that day. Sometimes I will run one scent on one wrist/hand/arm and the other on the other wrist/hand/arm. When I wash my hands for review purposes I wash with a scented soap (it’s all I have available - shea butter Dove soap or almond Doc Bronner’s). Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off), so theoretically there could be cross-contamination.
Each sample was gently swirled before application. Each review is written without looking at the notes (in that moment… I obviously looked at them when I bought). At the end of the review I will list what the notes listed in the shop are and comment on how I think they interacted
They're wands - pretty standard. Easy to open. No leakies. Did have a couple of splashes as I opened them.
I do like the label design on these. The use of art deco as an aesthetic in indie perfumes is kinda inspired - it really evokes the 1920s-occult for me (Lovecraft, Houdini, Gardener and Crowley, Cottingley Fairies, palm readers... duh duh duh... ♪ we didn't start the fire ♪). The font is kinda hard to read with some letters - my brain kept reading 'Vila' as 'Nila' - but I'm personally willing to sacrifice a tiny bit of readability for the unique aesthetic.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
In the bottle: Oh, what a gorgeous floral. It’s got that slightly lemony quality of some roses and some white florals. There’s a whisper of fruitiness under the florals. Sweet and bright. Luminous and otherworldly.
Wet on my skin: Sweet, honeyed notes coming out. Currently this smells like what a kiss followed by a laugh feels like. Soft, warm, comforting and joyful. It’s honey-sweet florals with a touch of fruit. The florals are pale and gentle, there might be rose in there but if there is it’s ultra delicate. I feel like i’m getting at least one white floral - maybe a jasmine? This is like… my ideal for a floral perfume. Just enough indolicness to be interesting but not enough for it to feel sharp or muddled. The fruit is bright like a citrus or a berry.
Drydown: Yeah, pretty sure I’m getting jasmine. Gosh I love this floral. I feel almost like I get more of it the throw than up close. I can taste in the air around me - I might actually be very slightly anosmic to it, because scents I can taste are usually pretty intense.. There’s a bit of a candied quality to it now (I wonder if it has lotus in it? Or maybe a lily?). It reminds me in very positive terms of a less wine-laced version of Deep Midnight’s Light Court.
After 30 mins: Still a silky bouquet of florals (with at least one white floral and I think a rose) but with a bit more of that sweetness - I think some fruitiness is coming through? Gosh I wish I could smell more of this. I know it’s there but my nose is stubbornly like ‘go huff deep into a pillow for three minutes and then maybe, maybe if I’m feeling generous I’ll let you smell this dreamy, joyful floral’. I wish I could be more specific with the notes but I guess this is just where we are tonight.
Official Notes: Sultry southern magnolia, wild muscadine, honeysuckle, and Spanish moss clinging to the trees
Two white florals and one is magnolia. And y’all, this is it. This is a realistic magnolia. I didn’t even call it as a magnolia because I’ve been burned on it before. If anyone who hasn’t smelled a real magnolia flower this is the one to get. There’s also honeysuckle - not the strongest honeysuckle I’ve ever snuffed but, gosh that’s what added that honeyed quality early on. The spanish moss just adds a bit of spicy deep greenery to the base that blends with the florals and doesn’t smell overwhelmingly green. Which means? Realistic spanish moss! It just needs a touch more dust! The wild grapes/muscadine are what’s adding that kind of candy reminiscent fruitiness - and is probably one of the reasons this reminded me of Deep Midnight’s Light Court.
Verdict: This is an all hands on deck RED ALERT upsize. Y’all… a realistic magnolia, honeysuckle, spanish moss blend. My southern heart explodes. We don’t even have spanish moss as far north as I am (southwestern Virginia - in the mountains) but I’ve smelled on trips further south. My only complaint is I wish I went less anosmic to it. Maybe it’s the tiny amount that went on my hands with the wand sample, or maybe I need to scent locket it WHO KNOWS. But this is so, so good if you’re into ‘honeyed white florals’ like I am. This would also be a killer layering note to turn any perfume into white floral heaven.
In the bottle: Amber, pale, ghostly amber. A cool note - reminds me a lot of Alkemia’s Haunted 7 Bewitched. Something fruity edging towards the smell of bubblegum. Edge florals. Spices. Something in here screams ‘fall leaves’ to me but I can’t put my finger on what.
Wet on my skin: Cool amber, a surprising appearance of an intense musk, and that bright pink bubblegum fruity smell. Little bit of dustiness. This perfume is a strange contrast in dark and light notes. It’s still a lot like a more masculine, more feral, cousin to Haunted & Bewitched. The floral reminds me of a tulip or a daisy - but I could be way off in that. (Another contrast - something in this screams ‘fall’ while the floral note screams ‘spring).
Drydown: Only edges of bubblegum now - some sort of really rounded, red berry. Currant maybe? Still intensely musky with swirls of that silvery amber-with-powder smell. It’s like Alkemia’s Haunted & Bewitched had a baby with Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Cheshire Cat. Top notes of that floral that reminds me a lot of a tulip. Suggestions of mulling spices.
After 30 mins: Red, rounded fruits - I know I said currant, but this could also just be a wine note. It’s not boozy though. The scent I’ve flagged as amber has moved back some, but it still there. Little bit of bubblegummy dustiness. Swirls of that sweet floral.
Official Notes: Velvety tonka and myrrh set the stage for a midnight melange of blackberry, black currant, boysenberry, and tart cherry. Honeyed oats soften the blend and a wisp of dragon's blood boosts its magickal potency
So! The myrrh is that thing I was flagging as amber. Once I see it in front of me I instantly recognise it. Bingo. What I was reading as musk must have been a mixture between the honeyed oats and tonka. I can see the dragon’s blood giving that spicy quality (and is probably what reminded me of fall). I dunno what smelled bubblegummy to me but I’m betting it’s one of the fruits - maybe the boysenberry. I think they cherry is what I’m reading as tulip (if so, it’s a cherry that is almost floralin quality). I think the blackberry adds some brightness to the scent. And well… the black currant is the currant.
Verdict: Very, very torn. In the drydown and beyond this is a slam dunk from Nui Cobalt for me. It balances really well and reminds me of a more masculine/androgynous version of two other scents I love. In the early stages that bubblegumminess is not my thing but it doesn’t stick around. I might eventually upsize when/if it comes back into stock (I think it's in their GC? Hard for me to tell on the website). But regardless will be keeping my sample until I make a decision.
In the bottle: Honey and pollen - it reminds me a lot of Alkemia’s honey note - edge floral, some sort of golden grassy note (hay? dried grass? vetiver?). A certain resinous quality that reminds me of the wood in freshly broken branches but also of fruit. Spices.
Wet on my skin: Not honey, maple! Maple syrup! Spiced maple syrup. Definitely resinous. Little bit of that grassy note. There’s something in here that’s kind of herbal that’s hard for me to describe. It’s sweet, almost fruity (something in here that reminds me of lemon almost? White floral?. The scent memory this is triggering overwhelmingly though is eating pancakes and the herbal/smoked part of sausage (no meat smell) that have both been drizzled with maple syrup. Kind of a dark, wet element to this too: like eating a pancake breakfast next to a lake.
Drydown: Still very much kind of a resinous, spiced, maple syrup gourmand to my nose. I’m waffling over the herb. Fennel seed? Sage? Something in that family. Almost kind of nutty in its tang. Little smokiness. Gently damp undercurrent - like, this isn’t the strongest water scent I’ve smelled but there is something in there that reminds me of smelling a deep, still pool when I sniff close the skin. The throw on this is all gourmand smelling to me.
After 30 mins: Still spiced, smokey, syrup with deep resonances evocative of amber and caramel. Edges of dried grasses and dark water. (Roughly the same as the drydown)
Official Notes: milk and honey, a trace of pale incense smoke, bay laurel trees, and morning mist at the mossy bank of a stream.
The milk and honey together smell just like syrup on pancakes to me. The smoked component is from the incense. The ‘herbal’ smell is the bay laurel - and the dampness is the morning mist/stream. The moss must be what I’m reading as dried grasses.
Verdict: Not for me - it smells fine just not to my individual tastes for what I wear - but for someone looking for a pancake breakfast groumand with herbal-woodsy nuances this is for you.
In the bottle: Damp spicy herbs. I get something like sage and something like anise - the anise I am not confident on. It could easily be wormwood or fennel. Edges of mosses and stone. Little bit of sweetness and something piquant that might be a very subtle citrus or a floral. It smells like you went down to the creek and sat down on the bank and opened up a spice cabinet.
Wet on my skin: Definitely getting more citrus - maybe a mock orange? Little bit of a floral (reminds me of neroli and honeysuckle - very faint though)Some kind of butteriness (might be the carrier oil), edge of green-woodiness. Mostly a subtle water-and-stone smell to me though. Maybe some moist earth. While I can pick up lots of traces I have to keep “resetting” my nose by sniffing other things and each time I sniff the scent I pick up something different. This probably means I’m going anosmic to it and am struggling to grasp it as a whole.
Drydown: Woodsy-green, herbal, and sweet. It smells like you’ve just taken a knife to a tree branch, peeled back the bark, and are sniffing the living wood of the tree. You’re standing on dirt and mosses and there’s a stream nearby. Your hands are scented with the herbs you were out picking. I’m not anosmic to it any more, so I suppose the strength must have gone down some. It’s still a pretty strong perfume.
After 30 mins: Not really getting much but a tiny bit of sweet woodsy floral herbaceousness. My husband could smell it more strongly than me - so that means I’ve gone anosmic to this. Though everything in the room I smell has a faint fennel odor to it.
Official Notes: Apricots preserved with cardamom, clove, and brown sugar, dewy Bulgarian roses, and luminous white silk
Well, okay. Hm. So, it’s obvious whatever aromachemicals are in this and my nose are up to no good. So let’s go: The fruity smell I got is the apricot - the apricot is also where the sweetness is coming from, with some added from the brown sugar. The apricot may also be part of what I was reading as woodiness since apricot can sometimes have woody undertones. The cardamom and clove are the spices I’m getting. I think a lot of the weird smells I’m getting must be coming from the way the silk accord aromachemicals interact with my nose - and I think that must be the source of what I was reading as a stone smell. The green-ness in the scent: I’m betting the rose accord has a bit of a ‘rose stem’ greenery thrown in. I tend to amp greens and to be sensitive to sniffing them. The wetness was from the dewyness of the rose. What I was reading as earth may have been some from the spices - particularly the clove (I think this is a quite earthy clove).
Verdict: I don’t know what happened with this. Did I not rest it long enough? (I gave it over two days - I like to get press samples out quickly). I’ll double check it again on Thursday evening (writing this super late on Wednesday). Regardless, whatever was going on with my nose and with this I will be passing on this.
Note: When I came back into my room after taking a bath the whole room smelled like spiced fruit (apricots). I do not know what happened to me with this scent - but I’m guessing whatever biological nose makeup I have was not able to smell some of the aromachemicals in the scent and I got a bizarro scent instead.
Update: A further rest didn't really change it for me - it still smells super fresh-cut-into-wood for me instead of fruity (though I will note a kind of fruity uh... after-smell. It's like an after taste but in the back of my nose). I'm going to chalk this up to my nose having anosmia problems due to the strength of the blend. I've experienced something like this before with a couple of Stereoplasm scents.
Frost on the Whiskey
In the bottle: Very woodsy, golden, a little nutty, a smidge bitter and a little floral with a cool edge on it. It smells like a handsome man in a lounge, drinking something golden - he could be any age between 25 and 50. Something like Frank Sinatra is playing.
Wet on my skin: Ah, now I smell the whiskey. For those who don’t drink much whiskey, whiskey smells like roasted, slightly bitter grains. It’s like, if coffee were made from grains instead of well… coffee. This whiskey note is particularly smooth and luxuriant with only the tiniest hint of bitterness. It’s swirled with tiny edges of golden florals (maybe one is a citrus blossom), and I wonder if there is an amber in here. There’s something resinous, certainly. While in the bottle it smelled like an incredibly handsome, lounge dwelling man this now smells like… an incredibly handsome lounge dwelling woman. She’s 30 something. Probably. Her short, dark hair is slicked back and she’s got hazel eyes. She’s got suspenders on and her sleeves are rolled up showing off her arm tattoos. She’s smiling at the lounge singer in a knowing way while she sips her whiskey. She probably has a motorcycle.
Look, it’s an evocative perfume, alright? Leave me with my fantasies!
(There might be a leather or suede note in this)
Drydown: There’s a certain fruity component to this that’s really rich and a little savory. I initially IDd it as a citrus. I showed this to my husband though and he went ‘Hm, reminds me of baked apples or peaches’. So now I’m unsure of myself. I do think there is a soft leather note, definitely a whiskey note, possibly an amber note - or at least something resinous. The character for the whole scent is golden and softly spiced. I do think there is a floral in there too but that might just be me reading the piquancy of a cedar or something as floral.
After 30 mins: Softer than the drydown with more of the fruit coming through. Which isn’t to say the perfume is fainter - it wears close to the skin but has been at about the same strength throughout. It just has taken on a kind of soft quality. Like long eyelashes and the corner of a crooked smile.
Official Notes: Aged bourbon, woodsmoke and well-worn leather rooted in myrrh with a hint of vetiver
Ah-ha. So, the bourbon is where some of the resinous/amber qualities are coming from (and explains why it’s sweeter than a regular whiskey). The myrrh adds to the sweetness - and is probably what smells kind of ambiguously fruity and adds a cool edge, as myrrh does (you’d think I’d learn…). The vetiver is that smell that was pinging me as golden and floral - a really good vetiver has that kind of shining golden quality to it. The woodsmoke is very subtle in this and adds a woodsiness to the scent moreso than a smokiness. There is a little bit of that, certainly, but it’s there in a way that blends with the bourbon accord.
What really makes the perfume stand out is the leather note. If anyone wants to know what my ideal leather note smells like take a big whiff of this. It’s smooth. It’s velvety. It smells like actual leather and not at all acrid - much more like the leather binding of an old leatherbound book.
Verdict: I’m in love with this. Gaga over it. Nui Cobalt continues to stun with their note quality and the realism some of those notes evoke. I will definitely be upsizing if/when it comes back into stock (I... think this is GC? Again, not sure).