Monday, July 8, 2019

6 Alkemia Reviews - As Dark Things Are Meant To Be Loved + Elixir of Aphrodite + Salome + Falling Stars On Winter Solstice + Road To Hana + Big Sur

So - after compiling that spread sheet of scent recs based on the thread where people recced their top 5 alkemia scents - I decided to sample some of Alkemia's greatest hits.
The scents covered in today's review are:

All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several 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
Bottle Review
See my previous reviews of their one mls [here]. As I commented in my last review some of the fonts they use are hard to read - in particular the one for Salome in this batch is really chaotic.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
As Dark Things Are Meant To Be Loved
In the bottle: Cool, dark, silkiness with a cold note that reminds me of Haunted and Bewitched. Gosh, this is stunning in the bottle and hard to describe. Top note feels like a cool white silvery note that could be a particularly resinous floral or an amber. Something subtly smokey is in there - but it’s not like a slug of smoke. Just a whisper. Might be an incense note? Ultra smooth, subtle leather note at the base. I might be getting some black musk in there and maybe an ultra subtle patchouli.
Wet on my skin: Dark resin and musk with sweet nuances. I’m getting a touch of something that might be anise (and in fact that smell might be what I was originally reading as citrus). Still edges of that silvery note. Something quite sweet in there. A little feminine. My impression right now is broadly wood, resin, musk, sweetness (some sort of gourmand or fruity note that’s not distinct enough to name), silky leather, tiny bit of a cold note, tiny bit of smokiness, tiny bit of something that reminds me of licorice.
Drydown: Getting a little bit of that cool, silvery scent and a lot more of the leather and the incense-y scent. The impression at this point is musky-leathery-resinous scent with a touch of silvery sweetness at the edges along with a trace of smoke.
After 30 mins: Mostly the leathery note with a bit of incense and a bit of sweetness and edges of that cold note. Teeny I-have-to-sniff-close-for-several-seconds amount of that licorice smelling scent. I actually like it best in this stage though it’s fairly mild
Official Notes: Lapsang souchong tea, aloeswood, smoked black amber, aged dark patchouli, tonka, Amazonian breuzinho, Moroccan bhakoor, labdanum, temple incense, caramelized opium, black coffee, black coconut, soft Russian leather, and tabac leaf
Okay, a lot of these notes I haven’t encountered before. So, let’s start with what I do recognize. The tea is there, but it blends with that Russian leather. The tabac leaf is blending with that also, I’m pretty sure. When these notes are listed in front of me I can pick them apart but blind it just smells like a particularly good leather note. The smoked black amber is probably what smells er, smokey - it might also be what is adding some of that coldness since ambers can sometimes run cold.
The incense type notes are from the temple incense, labdanum (and probably some of the ingredients I don’t recognise). The dark silkiness is the aged patchouli. Aged patchouli smells so different from fresh that it didn’t even ping me as patchouli - it pinged me as a dark musk because it was so silky as opposed to resinous. The caramelized opium and coconut are probably what smelled sweet in there to me. I don’t really get any coffee - if some is in there it’s blending or a really subtle nuance kind of folding into the darker parts of the scent.
I don’t recognize breuzinho and bhakoor - but google tells me they are a resin and an incense respectively. So, yeah, my guess up there that they were adding to the incense vibes is probably accurate.
I still don’t know what in there smells silvery, but it’s my favorite part.
Verdict: In the bottle I was wild about this one. That cold, silvery note that reminded me so strongly of Haunted and Bewitched was amazing. On my skin it isn’t a bad scent - it’s a complex resinous scent that smells sensual and kinda feminine. But it isn’t that cold, dark, creature-like scent I got in the bottle. I think I’ll keep my sample for now but there’s a solid chance I’ll eventually swap this one.
Elixir of Aphrodite
In the bottle: Holy moly sweet fruity florals batman. The first thing I get is the peach followed by what I’m pretty sure is pear. I think this had a pear note. Regardless, stone fruits. Very sweet stone fruits. Pinks and golds galore. Edges of slightly indolic florals.
Wet on my skin: And as much as the stone fruits slugged me in the first part there’s this ultra powerful white musk coming forward. I can’t properly tell if this had a peach, an apricot, or a nectarine in it. It reminds me strongly of BPAL’s Katharina - but sweeter. I think I recall this having a honey note?
Drydown: Sweet stone fruit swirled in pink and white florals. (Some of the florals smell like fruit florals to me) and honey. Very feminine. I can see why this one is so popular. It’s very beguiling in a way that feels like it would have mass appeal. I want to note - I know peach can go burning plastic on some people and if this has peach in it, it’s still smelling fresh and er… peachy (though it might be apricot, might be nectarine).
After 30 mins: Pretty straightforward fruity floral. The most forward part is the honeyed stone fruits (and maybe pear) along with white florals (possibly fruit tree florals) layered over white musk. There might be a touch of spice.
Official Notes: Persian apricots dipped in orange blossom honey swirling with peach and plum blossoms, mimosa, white star jasmine, ambrette, guiac wood, and vanilla musk.
So I get the apricots - and the fruit blossoms (and the jasmine too - since it’s so white floral adjacent I have often mistaken it for one). I don’t really get the guiac wood or the amberette though that might be what I’m reading as spice or even part of the florals. The mimosa and vanilla part of the vanilla musk I think are what’s sweetening the scent in addition to the honey. The musk part is absolutely a silky white musk.
Verdict: So, while individually each ingredient in this is one that should send me absolutely over the moon… something about the sum of the parts is failing to dazzle me. It might be a touch too sweet. It might be that it smells so similar to BPAL’s Katharina (which I think I like the simpler version and balance of Katharina). It might be a lil too feminine for me. I don’t know. I do know each ingredient smells nice (no cat-piss quality to the jasmine, no burning plastic from the stone fruits, the honey is not overwhelmingly gourmand). To someone looking for a highly feminine fruity floral I’d strongly rec this… But for me it’s gonna be a swap.
In the bottle: Sweet, slightly powdery pink smell - think it’s a floral but not sure. What smells like a sweet (almost sugared) amber. The amber smell reminds me of one of the ambers in Ghost Fire. A kind of botanical peppery smell - a little herbal. It reminds me of The Strange South’s Thornback. Could be guaiacwood/palo santo. Overall a sweet (almost sugared), resinous, woodsy-herbal floral.
Wet on my skin: Sweet, resinous, woodsy-herbal floral still lol. It’s not powdery at all on my skin. The dominant scent is that woodsy-herb I’m flagging as palo santo. Bit of that pink flower and amber still there but it’s all mixing. Kind of an… almost gourmand note in there? Like honey or something? It’s faint and to the point I’m like ‘I might be misinterpreting another note’ but like… something golden and rounded that reminds me a lil of honey or carmalized sugar. It could even be tobacco and I wouldn’t be surprised.
Drydown: Some kind of musk coming out at this point. I’m getting less of that resin-I-think-is-palo-santo and more of a musky-sugared-amber kinda smell. That slight powderiness is back. There’s also something a little sour (not tart or acidic though - more… tangy) when sniffed close to the skin.
After 30 mins: About the same as the dry down but, well, moreso. I’ve lost more of the woody-herbaceous-resiny scent and gotten more of the powdery musky scent. The whole scent overall is significantly fainter.
Official Notes: black grapes and plums, skin musk, cognac, and ruthless twist of bitter orange, crushed vanilla and tonka bean, mysore sandalwood, vetiver, cedar, and red oud. Contains a proprietary elixir of botanical pheromones.
So - I got nothing in this that screamed ‘grape’ to me. I can see some of that pink sweetness being fruit. But this is not a strongly fruity scent. The skin musk is what I was reading as er, musk. The bitter orange might be what’s adding some of that spiciness but gosh there’s a lot of it. Like, I’ve never had a perfume with bitter orange in it this peppery and herbal smelling. The vanilla and tonka are super subtle - they might be what I was reading as that golden-round-almost-gourmand note. They are not remotely forward. The woodsy-herbal smell must be some combination of that sandalwood, vetiver, cedar, and oud. I don’t think it’s the oud - the oud in this is more of a hint than super forward. I’m guessing it’s some combination of the vetiver and cedar with a bit of sandalwood for smoothness.
Verdict: I really liked this wet. Really super liked it. Was feeling slightly concerned about the number of perfumes I was intending to upsize. Reviewing budgets. You get the picture. But man, that drydown was disappointing. This would make a great linens scent so I’ll keep my sample to make a sachet with… but likely won’t be upsizing for personal use.
Falling Stars On Winter Solstice
In the bottle: At first sniff this reminds me so much of BPAL’s Schwarzer Mond with smoke. Like, eerily. It’s a very dark scent - black is the first impression. The first note is a smoke - like when you sit next to a campfire and smoke blows in your face. That kind of smoke. Or you smell something that’s very hot surrounded by fried ozone. Under that is fir - and a touch of snow (I recall this having a snow note), and then a note that reminds me of the black patchouli (or some other note) in Schwarzer Mond.
Wet on my skin: Fir moves way forward, but is closely followed by that fried-ozone and smoke smell. A touch of sweetness that I think might be part of the snow accord. There’s still a base of something that reminds me of black patchouli/Schwarzer Mond but it’s deeper down there now. This is a surprisingly masculine scent and there’s an edge of something dangerous and alluring to it. Like a hot dude met in the winter woods who for some reason isn’t wearing a shirt (which allows you to see his tastefully manicured chest hair) and has bright yellow eyes. It’s sunset and he keeps eyeballing the horizon and cracking moon puns. What a weirdo - still, you wouldn’t kick him out of bed for eating crackers.
Drydown: Similar to how it was wet. What’s been added is a little bit of herbal sweetness that’s hard for me to place as a specific herb. I also feel like I’m getting something a touch musky but it’s like… such a small touch it could be my imagination. At this point it’s reminding me of Stereoplasm’s Ozark Howler in addition to Schwarzer Mond. It’s like Ozark Howler and Schwarzer Mond had a baby in mid winter that was such a powerful entity that the ozone in the area fried and wisps of fresh smoke fill the air.
After 30 mins: So, just as a ha-ha funny joke I reached out my hand to my dog and went ‘Smell it’ and she did and she perked up and then tapped my hand with her paw. Which is… one of her scent work alerts in it. I wonder if this has sweet birch in it (it doesn’t smell like clove bud or aniseed - the other two scents she’s trained to). Sniffing it I wouldn’t be surprised. I wonder if that’s what the herbal sweetness.
Other than my dog reviewing the perfume (thanks, Stella). I have to say this is pretty stable from the drydown. Maybe a lil less smokey.
Official Notes: Aromatic balsam needles, a dab of dark musk, sweet myrrh, incense resins, melted snow, and a touch of cabin woodstove smoke.
So the balsam pine is the fir, the dark musk is what was making me think shirtless-forest-dude-who-is-totally-not-a-werewolf-he-swears, the sweet myrrh is the sweet bit, the incense resin (which I think is frankincense based) is probably what smelled particularly strong-smokey and ozonic to me. The cabin woodsmoke is er… smoke.
Look, I know this doesn’t mention sweet birch as a note but I would be 0% surprised if it has a little bit as one of the accords. That, or something in it smelled similar enough to Stella’s scent work scents that she figured alerting on my hand was a good idea.
Note: This one morphed. It was overwhelmingly resinous/frankincense based but after a few days it settled down and let the other notes come forward.
Verdict: I like this one a lot more than I expected to. It’s gonna be a strong debate over whether to upsize right now or not. On the one hand, it’s summer and if I upsize now it’s not gonna be a scent I crack open for another 4-6 months. It’s not a warm weather scent for me. However, I can’t imagine something so resin based would age poorly and perhaps it would be even more tantalizing in winter.
Road to Hana
In the bottle: The first thing I am hit with, opening the bottle, even before I get close to it, is a whiff of lime. This is exciting for me - I love lime, and am always on the lookout for more lime perfumes. Getting closer I detect… fresh salty sea air. The sea air dominates anything else in the perfume at this stage. Even my beloved lime. I feel like I’m getting some coconut in there though - possible an edge of florals. Tiniest bit of greenery - like a leaf. The only note I recall from the listed note from is ginger - and there might be the tiniest hint of spice but it isn’t a ginger forward perfume to my nose.
Wet on my skin: Once again, great lime throw. At a distance it smells like lime, salt, and possibly coconut. Close to my skin there is definitely something green. Did this have a green tea note? It’s slightly acrid to my nose (the tiniest bit floor-cleaner-y. Not enough for me to go ‘uqk’ but enough for me to note it. At this point I am getting the ginger - it blends well into the green note in the perfume.
Drydown: Green tea, lime, greenery, ginger, coconut and salt maybe a hint of rice. This reminds me a lot in some ways of the kind of green tartness/acidicness of the wild strawberries in Echoed Ecstasy (retired Alkemia scent). If you like Echoed Ecstasy this is like its tropical, more mild cousin. It’s living right on the edge of where a green scent would be a bit much for me. It doesn’t feel physically painful to sniff but to be honest I’m not the world’s biggest fan of green scents even when they don’t hurt.
After 30 mins: Fresh and clean. Lime, coconut, and ginger form the first notes you are hit with followed by greenery and salt. I’m gonna be real for a second: Mermaids would probably stink. Most oceanic animals smell really bad. And that hair? It better be filaments carefully used for filter feeding because otherwise it would be a stinking disgusting mass of oceanic muck. However, this perfume smells like the ideal of a mermaid. It smells like the scent a mermaid would use to scent her shampoo before making goo-goo eyes at some land dwelling prince.
Official Notes: Anji white tea leaves delicately infused with young ginger root, Hawaiian gingerflowers, and ambrette muskmallow seed
Well, the green tea was actually white tea - explains why it smells so fresh and green. I get the young ginger. The gingerflowers must be what reminds me so much of lime! They have good staying power compared to true lime. I think the muskmallow seed must be the creaminess I was reading as coconut. IDK where I’m getting the salt from - but… I definitely detect a slight saltiness on the edges. Is it an unlisted note? Is my mind inserting it because of the tropical vibe of the scent? Who knows!
Verdict: Swap. It’s just a smidge too green for me. If you like white tea scents, and like clean/fresh tropical scents give this one a go. I think it’ll knock your socks off while not smelling like a laundromat or soapy.
Big Sur
In the bottle: Sea spray cologne - only a touch salty but mostly just… distinctly oceanic aquatic. Very fresh. A little ozonic.
Wet on my skin: BRIGHT masculine aquatic. I remember this having a lime leaf note? Definitely getting that. It smells like a leaf would if it were a lime. Getting something resinous - but like, bright resinous. And I feel like there’s some sort of traditionally masculine floral in there but I couldn’t put a name to it. Salt, something ozonic, and sea spray round out the scent.
Drydown: Much more mild. My skin is eating this one. I’m having trouble figuring out exactly where I applied it to my arm. It went from a kind of masculine companion to Road to Hana (not that they smell incredibly similar - but the overall concepts are pretty similar) to just kind of a vague, masculine aquatic. It does have pretty good throw on it but that lime leaf note is just… gone and the atmospherics have died way back.
After 30 mins: Alas, even fainter than the drydown. My skin really ate this. But the kind of scent profile left is a lil more musky but otherwise the same.
Official Notes: lime leaves, magnolia, green amber, ozone, sea salt, saltspray rose, sweetgale, bay, and paperbark
So, I got the lime leaves. The magnolia isn’t really distinct or forward - I think it added a bit of a ‘fresh’ vibe to the overall scent without standing out on its own. The green amber, rose, and sweetgale are what made up the aquatic accord for me. Got the zone and the sea salt. The bay and paperbark are a bit curious. I can see the bay being what’s smelling kind of sweetly musky as a base not for the scent. I don’t know what paperbark smells like distinctly - I’m guessing resinous - it might be what I was reading as a bright resin early on.
Verdict: Swap. My skin devours it. After half an hour it smelled as faint as many scents do after I attempt to wash them off.

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