Wednesday, August 7, 2019

7 Nui Cobalt Reviews: Copper Fox + Silver Fox + Black Squirrel + Flying Squirrel + Northern Cardinal + Hummingbird + Mourning Dove

When I got asked to write some reviews for Nui Cobalt perfumes I was very excited to see their critter collection! I'm a giant animal nerd and as far as I'm concerned the more animal themed perfumes out there the better!
The perfumes covered in today's review are:

All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days (around a week in this case) after arrival. The perfumes were kept in the dark in a plastic box if small enough. If too large for a box they generally sit on top of a bookcase or bedside table, or inside of a drawer. 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 Dove sensitive skin, or almond Doc Bronner’s.
Before doing test periods I often wear or play with other scents in my collection (that I wash off). I also am often wearing scented lotion on my feet and ankles (that I do not wash off). so theoretically there could be cross-contamination.
For oils: Each sample was gently swirled before application. Then applied directly to skin - typically the top of my arm or the back of my hand.
Each review is written without looking at the notes in that moment. Frequently I will glance at a perfume’s notes beforehand. At the end of the review I will list what the official notes are and comment on how I think they interacted.
Bottle Review
These all came in 1ml wand bottles. See my review of Nui Cobalt's 1ml wand bottles [ here ] A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
Copper Fox
In the bottle: The very top notes are something like birch soda - it could be sarsaparilla, birch, or any number of root-beer-reminiscent things. But this one’s kinda reminiscent of mint so I’m guessing birch. Metallic midnotes - maybe it’s the name influencing my perceptions but it really does remind me of copper pennies. Basenotes of a sort of vanilla musk type scent.
Wet on my skin: Birch, something that’s going to latex on me (might be that metallic note? It’s like halfway between copper penny and latex). I think there is a vanilla in here and maybe some musk. Something earthy and dark deep in the scent is coming out.
Drydown: In order my nose perceives them - milky birch, vanilla musk, a smell that reminds me super strongly of a tube of lipstick (a little metallic, but also that really distinctive ‘makeup’ smell), and a touch of the dark, earthiness at the base. The dark earthiness might be like… a smoked walnut or something.
The overall impression for me is of a big glass of birch beer with a stick of lipstick next to it.
After 30 mins: Sweet, milky birch, cinnamon, musky vanilla, that tube-of-lipstick smell and a hint of darkness at the base. Scent is very sweet - sugared almost. Like a slightly spicy and herbal gourmand with golden-brown nuances and a tiny bit of darkness at the base.
Official Notes: Warm chai with steamed almond milk nestled in sumptuous cashmere, crimson musk, sarsaparilla, and budding birch
Ah-ha! So the warm chai is that spicy-vanilla-milky part of the scent. The almond in this must have been what went to latex on me for a second when it was wet and is probably what’s adding a bit of dark earthiness at the base. It’s a rich, bitter almond. The cashmere is probably what was reminding me of makeup - and the crimson musk is the er, musk. I’m not sure how you’d tell sarsaparilla and birch apart. They must be blending with the birch coming out on top.
Verdict: I personally find the smell of birch to be kind of overwhelming. In small amounts I like it, but here, on me, it’s the most forward part of the scent along with the spices in the chai in the deep drydown. With the degree of birch in this, it isn’t for me. I feel like I’d like it a lot more if the creaminess was even thicker, the cashmere was a little more ‘fur’ or ‘textile’ than makeup and if there was an amber note in there. Perhaps dial the birch back slightly (but I do think an amber would help give it some shimmering complexity).
Silver Fox
In the bottle: Cashmere vanilla and soft, powdery birch. Edges of a cold floral - lavender I think. There might be a whisper of silvery musk.
Wet on my skin: Silky, musky, and cool. It’s funny - while in Copper Fox the cashmere blended into a smell that strongly reminded me of lipstick, here’s it’s a thoroughly textile note. Getting cashmere vanilla, an undercurrent of milky birch, silvery musk and edges of cold lavender. It’s slightly sweet so I’m wondering if there’s a myrrh component in here.
Drydown: So, this has a great throw on it. I’m sitting here getting constant whiffs of it with my arms down in typical computer use. I’m also finding the perfume’s title apt - I keep thinking ‘Man, this smells how Meryl Streep’s hair looks’. The entire character of the perfume is sweet, silvery, smooth, soft, a little dignified but with an edge. So the top notes I’m getting I’m pretty sure are floral - but they kind of remind me of a citrus, so, perhaps a white floral? They’re followed by powdery cashmere softness and silvery musk with the barest touch of birch.
After 30 mins: This was actually a little longer than 30 minutes. The ‘A’ key on my keyboard decided to stop working which puts a cramp in the ole writing. Thankfully it seems to be working now! So.
I’m getting powdery musk and vanilla cashmere layered over something tangy. It might be a fruit. At the edges of the scent is a sweet floral - again, thinking lavender. Wearing quite strong - most of the changes through the test period have been tangy nuances coming out and some additional muskiness.
Official Notes: White tea with honey and rice milk, almond macaron, soft grey cashmere and cool woodland musk
Interesting! So no floral - I think I must be reading the white tea as a floral. The creamy aspect is the rice milk, and the sweetness is the honey. It’s just a touch of the honey note though. The almond macaron is, I’m sure, adding the tanginess and rounding out the character of the musk. The cool woodland musk is the musk - and I am pretty sure where the faint hint of birch is coming from.
Verdict: Much like Hummingbird if I wasn’t attempting a low-ish buy break I’d upsize this. While I found the birch on the overwhelming in Copper Fox I found it in (what I consider) the correct balance here. Keeping my sample for those days when I need to channel my inner Streep.
Black Squirrel
In the bottle: Sweet golden fruit with a medicinal twang to it in the topnotes - I think perhaps an apricot? Something nutty in the midnotes, and a woodsy-earthy base. Dark layered with sweet-bright with a touch of medicinal-herbal to it.
Wet on my skin: Buttery, rich nuttiness coming forward. I think this is an almond. Swirls of sweet fruit at the edges. This is much less medicinal smelling. While in the bottle it was kind of unpleasantly reminiscent of cough syrup on the skin it balances out really well. You get topnotes of buttery, musky, sweet almond (not acrid at all!) layered over sweet-to-the-point-of-being-honeyed golden fruit. That earthy base is still there but less prominent than it was in the bottle.
Drydown: Wearing much fainter now. Assume from this point on everything I’m talking about is running at about 40% of what it originally was. At the top I’m getting buttery nuttiness mixed with faint fruitiness. What’s more interesting than the smell about these topnotes is the taste they leave in my mouth when I breathe them in deeply. Kinda tastes like water from a chlorinated pool. Getting midnotes of sweetness and some twinges of earthiness from the basenotes.
After 30 mins: About the same as the drydown. Perhaps a bit stronger. Wears close to the skin.
Official Notes: A playful blend of almond and spiced apricot, grounded in rich benzoin and copaiba balsam, deepened by black oak, black currant, vanilla bean, and myrrh.
So the almond and apricot are both there! I might have recalled without realizing them - but honestly they’re really, really apparent. The black currant, vanilla and and maybe the myrrh probably are blending with the apricot - adding that sweetness. The benzoin and black oak are what’s adding that sweetness. What’s giving things a kind of medicinal vibe must be the balsam - I also think that’s what’s adding that particular taste in my mouth.
Verdict: In the bottle it overwhelmed me with a medicinal tang. However, wet I loved it - seriously, that is a great almond note (so smooth!). But my skin ate this. It’s so faint on me that I’ll be passing on my sample.
Flying Squirrel
In the bottle: Sweet almond (the same note as the one in Black Squirrel), something herbaceous … and maybe some of the sweet, silvery darkness of myrrh? It’s hard to tell. Maybe some coconut? It’s kind of this balance between cold/silvery, herbal, and gourmand.
Wet on my skin: Topnotes of that sweet, creamy almond, something sweet and kinda musky in the midnotes, something kind of herbal but in a way that reminds me of trees. Mostly I’m getting that almond with a kind of musky-glassy quality to it with an earthy base. I wish I could describe it more specifically than this - but it’s stumping my nose. There might be a tiny edge of fruitiness but it’s hard to tell.
Drydown: Almond, musk and maybe a floral - maybe a bit of tree-resin. My nose is still stumped and my skin is eating this scent. It’s wearing a lot fainter. I do like what’s there - it’s kind of an animalistic fruity floral. I wish it wore stronger on me.
After 30 mins: Little bit of fruitiness, musk, and earthiness… and not much else.
Official Notes: Raw almond, spiced apricot, and rich benzoin borne aloft by lavender, cotton flower, and tart kumquat.
Almond is there early in the scent - but faded to a musk quality on me. The spiced apricot and kumquat are the fruit - the apricot has almost resinous qualities and is deep in the scent. The cotton flower must be what was herbaceous smelling to me. The lavender must be what was giving me ‘cold’ and some of the herbal vibes early on - but it also faded fast. The benzoin is the earthy smell at the base of the scent - and of all the notes it’s probably been the one with the most lasting power on me.
Verdict: I was really warming up to this scent and then my skin just… devoured it. It’s a really unique scent (almond adding animalistic qualities! Piquancy from kumquat! Sweetness from the apricot!) that I imagine would be a lot of fun for someone who it has more lasting power on. Unfortunately, much like Black Squirrel this is a pass for me.
Northern Cardinal
In the bottle: Topnotes of maple syrup, midnotes of autumnal spices and herbs, a floral that reminds me of honeysuckle, and resinous basenotes.
Wet on my skin: Nutty spicy topnotes and bright, sweet maple, herbal-floral midnotes, and resinous basenotes. There might be a hint of fir in there somewhere - maybe that’s what I’m reading as herbal? This is a darker scent than one I’d expect from a cardinal inspiration - much more like the forest that cardinals live in than the fiery reds of the bird itself. Kind of an autumnal foresty gourmand.
Drydown: Topnotes are spice, and sweet, bright maple - but the maple is also kind of… green? I think there might be some sort of leaf note in here. Bit of herbaceousness in the midnotes - still think it might be a fir. I’m loving whatever it is that my nose is reading as a floral. Base is a dark resin. It still kind of toes the line between foresty and gourmand to my nose.
After 30 mins: Very similar to the drydown - perhaps less green. I want to emphasize whatever this floral seeming note is - it’s great.
Official Notes: Spiced red currant preserves, caramel pralines, d'Anjou pears, rich mahogany and sugar maple wood
So, the spices are the spices. And this is definitely a gourmand. It’s sweet both because of the red currant preserves and the caramel pralines - the pralines must also be adding some the nuttiness. By process of elimination the pear must be what smells downright floral to my nose. That leaves the red currant preserves being what smells kind of herbal in a way that reminds me of a fir tree. The mahogany is the dark resin - and the sweet maple is the sugar maple wood.
This is not a deeply fruity scent - as I’ve said before it sits right on the line between sugary-sweet gourmand and a kind of trees-and-wild-things smell.
Verdict: It’s a little too sweet, a little too maple syrupy strong for my tastes. If the pear in this was more prominent I think I’d be way more into this (it’s a really good pear). I think for people who like syrupy-but-also-resinous-sweet autumnal gourmands this would be worth looking into. For me it’s a pass.
In the bottle: This launches giddily out of the bottle with floral nectar - perhaps some fruit? Maybe a really floral pear? There’s something in here that’s screaming ‘This is definitely a Nui Cobalt scent!’ to me. I wonder if it has some of their honey note or something in it? I’m getting some spices around the edges. At the base is a bright, reddish resin.
Wet on my skin: Piquancy and green-fruit now sit at the top of the scent layered over what I think is a white floral. Between the green fruit, white floral, and red resin this is doing a good job of invoking a Ruby Throated Hummingbird! There’s still something in this that’s vividly declaring this a Nui Cobalt scent, but I can’t quite put my finger on it. The reddish resinous note is taking on some dark tones.
Drydown: So, nectar and fruit lead - not sure about the fruit, but it blends well with the florals. I’m gonna take a guess at the florals and say a delicate rose and a honeysuckle - it has that pale, sweet, delicate quality to it. Undercurrent of resin and spices. Not as dark as it was wet.
After 30 mins: Still wearing quite strongly - and quite similar to the drydown. The only thing different is I’m getting a little bit of what reminds me of dirt.
Official Notes: oleander to orange blossom with ripe nectarine, hibiscus tea, and traces of tuberose.
So the white florals are the orange blossom and tuberose, the other floral that reminded me of a rose is the oleander. The hibiscus tea must be the kind of reddish notes that reminded me of a resin at the base (and sometimes I’ll get a kinda ‘dirt’ quality from hibiscus - so that makes sense too). The nectarine is the fruit.
Verdict: A solid fruity floral! It’s sweet, energetic and bright. The quality of the notes really shines here - excellent quality white florals. If I wasn’t trying to buy a little less this would probably be an upsize for me. I do feel like this could have been pushed into upsize territory by a smidge more complexity - maybe a dash of myrrh or a sparkling water/carbonation type note. As it stands, I’ll be keeping my sample but not upsizing.
Mourning Dove
In the bottle: Getting topnotes of sweet tree sap (not maple) and spice with an edge of bitter citrus (bergamot?). I’m having a difficult time distinguishing the mid and base notes in the bottle. There’s some bitterness, and then some additional fruitiness - maybe a touch of base woods.
Wet on my skin: Nuttiness throughout coupled with a bright fruit. The sweet tree sap is now sitting in the midnotes. Bit of muskiness to the whole scent - something’s being used to give this a bit of a ‘this smells like an animal’ quality - perhaps some sort of seed adding that almost-musky note? Overall - sweet fruity-nutty with a lick of spice and some dark, creamy (woody?) notes at the base.
Drydown: So at this stage what this is reminding me of most intensely is apple butter - which is sort of like applesauce but thicker and more er… buttery. This reminds me of apple butter and tree branches. So that is to say sweet, buttery apples swirled with spices. There might be a hint of some bergamot.
While this scent started out very strong on my skin after about 10-15 minutes it started wearing very close to the skin. The cloud extends maybe half an inch from my skin. When I get my nose right up to my skin the scent is detectable at a kind of “medium” strength.
After 30 mins: Well, now this has almost vanished on me. What I do get is just kind of a faint spiced and sweet fruity scent with some bergamot at the edges.
Official Notes: Juicy Bosc pears poached in mulled wine and drizzled with honey with a gentle breeze of forget-me-not and Casablanca lily.
Ah, so pear, not apple - but yes to the fruit being ‘cooked’. The mulled wine is where the spices are coming from as well as the scent I think I was reading as tree branches. It’s a very rounded, smooth wine - not boozy at all. The honey is where the sweetness and probably some of the nuttiness is coming from. The florals must be what reminded me of a citrus/bergamot - they add a little bit of that fragrant-bitter quality at the edges - but the scent is not strongly floral in quality.
Verdict: I think this would make a great room scent or candle. It is very smooth and pleasant when at its strongest. However, as a personal scent it’s not what I’m looking for - especially since it wore really faintly with my skin chemistry. It’s very autumnal and heavy for a fruity gourmand… almost like an autumn pastry smelling scent. Which, again, I’d love as a candle but not necessarily to wear. I’ll be passing on my sample of it.

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