|Leading with the photo today to show off the beautiful colors the potions perfumes are in.|
I was really excited for a fruity floral autumn collection. Fruity florals? In the fall? Excellent! We all love our smoky, dark, and spicy scents - but fall is the time of blossoms and the harvest as well.
VR's willingness to tackle white florals and fruits is something I really commend. I particularly commend the quality of their notes of both white florals and fruit. They've really sourced and blended well on that front. Regardless of my individual opinion of any perfume in this set it's certainly made me eager to try more of their collection. It reminds me a lot in terms of creativity (and, to be honest, some of the problems) of the stuff Stereoplasm was doing 6 months ago... and I love Stereoplasm so I'm happy to jump on board the VR train.
The Perfumes covered in today's review are:
- Amortentia [ store link ]
- Draught of Living Death [ store link ]
- Felix Felicis [ store link ]
- Polyjuice Potion [ store link ]
- Potion for Dreamless Sleep [ store link ]
- Basic Witch [ store link ]
- Vineyard Butter - Banana Pudding Scent [ store link ]
All perfumes in this review were allowed to rest for several days ( over a week for these scents) 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, Meyer's Clean Day in honeysuckle or almond/citrus 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). Sometimes I wear scented hair products simultaneously. 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.
- With the 1ml samples: I liked that the bottles were screw caps (bless you), had an orifice reducer (!!! double blessings), and didn't leak at all. The labels were easy to read and consistent - my only tiny complaint about the bottles is that they don't have any VR branding on them! I'll probably keep track of where I got them, but sometimes I give my perfumes to other people and it would be nice to have the house listed somewhere on the bottle.
- With the Vineyard Butter: I love the labeling on this, I love the design - it looks very professional. I love that it lists the ingredients. I did have two small issues with the container. The first is that during shipping the butter must have melted some because a small amount had leaked out (which didn't damage the label! A+ for oil resistant labeling) - this might be an issue with fill level (it was very full) or with the caps not being oil-tight. I want to emphasize that none of my products were damaged by this leak - it was only a tiny amount (enough to make the bottle greasy).
It lead to the second issue - some of the lotion had gotten into the threads of the bottle where it dried out. Normally this would be something I just ignore, but it must have oxidized or something there because it started to smell a little odd. I took some time and wiped it clean and the issue went away.
A reminder: Each nose is different and each skin’s chemistry is different. Your mileage may vary.
In the bottle: Blueberries. Instant, realistic, dark blueberries. It’s the same blueberry note that’s in Steroplasm’s Robin Animal-of-the-Month. A bit of tartness- might be the blueberries, or it might be a citrus note in there. Tiny bit of a mild resinous quality at the base.
Wet on my skin: Water/ozone, blueberries, a red berry, and a base resin. It kind of smells like fruit punch! Very fun and youthful with a little bit of a twist on it from that resinous note. It’s sort of like fruit punch at a super goth party where some sort of resin permeates the air.
Drydown: As it dries down the bold, bright, fruit punch smells become way more demure. They move towards the edge of the midnotes. What moves to the top smells like a lipstick accord - it has that kind of powerdry-makeup scent. There’s still a little bit of almost ozonic-resinousness near the base. For me the lipstick note dominates, with enough fruitiness and resinousness near the skin to keep things interesting.
After 30 mins: The scent overall is wearing more faintly on me. At the top I am getting some tartness and sweetness from the fruit-punch-berry-blend. It’s competing with that lipstick smell. Occasionally I’ll get a strong whiff of ozonic wetness but it comes and goes. Tiny touch of that dark resin at the base.
Official Notes: A bouquet of tea roses, heliotrope, and peach blossom on the table, pomegranate mimosas with fresh seeds floating in the glass, whiskey-soaked cherries, sensual amber and floral musk, and a fresh red apple missing a single bite
So, the roses, heliotrope, and floral musk make up what my nose is reading as a lipstick accord. The peach blossom is blending with the fruit-punch smell that’s made up of the pomegranate, cherries, and apple. The ozonic-wet smell must be coming from a combination of the mimosa, the whiskey, and even some of the apple. The amber is the resinous smell - it’s a slightly dark amber, or at least feels slightly dark in this blend.
No clue what I as reading as blueberries early on - maybe the pomegranate?
Verdict: I really, really liked this wet. I was all stoked because this scent wet was firmly in my wheelhouse with how bright, fruity, and piquant it was. In the drydown I feel like I lost some of that and the scent went from being Fruit Explosion With A Twist And Some Floral Nuances to traditionally femme fruity floral with some twists. I, personally, am just not that into smelling like lipstick and makeup.
For people who are into smelling like that this blend is trying some creative stuff that reminds me of being somewhere between Stereoplasm and BPAL in character. My biggest critique of the scent is that while it had a pretty nice throw (especially early on) and in the bottle I could smell the bottle open from a foot away… on my skin it went faint as it dried down and stayed there. It’s not invisible but it gives the scent a very different character overall (a lot of the nuances wear more faintly than the core) beyond any skin-chemistry related morphing.
I do want to note too: This scent is pigmented which is really cute! It leaves a pink shimmer where you applied it. Make sure you shake it well before application though.
I’ll be passing on my sample, but it does intrigue me as to where VR is going and makes me eager to smell a scent that’ll be more potent on me.
Note: As i continued to wear this the potency of the scent was quite volatile. I don’t know if I was going nose-blind to it or if it just… shifts like that, but I figured I’d mention it since I kept this one on beyond the test period for a bit.
Draught of Living Death
In the bottle: Fruity, earthy, dark and a little ozonic. You get the initial sweetness of a dark fruit - maybe pomegranate - layered over something warm and earthy (maybe a resin, maybe a wood). Below that is something a little sharp in an ozonic way. The overall character of the scent is black slashed with purple.
Wet on my skin: Bright fruit coupled with a wood, maybe a touch of anise in there. In the midnotes there’s a touch of decay smell that reminds me of mildew, sweet, earthy, a bit spicy and well… decaying. I think there’s a floral in here - though I can’t figure out which one beyond that it’s on the ‘white’ side of the spectrum (maybe a lilly?). At the base is that resin.
If the bottle scent was black slashed with bright purple fruits, this is that but with some brown nuances at the edges and a winding streak of white-yellow-gray decay.
Drydown: Tart, wet fruit layered over anise (maybe verging into full licorice) with a touch of slightly decayed greenery and a subtle brown-earthy base note. This is wearing much more faintly than it went on. The topnotes are the most prominent - the fruit almost smells citrus-like at this point - and it mingles nicely with the anise-licorice scent. The decay note is now much more subtle. The base note is there - but it’s very subtle. The overall character is spicy-fruity-licorice-candy with a tiny bit of decay and earthy nuance deep in the scent.
After 30 mins: About the same as the drydown - though I’m finding the decay and earthy nuance even more muted. I also feel like one of the smells in here I’ve been struggling to identify - up near the licorice smell - might be coconut. There’s definitely something adding a creamy sweetness.
Official Notes: A carefully prepared glass of absinthe created with a corrupted branch of wormwood, fresh picked stargazer lilies and asphodels, and a spilled glass of elderberry wine.
So, I get the absinthe as the ‘licorice/anise’ smell. The white floral I got early on was indeed a lilly! I’ve not knowingly smelled asphodels before - but google tells me they’re another white floral. I bet the two white florals are adding that coconut-like creaminess to the scent. The earthy/decay note in the scent is that branch of corrupted wormwood. The elderberries were the red, dark, tart fruit.
Verdict: Ah, I love the white floral in this scent and I’m generally partial to fruity-florals. I love how the elderberries and licorice-like scent contrast. However, I’m also really dingdang sensitive to decay notes and the one in here is a turnoff for me. The scent wears quite faintly and close to the skin - with a faint scent cloud starting about two inches from the application site.
This is another one where in the bottle it dazzled me, but on my skin it changed significantly (the decay notes came out) and it wore fairly faintly. Passing on my sample.
I recall this having a green clover note!
In the bottle: Fizzy green apples, a floral I can’t place, green-clover edges. There’s something really bright and tangy here that all three potions scents have had so far. On this one it smells more like fizzy sodas than wet ozone… but it’s definitely here and I’m a fan of it.
Wet on my skin: Green apples, a sweet and lush white floral, carbonated bubbles, a bit of what reminds me of mine all sitting wreathed in fresh cut grass scent. This scent is so bright, and tangy, and kind of floral-sharp and I love the balance… but dang if that fresh cut grass scent doesn’t get me every time. This scent makes me wish I liked fresh cut grass because I love the fruity-floral goodness of the rest of it. Smells like there might be a resin at the base mixed in with the fresh cut grass.
Drydown: A honey-musky note has come forward. It smells incredibly like a realistic, rich, musky clover-honey topped with a sweet, silky white floral. There’s a tiny bit of bright tanginess from a fruit. At the base there’s this golden amber and then still, some of that fresh-cut-grass. The scent is balanced and blended very well - overall it smells kind of like a luscious golden cupcake with fruity icing sitting in a nest of freshly cut grass.
It is wearing more faintly than it did upon application, and has morphed slightly with those gourmand notes opening up.
After 30 mins: Still dominated by the musky-honey note and quite cupcake-like (still has that fruity-floral nuance and those grass notes). It’s a bit more faint - scent cloud starts about an inch from my hand.
Official Notes: A fistful of four leaf clovers, a slice of fresh pineapple, sensual orchids, night blooming jasmine, grounded in a base of freshly crushed vanilla bean and golden copal resin.
Ah-ha. The pineapple + the jasmine is I’m sure what smells like green apples to me. The jasmine and orchids are those sweet white florals, and the vanilla bean + the copal is the cupcake/resin smell. The clovers are, of course, the fresh cut grass note.
Verdict: Every. Note. In here apart from the fresh cut grass note is my jam. I love flormonds, I love fruity-florals, I love a good non-screechy jasmine. I wish fresh cut grass didn’t give me headaches because for once it on me it actually smells balanced in a scent and not amped to all get out I will be passing on my sample but it will be very tragic. I will be waving a hankie at it as i send it off to a new home. I will navigate to the Vintner’s Reserve website and sigh longingly at pictures of the bottle and the love which is not meant to be.
In the bottle: Fruit, and something a little medicinal. Like, a super fruity sugary drink and then… sticky tobacco or something? Something herbal, a little woody, and eerily familiar in a way I’m struggling to place.
Wet on my skin: Gummy worms! Tart, bright, fruity gummy worms! Below that is the dark, woody-herbal scent that’s familiar that I can’t place and a dark musky scent. For the fruit I’m going to guess lime, and guava, and peaches. There might also be the tiniest floral tang to this - or it could be one of the fruits is kind of floral in character.
Drydown: So, I think the dark scent that I was like ‘idk is this a really sticky tobacco?’ is actually a dark, red rose. It reminds me a lot of some of the thicker, darker roses I’ve smelled - dark red, very sweet, and a little cloying. It’s certainly come forward in the scent and now makes up its core. Above that some of the fruit - the kind of guava or peach or mango smelling fruit. Rounded and a little golden and a little fruity-green. There’s the tiniest trace of lime left, but nowhere near the amount there was when the scent went on.
Behind the dark rose I think there is a woody scent - something rich and dark brown.
Like other VR scents this one is wearing relatively faint on me. The scent cloud starts about an inch out from the application site.
After 30 mins: Still rich and slightly medicinal in a way that’s hard to place. I get the rose - but there might also be some sort of alcoholic note I think? Like it kind of smells like a glass of fruit wine wreathed in dark red roses with a woody note near the base. Still pretty wearing lightly on me.
Official Notes: A rainbow of fresh-picked fruits: raspberries, orange, lemon, kiwi, blueberry, and elderberry, all with something sinister lurking beneath.
So, the orange and lemon are the citrus - the lemon burns off fast with this, but subtle hints of the orange remain. The kiwi is probably what I was reading as guava. I can see blueberry with the word in front of me - and that elderberry was probably what was reminding me of the fruit wine.
The something sinister must be that cloying rose and dark wood note. Like, if I had to hazard a guess I’d say ‘mahogany’ but I can’t be sure. It’s also medicinal in a way that’s really super familiar but hard to place.
Verdict: Love the fruits! Not as in love with the sinister-roses-wood-and-medicinal smell. A pass from me. I do wish the lemon stayed around for longer in this because it’s such a good lemon note. Nothing about it that was ‘cleaning product’ which is rare for lemon notes. It was tart and sweet like lemonade or limes. Passing my sample on to someone else.
Potion for Dreamless Sleep
In the bottle: I don’t officially remember the notes on this, but since it’s a ‘sleep’ potion I figure that it has to have lavender… and it smells like it does! A very sweet, soft lavender coupled with a sweet white-powdery scent and maybe some chamomile? It smells like a cup of herbal tea to be quite frank. Maybe with some white musk or skin musk in there - it’s got a thick note that’s almost nutty.
Wet on my skin: Lavender that is perfectly balanced to my nose - a bit of herbal sharpness to it but also a lot of the soft sweetness that lavender can bring. Below that is a sweet note - vanilla? Tonka? Something like that. And then I get that cup of herbal tea that reminds me of chamomile. And just the itsiest tiniest touch of powdery peppermint.
Drydown: Still wearing about the same! This one is one of the strongest scents of the batch, and one of the ones that’s morphed the least. It has a bit of a throw on it, but mostly wears close to the skin. Anyway.
Still dominated by lavender that is both sweet and herbal in a way that borders on ozonic. Below that is the sweet-musky smell I think is a vanilla or a tonka, camomile herbal tea, and a whisper of peppermint. A tiny, tiny bit powdery - but in a nice way. Refreshing and clean without smelling like a laundry detergent.
After 30 mins: As this wore for me the throw got more solid and I can detect a scent cloud a good three inches from my hand. Definitely stronger wearing than some of the other scents I’ve tried from VR.
Still smells about the same as the drydown too - lavender (perhaps a touch less herbal/ozonic), chamomile, vanilla/tonka, there might be a breath of heliotrope in here, and just that little touch of peppermint.
Official Notes: Fresh lavender essential oil swirling in herbal chamomile and sandalwood, laid to rest on vanilla cream pillows with a single rose on the nightstand.
The lavender is the lavender, the chamomile is the chamomile. I can see the rose with the word in front of me - but it blends heavily with the lavender. The vanilla is the vanilla cream. I can even see some sandalwood in here - I think it is what I was reading as heliotrope near the end. What’s surprising to me is I don’t see a peppermint note! I was almost certain I was smelling some peppermint and I’m not sure what might have added that note in there. Maybe something from the lavender being piquant enough to seem minty?
Verdict: Keeping my sample and probably going to pick this up as a lotion! I can see this being great for a night cream for feet or other dry spots.
In the bottle: Spiced apple cider with caramel with a touch more of gourmand under that - maybe some pumpkin. Strong on the apple cider though - that's mostly what I get in the bottle.
Wet on my skin: Spiced apple cider laced with smoke and caramel cooked in a cast iron cauldron. I’m not just being flowery in my language. It smells like that. A nice, dark, rich apple scent - and honestly one of the first fall perfumes to really blows my skirt up. It’s dark and spicy and a touch resinous and gourmand without being too resinous, or too gourmand. The apple - with a little edge of what I think is pumpkin - blending with the atmospheric smoke is the star of the show.
Drydown: Smoke, spiced apple cider with caramel, an edge of roasted pumpkin, with a bit of a tang to it that reminds me of a cast iron pot. Still very much an apple cider and smoke scent, still really digging it. Stronger than some of the VR perfumes I’ve tried, but still wears fairly close to the skin.
After 30 mins: Some of the smoke has dissipated and more of the gourmand smells are coming through - but otherwise the same. It now smells like you’ve removed your apple cider from the roaring fire it was bubbling over and are now having it with a slice of pumpkin pie while the fire rages away in the background.
Official Notes: Bonfire roasted marshmallows, sticky caramel apples, hot apple cider, fresh-baked butter cookies with pumpkin spice buttercream, and a thread of freshly picked tobacco.
I don’t get much of the marshmallow (apart from the ‘bonfire smoke’) - I suppose it could be deep in there but it’s blending with the other notes. The caramel, apples,and apple cider are all there. What my nose read as pumpkin pie is the butter cookies with pumpkin buttercream. The tobacco is part of what I was reading as a smoke scent - but it also was giving some of that tang that reminded me of the smell of cast iron.
Verdict: Love it, love it, love it. Will be keeping my sample and probably upsizing at some point in the future.
Vineyard Butter - Banana Pudding Scent
Those of you who are avoiding coconut oil rejoice! This lotion is coconut oil free.
Texture: Very smooth, thick cream. Reminds me of the texture of a very, very thick whipped cream (or whipped cream icing). More creamy than oily.
Performance: Goes on quickly and spreads easily on skin. I applied to to wet skin directly after a bath to retain moisture. On the application site (my ankles) the lotion took a while (closer to 15-20 minutes) to sink in since I applied it thickly and on extremely moist skin. On my hands it sank in quickly - leaving a smooth, non-oily buttery layer that provided a bit of ‘slip’ feeling without feeling greasy. In my experience when applied thickly to wet skin it holds in the moisture fairly well for several hours.
I tried this on my face overnight - it was a bit too heavy for facial use. Would recommend as a hand cream or treatment for dry skin - perhaps as a post shaving treatment.
I have psoriasis that gets very scaly and this lotion was gentle enough to use on it with no issues as long as I had no open cuts. On one night when I had an open cut it did cause some stinging - so I’d recommend primarily using it on skin with no open wounds if you’re a fellow sufferer of skin disease.
Official Notes/Scent Analysis: fresh banana pudding, with notes of banana, vanilla wafers, and whipped cream.
So, in the jar this smells exactly like banana pudding. Dead on. 100% To the degree I’d caution using this around small kids or inattentive spouses because they might decide its for eating.
Once it gets on the skin some note comes out. It might be part of the banana (it’s kinda green), it might be part of the vanilla wafers (it smells like toasted flour also), or it might be an oil in the lotion or all three. To my nose it smells like slightly old vegetable oil - like the kind you often get on movie theater popcorn or a kind of waxy-green plant (sort of like a banana peel smells?). It adds a slightly organic quality to the lotion.
Since I haven’t tried the lotion in other scents, or the perfume this is based on I can’t say exactly where the note source is from. I can’t speak to how other people will feel about it but it’s a note I’m not fully comfortable with myself.
Verdict: I found the texture of this lotion enjoyable and liked its performance in locking in water. I’ll be using up the sample sent to me as an ankle/foot lotion. Generally when I apply it down there I only smell it when it smells like it does in the tin before that green-oil-waxy note comes out. Based on my impression of it I might get myself some of the lotion in a different scent - it feels like it would especially make for a good massage lotion due to the texture.