Perfume Review: Parfums Regence Kolnisch Juchten
Kölnisch Juchten is perhaps one of the most obscure scents I have ever had a pleasure to encounter. The story goes that it was first produced a couple of hundred years ago by Johann Maria Farina (or "Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-platz"), the world’s oldest Eau de Cologne manufacturer in Cologne, established in 1709. At some point in time Kolnisch Juchten started to be produced by a company called Parfums Regence. In the States, it seems to be available exclusively at a small perfume boutique in San Francisco, allegedly owned by a moody proprietor, who, like the owner of the fragrance shop described in The Emperor of Scent, runs the store “according to the iconoclastic economic principle” that the perfumes are to be sold only if the owner likes the customers.
In the case of Kolnisch Juchten, such possessiveness is perhaps understandable. This is a rich, smoky leather scent quite unlike any other. “Juchten” is the German term for Russian leather. The rich, woody, smoky odor that came to be associated with Russian leather is due to the application of birch tar in the process of dressing. Many perfume houses have created scents centered around the Russian leather accord; however, if one is to consider the woody smokiness to be the main characteristic of Russian leather, then Kolnisch Juchten is the only scent that actually comes very close to replicating that dark, thick, balsamic aroma.
Yesterday I talked about Encens Epice, a “savory” scent reminiscent of hot and spicy sausages. Kolnisch Juchten is more savory still. The top notes are shockingly similar to the mouthwatering, cholesterol-leaden smell of smoked salo (pork fat, native to Ukraine and very popular throughout the whole former Soviet Union). Kolnisch Juchten is certainly the most “meaty” scent I have ever come across. It is a smell of old, black leather, tar, charred woods and unhealthy, barbaric but tasty meat cooked on campfire. Having said that, the scent starts much more intense than it means to go on. After the pungent, robust, fleshy beginning, the fragrance subsides rather dramatically. I wouldn’t go as far as to call it elegant and chic, as leather perfumes so often are, there is still too much of a barbarian in Kolnisch Juchten, but it does become much less smoky and the “meaty” accord all but disappears. During the later stages of its development, the scent is mainly (subdued) leather paired with some amber, a little tobacco, a hint of woods, some spices and finally, in the drydown, quite a bit of patchouli.
Is it full bottle worthy? It is to me! If you, like me, can’t resist the obscure, the strange, and the smoky …call Jacqueline Parfumerie in San Francisco, 415-981-0858. If you dare. I understand that Kolnisch Juchten costs $60 for 100ml (correct me if I am wrong).
*Many thanks to Judith and her husband for kindly providing me with the photo of Kolnisch Juchten! The picture of Pork Fat Back With Pepper is from russianfoods.com.
**Tomorrow, L, the latest scent by Lolita Lempicka.