Sonoma Scent Studio
Article by Kelley
Sonoma Scent Studio is an artisan perfumery based in Healdsburg , California , located among the many vineyards of Sonoma. The owner and in-house perfumer is Laurie Erickson. I have written to her several times and I found her a lovely person. You will find body creams and perfume oils available along with their eau de parfums. According to the website, they don’t add water or isopropyl myristate or propylene glycol to their perfumes—they are simply oils in alcohol. I remember that she used to use a special kind of alcohol somehow associated with grapes but I noticed that the website has been changed and now it’s perfumer’s SD alcohol only.
I found this company in a strange way. It all started with a blind internet date. Yes, this is going to be a smutty little story. OK, I met someone on the internet by email and started corresponding. You see, I live in Mexico , in a very small town and so dating is almost out of the question, so, a guy’s got to do what a guy’s got to do! It turns out that this person is a perfume freak (a huge attraction for me!), let’s refer to this person from here on out as PF for perfume freak. I mail ordered about 8 bottles of different perfumes based on PF’s glowing recommendations. After several months of writing steamy emails and talking on Skype (the free internet phone service), we found out we were fragrance opposites and that this couldn’t possibly work out. In fact, I would say that PF’s recommendations were ghastly and some were very expensive! “Fragrance opposites” is a term I made up and I am sure there has to be something better out there for what I am trying to describe. It is when someone hates what you wear and you can’t stand what they like. My point is, why even try to date someone that has such bad taste in fragrance? I called the whole thing off! Well, there were a few other things we had problems with but I will save that for another time.
What does this story have to do with Sonoma Scent Studio, you ask? Well, PF loves their products and recommended them to me. When I went to the website, it was down (I think it was due to illness?). My order of samples didn’t come in until this past December, which was almost a year after I was led to the website by PF. The delay wasn’t Laurie’s fault; I had to wait for the website to go active again. I will keep these reviews very brief.
Sandal Oud: The listed notes are sandalwood, oud, musk, cedar, with a drop of mandarin. I find this to be extremely oily on my hand. I smell the oud and that’s about it. This isn’t a medicinal oud often found in the oud series by Montale. I am guessing that this is a young oud or maybe a synthetic oud. Overall impression, nice but linear and also stays fairly close to the skin. Would I buy it? Maybe.
Sanctuary: Sandalwood, frankincense, amber, orris, musk, and vanilla. The sandalwood here smells like the blond sandalwood. This one is also weak and linear. There is a dill pickle smell to this that is very strange. A definite no.
Cashmere : Sandalwood, cinnamon, musk, amber, and vanilla. This is nice but the cinnamon used in this smells artificial. This almost smells like a candle. Yes, this definitely should be a candle. No for Cashmere .
Bois Vanilla: Cedar, sandalwood, incense, and vanilla. I smell vanilla but that’s about it. This one would also make a nice candle fragrance. This one is extremely light. I don’t think so.
Amber Bois: Cedar, rose, musk, turmeric, saffron, and amber. This is very rosy. I can tell that I have a theme starting. This reminds me of the Virgin Mary candles they sell at the market that are scented with rose. I don’t smell spices but there is a sweet amber accord lurking just under the rose (very artificial to my nose). This is so sweet that it could give me a headache.
Fireside: Sandalwood and cedar combined with exotic woods and resins. This is supposed to smell smoky like a fireplace. Fumerie Turque is smoky. Lonestar Memories is smoky. This is just bland. I get sandalwood for sure but I don’t get any of the resins they promised. This is also very linear and stays very close to the skin. This is another definite no.
Incense: Frankincense, myrrh, sandalwood, cedar, amber, musk, and vanilla. This opens with a strange fruity smell, like pineapple. Of course frankincense has a slight fruity-ness to it but this is odd. It isn’t an offensive fruit accord but it seems a little sweet. Luckily this fades and I smell sandalwood and myrrh. This isn’t very original but it’s one of their best offerings.
Chai Latte: Warm chai spices, creamy vanilla, and a light tea note. This smells exactly like a butter-cream candle. There are no spices and definitely no tea notes…anywhere. Where all of the others are extremely light, this is strong. This has killer sillage (literally). This is so artificial and so unexpectedly awful; it should come with a warning!
Amber et Encens: Amber, vanilla, incense, and spice. It opens with a nice incense accord but quickly fades to almost nothing. I smell a little amber and incense. Sorry.
Oud: Lovely at first. This is a medicinal oud but not as strong as some. It is a single note fragrance that might be used for layering. Would I buy this? I don’t think so. I would prefer a much more expensive bottle of masterfully blended Montale’s Royal Oud, thank you. This faded on me very quickly to a band-aid smell. Definitely a NO!
I was very excited about trying these scents because they sounded so promising. Except for the nuclear Chai Latte, I found these fragrances very linear and weak and some of them smell very artificial. These aren’t complicated scents by any stretch of the imagination; in fact, I would say that they are single accords. I love fragrances that are like having complete conversations. I want to start with one thing and then change topics several more times and go from happy to sad and back to happy again. I want layers like an onion. I really don’t want to jump in and read the last line of the book. I guess when most of the ingredients you use are traditionally used as base notes, they will stay very, very close to the skin. I found I would have to touch my arm with my nose to get even a whiff of these fragrances. Of the lot, the only two that I found interesting (this will come as a huge surprise) were Sandal Oud and the plain Oud. They don’t last long on me at all, a couple of hours at most. This was a fun experiment but I didn’t find anything here that I have to have. There are many more scents listed on the website than what I reviewed here at www.sonomascentstudio.com. Prices range from $2 for the 1/32 oz. sample to $25 for the 1 ounce epd spray in the studio line. It’s $35 for 1 ounce of perfume in the boutique line.
Photo of the SSS perfume is from their website. The nuclear explosion is courtesy of www.answers.com and the grapes are from www.virtualtourists.com.