A Heartland Sampler: The Fragrances of Escentual Alchemy
When one thinks of perfumery, the Corn Belt of the U.S.A. is not the first thing that comes to mind. However, for those willing to go off the beaten bath, the fragrances of Escentual Alchemy are a delightful discovery. Perfumer Amanda Feeley creates her all-natural botanical compositions in the friendly state of Iowa, and after testing a range of her scents I am duly impressed with their quality. (She sells her items on an Artfire site shop as Absinthe Dragonfly.)
This line first entered my personal radar screen over the Christmas season last year when I read about her limited edition holiday scent called Christmas & Cookies. It was already past the holiday season when I requested samples, but luckily she still had a little bit left for me to try. Talk about sugar and spice, this one is delicious, buttery and sweet, just like you would expect but not overly sugary, and dosed generously with seasonal spices to make it interesting. This actually works as a perfume despite being requested by her young son! I highly recommend marking your calendar and grabbing this when winter rolls around again. Notes, from the Web site: 5 types Vanilla bean tincture, Butter CO2, Black Tea absolute, Beeswax/Honey Tincture, White Rose Attar in Sandalwood, Cinnamon, Antique Nutmeg, Balsam Fir, Strawberry Furanone (a natural isolate). It's just as good as it sounds and wears wonderfully on me.
Another one that caught my fancy at that time was Orange Cream, since one of my favorite confections to eat is a Creamsicle® on a hot summer day. It does open with a sweet gourmand burst, but once it spends some time on skin it becomes a lovely orange blossom and floral blend. There is an element of something like warm pie crust as well, and a smooth and suede-like base note keeps my nose glued to my arm when I am wearing it. It's a different take on the orange theme, warm and endearing, and I am in favor of it.
I asked for a variety of samples to see what other styles she had up her sleeve, and I was not disappointed. The polar opposite of Christmas & Cookies has to be Lumberjack Man, one of those masculines that is very “manly,” but don't let that stop anyone else from trying it. It's rugged all right, and has a fascinating mushroom-like note that smells for all the world like a man's bare skin when he is working up a healthy sweat. The listed ingredients are mostly in line with what would be within the limits of the traditional definition of what a masculine fragrance is, according to the arbitrary definition of the genre that has developed over time, but since this is a natural perfume, there is nothing of the harshness found in department store men's products; no synthetic woody-ambers, marine aroma chemicals or grating metallics here. Instead you get a mesmerizing skin scent that almost any man would be able to wear, and that women will appreciate on them. Longevity is good, and the name alone might be enough to persuade a man hesitant to try wearing fragrance for the first time. I say go for it! Notes: Tobacco, Labdanum, Agarwood, Ylang ylang, Ginger, Lime, Wormwood, Saffron, Black Pepper, Rosewood.
One of the more popular fragrances in this line is Bennacht, and deservedly so. Its name is Gaelic for benediction or blessing, and it is an astonishing blend of pure floral hydrosols and a Mukhallat style attar. Both resinous and green, it is truly beautiful and well made. I can smell the high quality roses and a generous amount of saffron, and one of the hydrosols in it adds a subtle tuberose note. The lasting power of Bennacht is outstanding for a natural, and while it is on your skin you will not be able to resist its charms as it draws you in with its magical spell and melds with your body chemistry. This would be ideal for someone who likes the idea of wearing an Arabian attar type perfume but does not want something too intense or overpowering, as so many of those can be. It can be worn by either men or women, but in either case, may I suggest that it be employed in situations where seduction is called for, since that is what it has done to me and my nose.
I will be testing and reviewing more perfumes from the Escentual Alchemy line in the near future, so stay tuned; I have just begun to scratch the surface of the range.
Disclosure: The samples were given to me for review by the perfumer at my request.
Image credit: 'Heartland' American sampler style quilt from amidonquiltworks.com