Contact High: The new Cannabis fragrances from Aether Arts and DSH Perfumes -And a Prize Draw!
Colorado was one of the first states in the U.S. to legalize marijuana, and as it happens, that is also where two talented indie perfumers happen to live and work. I am sure that the backers of the movement to decriminalize this ancient plant did not anticipate that one of the “side effects” would be the inclusion of it in perfumery, but that's what happened. I am here to tell you that these are not novelties or jokes, they are real, quality fragrances that are very enjoyable to wear.
The intensely green fougère called Agrestic from the Cannabis Culture Collection by DSH Perfumes (all of which I tested in the concentrated oil formulation) made me sit up and take notice because it manages to do something I never expected - it reminded me of one of my very favorite classic chypres, the original Jean-Louis Scherrer, because of its depth and dark green character. Had I smelled it and not known that it contain cannabis, I would not have dreamed it was in there. There is also a gorgeous hay note of course, and the combination of that with the cannabis works effortlessly. I never could stand the smell of marijuana smoke, but the heady, leafy aroma of the fresh plant is another thing altogether. It makes an excellent stand-in for patchouli and other aromatic herbal notes commonly used in fragrance, and in Agrestic it contributes to the overall green mood I love so much.
The Green House is a feast for the senses, especially for gardeners; just one sniff and you have suddenly entered a warm, humid hothouse, with the clean earthiness of the soil and the breath of living plants hanging in the damp air. It is remarkably true to the real thing and I could not help smiling as I breathed it in. The top notes don't last very long, and it soon segues into a pleasing and mild green phase with a light, lemony quality and a touch of hay. This one is perfectly safe for the office and no one will ever know your little secret.
If you prefer something that gives more of a nod to the characteristic smell of marijuana, you will enjoy I Love You Mary Jane. It has the sweet stickiness of the fresh bud blended with fruity and floral notes. Such diverse ingredients as jasmine, osmanthus, Damask rose, blackberry, mango, rhubarb, grapefruit and yuzu contribute to its unique profile, and its complexity kept me coming back to press my nose to my arm as the kaleidoscope of scents unfolded. Using rhubarb was a stroke of genius, its sour juiciness a perfect mate for the pungency of the cannabis. I Love You Mary Jane is unapologetic about its origins, and that is part of its considerable charm.
The final fragrance in the DSH Perfumes collection is Rocky Mountain High, and it features something that is new to me in perfumery – skunk accord. Yes, she went there; but don't worry, none of our little striped friends were harmed in its making. In this creation, the cannabis is paired with the skunk and with woodsy evergreens – balsam fir, juniper, cypress – and various green herbal notes such as clary sage, basil and galbanum. A profound base of hemp, frankincense and amber rounds out the composition, which smells for all the world like a high end masculine scent from a luxury niche house. The skunk accord has the effect of creating a sexy, musky vibe that underlies the rather somber mix of dark green shades, and it ends up being an imposing and mature fragrance that's easy to wear yet entirely suitable for formal occasions. It is this one out of the four that best makes the case for the use cannabis as one would employ patchouli in a fragrance.
Amber Jobin of Aether Arts Perfumes has also launched a new fragrance that features cannabis, and it is a world apart from the DSH scents. Incense Indica is her take on a classic, even ancient, style of perfume, and it's a Folger's Crystals® moment – she has substituted cannabis for frankincense, which would normally be the centerpiece of an incense fragrance, and yes, we did notice. This is a knockout of a perfume, and incense lovers are in for a treat. (I never thought I would say this, but I did not even miss the frankincense, which is one of my favorite things in perfume.) Incense Indica is the latest entry in the Burner series; each year, Ms. Jobin makes a perfume inspired by the Burning Man festival in the Nevada desert and its unique subculture of free expression. It is lush and rich, all honeyed smoke and sex and dark earthiness from cannabis resin and myrrh, embellished with Sambac jasmine, this must be one of the the least “churchy” incense perfumes I have ever smelled. Its longevity is approximately forever. This style of perfume is not for everyone, but for those who appreciate a good incense this will surely deliver the goods.
This is not the first cannabis perfume Ms. Jobin has made – her 2011 Burner scent, the green chypre A Roll In The Grass, was very nicely done and highly wearable – my review of it it here.
Thanks to the generosity of both perfumers, we are giving away two prizes! Aether Arts is offering a 5.5 ml roller ball of Incense Indica, and DSH Perfumes will give a 1 dram miniature of concentrated perfume oil of the winner's choice of any one of the four Cannabis Culture Collection perfumes. This is a worldwide draw, open to everyone; please be sure to specify whether you want to enter the draw for Aether Arts or DSH Perfumes. The draw will close one week after the publication of this review. Good luck!
Image credit: Abstract cannabis motif from wallpaperscraft.com
Disclosure: All the samples for this review were sent to me for testing by DSH Perfumes and Aether Arts.