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Tuesday, February 28, 2006

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

**Tomorrow, L, the latest scent by Lolita Lempicka.


Blogger lilybp said...

Hi M! It is actually a bit less expensive--around $55.95 if I remember correctly (it was around $60 including the shipping). And the proprietor was actually very nice to me (although I have heard tell of the rudeness you mention:) If they run out before I go to San Francisco to buy more, though I will kill you:) Well, I will be really sad. . . I love this stuff. Your comparison is pork was right on, though (qwendy thought it smelled like bacon:)
I should mention (in either the interests of full disclosure or a lame effort to discourage others from buying) that the bottle sucks. Not only is it ugly, but the sprayer on mine broke almost immediately; fortunately it was removable, and remove it I did. For that price, however, it's hard to complain.
I'd be interested if anyone knows anything about the company (Parfums Regence) that currently markets this. I've been unable to find anything out, although I received a sample of another fragrance by them (oakmoss) when I ordered KJ.
DH is thrilled to have his picture on the web and to be mentioned as well! Thanks:)

6:14 AM EST  
Blogger andy said...

I like the expression barbarian in your post... for me the accord of lots of birch tar with woods and eventually some dark cistus with an amber twist is indeed hard, smoky, yummie: Barbarian, brute even. To go from there to something more elegant needs quite some flowers and lots of citrus related scents to "cover up" and bring out this other tonality that is in Birchtar: Elegance and style.

7:40 AM EST  
Blogger andy said...

Ah, I forgot to add: Juchten is a very old german word, not really used anymore. I found a description in German (for your German readers) of the term in the Oeconomischen Encyclopädie (1773 - 1858) by J. G. Krünitz, which may be accessed online in german here:

7:47 AM EST  
Blogger marlen said...

Yes, yes, yes...a very kind swapper (xox) sent me a number of decants of KJ and I couldn't be more pleased with every aspect of this scent. A pleasure to wear, this is one I need to wear, ahem, on a very special date..

7:48 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I tried my best to make the scent as unappealing as possible. I mean, how many people there are (apart from the members of MUA, POL and Basenotes), who'd want to smell like pork fat? :-)
I would love to know about Parfums Regence too. How was Oakmoss?
Many thanks again for the photo to the both of you!!

8:17 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

You are so right, to go from barbarian :-) to elegant the accord would need a lot of flowers and citrus. Kolnisch Juchten doesn't really go that route. It stays barbarian, only in a more subdued manner so to say :-)

I wish I knew German better to read that Encyclopädie. But does "Juchten" indeed roughly translate as Russian leather?

8:19 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

There is a certain rough, primite sensuality in this scent, I totally agree. Very special date scent :-)

8:21 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I see your point. :-) More for me and Judith then :-)

8:50 AM EST  
Blogger Martin said...

I have one small decant of this one and I absolutely love it! I hardly every use it though since I'm so scared of running out... I think I will have a Kolnish day tomorrow, just to celebrate how fun it is (because it really is a fun scent).

12:25 PM EST  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

I know the moody proprietor you speak of. He styles himself a parfumeur-createur. I was planning on writing sort of a New Yorker style profile on him because of the interactions I had with him years ago. I thought I'd change his name.

12:34 PM EST  
Blogger Caitlin Shortell said...

Ok, I spoke too soon. As I read to the end of your post, I realized you were describing a different proprietor who was very nice to me, too. I have newfound motivation to write my profile of the extremely eccentric person I once knew on Polk street, now.

By the way, this one sounds interesting. Is smoked pork wearable? No se.

12:37 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

It is a fun scent. Irreverent, unsual, and fun.

12:49 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Whether it's the same or different person, you should write an article about him. I am sure it will be witty and funny. I can't wait!!

12:50 PM EST  
Blogger NowSmellThis said...

Well, you can already guess that it doesn't appeal to me, but now I'm wondering what other obscure scents this shop might have. Would love to visit!

2:05 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Maybe Judith will take a look for us, when she is in SF :-) I have a feeling the shop is fuul of obscure lemming-wrthy scents :-)

2:21 PM EST  
Blogger marchlion said...

You crack me up. How can you make it sound so weird and yet so wearable? I am slowly cornering the market in my neck of the woods on bizarre scents. Can't wait to stick this under the Big Cheese's nose -- here, honey, it smells like bacon fat! He'll probably love it.

2:56 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I am plotting to send this to my Dad. If there is one man to appreciate a perfume equivalent of smoked pork fat a.k.a. salo, it is my Dad :-)

2:57 PM EST  
Blogger lilybp said...

Oakmoss smelled like. . . oakmoss:) Very nice actually (from this chypre girl) but I think I would like to layer it with something. . . I wasn't moved to order a bottle immediately, anyway.

Actually, despite all the pork fat/brutal talk (with which I agree), there is something about the leather here that reminds of the leather note in Chanel Cuir de Russe (forgetting the floral elegance in that one). As if (to pick up on your memorable comments on En Avion and MKK), CdR were an elegant lady (Lady Chatterly perhaps) and KJ the sexy gamekeeper she hooked up with:)

9:00 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Lady Chatterly perhaps / the sexy gamekeeper comparison is so good, I have goosebumps!

9:36 PM EST  
Blogger Trina said...

*Gasp* Want want waaaaant!!!

5:36 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Then call the store and report on how it went :-) If all goes well, I'll call too :-)

8:24 AM EST  
Blogger Sexy Sadie said...

Otsjen interesno.

5:59 PM EST  
Blogger tmp00 said...

My Dad used to wear this one back in the day- brought it over from Europe on trips (along with Joy, Jicky and Bandit for my Mom). I'd love to see if it smells the same as I remember it; not as definable as bacon or pork, but something meaty, smoky and leathery.

I guess the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, eh?

12:00 AM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I think you would find it does still smell meaty, smoky and leathery. That's a very good description for it. KJ is the most unusual leather scent, love it.

8:37 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Years ago I went to the shop in San Francisco, and I had a BLAST ! ( I'm a gay man, and I don't like 90% of the fragrances @ MACY's = they reek of citrus or are just sweet smelling.)
I told the woman at the perfumery that I was interested in something smoky, with a little wodsy scent.
It was akin to a wine tasting - she brought out bottle after bottle, dabbed a little on white strips of paper, and I sniffed. She said to go outside once in a while to "clear my nose".
It was sooooo fun ! I finally settled on Kol. Juchten (R) - that's all the bottle says. I love it. It's smoky and woodsy. Perfecto !

11:54 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

I absolutely agree that it is perfecto!

9:13 AM EST  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

About 35 years ago, my girlfriend accidentally dropped my bottle into the bathtub (empty) and some of it escaped. Luckily I snatched it up in time to save most of it. This is the bottle

That I've been using stingily for the last forty years.

6:08 PM EST  
Blogger Marina said...

Thank you for sharing! Love the black bottle. I believe I saw similar one(s) on ebay recently.

6:16 PM EST  

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