Discover Pacific Northwest Perfumes


Post by Azar


Hello APJ!

In my last post, an interview with Meredith Smith of Sweet Anthem Perfumes, we talked briefly about the Indie Fragrance Criterion – Discover Pacific Northwest Perfumes. Today I am reviewing all six of the fragrances in the collection (whew!). In an attempt to be brief I will list the perfumers’ notes for each scent, my perceived notes and a short comment about each perfume. Years ago my mbira teacher referred to melodic lines that emerged from complex interactions of rhythmic patterns as “the present and obvious”, the present but not obvious” and, my favorite, “the obvious but not present”. You will notice in my lists of perceived fragrance notes there are scents that are totally obvious to me but not at all present in the perfume compositions.

Indie Fragrance Criterion – Discover Pacific Northwest Perfumes

Indie fragrance critereon AzarPhoto Donated by Azar

Blooming Dream Natural Fragrances: Otto by Suzinn Weiss

The Perfumer’s Listed Notes: Savory basil, pepper, cardamom, a spicy carnation accord, irresistible chocolate, lavender, cocoa, pink pepper, amber accord.

Perceived Notes: Top – milk chocolate, cocoa, pink pepper. Middle – lavender, garden herbs, Herbes de Provence, a peppery red flower, cardamom. Base – cocoa, amber.

Otto is a rich and complex oriental semi-gourmand that smells a lot like the cabinet where I store my dried herbs, flowers and spices for cooking, and the extracts, powders and chocolates for baking. I am a sucker for fragrances with basil. My 2 ml sample will soon be gone.

Olympic Orchids: Olympic Rainforest by Ellen Covey

The Perfumer’s Listed Notes: Cedar leaves, green sword fern, rhododendron, forest mushrooms, wild flowers from the clearing, oakmoss, Port Orford cedar (also bee-balm, myrtle, black spruce, balsam fir).

Perceived Notes: Top – the Olympic Rainforest in WA state USA. Middle – wild flowers, sweet grass, myrtle, cedar greens and wood. Base – cedar, balsam and oakmoss.

This is one of my favorite “scents of place” from Olympic Orchids. I really hate breaking down and dissecting this one. To me it IS the scent of the Olympic Rainforest; fecund, lush, cool, verdant, wet and dripping with life. The sillage is moderate and longevity a respectable six hours on the skin and longer on clothing.

Pirouette Essentials: Wild Spruce and Tobacco by Karyn Gold-Reineke

The Perfumer’s Listed Notes: Crown – bergamot, fern, spruce. Heart – spice, smoke, leather. Root – vetiver, tobacco, roots.

Perceived Notes: Top – Vicks Vapo Rub, vanilla, bergamot, spruce. Middle – lime, spice, spruce, smoke. Base – spice, vetiver, spruce.

The medicinal, “Vicks Vapo Rub” component actually serves to pull me into this fragrance. The bergamot morphs to lime at the heart. I don’t really get the tobacco but perhaps what I believe to be vanilla is actually part of the listed tobacco note. After exhausting my sample I immediately purchased full bottles of cologne and cologne oil as well as a shaving soap for B.

Rebel & Mercury: Royal Couple by Nikki Sherritt-Lewis

The Perfumer’s Listed Notes: Top – white grapefruit. Middle – Russian rose, Bulgarian rose, organic jasmine. Base – cognac, oud, sandalwood.

Perceived Notes: Top – funky oud, cumin, coriander, dry white grapefruit. Middle – woods, labdanum and just a touch of rose. Base – labdanum, woods, a whiff of grapefruit.

Several of the notes I smell in Royal Couple are in the “obvious but not present” category. The oud is scorched and funky and partners well with the white, dry grapefruit. The rose is almost invisible but the grapefruit lingers throughout the entire life of the composition, evaporating in a dry breath after about two hours. Royal Couple is a unique and fun to wear woody/grapefruit unisex scent.

Sweet Anthem Perfumes: Phoebe by Meredith Smith

The Perfumer’s Listed Notes: Head – maple sugar, snow. Heart – lavender. Base – dirt, tobacco, white amber.

Perceived Notes: Top – cumin, celery seed, maple sugar. Middle – muddy snow, lavender. Base – dark patchouli, amber.

For just an instant after spraying I smell something dirty and sweaty (cumin?) and then immediately celery seed and maple sugar candy. Despite the dirty aspect, Phoebe leaves an overall impression of something sweet, cold, green and clean, reminding me of playing in the snow and eating snowballs fortified with drops of maple syrup.

Sweet Tea Apothecary: Dead Writers by Jen T. Siems

The Perfumer’s Listed Notes: Black tea, vetiver, clove, musk, vanilla, heliotrope, tobacco.

Perceived Notes: Top – heliotrope, amber, clove. Middle – heliotrope, carnation/red flowers, black tea. Base – heliotrope, strong sweet vanilla.

Heliotrope is usually not for me and so I was a bit surprised when I initially got along so well with Dead Writers. The sweetness of the flower seemed to be tempered by warm, rich amber. I loved the top and the heart but in the end I was left with just too much heliotrope for my taste. If you are a fan of this purple flower I would highly recommend Dead Writers, a creative, modern and well crafted resurrection of a classic, sweet floral.

If you happen to be in San Francisco on July 17th don’t forget to drop by Tigerlily Perfumery ( for the Indie Fragrance Criterion event where you can meet the proprietress Antonia and say hello to some of today’s featured PNW noses.

Azar xx

Giveaway Time sassisamblogPhoto Stolen sassisamblog

Indie Fragrance Criterion GIVEAWAY


Meredith Smith of Sweet Anthem Perfumes in Seattle has generously provided the prize for today’s drawing, one complete sample set of the Indie Fragrance Criterion – DiscoverPacific Northwest Perfumes.
P&H Anywhere in the world


Open to everyone worldwide who follows AustralianPerfumeJunkies via eMail, WordPress, Bloglovin or RSS. Please leave how you follow in the comments to be eligible.
I must be able to check that you follow so if you have an email address on your gravatar that’s different to your follow address then please email me so I know. Yes, you can start following to enter, in fact it’s encouraged.

You must tell me how you follow APJ


Please comment about “the obvious but not present”> In your perfume experience have you ever smelled a note that wasn’t really there?

Extra Chance?
Tweet: @OzPerfumeJunkie Indie Fragrance Criterion GIVEAWAY #Perfume #Giveaway


Entries Close Thursday 10th July 2014 10pm Australian EST and winners will be announced in a separate post.
Winners will be chosen by
The winners will have till Monday 14th July 2014 to get in touch (portia underscore turbo at yahoo dot com dot au) with their address or the prize will go to someone else.
No responsibility taken for lost or damaged goods in transit.


69 thoughts on “Discover Pacific Northwest Perfumes

  1. I follow via e-mail (email address removed)
    YES ! Actually it happened with my boyfriend’s perfume, Paco Rabanne 1 million, there are so many notes in that fragrance that i feel something is just wrong !


    • Hello Bianca,
      I like PR Lady Million and find it pretty true to the listed notes but haven’t yet purposefully tried 1 Million (strange as that may seem). Too many notes are problematic for me too. Your are in TWICE! Thank you for commenting and joining the draw.
      Azar xx


  2. These perfumes sound so interesting, and have never had the chance to sample.
    Sometimes listed notes are un-pickable I think, especially in well blended frags like Amouage.
    Interlude Man is spicy, I get that, but oregano and pimento berries… I would have to take their word on that!
    Love it anyway.
    I follow by email.


    • Hi Jackie b,
      I totally get the oregano in Interlude Man (one of my favorites too). That being said there are so many other notes in so many perfumes that are “fantasy notes” to me. They smell like nothing I know in nature (most likely because they were born in a lab). They obviously smell like something – and usually a pretty nice something – but what?
      You are IN!
      Azar xx


  3. Hi Azar! A while ago I tried Vanilla Marble and got a whiff of coconut, like suntan oil! Not so strange I guess, with tropical ingredients like orchid, vanilla and tiare. Or I’m just a gourmand fan who loves a whiff of the edible. 🙂 I follow by email.


    • Many of these tropicals work the same way for me, Jaybee. No listed coconut present but totally obvious anyway. Maybe the coconut is lurking in some tropical accord or other. Yummy wherever it comes from. You are so IN!
      Azar xx


  4. Interesting question, THE obvious but not present. They say Guerlain Nahema has no rose at all, but to me it is a rose fragrance.

    I follow through FB and E mail.


    • Hi Esperanza,
      Nahema smells like roses to me too. I think Guerlain considers Nahema their homage to rose…but perhaps they achieve that without any real roses? I don’t know but I can smell the roses anyway. “…the dear only knows what will next prove a rose”…see Robert Frost for the answer! Thank you for this interesting comment, Esperanza. You are so IN the draw.
      Azar xx


  5. hello Azar!
    the obvious but not present theme is fairly common in perfumery these days since the combination of certain notes or aromachemicals creates a whole new scent. One of the new scents from Kings Perfumery that features a magnolia accord and a freshing citrus. i distinctly smell a nice coconut accord. i was surprised to find out it contain no coconut at all.
    Also isnt Pure Oud from By Killian fall in the same boat as well? i believe it smells like Oud, but its just a skillful combination of various types of incense and smokey woods? i havent smelled it yet so i cant say? have you tried it yet Azar? i would love to hear your take on it. Thanks for the draw!


    • Great point, Ferris! Various Accords and aromachemicals do create something totally new…or just enough like something from nature to be confusing. Why not a perfume called “Confusion” for the nasally challenged like me?
      Also, Ferris, I have to admit that I think I’ve tried Killian’s Pure Oud but can’t remember it! Not a good sign! I’m still trying to sort out all of my supposed pure, natural oud oils from various locations and suppliers.
      Thank you for your helpful comment! You are so IN!
      Azar xx


  6. Can`t say that I`ve ever imagined a note – but I imagine scents w/ out the plastic or nail polish notes I do! smell! LOL!! 🙂 We follow w/ blog, e-mail, and FB….


    • Hi linda,
      My present but obvious notes are actually REAL…just not there! HA! You are so IN! Thanks for dropping by.
      Azar xx


  7. I pay more attention to what’s missing than to things I smell that are not listed. But it does happen. One example would be Marlborough Cologne which has no tobacco listed but it’s there. I follow via email and tweeted.


    • Hi edith,
      I get burnt tires too! I also smell machine oil in some fragrances that list coriander.
      What’s going on? Thank you joining the draw! You are IN!
      Azar xx


  8. Follow you by email.
    YES! One of my all time favorites, the old Armani from 1982, is a labdanum-rose-moss perfume to my nose, but Fragantica lists no labdanum as a note, and no review I ever read mentions it.


    • Hello solanace,
      It is interesting to compare the Fragrantica notes with those of the perfumer. Does any one know about the perfumer who created the 1982 Armani scent? Labdanum is pretty hard to just IMAGINE! Whenever I smell it in a perfume where is is not listed I think it might really be there despite what any one says! You are so IN!
      Azar xx


  9. I follow via email.
    Heliotrope….is just maple syrup to me.So anything with helio smells like breakfast!
    I agree with the Nahema comment above…so un-rose, and yet…rose! and the J. Pozo in Black – definitely cherry cough syrup!


    • Hi Elise,
      I have trouble with both heliotrope and maple syrup. Even though I don’t like to eat maple syrup, a couple of winters ago I made my own maple syrup from local big leaf maples. The scent profile bore very little resemblance to the sweet, sweet maple-y things on the market and tasted better. I also tried growing heliotrope. Man made or natural it is just not for me! You are IN! Thank you your interesting comments!
      Azar xx


  10. Hi Azar! It happens to me quite often that I smell something that’s not supposedly there. One example is Dulcis in Fundo – the notes are mainly citrus and vanilla. While I can smell those, I can also smell apple pie! Delicious but odd!

    I follow by email. 🙂


    • Hi Roslyn,
      The apple pie sounds like a great bonus! I would like to think that Dulcis in Fundo suggests a sweet ending, in this case a dessert…your apple pie! You are so IN!
      Azar xx


  11. I love the “petrol” note in Fahrenheit that everyone has polarizing reactions to. Although it is an effect given by the violet in the fragrance. Ah, I should hae work that today.

    I follow by email.


    • Hello JMR!
      I had no idea that violet’s alter ego was “petrol”! So interesting! Thank you. You are in the draw!
      Azar xx


  12. I follow via email. Alas my nose is still sorting things out. I smell something like a hot tar road in Serge Lutens Amber Sultan and of course no such thing. But its the heat that makes this perfume interesting to me.


    • Hi mridula,
      There is a lot of hot tar out there! I wonder where it comes from? I too am still in the sorting and ordering process. I think if I had the occasion to work with more aromachemicals and commercial accords I would have a better take on what I’m actually smelling. Thank you for joining the draw. You are IN!
      Azar xx


    • You are in twice, Becky S!
      I am really enjoying these indie fragrances! All are unique, interesting and well crafted.
      Thank you for joining the draw.
      Azar xx


  13. wow! what a lovely collection of talent from the PNW!

    i’m a PNW native and while i toiled away at my organ for one company or person or another- i had no idea at the time so many others were interested in perfumery (natural or otherwise.)

    my interpretation of Royal Couple (the only one i have tried on the list) was a much more rose and jasmine affair, although perhaps i was looking for the notes.

    the ‘obvious but not present’, i believe, is often the result of accords or the natural exaltation of one note by another. so, i find in a lot of perfumes… a perfect example is Hindu Honeysuckle by Providence Perfume Co. Not one drop of honeysuckle in it… but you tell me what you smell. 🙂

    thank you for the wonderful reviews of PNW talent and the sweet offering! i follow by email.


    • Thank you for your very helpful input, einsof! When I have a chance I WILL give Hindu Honeysuckle a try.
      I tried Royal Couple for several days. On one of those days I did get a lot of rose. The rest of the time it was as described above, mostly grapefruit. Today it is quite warm for the PNW…in the 80’s. I will see if the roses bloom for me today. You are so IN!
      Azar xx


  14. What a great, comprehensive review. I’ve wanted to try some of their fragrances for awhile but just haven’t had a chance yet. Thanks for the draw and the opportunity. I follow via email. Regarding notes that aren’t present, I always smell something like dill pickle when I first spray Coco by Chanel which must just be my nose. It’s one of my favorite fragrances and that initial blast quickly goes away and I love what lingers afterwards. Funny how no matter how exquisite a fragrance our sense of smell or body chemistry can really mangle it – at least mine can 🙂


    • Yes! I get that dill pickle top note sometimes too. I feel better now that I know I’m not the only one who smells it! Thank you for this revelation, Kandice, and you are so IN!
      Azar xx


    • Hi Debi Nelson!
      I haven’t experienced 24 Platinum but after reading your comment I checked out the notes. I have tried some great pure oud oils that present a profile similar to the listed notes in 24 Platinum. (BTW if you let us know how you follow APJ you will be in the draw!)
      Azar xx


  15. Oh Azar you are a treasure. These PNW posts have been a gift. I love that you drop “years ago my mbira teacher…” in here – and follow with the simple and profound insights: that unfold the universe and shake its radiance before me anew. 

    And then on to reviews that elucidate and nutshell the principles. Wonderful! 

    Of course perfume is a game of smoke and mirrors as several commenters have pointed out. I’ve been reading Diary of a Nose and my but Jean Claude Ellena is master of the game of painting a fragrant world through a few spare brushstrokes.

    Fittingly my “obvious but not present” fume is his Paprika Brasil that I received in a blind sample pass and perceived as the most divine spicy violet scent I’d ever encountered. And despite now knowing what it is, and what the “notes” definitely do not say, there it stays for me.

    These scents from PNW sound gorgeous. Although there’s no “fog in the sequoias” scent yet, the Olympic Rainforest sounds perfect!

    I follow via email and FB

    Sisterly love xOx


    • Dear Sister Mary,

      Thank you for your kind words. After teaching music for 40 plus years and studying it longer than I care to mention all of my experiences seem somehow related to music of one kind or another and to the amazing teachers who tried to make things clear to me!

      It was fortunate that you were able to try your “obvious but not present”, Paprika Brasil, as a blind sample pass. This fragrance seems to carry so much negative press that knowing the name would probably spoil the experience for many of us. A fun experiment/game would be to tag several samples of the same perfume with different names and then do the sample pass. It would be interesting to see how much of the scent was carried in the name. The whole experience of scent is so subjective that there could be no wrong responses or descriptions.

      Re the PNW: Olympic Rainforest is a great woodsy/forest scent. Wild Spruce and Tobacco is a drier, higher altitude forest. What note would you suggest for the fog element?

      Thank you for joining this draw! You are so IN!

      Azar xx


    • Thank you for this comment, Katya Sue! I like anise seed in fragrance and should give this one a try to see if it does the same thing for me! You are IN!
      Azar xx


  16. Yes, for instance, in “L’homme Ideal” by Guerlain, i don’t smell most of the official notes, but I have to retest it again…

    10 (or more ?) new perfumes a day in the world : samples are an obligation 😉

    I follow via e-mail


  17. I follow by mail
    My case of obvious but not present is the mushrooms and FM’s Dans tes Bras, an amazing perfume, one of my all time favorites.

    Thank you


    • Hi Joaquim,
      Yet another one I need to try. Thank you for the tip. Mushrooms can be great in perfume! I wonder if they will be obvious (but not present) for me too? You are so IN!
      Azar xx


  18. Hallo, Azar,
    what a great draw – thank you!
    I follow be email and on FB.
    My answer – I am excited by the carrots I find in De Bachmakov – The Different Company, but they are not actually in the pyramid.


  19. Sometimes I think I let packaging and naming influence my sense of what I’m smelling. I recently sniffed I Love Coco, misread it as “cocoa”, and smelt chocolate even though it’s not there. Smelling it a second time, i realised it was coconut I was smelling, not chocolate.

    I follow via email.


    • Hi Gregory,
      Interesting! I am also one who is easily influenced by the packaging, the brand and the name of a fragrance. It is easier for me to honestly dislike something that has no name or interesting bottle. When the image is removed (as in CB’s Untitled Series) I often find much less to like. For me perfume is not only about the experience of scent but also involves the tactile and the visual. While I can retain an actual scent in memory the bottle can be displayed and handled. It brings up the old question of which is more valuable, an experience or an object. Bottles of fragrance are both! Thank you for your thought provoking comment! You are so IN.
      Azar xx


  20. This happened just the other day- Jubilation 25. I smell a lot of cumin in with the fruit and florals for that one, but it’s not a listed note. Maybe I’m smelling tarragon? I follow by email.


    • Hi Connie,
      You have inspired me to track down my sample of Jubilation 25 and test for cumin. I often smell cumin and celery seed too when they are not there. Yes, maybe it is the tarragon! Thank you for joining the draw!
      Azar xx


  21. Hi Mom –

    Royal Couple and Dead Writers sound like scents I would like. It’s hard for me to tell, I’m still learning what all the different descriptions and notes mean. The concept of “the obvious but not present” is very interesting to me. It actually makes me think of tasting new craft beers. Often times I feel like I taste or smell something that isn’t there and I guess I’ve always felt like when that happens I’m “wrong”. Isaac always says that senses are subjective, but I guess never thought that just because something isn’t present or wasn’t intended to have a certain smell or flavor doesn’t mean it can’t have that smell or flavor. Very interesting post!



    • Hi Lauren,
      Thank you for stopping by and for this great comment. Perhaps the way flavor and fragrance materials work together is much like constructive and destructive interference in acoustics or something like compensation for the missing fundamental in psychoacoustics. That being said, I think you should record all of your impressions of the craft beers that you taste. It may be subjective but I think you will find that you are not the only person who perceives a specific flavor and fragrance that is not supposed to be there. These “present but not obvious” characteristics could actually be a big selling point for craft beers…imagine a beer called “Phantasm”! HA!
      Mommy Azar xx and x


  22. Hellloooo Azar!

    Would love to enter this draw. I follow by email, feedly, and Facebook. And real life. 🙂

    Oh, I have smelt metal sparks in nu_be Lithium. Consistently on opening, like flint sparks. They are not noted, but I like it!

    Tina G


    • Hi there Tina G,
      I bought a set of nu_be samples awhile ago and have not really explored them. I will sniff Lithium and see if there are any “unlisteds” there for me! Flint sparks! Verrry interesting! Thank you for commenting and joining the draw!
      Azar xx


  23. I smell things that aren’t there all the time, and I’m glad it’s more common than I thought. I smell Vick’s Vapo Rub in Sweet Anthem Lolita, and tobacco in Lalique Le Parfum, and pickles in Jean Patou Sublime. I follow with Bloglovin.


    • Hi Laurels,
      Yes, the “obvious but not present” seems to be more common than I thought it was too!
      I’m totally with you on the pickled Sublime. Vicks is one of my favorite notes, purposefully or by accident. Thank you for this info and for joining the draw!
      Azar xx


  24. Hi Azar !

    I’m still learning to decipher the notes of perfume but the striking note that wasn’t listed on the notes for me is the Metallic note in Azzaro Chrome. On me, it’s like a metallic flower bud with a touch of lemon and the sea breeze at your face.

    I follow by WordPress!


    • Hello Zakaria HAMZA!
      That metallic flower bud sounds amazing to me. Is this the summer or the regular version? No matter which one, your take on Azzaro Chrome sounds perfect for hot weather. Thank you for joining the draw. You are so IN!
      Azar xx


  25. I’m terrible at deciphering notes,
    But my man just gloats,
    Managing to find ones I enjoy,
    His nose finds it perfectly, Mine’s like a toy!

    Following via email.


    • Hi there Laura,
      Thank you so much for the great verses!!! I have to keep going! I am always humbled by the best nose in our house – belonging to Fender the dog:
      My nose is not the best around
      (Inferior to any hound)
      It smells Clive Christian and gets tar
      While pickles float in Shalimar.
      The sweetest scents are laced with cumin.
      Alas this nose is only human.
      You are SO IN!
      Azar xx


  26. Pingback: PNW Indie Fragrance Criterion at Tigerlily Perfumery SF @ Seattle Sniff: The Northwest Fragrance Community

  27. Pingback: You, Me, San Francisco, Thursday. | Sweet Tea Apothecary

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