In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Black Currant

As a child I spent summers at my grandparents’ house. When I wasn’t playing with my summer friends* or hiding from the heat in the house, I would be reading in the garden’s summerhouse.

As many children do, every year I would re-read some of my favorite books. One of such books was a collection of Polish fairy tales. Fern Flower (Kwiat paproci) by Józef Ignacy Kraszewski was the first story in the book so I probably read it every time before I would get bored and start skipping stories.

Book Tam Gde Visla Reka

It’s a grim story about a young guy who got obsessed with finding a fern flower that, according to Slavic mythology, blooms once a year deep in the forest on the Kupala Night (around Summer solstice) and promises great wealth and granting any wishes to whoever finds it. He attempts it three times. Every year he goes into the forest next to the village where he lives. And every year he doesn’t recognize the forest that he knows well – it is darker and scarier than usually and plays tricks on him: trees are taller, bushes are thicker; he hears strange noises and sees things. Twice he almost gets the illusive flower but it disappeared at the first light of dawn. The third time he succeeds but here comes the fine print: he cannot share his luck with anybody. He abandons his family and leads a life of luxury but it doesn’t bring him joy. He’s torn between keeping his wealth and helping his family but by the time he decides to come back it’s too late: his parents and siblings are dead from the poverty, he wishes to die as well and disappears from the face of the Earth with the flower that all these years was rooted in his heart. Curtains down.

Mysterious forest with pine trees around which you go forever just to see that they are not that huge once you pass them and unexpected deep marshes that disappear once you get through – is what I always imagine when I think of enchanted forest. Nowhere in that mental picture can I find black currant: probably because that berry doesn’t grow in the forest – enchanted or otherwise. Wild strawberry, raspberry – yes, I can easily imagine those but not black currant.

And still Enchanted Forest by Vagabond Prince makes total sense to me: there were three black currant shrubs next to that summerhouse in which I read and re-read Fern Flower year after year. So the smell of black currant leaves (I always liked it) and berries (I wasn’t a big fan of those as a child) somehow weaves in my mind with that fairytale image of an enchanted forest, Kupala Night and magic.

Redwood

Enchanted Forest created by Bertrand Duchaufour for Vagabond Prince in 2012 includes notes of pink pepper, aldehydes, sweet orange (traces), flower cassis, blackcurrant leaf, hawthorn, effects of rum and wine, rosemary, davana, blackcurrant buds absolute (by LMR from Grasse), CO2 blackcurrant (by Floral Concept from Grasse), Russian coriander seed, honeysuckle, rose, carnation, vetiver, opoponax resinoid, Siam benzoin, amber, oakmoss, fir balsam absolute, Patchouli Purecoeur®, castoreum absolute, cedar notes, vanilla and musk. If you haven’t smelled it yet and want a real review, here Kafka does a great job describing the scent – even though she doesn’t really enjoy it on her skin. Me? I love this perfume! The tartness and juiciness of the black currant and fir opening, the warmth and smokiness of the amber and incense resinous development – I enjoy them immensely. The drydown reminds me of one of my winter rituals – drinking Peet‘s Black Currant black tea with honey. Add to this picture a Christmas tree or pour the tea into a thermos and go to a close-by redwood forest – and you’ll get a perfect gustatory illustration of Enchanted Forest.

Black Currant tea and Honey

I urge you to try both – the perfume and the tea+honey combination: I think they both are very interesting, unusual and, if it’s your cup of tea (take it figuratively or literally, as you wish), very enjoyable. But even though I like both, I can’t drink that tea all the time and I can’t imagine wearing Enchanted Forest daily.

I used up a couple of free samples I got. I swapped for another sample that I’m using now and I paid for a small decant. I would buy a 30 ml or maybe even a 50 ml bottle of Enchanted Forest in a heartbeat – I like it that much and the bottle itself is quite appealing. But there is no way I’ll buy 100 ml of this perfume. And I still can’t believe that founders of Fragrantica (out of all people!) thought it was a good idea to launch this perfume in a single size – 100 ml.

 

* I’ve never seen them during the school year since my grandparents lived 8-hours bus ride away from us.

 

Previous posts in the series In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Strawberries and Blackberry. Also see other posts in the Single Note Exploration category.

 

Images: book – found somewhere; the rest – my own.

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26 thoughts on “In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Black Currant

  1. I’m familiar with Kwiat paproci, it’s a story we discussed as a class reading in the 2nd grade of elementary school. So we read the same thing as kids. But I never read it again and I didn’t read in the garden…
    I’m glad a sample of Enchanted Forest that I swapped with you (I remember well, no?) was useful to you. I didn’t like the perfume and bottle as well. And I’m not surprised you are not willing to buy 100 ml bottle. People who deal with perfumistas comments daily should know that smaller sizes are welcome

    • Yes, it was your sample I referred to – thank you once again: you see, it got a good use : -)

      I was curious if you’d recognize the name: more than once I encountered the situation when writers who were well-known and popular in the U.S.S.R. weren’t that big or known in their own countries since on many occasions choosing a writer to “allow” to become known had more to do with their attitude towards socialism than with the talent.

  2. I remember sniffing Enchanted Forest with you in Paris and being surprised that I rather liked it despite not being that keen on blackcurrant as a perfume note. I loved hearing about your childhood foresty fairy tale associations with this scent, and hope you are able to acquire more of it without biting the 100ml bullet!

    • Yes, you tried it in Jovoy and I remember that you liked it more than you expected you would.

      I hope that the more times we – bloggers, FB groups’ and forums’ participants, etc. – mention aloud that we prefer small bottles and tell stories of paying for smaller bottles or decants, the more probable that the next brand thinks about the smaller packaging while working on their perfumes.

    • Thank you, Asali. It seems that the story of looking for a better life through magic vs. earning it by a hard work was a universal recipe for a disaster. There is Nikolai Gogol’s story The Eve of Ivan Kupala, which is even darker.

  3. I enjoyed your associations with the fairy tale! And I do have to try black current tea!

    I have to admit that I did not like Enchanted Forest the one and only time I tried it from a sample. I expected it to be bright and fizzy but it was kind of flat. I think I should give it another go since you like it so much and we’re scent twins! I looked up black currant in LuckyScent and the perfumes I am familiar with (and like/love) that were listed as having black currant include: Atelier Cologne Silver Iris, SoOud Ouris Nektar, PdE Azemour, NVC Bombay Bling, NVC Trayee.

    That Enchanted Forest bottle is so gorgeous it is almost worth getting it even if I don’t like the juice. I wish I had known earlier that you liked this one as I would have bought it for you at Bendel’s wtih its sale (I think some were still available back when it was 40% off).

    • I haven’t smelled that strong black currant note in any other perfume. Try it again if you get a chance but you might still not like it – Lucas didn’t, and now I’m a lucky owner of the remains of his sample ; -)

      I checked: there are no Peet’s stores where you live so with our next swap I’ll send you some of the black currant tea to try (if you buy a tin and don’t like it, it’ll be a waste).

  4. Lovely post. I only learnt at Perfume Lovers London a couple of months ago that the founders of Fragrantica are Russian and that this perfume was to evoke their childhoods memories of picking blackcurrants. That’s a lovely inspiration and I’m pleased to hear it works for you. Sadly it didn’t for me.

    Love the bottle but not the size!

    • Thank you, Tara.
      I think Enchanted Forest is a polarizing scent: people either like it or do not care for it. It’s too prominent and distinct to fall into “nice but nothing special” category. That’s why 100 ml bottle makes no sense.

    • Hi Portia! I don’t know what happened, I didn’t see your comment. I even checked the spam folder – and no, this post is too new, “my” spammers haven’t even started commenting on it yet.
      Thank you for reading (and liking) my story! <3

  5. That’s a bit of a dreary fairy tale, but I guess all fairy tales are a bit scary. (It’s really only Disney that adds the happy endings.) Still, the story sounds so imaginative with that complex forest, and I can see how it would be evocative of this perfume! I’ve never tried Enchanted Forest myself, but your write-up is making me want to change that ASAP. Too bad the full bottle is only offered in 100 mls, that is an odd choice.

    • Have you read Grimm’s fairy tales, not adopted for children? Or Hoffmann’s? Those are very Gothic.
      I think Enchanted Forest is worth trying – even if you end up not liking it. It’s quite unique to warrant the skin time. And, who knows, maybe by the time you try it and like it they’ll create a smaller packaging? Many companies do.

  6. Undina, even as an adult, I still have a fondness for fairytales – they are full of great wisdom. Had never heard the fairytale you described here, so really enjoyed that you shared it with us.

    While I love the idea behind The Enchanted Forest perfume, I don’t care for the perfume itself. It seemed very discordant when I tried it, but maybe I’ll give it another whirl at some point. Sigrun sent me a generous sample of it, and I think I still have it. Black currant tea, though … mmm, love it. Haven’t tried the Peets version, but Ann from the Perfume Posse got me hooked on Tea Forte’s black currant.

    • I will try Tea Forte’s black currant tea but you should definitely try the Peet’s one: if you happen to like it, it’ll be a much more economical option : -) As to the perfume, try it one more time: on many occasions when I didn’t expect much from a perfume after the first disappointment I liked it more on the next try.

  7. It’s a wonderful fairy tale, despite being a sad one. In all honesty, a lot of fairy tales are pretty dark if not also violent. It also fits the fragrance quite well. Even though it’s not the kind of thing I would reach for and wear, I thought it was very well done and original. Like Hajusuuri, I wish I had known you liked it! We could have picked up a bottle for you on sale!

    • Many fairy tales (and cartoons as well) are mindlessly cruel or violent. I’m not sure how healthy it is for a child’s mind to grow up being desensitized by stupid things not having physical consequences. But I digress.
      Enchanted Forest was one of a few perfumes that I really enjoyed wearing recently – just for that I’m very grateful to its creators. (But they definitely should make smaller bottles!!!)

  8. Enchanted Forest really did impress me as a story book perfume, so I see why you would associate it with a fairytale. The whole forest came through so well in it. You could even smell mushrooms I thought!

    • I thought that Enchanted Forest was very unique: since I clearly like these notes (cassis, pine) I tried a number of perfumes that contain them but EF didn’t smell like any of those. I’m not sure about mushrooms – I’ll pay attention the next time I wear it.

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