In the Search for the Perfect Yuzu

Last year, when I published my Yuzu Overload post, in which I told my story of liking yuzu marmalade (as in “food”) but being disappointed by Demeter’s eponymous perfume, asked for recommendations on other yuzu-centric perfumes, I didn’t realize how many of those were out there.

I wasn’t sure where to start, but I got an unexpected help from a kind NST reader, Perfumelover67. As I was passing onto her a couple of samples that she wanted to try, she asked if there was anything I’d like to get in return. I mentioned that the only thing I was looking for at the time was yuzu… And she just happened to have 4 samples she could share with me.

That was how it all started. After that yuzu seemed to be jumping at me from all possible places, without me even trying. So, I decided to share with you my findings.

I will not do the usual “runner-up” sequence leading to the best. Instead, I want to start with introducing to you my perfect yuzu scent that I found. It was one of the PL67’s samples, and after testing it for a while, I decided that I wanted it in my collection.

 

Rusty and J-Scent Yuzu

 

Yuzu by J-Scent. I don’t think I should be surprised by the fact that a Japanese brand did the best job out of everything I tried so far. With notes lemon, bergamot, orange, thyme, grapefruit, lime, yuzu, rose and mandarin, it is an extremely believable yuzu scent, at least the way I know that smell from enjoying yuzu marmalade, jar after jar. If I were to smell it with my eyes closed, I’m not sure I would be able to tell whether I smell the first minute of J-Scent’s Yuzu development or an open jar of the preserve. It starts slightly sweet and very juicy, then develops into a tart scent that stays on my skin surprisingly long for that type of perfume. I have never been a big citrus perfume fan. But J-Scent’s Yuzu is just perfect for me, and I look forward to wearing it this summer.

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All other perfumes that I tested for this Single Note Exploration project can be placed into one of the two categories: “I can smell yuzu note” and “If you say so…”

Most perfumes in the latter category do not deserve even a paragraph in this post – not because they are bad perfumes, but because that note is in their only nominally, they shouldn’t be considered as examples of this note in perfumery. And because of that I will just list them – so that whoever decides to run their own search for this note knows what not to test (though, otherwise than not having enough yuzu in them, these perfumes might be good on their own): Diptyque Oyedo, Gallivant Tokyo and Sylvaine Delacourte Smeraldo.

One more perfume from the same category I will single out – just because with that name I expected more.

Yuzu Rouge by Parfums 06130 – flat and slightly artificial abstract citrus in the opening, some pale rose on a good day after that. If you were to a read notes list, you’d expect this perfume to be fabulous. It’s not. For the sake of all the great ingredients listed, I hope they were either artificial or used in homeopathic doses. Sooo not interesting.

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From perfumes in which I could smell yuzu I got mixed results, but they all are worth trying if you are interested in this note.

I knew nothing about this, also Japanese, brand, but I ordered a sample of Kazehikaru by Di Ser on a whim (I should have read first!). It’s all-natural perfume, astringent and slightly herbal (a very recognizable green bitterness I smelled often in all-natural perfumes). Notes: yuzu, neroli, lavender, shiso, Japanese rose and vetiver. I’ll pass, but be warned that, as a rule, I tend to dislike all-natural perfumes. If your experience is different, please give Kazehikaru a try.

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Yuzu by Acqua Di Parma has a divine and very realistic yuzu opening. Unfortunately, it’s gone within seconds. I’m not exaggerating I re-tested several times because I couldn’t believe it was happening. It disappears quickly and becomes just a pleasant floral bouquet. Notes include yuzu, bergamot, Sichuan pepper, lotus, mimosa, violet leaves, jasmine, musk, liquorice and sandalwood. If you like any of AdP’s perfumes, try this one, whether you’re looking for yuzu or not. That opening!

 

Yuzu Perfume Samples

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Tacit by Aesop is more astringent than some other scents I tested, but it’s not too bitter. Notes: Citrus, yuzu, basil, clove and vetiver (which is probably responsible for some woodiness I smell in development). I like it, and I could wear something like that if I needed more summer citruses: it is very pleasant, refreshing and not banal, even though for my taste it doesn’t have enough yuzu.

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Peche au Yuzu by Kyse – mouthwatering yuzu/peach combination in the opening, but then it gets too … peach-y (?). It’s the sweetest perfume of all I tried for this post, and I think it’s quite pleasant if someone likes a peach note in perfumes. I don’t.

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Note de Yuzu by Heeley – opens beautifully: juicy, sweet, slightly tart. It’s not too complex but bright and pleasant. My complaint is: it subsides too quickly on my skin. Nevertheless, I think it’s a beautiful summer perfume. I just don’t need more than 10-15 ml of it, otherwise, I wouldn’t mind adding it to my collection.

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When I read it, I couldn’t believe that Jo Malone also released a yuzu-centric perfume. With quarantine going on, there was no chance I could get to try it for free, so for the first time… ever I paid for a Jo Malone sample. OK, it wasn’t exactly a sample: I got a mini bottle on eBay.

Hadn’t I found my perfect yuzu perfume, I would have been quite content with Yuja by Jo Malone this summer. A pleasant opening burst of yuzu (do you see a pattern?), and then it calms down quickly and reminds of many other Jo Malone “blossoms” from their limited editions. I will wear what I have (cute bottle, it’s very convenient for re-application), but I don’t think I’ll need more.

 

Rusty and Jo Malone Yuja

 

I found my perfect yuzu perfume (and at least one second best). Does it mean my search is over? I thought so until I read recently that Parfums de Nicolai has just released Eau de Yuzu. Of course, now I want to try it.

 

Images: my own

Perfume and Colour, Perfume Lovers London – November 26th, 2015

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Tara, previously of Olfactoria’s Travels, while being on the move to her own new virtual home, decided to visit a couple of friends’ blogs. I have the honor of hosting her first. Here’s one of her great reports on the PLL’s event.

Undina

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I was particularly looking forward to this evening at Perfume Lovers London because firstly, it was being led by my mate Sabine of Iridescents and secondly, we were going to have fun drawing our scent impressions.

Instead of the usual rows of chairs, we were seated at tables laid out with paper and various art materials. Sabine had also provided some inspiration with print outs of various images and colour palettes.

As you can imagine, there was less talking and more colouring going on than at a normal PLL event, but here’s an idea of what was said and some of the wonderful images from Sabine’s blog.

Sabine at PLL's event    

Sabine: I went ten years without wearing perfume, then when I went back to it – wow – there had been an explosion in niche perfumery. I needed a way to organise and make sense of it.

I am a graphic designer so I tried to translate perfume into colour. There are quite a lot of similarities between the two. Both are very subjective; my rose is not your rose and my red is not your red. We can describe both as being opaque, bright, transparent and so on.

Sometimes there are not enough words. Colour is a way of creating a multi-sensory dimension which enhances your experience. You can train your perception of colour in the same as you can train your perception of smell.

This is why I started my blog, Iridescents, where I reproduce the images digitally. We can’t do that tonight but we do have paints, pencils and pastels so we can play around with how scents relate to colour.

Aedes de Venustas Eau de Parfum, Aedes de Venustas

Notes: Rhubarb, vetiver, red berries, tomato leaf, incense, green apple, hazelnut, honeysuckle

Lila: This is the first of the Aedes de Venustas fragrances and the perfumer is Bertrand Duchaufour.

Sabine: Try to think of a palette of 2 or 3 colours. What colours does it make you think of?

Audience members: “Pink”, “Green”, “The colours of a stick of rhubarb”.

Sabine: The pinks and greens come and go in my composition and the notes in the perfume do the same. I think of it as very jazzy. There is not a structured top, middle and base.

Lila: It’s very crisp and tart.

Sabine: If a perfume makes you think of yellow say, try and think which yellow.

The next one is not a perfume but a perfume ingredient. It’s vetiver oil. What colour does it make you think of?

Audience members: “Dirty brown”, “Khaki”, “The colour of mould.”

Molecule 01, Escentric Molecules

Sabine: This is a completely synthetic perfume, mostly made up of Iso E Super. So what colours do you use when you have a material not found in nature? Try and think of how much of one colour and how much of another. Think about the proportions.

Liquid Night, A Lab on Fire

Notes: Bergamot, lime, saffron, sage, lavender, Hinoki wood, incense, vanilla, musk

Sabine: Liquid Night is neither hot nor cold. It has hard shapes but it also has a softness to it. It’s very urban. It makes me think of driving in the rain and the reflection of the raindrops on the windscreen.

Liquid Night

Liquid Night ((c) Sabine)

Felanilla, Parfumerie Generale

Notes: Vanilla absolute, saffron, orris, banana wood, hay absolute, amber

Sabine: Felanilla is cosy and a little powdery from the iris. It’s also animalic but not too much.

Audience member: Do people in different countries relate to colours differently?

Sabine: Yes, for example people in warmer countries tend to wear warmer colours because their surroundings are brighter. People have different associations with colours, as they do with scents. People in cities tend to wear more muted and subdued colours.

Felanilla

Felanilla ((c) Sabine)

Sel Marin, Heeley

Notes: Lemon, Italian bergamot, beech leaf, sea salt, moss, algae, cedar, musk, leather

Sabine: If you think of Sel Marin as a scent representing the sea, which would it be in terms of colour – the Atlantic or the Med?

[Most people said the Atlantic.]

Audience member: Would you wear it?

Sabine: My husband is wearing it, and therefore it is a perfume I associate with him.

The Odd Fellow’s Bouquet, Atkinsons

Notes: Heliotrope, tobacco, ginger, pepper, benzoin, labdanum.

Lila: The Oddfellows is a club that anyone can join. It’s pretty great. They have premises all over the country. It’s not a gentlemen’s club but it might have been at some point in the past.

Sabine: The Odd Fellow’s Bouquet is one of those fragrances that doesn’t change much.

Lila: It’s a bit masculine for me.

Audience member: It’s very tobacco-y.

Odd Fellow's Bouquet

Odd Fellow’s Bouquet ((c) Sabine)

Jicky Parfum, Guerlain

Notes: Lavender, bergamot, lemon, mandarin, rose, vetiver, patchouli, vanilla, amber, musk.

We know perfumes can change as they develop and I try to put that into my images. Jicky definitely develops over time so you might want to leave room in your picture for how it smells in 10-20 minutes time.

Noir Exquis, L’Artisan Parfumeur

Notes: Chestnut, orange, orange blossom, coffee, maple syrup, ebony, heliotrope, vanilla, tonka, sandalwood.

Lila: This is the latest release from L’Artisan.

Sabine: I looked on the Basenotes database and the number of perfumes with black in the name hugely outweighs white. I haven’t done an image for Noir Exquis but I would use just a little black. I’d mostly use toffee, caramel and beige.

Salome, Papillon Artisan Perfumes

Notes: Jasmine, carnation, bitter red orange, Turkish rose, orange blossom, tobacco, hyraceum, styrax, vanilla, hay, patchouli, bergamot, oakmoss, cumin, birch tar, castoreum.

Sabine: We’ve saved the best till last.

Lila: You won’t be able to smell anything else after this!

Sabine: I used a lot of red in my image. Not a rose red but a fleshy red. It was blurred on Facebook for a while because it was thought to look like female genitalia.

Lila: We’ll put all the Salome pictures together and share with Liz Moores of Papillon as she’s a friend and supporter of PLL.

Salome collage

It was a great evening and we were all engrossed in creating our own visual interpretations of the fragrances. It was interesting to see how different our impressions were. Most people saw vetiver as green or brown while I saw it as grey. Sabine’s husband and I saw Sel Marin as the Atlantic sea under a slate sky, while two other people on our table saw it as a blue sea and bright yellow sun.

When you’re trying to visualise the scent as colour it really makes you think and analyse the aroma in a different way. I found this fascinating and it has definitely added to the way I interact with fragrances.

Tara's Perfumes Visualization

Tara’s Perfumes Visualization

Many thanks to Lila and Sabine for such a novel, interactive evening and to Roulier White for supplying a couple of the bottles.

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Please answer the question for Undina’s Entertaining Statistics post: What perfume do you most associate with a colour/colours, which one(s) and why?

 

Images by Tara and Sabina