Tuesday, December 20, 2011

O Tannenbaum - 3 Wood Perfumes for Christmas

A Joint Blogging Project for A Merry Christmas!

Another year has flown by and it's time to do our annual (2 years now!) Christmas group blogging project. This year Redolent of Spices has kindly organized a huge group of perfume bloggers to participate in celebrating the season by posting reviews of perfumes that feature wood notes.

Woody perfumes are some of my favourites. Whether it's bracing cedar, creamy sandalwood, peppy pine, or moody black hemlock, wood is indispensable in perfume as a base note in many perfumes but many gorgeous perfumes feature wood as the main note. This year, I am reviewing three wood perfumes I haven't reviewed before, and also listing some of my favourite wood perfumes from my personal collection.

Russian Orthodox Christmas: Comme des Garcons Zagorsk

Zagorsk (now Sergiyev Posad) is a city in Russia, the home of the great Russian monastery Trinity Lavra, the spiritual centre of the Russian Orthodox church.

Zagorsk is also a perfume, one of the Series 3: Incense perfumes from Commes des Garcons. The series was devoted to incenses of 5 major religions. Zagorsk represents orthodox Christianity. I previously reviewed another from the series, Avignon. Nobody does wood and incense like CdG.

Zagorsk is dark and calm and meditative, like a church deep in the woods, covered in snow. Incense and wood are the main notes. The incense swirls around inside the wood like smoke in a log cabin. The opening is has pine and a very spicy note, almost like cloves. After the opening notes have calmed down, a fruity violet note is noticeable but Zagorsk remains mostly about the trees.

House: Comme des Garcons
Nose: Evelyne Boulanger
Notes: white incense, pine, pimento berries, violet, cedar, iris, hinoki wood, birch wood

Ottoman Empire Christmas: Caron Yatagan

Meant to evoke a romantic vision of mystery and adventure in the Orient of the past, Yatagan is named after the curved turkish sabre.

Caron launched Yatagan in 1976 as a men's perfume. But I adore it. It was no surprise to read that is was created by Vincent Marcello, who also created Private Collection for Estee Lauder. It shares the same gorgeous green and mossy notes.

Yatagan smells like pine trees, green leaves, wood smoke and a touch of leather. Now that I've read the notes, I can smell the celery, more like celery salt, but it's not overwhelming. The chypre base has darker notes of patchouli, moss and musk. It starts fresh green and woody and but ends with moss and leathery.

When I was 14 years old, I had a crush on an older boy from my church's youth group. On a winter retreat, we snuck off and took long walks in the snowy woods where we would sit quietly together for what seemed like hours to me, while he smoked, and maybe held my hand. I was in heaven.

All I want for Christmas is for all men to smell like Yatagan, but if I can't have that, I will dab it on my own wrists, and surround myself with the smell of walking into the snow-hushed woods in a borrowed leather jacket.

House: Caron
Nose: Vincent Marcello
Notes: celery, patchouli, musk (From the Caron website)

Moroccan Christmas: Atelier Cologne Bois Blonds

Atelier Cologne calls Bois Blonds a "cologne absolue" because it has the feeling of a light refreshing cologne but, at 20% perfume concentration, it has the oomph of a stronger perfume. Simple yet powerful, clean yet spicy, sweetly feminine and masculine notes notes combine to make Bois Blonds a perfume for everyone.

Bois Blonds' notes ring clear as a bell. Sweet orange flowers are accented with nose-tingling pink pepper from the bazaar. Around this floral heart dances a touch of incense and sheer woody notes. Vetiver and clean musk provide a base.

One thing not mentioned in the notes is juniper, but I get the distinct impression of juniper berries in the opening notes, like a crisp gin and tonic. The juniper note makes Bois Blonds like an icy cold morning with bright sunshine. I break an icicle off the bush, and I can taste the tree in it. In the afternoon, the sun melts the snow and the sweet smell of spring is just around the corner.

House: Atelier Cologne
Nose: Jérome Epinette
Top notes: Tunisian neroli, pink pepper
Heart notes: Moroccan orange flower, incense
Base notes: Blond woods, musks, vetiver from Haiti

Some of my other favourite wood perfumes are:

  • Chanel Bois des Iles - creamy sandalwood
  • Commes des Garcons Hinoki - a forest of cedar and incense.
  • By Kilian Incense Oud - frankincense and sweet sandalwood bliss
  • Lorenzo Villoresi Sandalo - spicy and smooth sandalwood
  • Bulgari Omnia - gingery cedar and white chocolate
  • Ormonde Jayne Woman - the woods are lovely, dark, and deep with Canadian black hemlock

More  O Tannenbaum

Please visit all the other lovely blogs participating in O Tannenbaum to read their choices of woody perfumes:


  1. Thank you for organizing the event two years running now (I was hoping it would happen this year again). I hope it becomes a tradition.

    That Yatagan truly sounds wonderful. :)

  2. Oh, Krista, I so loved reading what you wrote about Yatagan and the boy you had a crush on! It's funny, for such a thoroughly masculine fragrance, I find it easy and irresistible to wear. I hope your husband wears it for you at Christmas, but if not, you already know how to enjoy it. :)

    Thanks so much for organizing this event, along with JoanElaine. It's been a lot of fun so far to read everyone's posts.

  3. I have heard soo many good things about Yatagan but have never tried it ..thanks for reminding me to try it! I like many on your favorite woods list too including Bois des Iles, Incense Oud and OJ Woman..

  4. Thank you for organizing this.

    Your post took me all over the world. And Yatagan is great. It deserves much more love than it gets.

    Happy holidays!

  5. Great reviews! So exciting to follow this series. Thanks!

  6. Krista, thank you & JoanElaine so much for this wonderful project, and these three reviews-- two for scents I already adore, and one (Atelier) that is new to me but which you make sound so delicious. :)

  7. Thank you for inviting me to participate, Krista!

    I love Zagorsk and Bois Blonds, so I should probably give Yatagan a try.

  8. Thank for for this great blog event, I'm also thinking that I must give Yatagan a try, and after reading your post at work I actually felt that I had to walk past the shop which carries Zagorsk and sniff this fragrance again, since I love incense perfumes and I so want to like it, but unfortunately the CdG's just don't really seem my style. I love the way you describe it though and your extra list of woody honorary mentions too :-) Merry Christmas

  9. Sitting in the snowy woods, with a boy you have a crush on - I love it! Thanks for sharing such a sweet story.
    I have a similar story, and the smell of The Body Shop morello cherry lip balm always takes me back to those snowy woods. I had long forget about that, until I read your post!

    The celery note in Yatagan sometimes smells like tomato vine to me. I don't really like either of those scents in perfumes, but in Yatagan they fit so well.

    Beautiful photos you chose for your post. I especially love the Bois Blondes photo.

    Thank you Krista, for organizing this project with me, and coming up with another great concept! Happy Christmas to you and yours.

  10. I love your recommendations :) I want Avignon, I'm crawing...but above all I want Yatagan. I want to sit near my beloved person, in a living room opening our presents! And offcourse, Yatagan comes from my skin...perfect, perfect scent, it is really a king of that type ;) I also recommended it for a Christmas season ;)


  11. The story accompanying Yatagan is so touching - thank you for sharing it. And thank you for inviting us into your wonderful project.

    I like (and own a small bottle of) Bois Blonds and I put the other two perfumes on my "O Tannenbaum to try" list.

  12. Awesome, congrats! Aww Perfumes for Christmas is sooo cute! x

  13. I think I'm gonna like the last perfume. Yours is the fourth review I am reading on this scent, and it is pushing me over the edge! Thank you for a beautiful review, as always.

    pheromone cologne


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