Monday, December 26, 2011

Sandalwood by Crabtree & Evelyn

My wife gave me a bottle of Crabtree & Evelyn's Sandalwood for Christmas yesterday.   I've wanted a bottle of this for years, yet I've avoided buying one all this time, mainly because I've taken its easy availability for granted for so long.  I'm happy to finally have this in my collection.

Ignore the naysayers who poo-poo this fragrance - Crabtree & Evelyn's Sandalwood is still one of the better representations of sandalwood on the market.  This is one you'll need to smell and judge for yourself, because I've found that most criticisms are from people who have smelled C&E's original Extract of Mysore Sandalwood fragrance, which was released in 1970 and contained authentic Mysore sandalwood oil (for those who don't know, Mysore is a region in India famous for producing high quality sandalwood oil).  Indian sandalwood is an endangered wood nowadays, so it's just about impossible (if not impossible) to find it used in current day fragrances.  And of course, when a perfume becomes rare, all the perfume snobs crawl out of the woodwork to bitch and whine when the fragrance is reissued and reformulated, regardless of how good the reformulation is.  Life is too short for that kind of bullshit.

For those who care, I too used to own a bottle of the original version of this frag, and I used it up years ago.  I remember buying it on super clearance for like 15 bucks back in the late 90s.  It was great stuff - rich, complex, exotic and spicy, like the best sandalwoods smell.  Granted, this reissued version I have now is not quite as warm, rich or complex as it used to be, but it's leagues above the one-dimensional, sawdust-like sandalwoods you smell in most of today's men's fragrances.   It's multifaceted and transparent, with sweet, woody and sparkling spicy notes creating a dazzling effect. 

What separates true Indian sandalwood from other woods (including synthetic and Australian sandalwood) is its inherent, cinnamon-like sweetness, making Indian sandalwood oil seem almost like a self-contained fragrance.  Even though I'm sure C&E's fragrance no longer contains Indian sandalwood, it manages to capture the spicy sweetness of the original; the effect was likely accomplished by adding spices like cinnamon and clove to a synthetic or Australian sandalwood oil base.  It was a Herculean effort on the part of the perfumer who created this, and it was a success.  C&E's Sandalwood has a dry but well-buffed, incense-like scent, capturing the exotic smell of far off lands in the East, rather than the smell of the lumber department at Home Depot.

Of course, I don't expect every sandalwood fan to like this.  We all have different tastes.  But don't tell me this reissued version is a piece of shit just so you can feel good about yourself because you happen to own a bottle of the original juice.  I'm not impressed.  If you've never smelled the original, then there's no loss.  You can just enjoy this on its own merits, which is what you should do anyway.

This is a great introduction fragrance for those who haven't yet explored the world of sandalwood.  Its price certainly can't be beat, and it's better than many other sandalwoods I've tried.  It's also a good scent for those who crave the smell of Indian sandalwood, since this is a good approximation of that endangered material.  I look forward to putting this in my rotation, right along with Santal Noble and Caswell-Massey's Sandalwood.

MY RATING:  8.5/10
Fragrance House:  Crabtree & Evelyn


  1. I nodded at your comment about people who judge a fragrance before they smell it. I feel sorry for those people who are limiting themselves especially the perfume snobs.

    My husband loves sandalwood. I'll check this one out. Thanks for the review!

  2. Glad you like the review. I like your blog. Be sure to post a review after you get a chance to try out this frag.

  3. Was this review a partial shot at me bro?

  4. No. Why would you think that? I've always enjoyed your reviews and respected your talents as a reviewer, and I still do. You've never struck me as the kind of reviewer who prejudges any fragrance before smelling it. Besides, you gave me my first opportunity to blog on your site, so why would I take a shot at you?