Piment Brulant (meaning "hot pepper", or "burning bell pepper" for a literal translation in French) is one of L'Artisan Parfumeur's least liked fragrances, and I don't understand why. Read the reviews on basenotes.net, and you'll see what I mean. Maybe the name of this perfume gets people's expectations all out of whack. It's definitely a bizarre fragrance, but I really like it.
It's a weird one because of the way it completely shifts gears once the drydown kicks in. For the first couple of hours, Piment Brulant is one of the greenest smelling fragrances I've ever sniffed, with a strong smell of tomato leaf and green bell peppers that literally smells like you're standing in the middle of a vegetable garden in the middle of summer. It's earthy, grassy, leafy and wonderful. I don't smell anything that resembles hot peppers or chili powder in this at all.
After a couple of hours, however, everything changes dramatically. What smelled like a very green, almost vegetal, chypre suddenly, without warning, becomes a leathery and aromatic oriental scent. It smells like amber and musk blended with patchouli and leather, and the fresh green herbal smell is pushed to the background. What smelled green before now smells creamy and tan colored.
What's interesting is how Piment Brulant has two completely different facets: a scent that stays close to your skin and a scent that projects quite a distance. Sniff it on your wrist up close, and you'll still smell the green herbal notes you got for the first couple of hours. Step back, however, and take a whiff of the fragrance that's radiating off your skin at a distance, and you'll smell the rich leathery scent I described above. It's an amazing effect, and it's no surprise that Bertrand Duchafour composed this, since he used a similar structure in his fragrance Timbuktu that he composed for L'Artisan Parfumeur.
The list of ingredients for Piment Brulant is puzzling because I hardly smell any of them. This perfume supposedly is full of crazy things like dark chocolate, chili peppers and poppy flowers, but I don't detect anything like that. The notes I do smell in this - tomato leaf, green bell peppers, patchouli and leather - are not on the list (I'm referring to the scent pyramid at fragrantica.com). Maybe that's why so many people don't like Piment Brulant; they're expecting one thing and get something very different.
This is listed as being for men or women, and I would agree with that assessment. In fact, I think the first couple of hours smell slightly more feminine, with its green floral notes, while the drydown is leans more masculine, with its leathery patchouli scent.
I'm glad this isn't a popular fragrance. That just means there's a better chance I'll be able to get a bottle through a swap. This is a winner.
MY RATING: 8/10
Fragrance House: L'Artisan Parfumeur