Sunday, May 27, 2012

Aura of Patchouli

With this fragrance, what you see is what you get: it's patchouli straight up.  Though it's not a barnstormer like Santa Maria Novella's Patchouli, Aura of Patchouli will be of no interest to you if you don't already love the smell of pure patchouli oil. 

What makes this fragrance unique is that it's the one and only heavy patchouli fragrance I know that smells like it would be more at home in a barbershop than a headshop.  I imagine this would have been Clint Eastwood's aftershave of choice after he got his shave in the barbershop scene at the beginning of High Plains Drifter.  Aura of Patchouli is unique because it smells both earthy and clean, an unusual combination.  There's zero sweetness, so don't expect any vanilla or amber here.  It's got an almost musty smell, which I actually like.  It's dry as sawdust, helped by the careful addition of cedar oil, and the drydown has a clean powdery smell that would go hand-in-hand with the talcum powder a barber brushes on your neck after shaving it.  Patchouli doesn't get any more old-school than this.

If I have one gripe about this scent, it's that I suspect Caswell-Massey chose mediocre quality patchouli oil to use for this perfume.  Patchouli oil is one of those essential oils that only gets better with age, and the good quality stuff has been aged for at least two years.  Well aged patchouli has great depth and complexity, with a dark richness that only comes with age.  The patchouli in Aura of Patchouli, by contrast, smells dry, woody and scratchy, and it lacks the depth of the really good quality oils.  It's not that it smells bad - you can still definitely tell this is a raw patchouli scent - but rather I wish it was a little bit more complex.

Despite my one criticism, I really like Aura of Patchouli, and it's a welcome addition to my large collection of heavy patchouli fragrances.  Plus, at only $30 U.S. for a 90 ml. bottle, you can't beat it for value.  If you love both patchouli and barbershop fragrances, there is no reason you shouldn't have a bottle of this.

MY RATING:  8/10

Fragrance House:  Caswell-Massey

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