Nobody I know likes gourmand fragrances — those with an “edible” quality, often dessert-like — least of all men. While most guys prefer fragrances that project cleanliness or sophistication (chypres and fougeres, as Elena Vosnaki explains on her very good blog, Perfume Shrine), mass-market gourmands project lollipops and cupcakes. But at the fringes of the category, which began with Angel by Thierry Mugler in 1992, there are unisex fragrances that benefit from the desirable, want-to-put-my-mouth-on-you quality of vanilla and chocolate notes, while still creating an overall sense of elegance and sophistication — even masculinity — thanks to a backbone of amber, musk and wood. These are five that we like right now.
Bottega Profumiera Gourmand
Rome-based Bottega Profumiera is a relatively new company in the fragrance world. Perfumer Maurizio Lembo started it in 2013 after working with Officina della Essenze on two collections. We were first introduced to the brand through their Galantuomo, a spicy, woody fragrance that’s nevertheless cool and refreshing — a pretty rare accomplishment and something you could wear every day. Gourmand is different. It’s butterscotch-y, reminiscent of salty caramel butter popcorn, but also sensual and musky — a nice balance that makes you want to keep sniffing it.
Perfumer: Maurizio Lembo
Notes: Amber, Benzoin, Vanilla, Caramel, Coconut, Musk, Woody
D.S. and Durga Hylnds Spirit of the Glen
Brooklyn-based D.S. and Durga is usually on the nose with the names of its fragrances, sometimes to brilliant and highly wearable effect — Burning Barbershop, for example — and sometimes in a way that’s pretty neat but doesn’t translate as well for everyday wear (Boston Ivy, in this writer’s opinion). Spirit of the Glen is meant to evoke the “remote glens of Speyside” with “accords taken from all aspects of whisky production.” It opens with a blast of freshness and lush greenery, then it gets smoky, herbal and creamy, with a bracing woody structure to it. It’s at the fringe of what would be considered a gourmand, which is a good thing, and having spent some time in Scotland, the story holds up.
Perfumer: David Seth Moltz
Notes: Pear Leaf, Chamomile, Oak, Hay, Malt, Coal, Woody, White Wine
MiN New York Barrel EDP
MiN collaborated with perfumer Julien Rasquinet on a collection of 11 fragrances that make up Volume 1 of their Scent Stories line, which came out in 2014 (Volume 2 is out now). Barrel was part of the first collection, and it surprised us at first with a really sweet and alcoholic opening, after which it mellows out into an earthy, woody and floral fragrance that’s actually on the light side.
Perfumer: Julien Rasquinet
Notes: Absinthe, Coriander, Pink Pepper, Rum, Myrrh, Orange Blossom, Oak Barrel, Oak Moss, Leather, Vanilla, Patchouli, Vetyver
Frederic Malle Musc Ravageur
We took the liberty of nudging this Maurice Roucel fragrance into the gourmand category — it’s usually considered an “Oriental,” but do we even use that word anymore? — because it’s loaded with vanilla and cinnamon. But mixed in with all that sweetness is a dirty, musky, animalic quality that’s sexy as hell if you can pull it off. It’s in our rotation for winter.
Perfumer: Maurice Roucel
Notes: Bergamot, tangerine, cinnamon, vanilla, musk, amber.
Naomi Goodsir Or de Serail
Or de Serail is what we expected when we started thinking about gourmands. It’s not in the notes, but we got pineapple in addition to other tropical fruits, as well as a wave of orange Creamsicle, followed by gentle musk, wood and even smoke, over time. It’s more extreme than the Bottega Gourmand, but still well-balanced.
Perfumer: Bertrand Duchaufour
Notes: Cistus, apple & red fruit effects, mango, rum, sweet orange, davana, sage, bee wax, honey effect, coco, geranium, ylang-ylang, Turkish tobacco, amber, labdanum, oak tree, cedar wood, musk, vanilla, maté.