Eau de Gentiane Blanche (Hermès)

Jean-Claude Ellena is well-known for his minimalist style in perfumery, and he deserves high praise for sticking to it. I can't think of many perfumers who do more with less as stoically as Ellena. The man manages to capture the essence of nature in bare strokes of uniform color, designing "personal atmosphere" for his wearers. I can appreciate that.

Eau de Gentiane Blanche is one of Hermès' more unique releases, as it prominently features the gentiana plant, and you'd be hard-pressed to find other colognes featuring gentiana. It reminds me of the Italian bitters used in summer drinks, and possesses a cool earthiness that's at once linear and utterly marvelous. It stands in stark contrast to the bright fruit of Eau d'Orange Verte, but also seems appropriately placed alongside it, as they share the sugarless greenness of things from nature. 

Eau de Gentiane Blanche smells very "white" as well, with a pale, ashen character that makes me think of Ireland in winter. It opens with a bright green freshness and dries into a somber floral woodiness, which resembles iris. Things get powdery from here, and a little one-dimensional, but the overall earthy aspect retains its allure for a solid three hours after application. Impressive.

The one strike against EdGB is its quality of materials. I'm not detecting the same eyebrow-raising naturals of Eau d'Orange Verte in this composition, and this is underscored by the suspicious longevity. For a cologne, it has kick. Because it is the only gentiana-based fragrance I've encountered, I can't speak to the authenticity of that note, but I definitely get some synthetic iris and musk. 

Try this one out if you're in the market for something different. It's unique, well made, and guaranteed to get attention. Me? I'm sticking to Eau d'Orange Verte, 4711, Eau Sauvage, and things that don't smell strange and funereal. But that's just me.