2/8/14

A*Men Pure Malt (Thierry Mugler)



This review is for the recent reissue of Pure Malt, not the original. I approached this one thinking I was in for an interesting twist on the original A*Men. When I see the word "malt" associated with a perfume, I immediately think of single malt scotch, which is known for having a very aromatic-woody smell. Memories of eighteen year-old Talisker get stirred up, and expectations skyrocket. I should know better - Pure Malt has nothing to do with scotch's complex, turpentine-painted driftwood, and everything to do with fruity, cheap-smelling malt liquor.

Malt liquor is a lot like beer, except it has a slightly higher alcohol content, and it's usually a bit sweeter in flavor than your average ale or lager, due to the higher percentage of fermentable sugars used to make it. This lends malt liquor a somewhat sticky, sugary odor. You can smell the hops, but malt liquor is usually cruder than beer, because the cereals comprising its wort are cheaper. Mixed in with the sugar and hops are spicy, sometimes overtly fruity off-notes. I wouldn't call the scent of malt liquor "complex" or "interesting," but it's distinctive.

For Mugler to base an A*Men flanker on it is a little strange to me. Why opt for the cheap malt, when single malt scotch is so much better? The nose of an aged single malt often has very rich, dry, rooty aromas, usually with a profound peat note smothered in salty terpenes and smoked woods. A good single malt is a complex perfume unto itself, begging to be reinterpreted by perfumers. Pure Malt really doesn't offer any of that, and simply smells apple-like and beer-sweet for a couple hours, before seguing into a nondescript vanilla and tonka base. I like how it smells, and it's certainly pleasant to wear, but far from interesting. Sillage is especially weak for a Mugler scent, which is another demerit. I'll stick to the original A*Men, as this version is too "safe" for me. For an idea of how a peat note is supposed to smell, check out Patrick by Fragrances of Ireland.





7 comments:

  1. Thanks for the heads-up. Judging by its name I thought this one would be about single malt whisky. Ah well, one more to strike off of the to sample list. Thanks. Time to grab a glass of Talisker 10 Year Old, my other hobby... ;-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah I was disappointed with this one. Word has it B*Men is the only truly interesting A*Men flanker. Review pending . . .

      Delete
  2. Although Talisker is great, Lagavulin 16 year old is what does it for me....now if only Mugler had really tried to capture the essence of that one.......

    ReplyDelete
  3. Well Kris I'll take your word for it! I'm assuming though that you're talking about flavor and not Lagavulin's "nose." At this point in my life, the essence is all I care about when it comes to the idea of "malt."

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am speaking of both flavor and nose, since both are essential in appreciating whisky. What do you mean by this point in your life? You are still relatively young. The occasional libation can't hurt. Especially the quality stuff aforementioned. Besides, I feel that many facets of whisky/wine/beer tasting are related to fragrance sampling. Don't you agree? Correct me if I am wrong, but I remember that I read that Pierre Bourdon towards the tail-end of his career before he retired was with that candy company, Chupa-Chups.

      Since Lagavulin is an Islay malt, it will appeal to those who appreciate a very smoky (almost campfire-like), leathery Scotch that has some pronounced iodine notes. In contrast, those who appreciate lighter well-behaved Highland malts may not understand the brash Islay ones. While not as tarry as its immediate rival Laphroaig, Lagavulin is smoother and more refined; less peppery. Notice my use of the word tarry and its association with the original A*men. It is precisely these two whiskies that connoisseurs have commented on having an asphalt-like note that is present, especially with Laphroaig. While Talisker (also an West island malt, namely Isle of Skye) is a fine whisky, it is 'safer' than both Lagavulin and Laphroaig. These latter two are to the branch of whisky as Kouros/Lapidus/Salvador Dali PH/ A*men are to the branch of fragrance. As with these fragrance selections, Lagavulin and Laphroaig are not 'safe' choices.

      Delete
    2. I'm not so sure I agree that fragrance sampling and drink tasting go hand in hand, although I agree they're related. While the flavor of scotch certainly elaborates on its essence, you cannot taste perfume. I think in that regard, it's actually more important for perfumers to study the "nose" (the essence) of the malt in acute detail, and focus on how it emulates things that are completely unrelated to malted liquor - things like the smells of paint, driftwood, turpentine, sea salt, rust, peat, tar, and fire. This gives the perfumer an opportunity to eradicate the strict idea of "malt" from his mind, and branch out into the broader spectrum of possibilities that malt's natural distilled essence exhibits from the bottom of a glass. You can push and pull the proportions of any of those ideas, and create a whole new fragrance experience, while still maintaining a semblance of drinkable single malt. The fact that Mugler took the easy way out here is beyond disappointing, really.

      I didn't know that about Pierre Bourdon, nor have I ever heard of Chupa-Chups. Very interesting, thanks for mentioning that! Sounds like maybe it was a side interest of his, and who knows, maybe he had a serious sweet tooth.

      Delete
    3. you can see it here on this resume of sorts

      http://archive.is/eyy9

      Delete

Thank you for your comment. It will be visible after approval by the moderator.