Encens Flamboyant (Annick Goutal)

Sometimes I read about a perfume and think that it would be a great one to try, but never bother because something in its name puts me off. Encens Flamboyant is a prime example - I've read about it for years, but "Flamboyant Incense" simply does nothing for me as a concept. Incense is usually flamboyant enough, full of embellished floral tones and always plenty loud. Jim Gehr passed a sample along to me, and I gave it a wearing earlier this week. My feelings about the fragrance are mixed, trending toward good. This is an odd one.

How does it smell? The easy answer: It smells like Vetiver Extraordinaire with incense instead of vetiver, and nutmeg instead of curried saffron. The overbearing theme to both fragrances is "Earthy Green," their forms relying primarily on woody-resinous evergreen notes that are composed in a fizzy and vaguely soapy manner. I feel as though these recent Earthy masculines revolve around the green/fresh axis of Creed's Original Vetiver (and Mugler Cologne by proxy), with Goutal's scent orbiting just a little bit closer to freshness than Malle's. My impression is that the cleanness in Encens is evocative of bathing in the rough, perhaps in a stream somewhere, surrounded by trees and the fetid smell of damp woods.

The incense here is quite noticeable, but when set against tree needles and mastic resins, its silvery sheen gets overshadowed by sap and pine cones. And that's where the weirdness comes in - this should really be called Epicéa Flamboyant, because the blaringly obvious evergreen note is quietly gussied up with incense. This isn't a "spruced-up" incense, pardon the pun. I wonder if they named the fragrance before smelling it? This may seem minor, but if they'd called it by a moniker more suggestive of fir and spruce, I would have tried it sooner. Lovers of incense may be unimpressed, but if you're a bonafide conehead, don't procrastinate like I did.

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