This fragrance was released shortly before this awful pandemic began, and I almost wonder if the world would know what to do if something this bright and fresh and happy were released in our grim times. Diptyque's 2019 eau de parfum is a clean, green little entry in their growing catalogue of exclusive EDPs (kaa-chiing!!)
When it comes to mint notes, perfume houses usually stray into a distinct danger zone. Many fragheads are criminally unaware of what the government gold standard for mint is in contemporary perfumery, a pricy aftershave by Myrsol called Formula K. Now granted, there are several different types of mint, and no one fragrance can corner the market on all of them, nor can one represent a fair standard for each type. Formula K is the most lucid peppermint note you could ever hope to smell in a fragrance, and there's no doubt that at least some natural peppermint oil was used in its making. Paired with a healthy dose of added menthol, the overall effect is incredibly crisp, lucid, and natural, and because it's so realistic it doesn't fall victim to the thematic danger of smelling like toothpaste. It's just a beautiful herbal aroma that goes far beyond the call of duty.
Formula K is about six dollars an ounce, making it expensive for aftershave, but a good value for 180 ml. When I turn to a European niche perfume brand like Diptyque, which asks seventy-five dollars an ounce, I expect at the very least that something called Eau de Minthé will be on par with Myrsol's peppermint. All considerations are made here - the mint note in Eau de Minthé is supposedly Oregonian spearmint (whatever that is), the concentration is EDP, hard to manage with mint, and there's no telling which stylistic direction they're aiming for - yet to my nose, the mint note falls short. This isn't a lucid herbal spearmint. This is drugstore aftershave mint, in the same league as Skin Bracer and Aqua Velva. It's a nondescript, mentholated, mint-like spearmint note. It's okay, but disappointing. But, to be fair, it smells serviceable and works in the composition.
Diptyque was going for a mentholated patchouli here, an interesting choice. The top is a fizz of menthol, spearmint, and what feels like a drop of green apple, but the patchouli note steps quickly to the fore, and maintains a central stance for the three to four hour duration. Ghosted into the background are supporting notes of lavender, geranium, and nutmeg, all lending a familiar wet-shaver fougère thing to Eau de Minthé's midsection, and I think it's safe to call the fragrance a fougère. While the lo-fi mint note is annoying, the menthol effect is dynamic enough to elevate the proceedings into what smells like a niche-budget luxury version of some proletariat splash at the dollar store. Its Australian sandalwood drydown, which is subtle and lightly tinged with smoky patchouli, saves this fragrance for me. I might complain about the mint, but I can't deny that the woody structure underlying it is well made and smells great.
There's a hundred reasons to avoid spending big bucks on something that postures as glorified drugstore aftershave, but then again if you're like me, a total weirdo who loves drugstore aftershave, Eau de Minthé tugs at heartstrings in all the right ways. It's complex enough to be interesting, luxurious enough to smell great in all circumstances, and conceptually sound for something priced near the $200 mark. If it sells well enough, they might even reformulate it and upgrade that spearmint note, which would be the sort of bitch move that would force me to buy a full bottle.