Monday, 4 August 2014

The Odd Fellow's Bouquet, much better than it sounds

I used to be a smoker and I am sure the habit has done unspeakable things to my sense of smell; just how much it improved after quitting was astonishing. It came therefore as a bit of a surprise when I learnt that many a famous perfumer is happily puffing  away the cigarettes. Very few people in my vicinity still smoke, and those who do have taken to sucking on funky looking plastic sticks that glow in the dark, aka vaping. Before those e-fags, the weaning off method of choice often was pipe smoking. It looked ultimately better than lightening up a rollie, gave you instantaneously an air of sophistication and smelled good. Men who smoked pipes (it was pretty much a male domain) were often in their 40's, with grey strands of hair in their beards, a tumbler of whiskey or brandy in one hand, pipe in the other. Wealthy, classy, cultured...that was more or less the image, the Marlboro man with a university degree, after his mid life crisis and just before the younger, second wife (who will, sooner or later, make him give up the nicotine in any form). I was always quite fond of the typical pipe smoker, not least because I really liked the smell of good, slightly sweet tobacco. Still do, but these days I prefer it to be a perfume note and it's been ages since I last saw someone smoking a pipe.

A few weeks ago I met up with Vanessa of bonkersaboutperfume and after lunch we paid a short visit to Roullier White, which happens to be in my neighbourhood. We sniffed here and  sniffed there, and then Vanessa pointed me towards the Atkinsons line, an old school English brand with an impressive 1799 under their name, reworked&rejuvenated like so many other traditional houses. She had heard good things of the brand and was particularly keen on trying The Odd Fellow's Bouquet, a soft oriental tobacco.

My visual interpretation of The Odd Fellow's Bouquet

A sample went home with me, and I have developed a real liking for the scent. My skin often brings out the sweetness in perfumes, and it does so here as well. The first spritz is a gingery cologne type blast with a woody undertone. Nice, classy and promising. Dressy, M. finds and he is right, this is not a jeans and T-shirt scent. Or, it is, if being under dressed is just right. From then on the smokyness takes over and centre stage. This is the softest, most precious tobacco, the dangerous sort that makes you forget health warnings and doesn't stain your teeth. And it brings with it all the benzoin and the amber, creamy, soft and golden. This scent has absolutely no sharp edge, everything melts and flows and wafts in the most gentle way, like exquisite cognac swirling in a glass, leaving honey coloured tears on the surface. After a few hours the flow and the pulse of the fragrance gets a bit slower, but puffs of sweet benzoin are still coming strong, and even after 6 hours I still get the occasional vanilla tinted incense whiff as a reminder. For an Eau de Toilette this is truly remarkable. But I keep wondering whether it is a men's scent; something that usually doesn't bother me at all. I guess it's the strong image of the pipe smoking gentleman that keeps interfering here, because the perfume itself is perfectly unisex. The name doesn't help though. That's probably my only criticism: The Odd Fellow's Bouquet... Seriously?

How and where to wear:
Nice to play with expectations and miss match this gentle sophistication with whatever feels inappropriate. 


  1. ...
    There are perfumes as cool as the flesh of children,
    Sweet as oboes, green as meadows
    — And others are corrupt, and rich, triumphant,
    With power to expand into infinity,
    Like amber and incense, musk, benzoin,
    That sing the ecstasy of the soul and senses.

    1. I love you. Good job we're already married.

    2. Loved your review of this one - the description of swirling liquor and honeyed tears is so evocative, and beautifully illustrated by the golden image you chose. And how sweet is your husband's poem. I feel I am almost butting in. ;). Anyway, thank you for the link - sorry I wasn't feeling very bright that day, but I knew this range was worth a sniff, and that scent in particular.

  2. Hi Vanessa,
    Please butt in, there is enough room here :)

  3. I like your review: it created a lemming. Though I disagree with your criticism of the name: not all perfumes have to be truly unisex - be that in scent itself or in the name. It's OK if it targets just one gender - as long as I'm not prohibited to disregard it : -)

    1. Hi Undina,
      Let me know how you like the scent when you've tried it. And the name...well, it's not so much it's masculinity I dislike, but the association of the personal bouquet of an odd fellow. Sounds a bit like he's having a hygiene problem...