So Amber by Montale

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: raspberry, Iranian saffron, Moroccan rose, vanilla, sandalwood, ambergris, white musk
So Amber is a raspy and somewhat synthetic fruity rose concoction, mostly recalling past Montale rose-based offerings, such as Rose Night and Roses Musk.

With a hint of vanilla and saffron, as well as a soft woody-musk base, its name is just as misleading as Amber & Spices. In other words, don't go expecting a bona fide amber oriental fragrance (or even one remotely like it). And while ambergris is listed, that's still no justification for using the word 'amber' (especially when the alleged ambergris smells more like ambroxan).

Cheap-smelling in its general demeanour, both sillage and lasting power are extremely underwhelming.


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Oudmazing by Montale

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: Sicilian bergamot and orange, pink grape, pear, fig, Egyptian jasmine, orris from Tuscany, Madagascan vanilla, Sumatran patchouli, Malaysian oud, leather, white musk
At first, Oudmazing sounded like an unusual, yet promising, Montale oud. However, although relatively brighter and greener, Oudmazing smells very much like a lighter and fruitier version of Red Aoud.

Instead of Red Aoud's slew of spices, Oudmazing has substituted these with an array of succulent fruits, which yield a somewhat green fruitiness. With the oud just as obscured as in Red Aoud, Oudmazing initially confines the iris to the background, allowing both the leather and wafer-smelling patchouli to fill the void.

As for the jasmine, when combined with the vanilla, it adds a creamy floral dimension to Oudmazing, whereas Red Aoud's rose (when combined with the sweet spices) is more jam-like. Ultimately, although there are some distinct differences, their general aromas are similar enough for olfactory parallels to be drawn.

Drawing to a faint woody-iris close, Oudmazing lacks the projection and tenacity of Red Aoud, but still persists on the skin reasonably well. With that said, Oudmazing would probably appeal greatly to those who found Red Aoud too overbearing (as well as avid Montale enthusiasts, of course).


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Aoud Lagoon by Montale

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: Sicilian mandarin, lotus, osmanthus, tiaré, oud, Paraguayan guaiac wood, Haitian vetiver, oakmoss
After an abrasive opening of alcohol and something marine-like, Aoud Lagoon soon settles to reveal a tropical floral bouquet, with honeyed apricot subtleties from the osmanthus. With a soft woody foundation, one doesn't discern much oud in the composition but, with the exception of the vetiver, the woody notes are very difficult to distinguish from one another.

Overall, it's not too sweet and leans more on the feminine side. With conservative projection and below average longevity, it's a plausible tropical-themed creation. The only thing that prevents it from being perceived as run-of-the-mill designer-esque swill is the vivid presence of the osmanthus.


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Tropical Wood by Montale

*****
Year: 2016

Notes: bergamot, pineapple, passion fruit, violet, Bulgarian rose, Malaysian oud, leather, Madagascan vanilla, white musk
Tropical Wood is a somewhat pleasant tropical woody fragrance, crammed with an array of accords that work rather well together.

Beginning with a tropical fruit punch explosion, the top notes are sweet but not too cloying. The jammy florals are discreet but serve more as a bridge for the emerging vanilla. Resting on a predictably clean musk base, the composition possesses a soft leathery underscore. As for the oud, a woody aspect is certainly apparent but it plays more of a supporting role. And when the drydown approaches, all the notes gracefully meld together with fruity traces still clearly evident.

While it's nothing outstanding, Tropical Wood could nevertheless be considered a worthy addition to Montale's oeuvre. Providing moderate sillage, one would have preferred better tenacity. Regardless of this, as well as the fact that it's not to one's personal tastes, it still comes warmly recommended.


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Spicy Aoud / Aoud Spicy Musk by Montale

*****
Year: 2015

Notes: orange, saffron, patchouli, oud, musk
Spicy Aoud is yet another derivative Montale oud creation, particularly to those knowledgeable of past releases from this niche house.

In a nutshell, Spicy Aoud is Original Aouds fused with a generous serving of saffron and some white musk. The patchouli is apparent but mainly serves to add a dark earthy dimension to the woody-musk proceedings. As for the orange top note, it's more obscured by the astringent saffron and, thus, comes across as fleeting. One also detects occasional tobacco and rose facets throughout its development.

With below average longevity and projection, it would appeal to those looking for a relatively straight-up Montale oud. However, there's nothing new here that either Montale or other houses haven't already explored.


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Sweet Vanilla by Montale

*****
Year: 2015

Notes: apricot, vanilla, white musk
With very few notes listed, one didn't have high expectations for Sweet Vanilla. After sampling it, one's opinion hasn't really changed that much.

Although it's a pleasant and competent vanilla, with light caramel flourishes, Sweet Vanilla is simply a variation of Vanille Absolu – in other words, vanilla interwoven with apricot nuances (with Vanille Absolu's discreet woody base substituted for some white musk). While not quite as rich and full-bodied as Vanille Absolu, Sweet Vanilla still provides moderate sillage and good staying power.

Disregarding the subtle apricot accord, Sweet Vanilla isn't distinctive enough and owning both of these Montale creations could be seen as pointless. Nevertheless, those looking for a slightly fruitier version of Vanille Absolu may find Sweet Vanilla a worthwhile candidate.


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Pink Extasy by Montale

*****
Year: 2014

Notes: Cuban orange and tangerine, raspberry, peach, black pepper, orange blossom, Turkish rose, Egyptian jasmine, orris, vanilla, white musk
Another fun and overtly feminine Montale fruity-floral, another sweet and synthetic-smelling concoction...

Housed in a shiny pink aluminium bottle, Pink Extasy smells like a generic department store fragrance. With a reasonable level of endurance on the skin, the entire product is both derivative and extremely tacky.

Thanks, but no thanks.


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Highness Rose by Montale

*****
Year: 2009

Notes: rose

Comment: parfum extrait review
Originally part of the Confidential Collection, Highness Rose is a rose soliflore made from rose absolute.

Largely spearheaded by some Bulgarian rose, other varieties of natural rose extracts have probably been added to provide a deeper rose experience. The overall aroma is relatively waxy, with fresh and dewy embellishments, and occasional verdant spicy nuances. Whether anything has been added to the base, such as light woods or white musk, is very much a grey area.

From beginning to end, it smells like a pure and unadulterated rose offering with no added sweetness. However, while it's a faithful rendition of rose, its general performance on the skin isn't much better than that of a decent quality rose extract – in other words, moderate sillage and below average staying power.

All in all, it's a respectable but somewhat redundant release.


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Arabico by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

*****
Year: 2013

Notes: bergamot, lemon, pepper, frankincense, lavandin, lavender, Egyptian geranium, patchouli, cedar, vetiver, musk
Out of all the Italian niche houses, Farmacia SS. Annunziata is one of the most confounding. One would like to think that its fragrances are at least respectable but most of them simply aren't. With Arabico, one's opinion of this house isn't going to change anytime soon.

Basically, it's a peppery cedar offering that's soapy, inoffensive and feeble. With extremely faint traces of citrus, lavender and vetiver, the composition's so thin that it's hardly detectable on the skin. Apart from a woody-green late-drydown, which is redolent of Lalique's Encre Noire, there aren't any other redeeming qualities.

Claiming to be a highly concentrated offering, it's nothing more than a pathetic joke.


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Talc Gourmand by Farmacia SS. Annunziata

*****
Year: 2012

Notes: honey, vanilla blossom, heliotrope, talcum powder, caramel, chocolate, tonka bean, vanilla, sandalwood
Talc Gourmand is exactly what the name implies – a powdery gourmand.

Regrettably, it's nothing more than a variation on the loukhoum theme (but with caramel and chocolate instead of the rose and almond). And although it's closer in spirit to Lorenzo Villoresi's Teint de Neige, Talc Gourmand lacks the finesse of many of its peers. Possessing a chalky powderiness, its texture is also remarkably similar to scented talcum powder.

Drawing to a close with an acrid, synthetic and dusty ambery drydown, it's a passable release but there are far better alternatives out there.


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