Yet another person telling me that I don’t smell what I think I’m smelling.

I hope I’m not boring anyone with this subject, but it does seem to be crucial when one ponders what to make of scent reviews. In the last installment (for those who didn’t read the last post), I mentioned that someone told me that I shouldn’t talk about my perceptions of a scent if certain notes may be “spiking out” for me. My response to this criticism is that if it spikes out for me it may do so for others as well; as long as I disclose the possible spike out, readers can decide for themselves, but that more information is always better in this context (and in most, IMO).

The other day, on a Basenotes.net thread entitled, “Joop Nightflight needs some love,” the original post contained the following:

…Probably one of the best fresh-like scents out there. Great for the night, great for the day.

It sounded like “fan boy” fare, but that’s okay, in the sense that it should not be deleted by moderators, IMO. I posted to the thread, saying:

Sort of like a less complex Cool Water but for me it has a “synthetic” feel. The closest I can get to something like this may be Molto Smalto.

That person then responded directly to my post, saying:

what? Joop Nightflight has nothing to do with Cool water.. Cool Water smells like sauna, totally different than Joop, Joop is a fruit-sweet and fresh scent… Cool Water is all about green

This is person who joined the site in November of 2012 and has a total of 81 posts, so I decided to just play along with his sense of expertise, responding with:

Okay, you are the arbiter of what all scents “smell like.” Let us all now bow down before you, great nostrilled one !

His response to that was:

Well, I have both.. so I know they dont smell alike.

I figured I would keep up my posture (since it was amusing me) but I also wanted to point a few things out, responding to that with:

Of course, you are the anointed one of all things olfactory, which is why the lists of notes for the two must be wrong (since there are a bunch of notes in common). Moreover, Nightlflight lists “green notes” but Cool Water does not. Now if you want to think of Cool Water as a “green scent,” that’s fine with me, but telling others what they should smell, particularly in this instance, I find absurd. My guess is that you are just smelling the top notes, which may indeed be a bit different (I don’t pay much attention to those, because they last a very short time and cause olfactory fatigue). Those who spray 10+ times each application may get the top notes to last longer and so the experience can be quite different.

I didn’t even want to mention that they both probably contain a whole lot of dihydromyrcenol, but fortunately, someone else did:

Well, I think Nightflight and Cool Water share a central dihydromyrcenol (cool metal) note (also prevalent in Chrome and Ck one in decent quantities!), but I do find them fairly different…

Unfortunately, this person came to the conclusion that they “smell different.” And while this may be the case for him, he didn’t explain why. However, when one considers the amount of dihydromyrcenol likely used in both of them, along with the note pyramids, it seems ridiculous to tell others that they can’t possibly be smelling much similarity in the two! Here are the note pyramids for these two, take from Fragrantica.com, starting with Nightflight:

Top notes are pineapple, lavender, green notes, juniper, bergamot and lemon; middle notes are almond, jasmine, lily-of-the-valley, rose, brazilian rosewood and geranium; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, amber and musk.

Top notes include mint and green nuances, lavender, coriander and rosemary. The heart notes include geranium, neroli, jasmine and sandalwood. The base is composed of cedarwood, musk, amber and tobacco.

I’ll also mention they both likely have more than a hint of a “woody/amber” molecule, and if you don’t’ know what that means, I suggest reading the following:

http://thefrenchexit.blogspot.com/2012/01/woody-amber-vs-amber-vs-amber-that.html

So, I’d guess we have plenty of dihydromyrcenol and similar “woody/amber” molecules, along with common notes of lavender, jasmine, geranium, amber, sandalwood, and musk (though neither impressed me as especially “musky”). However, also looking at the note pyramids, it does seem like quite a different top notes experience may be perceived by many if not most people. To me, the drydown is the “good stuff,” whereas the top notes are often a “head fake,” and I’ve pointed that out often (on this blog and elsewhere). My conclusion is that the person who originally posted is a “newbie” who has limited experience, and most of that experience may be with “men’s” scents of the last several years, so it’s understandable how he could think this way. The best us “old hands” may be able to do is to inject some humor into our comments while trying to point out what the person is not considering in his or her assessments.

NOTE: I mentioned Molto Smalto because the composition isn’t too far off (it is simpler as well) and I think it has far less dihydromyrcenol than the other two. And as opposed to a common “woody/amber” vibe, it has a fairly natural-smelling sandalwood note. So, to me Molto Smalto is the aficionado choice when it comes to this kind of scent, though I don’t see it as any kind of “clone” of Cool Water. In a post I’m working on now, which should be published before the end of July, I will discuss reasons to claim that one scent is “similar” to another.

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6 Comments

Filed under Criticizing the critics.

6 responses to “Yet another person telling me that I don’t smell what I think I’m smelling.

  1. Its obvious that Joop was going for a Coolwater vibe when they made Nightflight. Just like every other company they were trying to cash in on the giant success of Coolwater in the early 90s. That guy thinks everything smells like a “sauna” and may not be very fluent in english so give him a break.

    • I didn’t know that and don’t remember scents being described as sauna-like. However, there is at least one person who says that several scents smell like “band aids” or “bandages.” Now that is really weird! LOL.

  2. Appreciate sharing superb informations. Your website is very cool. I am impressed by information that you’ve here. It reveals how perfectly you perceive this subject. Book marked this web site, will come back to get more articles. A person, my pal, ROCK! I found exactly the info My spouse and i already researched all over the place and merely couldn’t come across. Such a perfect web-site.

    • I’m glad you like what you’ve read so far, but just to be clear, I don’t think there can be “perfect” perception of scents because even if you are very good at detecting notes it’s almost always the case that one or more notes/accords “spike out” during a particular wearing. And even leaving that aside there are personal preferences, which can change over time. One thing I really like about scents is that there is a constant “back and forth” between my experience and my attempt to figure out what’s happening. This blog is sort of like notes I’m taking during that process, but with this format I get some feedback, which can be helpful, and I certainly hope that I can be helpful to others as well. One thing I learned in grad school, however, is that sometimes you learn a lot more from people who disagree with you than from people who agree with you !

  3. Thanks for linking to my post!

    A lot of people think oud smells like Band-Aids. I think scotch smells like Band-Aids. It’s a reference to the old Band-Aid smell, however — they are made differently now and don’t have the same smell, if any smell at all. (The old ones had a cresolic antiseptic similar to a cresolic material that occurs in Scotch and, I guess, oud — as well as some leather materials to my nose.

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