I remember reading some threads on the major sites with titles like, “Help me – I want to smell like a vanilla cupcake!” and I thought I’d discuss my views on gourmands, as well as mention a great bargain scent that some may view as an excellent gourmand scent to add to their rotations (and this one has “unisex potential”). Recently I saw a 100 ml bottle of Yacht Man Chocolate for little more than a few pennies, and after reading some positive things about it, went ahead with a “blind buy.” However, I didn’t expect much, and after my first sampling, which was one spray just above the ankle, I was not hopeful. There were some very fleeting and “fresh” top notes, clearly synthetic, though one can’t expect more. What one can hope for is some sort of gourmand base. Here is the list of notes for it, from Fragrantica.com:
…cinnamon, dark chocolate, musk, rose, iris, vetiver, patchouli, cacao, cloves and nutmeg.
One thought many people might have is, “how can anyone screw up those notes?” Well, if you don’t like “laundry musks,” then you might think they did! Interestingly, there is no company information on the box or bottle. If I had seen this in a shop in New York’s “perfume district” I would think it was some kind of “knock off.” There isn’t even a label on the bottom of the bottle. And thought heavy, the cap is flimsy plastic (the box is industry standard, though). So, for my “regular wearing,” I decided to go with seven or eight sprays, in the same area to the chest. Here is the review I wrote up for it on Fragrantica.com:
I think you will want to spray spray three or four times more than usual, but if you do I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised! The notes seem right, and the musk, while of the laundry variety (at least at first) is not over the top here. At first there is a blast (if you can call it that) of obnoxious “fresh” aroma chemicals, but they only last a few minutes. Then it seems like it needs to get warmed up, but within perhaps half an hour it comes together nicely, and certainly smells reasonably natural. It’s head and shoulders above dollar store scents but doesn’t cost that much more! The spices are quite strong and rich here, and it’s not especially sweet. If you think Dior Homme smells like “lipstick” or that it’s too “feminine,” then you may not like this one, though. And if you want an outright gourmand scent, this is not it, as those elements are subsumed by musk, powdery florals, and spices. Longevity is very good too, while projection is average to good, but again, you may need to use quite a bit more than usual. Unlike what the other reviewer said, I see little resemblance to Code, which has a clear wood note.
Interestingly, when I posted about it on Basenotes.net, one person responded by saying he was looking for a gourmand, which this scent is not (and so I modified my review slightly to point that out). In any case, if you want a really inexpensive Dior Homme type scent (meaning the composition/structure), this is one to consider, especially if you prefer strong spices. By contrast, Dior Homme Sport (first formulation) is less powdery but does have nice ginger, the problem for me with that one being the irritating molecules used to create the wood note. The great thing about Yacht Man Chocolate is that it’s the kind of scent that provides a specific experience, so I doubt I will ever regret wearing it whenever I do. By contrast, another inexpensive scent that is clearly more complex and “artful,” Everlast Original 1910, is problematic for me to wear because I have no idea which facets of it will seem to dominate that day!
It’s not always clear to me what someone means by a gourmand scent, and many don’t seem able to distinguish between a gourmand and a scent that possesses a gourmand element. For example, many seem to think that Pi by Givenchy is a gourmand. Here is one review that makes this perception clear (on Fragrantica):
…a very sweet mix of sugar notes, vanilla, and almond. I don’t get much if any floral at all. It’s a confectiony sweet gourmand that reminds me of the marshmallow filling in a Rocky Road candy bar.
The last time I wore Pi (older formulation), it struck me as being mostly sweet resins, with a reasonably good cedar note eventually emerging in the drydown. The crucial thing with gourmands, at least for those who are concerned about “wearability,” seems to be providing some contrast, so that the scent doesn’t smell like marshmallows, for instance, and nothing else. In fact, there was an online store, jojoelle.com, which featured many scents that smelled like a food item (they seem to be out of business now), but for some reason few of those who say they want a scent that smells literally gourmand seem to seek out these kinds of companies. The one jojoelle scent I tried (ginger and marshmallow, or something along those lines) was quite strong and reasonably natural smelling, though not what I’ve ever sought to wear.
Perhaps the closest to an “outright gourmand” that is meant to be a “perfume” is Tea for Two. Fragrantica.com has this note pyramid for it:
Top notes are bergamot, star anise and tea; middle notes are cinnamon, ginger, spices and gingerbread; base notes are honey, vanilla, leather and tobacco.
I don’t get much if any leather in it and the tobacco is mild, though from what I understand it was common to chw the leaves at one time. And that brings me to my main point here, which is that unlike fougeres, chypres, and orientals (at least strictly defined), perceptions of gourmands seem to be quite relative. If you smell it and think you’d like to eat whatever it is, doesn’t that mean it is a gourmand? Also, I think it may make sense to distinguish between edible gourmands and beverage-oriented ones. For example, I recently tried Play Intense for the first time, and it’s a mild, creamy type coffee, without the lavender one finds in Rochas Man and some others that are similar. Thus, to me that is more of “true gourmand” than ones that include notes not considered edible/drinkable by most people. However, as I’ve said before, I think it’s best to just talk about the scent in question and to compare it to others that may be similar or that more than a few others claim to be similar, rather than to worry about whether a scent belongs to this or that genre (unless the scent is simple and conforms to the “textbook” definition or unless someone is making a ridiculous claim).