The ongoing Cool Water versus Green Irish Tweed “debate.”

Over at the FromPyrgos blog, there’s a recent post about how the author has changed his assessment of Cool Water, especially relative to Green Irish Tweed. I’m certainly glad to see some flexibility in this person’s mind regarding these complex concoctions, and I agree with some of his notions. For example, I think CW (in the Lancaster formulations I have tried) has good note separation and is obviously more complex than GIT. I’d also agree that CW isn’t especially “chemical,” at least relative to GIT. The dihydromyrcenol in both is glaring, but that doesn’t bother me, so long as it’s not too strong (as is the case in something like Wings for Men by GoBH) and there are other notes that provide enough balance. However, anyone who is sensitive to dihydromyrcenol certainly should not be criticized for finding these kinds of scents (of which there are more than a few) too be “too chemical.” One could criticize them for not being specific, because as the FromPyrgos author points out, just about all these concoctions are quite “chemical” and of course naturals contain some of the exact same molecules anyway, such as eugenol in cloves.

CW may work well for this person, but to me there are huge note clashes, which are “smoothed” out in at least one Coty formulation I’ve tried, though that comes at the expense of making it smell like one of the many imitators that have been marketed since the late 1980s. At this point, I think I prefer Startdu8st for Men to any of these, but that could change, of course. The reason is that it possesses more interesting not contrast than GIT and yet it doesn’t have the kind of note clashes I perceive in CW. Those who don’t perceive a note clash in CW, and enjoy complex scents, may find CW to be the best of the bunch. However, what I’ve noticed is that many who claim that GIT and CW are very similar seem to be missing how sweet CW is, again especially relative to GIT. This doesn’t surprise me, though, because as a newbie I didn’t detect sweetness or dryness very well.

One thing I don’t understand is how violet leaf, lavender, iris, and citrus can be perceived as similar to neroli, lavender, rosemary, geranium, and jasmine. Of course, if you use a bunch of sprays and largely forget about the scent twenty minutes later, that could lead to a very different olfactory experience than mine, spraying once or twice and trying to avoid most of the top notes. Still, this is something that reviewers rarely mention in their comments. The FromPyrogs author perceives this in CW (up to the base):

…citrus, green apple, a saline breeze, lavender, peppermint, and neroli, all in the top accord alone. These notes are followed by clear notes of jasmine, cedar, amber, violet leaf, violet, and more amber…

Fragrantica.com has CW’s notes as the following:

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.

This seems to be an excellent example of how notes can be perceived quite differently, though extreme sensitivity to certain aroma chemicals is another possible explanation (the claim about violet or violet leaf notes in CW makes no sense to me, for example), but I prefer GIT to CW for another reason (besides the note clash issue in CW), which is that I get a pleasant sandalwood note in GIT (regardless of how “natural” it really is, which is why I often say “reasonably natural” in my reviews). In CW, I get a “woody amber” effect, which screams out “generic” to me. If you put that with some notes I enjoy, however (Green Jeans by Versace, for instance), it can enhance the scent by providing some contrast, but in CW it’s just another element that serves to clash with other elements and is not of any interest on its own.

The point of this FromPyrgos post seems to be to take back criticism of Luca Turin. In his “Perfumes: The Guide” book, Turin gave CW five stars but GIT received four (out of a possible five). Perhaps it might help to use film analogies here. CW comes across to me as an ambitious film that just doesn’t work at all (such as “Inception”), whereas GIT is more like an “independent” film that tries to tell a “simple” story about “ordinary” people. From what I understand, “Inception” has been quite profitable, just like CW. My guess is that “freshness” (not the perception of a “fresh” smell) can be major factors in these instances, that is, after a while there are too many similar “products” and something very different can become popular quickly, regardless of how “good” it is. And this eventually happened to CW, which itself is now perceived as “old” by many, apparently.

A major issue I have with “Perfumes: The Guide” is that at times the tone (I’m speaking mostly of Turin’s, not Sanchez’) is authoritative, whereas at others it’s whimsical, and in some cases the reader is given no idea about the actual smell of the scent in question. This authoritative quality is entirely inconsistent with my experiences with these concoctions, because of how one’s perception can change significantly, even in a short period of time. I can’t say, for example, that at some point CW’s note clashes won’t be perceived as pleasant contrasts, but I’ve tried several times over the course of at least five years now, so I’ve given up hope on this possibility. On the other hand, I once perceived Pi by Givenchy to be too simple and sweet, yet now I’m able to detect and appreciate the wood note, which makes the scent pleasant (by contrasting with the gourmand elements and rendering the scent balanced, at least beyond the top notes).

I hope the FromPyrgos author will continue to reassess his earlier reviews. For me, this makes this hobby a lot more interesting. Otherwise, I can see how many get bored quickly – they seem to be too quick to dismiss scents as “generic,” uninspired, etc. I hope Turin also comes to see that it’s often a good idea to give at least some scents a second or third chance, but I doubt this will happen because he is likely bombarded with samples from companies that want him to review their scents, as well as in light of some of the things he’s said on this subject. My thought has been “it’s his loss, not mine,” and that’s why I’ve gone back to scents I’ve found quite irritating, such as CW, but we are not immortal, and so at some point one has to decide that one’s precious time should be devoted to something else, in this case a scent one enjoys or one hopes to enjoy (such as to sample something new). However, if someone wants to regard scent appreciation as a kind of battle, that is their right, but others have the right to criticize them for this !

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