Someone finally took me up on my “spoiled bottle” offer !


I had first made the offer to buy “spoiled” quite a long time ago, but had reiterated it a few times, IIRC. The last time I did was about a week ago, and finally someone took me up on it. The person said that the scent, Chocolat Mat;, smelled like “cat pee.” This person claimed to have had many scents “go off,” and so it was especially useful to get a supposedly spoiled bottle from such a claimant (as well as to have the scent said to smell so bad). My guess is that some people do smell something very bad, but it’s not the scent by itself. It may be related to things like what the person ate the night before, for example. I don’t know how many people have walked by me who have reeked of garlic, for instance, yet they seemed blissfully unaware! If such people were fragrance aficionados, and only ate such meals a few times a year, what would result? Would at least some spray a scent on, have it mix with their body’s garlic stench, and then blame the the contents of the bottle? That is my guess as to what often leads to such claims.

Moreover, it’s interesting to note how many such spoilage claims are about bottles that were produced within about a five year period, and none, to my recollection, involved all natural scents with notes that are more likely to “go bad” or be lost in such a period of time. Also, I don’t remember any such claimants mentioning that scents have smelled different to them from one wearing to another, whereas someone like myself, who has experienced this often, has yet to encounter a scent with a “spoiled” drydown, despite having a few hundred or more bottles of five years age or older pass through my hands since late 2007. My impression is that many are “newbies” who bought scents by companies like Creed and expected some sort of olfactory epiphany, which they may have (in their own way of thinking) the first time or two they wore it, but then after a while it just didn’t seem that “great” any longer. To them I say, “welcome to the club.” This is very common, and it’s why I try not to wear a scent again for at least about a month.

Now, on to this bottle of Chocolat Mat; I’ve been enjoying these kinds of scents lately. Those would include Phoenix by Keith Urban, A*Men, Rebelle, Jesus del Pozo in Black, and Evolution/Rocawear. However, I wore L’Instant Pour Homme recently and didn’t like it due to the strength of the musk, not due to the gourmand aspect nor the anise, patchouli, and wood. Chocolat Mat; begins with a great chocolate note, so good and strong I don’t get much else, perhaps a touch of powdery rose. However, after a minute or so it was almost all gone (2 sprays to the chest). After a couple hours I sprayed three more times to the same spot, and again it was very weak, though this time I detect something melon-like. Fragrantica.com lists the notes as:

Top notes are black currant, grapefruit, watermelon and rose; middle notes are dark chocolate and cacao; base notes are sandalwood, coconut and musk.

After an hour or so with hardly anything detectable I sprayed once with Jacomo Rouge underneath wear I sprayed the CH; and that helped “amp it up.” I detected nothing remotely resembling any kind of urine, kitty litter, etc., though the combination of chocolate and melon is weird in its own unique way. My guess is that the person who thought it smelled like cat urine has skin chemistry that she is not very aware of, perhaps due to her diet (I decided not to inquire further because she seemed so convinced that the scent is what smelled bad). I was surprised, though, that anyone could say this scent smelled in any way bad – a little odd, quite weak, etc., but not bad. I was able to detect a very mild musk hours later, even after placing heavy cloth over where I sprayed the Jacomo Rouge, just to see if the allegedly bad odor showed up at that point. Now one thing that everyone contemplating a blind buy should do is to read the reviews from the major sites. In the case of Chocolat Mat;, some people do seem to think it has a foul aspect, for example:

But on me the citrus opening is muddied, grapefruit and currant combine in a weird slurry to give the early drydown a bilious aspect. It’s even a little vomit-y at this point, the sharp tang of throwup in the background.

Smells like nail polish on me.

After the initial chocolate opening, this smells vaguely fishy and aquatic.

There are a lot more “loves” and “likes” than “dislikes” on Fragrantica, and one person may have figured out why some dislike it (that is, one has to wait for the melon/aquatic type thing to dissipate):

I can not imagine anyone not liking this after it settles and I certainly can not imagine preferring the chocolate shop opening to the final product.

So, isn’t there an obviously much more likely explanation for the “cat pee” perception? Some people may not wear scents with that salty/fishy/aquatic quality, so to them the element, perhaps in conjunction with a gourmand one (at least in this case), leads to these kinds of negative comments. Is there any good reason to think that there are many if any bottles of Chocolat Mat; (originally released in 2005) that have “spoiled” (the glass of the bottle is painted in medium brown)? Why such people rush to make the spoilage claim is an interesting question, but not the question of spoilage itself, which makes no sense. Even vintage scents are largely synthetic, generally-speaking, and it’s the “naturalness” (along with complexity, depth, dynamism, etc.) that they seem to possess that makes them special, not necessarily the reality (after all, you can just pour vanilla extract on yourself, but will that smell better than a vintage scent with a strong vanilla note in the base – and that vanilla note might be synthetic!). Today’s designers tend to smell horribly “synthetic” by contrast.

Interestingly, claims about a “cat pee” odor seem to be getting more and more common, just as are claims about how some smell “delicious” or “oily,” none of which are especially helpful, at least to me, unless there is more included, because none of these terms relate to molecules with specific odors. Here’s an example, from a Fragrantica.com review of Adam Levine’s scent for men:

Reading the comments making me laugh! I’ve had this and while I enjoy it. Way more than the ladies version which is horrible. I cannot get over the fact it smells like straight up armpit stank! Every time I spray it and wear it for a while I smel horrible BO body odor I forgot deodorant my pits stink gross! But nope! It’s just my Adam Levine perfume lmao. So funny it’s not just me. Someone else even noted the cat pee smell

In this instance, we get “armpit stink” and “cat pee,” but that is not helpful, especially in light of the fact that neither caraway nor cumin are listed as notes or are mentioned by any reviewers (at least this would be consistent with the “armpit” smell notion). This reviewer, unlike others, though, didn’t think it “spoiled.” Most likely, such perceptions occur because the person is used to recent designer scents, which rarely incorporate anything that comes across as unpleasant when they do their consumer testing. Also, it may be more likely to occur with scents that have a gourmand element, because one day the person might smell the gourmand element predominantly, whereas on another day the animalic/spicy/sour elements prevail for the person. This only has to happen once for some people to think the scent had spoiled, perhaps because they have heard what some may call spoilage hysteria (as my long-term readers know, however, I hate the use of the word hysteria unless the person is demonstrating strong and apparently inappropriate emotions, which of course one can’t determine from words on a web page alone).

On another blog, this was said about me: “This particular basenotes member seems hell-bent on proving to the world that I’m wrong in my assertion that perfumes spoil. The thread he participates in (link here) is full of firsthand testimonies by people whose perfumes have spoiled.”

First, I couldn’t care less about what one blogger thinks (nor do I think spoilage is impossible, just so rare as to be not worth worrying about, assuming you don’t care about top notes), nor one perfumer, nor one “expert” (such as Luca Turin or Chandler Burr), unless evidence is presented that is in accord with science, logic, reason, statistics, etc. I mention statistics because we all know that whoever runs for President this year, there is no statistically possible way the Republican or Democratic candidates will garner 10% or less of the popular vote (assuming there isn’t some major event that prevents the election), no matter who the candidates are or what they say or do (other than perhaps committing multiple murders that are caught on video). How different is it from someone being told that it’s very common for vintage scents to “spoil” when he has extensive experience over a course of several years (with hundreds of bottles) and has not found one “spoiled” drydown? How many old bottles that look like they have survived World War II (barely) has that blogger, or Luca Turin, or Chandler Burr acquired over the last several years? I’ve still got plenty of them, quite a few in splash bottles, and while a few have unpleasant or odd top notes, none have “spoiled” drydowns. This is simply not statistically possible if vintage fragrances “spoil” after about 20 years or thereabouts (or even if only perhaps half do) – ask a statistician!

The fact that I offered to buy “spoiled” scents on several occasions, and IIRC only once or twice has anyone ever responded to those posts (despite the large number of people who read the thread) is telling, and this is the first time I have actually acquired a bottle this way! Those who complained about their spoiled Creeds that were a few years old, etc., didn’t respond – it was people who held a belief that spoilage was common who felt the need to say something, one saying something like, “who is going to take the time to do that?” And that’s after I said I might pay $40 or so, such as for certain Creed bottles. If I was that person, I wouldn’t just want the money, I would also want to show the person who doesn’t believe it that in fact spoilage occurs. I would keep some of it and then if the person said it wasn’t spoiled I would challenge him to have it examined by a person who could do a GC/MS study on it (I would send that person my sample and he/she would have to subject both to GC/MS to make sure there was no fraud. The person who was wrong could pay for the study to be done. That is truly “putting your money where your mouth is!” Interestingly, when two bottles were found in a shipwreck recently that were well over 100 years old, the perfumers claimed there was spoilage but the others (non-“experts”) didn’t perceive a problem!

So, are we to believe that amateurs today can detect spoilage in a Creed bottle that is five or so years old, despite buying it new and storing in properly, yet the same kind of people can’t detect obvious spoilage in two bottles that were over 100 years old and smelled terrible to the perfumers who smelled the scents? It is beyond ludicrous, but some people seem to get an idea in their heads and then there’s no way of getting it out. How many Americans still think Obama was born in another country, or is a “secret Muslim?” When assessing evidence, one must consider the “quality” and not just the quantity, though in this case there is neither; again, taking into account how many comments/reviews there are about bottles that are at least 20 years old, there should be a huge amount of spoilage complaints. Instead, the claims are often about recent scents (that are highly – if not entirely – synthetic relative to just about all vintage) and there is hardly ever anything specific said about drydowns. That is indeed evidence, but it’s support for the notion that spoilage of vintage drydowns is quite uncommon. Here is a passage from a post of mine on a recent Basenotes.net thread, which mentions some good possibilities in this context:

1. What’s in the tube can indeed smell horrible so that needs to be cleared.
2. One can’t speak to splash bottles, just sealed spray ones.
3. Discoloration does not mean spoilage, nor does flaking (I suspect many people see such things and spray what’s in the tube, and say to themselves, “oh wow this is horrible” without testing the liquid that isn’t in the tube).
4. Some people are more interested in top notes, which may indeed “go bad” in certain compositions (and when those ingredients are more natural)…

On that same thread, someone posted this, which suggests that many minds are already “primed” to seek any indicator of “spoilage,” when in fact it’s highly unlikely and much more likely is that the burrito they ate the night before is the “real culprit:”

We went shopping today as I got a text that Creed was having specials; I dropped by the Creed Boutique and there was a bottle of Aventus which was colored slightly green. I think it’s safe to say it has begun the process of going bad(we have very humid summers and the high-end dept stores don’t turn on the A/C during closed hours). I was so thankful to a fellow Basenoter who’d given a heads up and written a thread about niche colognes going bad if improperly stored.

Perhaps spoilage paranoia is the proper phrase to use in these cases, as their seems to be a belief that is not rooted in reality, but that comes to the surface whenever a person like this sees something that “doesn’t look right.” In this case, some manufacturers decide to change the dye they use for one reason or another. I have seen that in a few cases, and while there can be some color change over time, I’ve only seen an orange/brown color get darker. I have some bottles of the same the scent where the color is darker, but there is no change in the smell, but I doubt facts are going to make much of a difference to such people. And this doesn’t bother me at all, because I suspect it will lead to more bottles being on the market for sale or swap, and at lower prices! However, I am surprised that despite all the spoilage complaints that only one person so far was willing to sell me their “spoiled” bottles – this suggests (though of course I can’t know) that strong emotions are involved. That is, just as many seem to have experienced strong negative emotions when they wore Sauvage and it wasn’t what they thought it might be, so too do the spoilage claimants want to “vent” emotions initially, but then get a grip on themselves and perhaps give the scent a second chance (and some of them may indeed have thrown their “spoiled” Creed bottle in the garbage, but I doubt many did).

NOTE #1: I have owned the exact same scent in the same bottle and of the same formulation, and color differences do sometimes occur. It could be a manufacturer’s decision to try a different color (when it’s obviously not due to anything else), but in cases where color may have darkened due to light exposure, I have only found some problematic top notes (once or twice) but never a spoiled drydown. Interestingly, I had a bottle of Micallef #31 that was leaking when it arrived (supposedly sealed spray bottle), and some of it got on my fingers. I thought that it smelled like vinegar and I was anxious to see if I had found my first truly spoiled scent (see note #3 below). I sprayed it on my arm and within about half an hour it smelled rich and spicy, with no signs of anything I would consider unpleasant, let alone spoiled. I wasn’t handling food – my hands were clean at that point – so that was odd, for sure. If anyone wants to claim that my skin turns spoiled scents into very pleasant ones, go ahead and do it. I’m confident in my experiences and research, which have led to my conclusions (though I’m open to changing these – I am only interested in the truth of the matter). My guess is that the leaking Micallef #31 had some residue on it because it had leaked for quite some time (the bottle was about 75% full and there was no sign of major leakage during shipping). So, the foul odor was due to newly leaked liquid mixing with the somewhat viscous residue that might have been present underneath the cap for year. This is yet another possibility when someone claims that a scent from a sealed spray bottle has spoiled.

NOTE #2: I don’t think anyone has mentioned this, but in Chandler Burr’s book about launching a scent by Sara Jessica Parker (“The Perfect Scent: A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York”), it was mentioned that she bought up a very large number of “old stock” bottles (the scent in question was not disclosed) – Burr did not say anything about these bottles “spoiling” over time – and it certainly sounded like it would take her decades to use up the stock!

UPDATE: After writing the above but not publishing it, someone created a thread on Basenotes:

So I just got my hands on a vintage Memphis style splash bottle [of YSL’s Jazz].
Although it came more used than advertised, it’s in overall great condition, and a great find for me.

Now for the scent….

It’s a fresh lemony-herbal scent. Doesn’t smell outdated at all.
Matter of a fact, when I smelled the la collection version, I thought immediately that it’s very outdated.
The vintage however seems timeless and ever fitting in my book.

I can see how it laid the foundations for Chanel Platinum egotiste for example.

I am a little bit concerned that maybe I got a “mistreated” bottle that gone a little bad.

I believe my batch is 4292

So here’s what I would like to do…

Who ever has the same bottle and would not mind testing the juice I have, I will send them a small sample of the one I have

He apparently thought that the liquid in his vintage/first formulation of Jazz had to be “spoiled” because it smelled too good! This has become some sort of delusional notion, it seems, among more than a few. My advice: if you can’t tell the difference then do not buy splash bottles, but if you are interested in vintage drydowns, the odds are so good in your favor if you buy a sealed spray bottle that you shouldn’t even give it a second thought. There is a much, much greater chance that you will drop it and break it than that it is spoiled, I’d guess.

And then there was this review of Ted Lapidus’ Silk Way on Fragrantica, which suggests that the person realizes scents can smell very different from one wearing to another (for whatever reason):

Okay, I really do love this scent. I have found that there are times of the month that my skin chemistry goes wacko, and nothing smells good on me.

UPDATE #2: Here is another good example of what may be occurring in this context:

I returned my bottle of Bleu de Chanel. First two wearings I liked it, but the last three I grew to hate it…

http://www.basenotes.net/threads/411154-Dior-SAUVAGE-A-constructive-discussion/page31

When I was a newbie this happened to me with more than a few scents, as certain notes or aroma chemicals seemed to become stronger and in some cases irritate me.  This also can explain those who claim that their scents grow stronger after they use up a bit of it  Some scents are either novel (to the person in question) or complex, which lead to different perceptions with at least the first several wearings.  This has recently happened to me with Phoenix by Keith Urban, which is quite good for a “celebuscent,” IMO.

 

 

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