Discovering the smell of myrhh

No one ever said learning was easy. Interesting, yes, easy, no. I mean, it all feels like it is entereing your brain easily enough and you understand everything, but a week later, it seems half of it is either hidden someplace in your brain you can’t reach, it has disappeared completely.

This is how I feel about perfume world at the moment. It seems I will have to cover some grounds over and over again before it settles completely in my mind. And stays there for years to come.

After sampling labdanum last week (and falling completely in love with it), this week it was time for myrrh. I didn’t choose this randomly, it coincided with the fact that one lovely swapper sent a small decant of this and I decided to see what will happen when I sample it while trying myrrh original.

Now, honestly, I kind of got lost a bit. I kept thinking I might fall for the both original myrrh smell (based on my experience with labdanum) and following that path, that Myrrhe ardente was going to be a new autumn addition to my perfume wardrobe. You can probably guess where I’m going with this. 🙂

The original myrrh initially smelled like I just entered the paint and varnish shop. My guess was that varnishes obviously must contain some type of resionous material (which is kind of obvious now in retrospect, but then I was just surprised). So, I opened my little book and went to check what is myrrh supposed to smell like: warm, ambery, aromatic, mossy, resinous. Yeah, I totally got the resinous – aromatic part. 🙂 I kept wondering about warm, ambery and mossy though.

A day later, I could find traces of amber, and then finally, I got the mossy part. Only, to me it smells exactly like an autumn walk through the woods with fallen leaves, moss and the smell of fungi. Anyway, when compared with Myrhhe ardente by Annick Goutal, it comes as strong, aromatic and fungous and MA pales in comparison.

The notes for MA: myrrh, benzoin, vanilla, tonka bean, guaiac wood, honeyed beeswax, vetiver.

Straight off, I couldn’t find the original smell of myrrh in MA. 😦 The other thing was, I smelled it without having a list of notes, so I was guessing what I was smelling. Tha t was kind of daunting, but it turned out, I wasn’t so far off the base. Yeey for me! 🙂

I thought the beginning was a woody smell tempered with slightly floral and camphorous smokiness (guaiac, benzoin and vetiver perhaps). Thinking I should be able to smell myrrh from the booklet’s description, I got hints of amber and probably clove because it was sth that was shrill to my nose). The drydown was in the end ambery, leathery and I thought I smelled cedar, but now I see the notes, it was probably a combination of the notes that gave off that smoky, earthy, sweet-woody feel.

In the end, I can’t say I didn’t like the myrrh, I find it complex and hard to wear but intriguing. I thought Myrrhe ardent was going to be stronger and harsher in the manner of the original, but I guess if you’re not smelling the straight myrrh, it is probably quite strong in its interpretation of myrrh.

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2 thoughts on “Discovering the smell of myrhh

  1. The Left Coast Nose October 25, 2009 at 16:13 Reply

    "it all feels like it is entereing your brain easily enough and you understand everything, but a week later, it seems half of it is either hidden someplace in your brain you can't reach, it has disappeared completely."Exactly!! I know precisely what you mean!! And then I spend half my time wondering if what I think something "means" means anything to anyone else!!I am enjoying your blog very much (and stand in awe of your multilingualism.)I love trying to find the "pure" tastes of scents, too. I tried AbdesSalaam Attar "Myrrh," because I had ordered a sample of their frankincense and thought it was heavenly (if very pure and straightforward.)I don't knnow if my sample was old or bad, but ASA "Myrrh" smelled like old books– dusty, papery, with a whiff of mildew.I know things that smell "bad" by themselves can smell heavenly when properly managed and paired with other things, but this one left me scratchin my head.I will see if I can find some "Myrrh Ardents" someday to compare.Cheers– your San Francisco compatriot in perfume–Rita


  2. Ines October 26, 2009 at 13:55 Reply

    Hey Rita,I am really happy you like my blog (because I find yours great). I think it's wonderful I found someone who shares my road to perfume discovery. 🙂 I can relate to everything you write.I will give myrrh a try in some months again, I realized my taste changes and develops so some scents I couldn't understand or like, sort of blossom in my mind eventually and everything falls into place. But that's it with learning – one day you wake up and the knowledge is there to be used. If only it wouldn't take so long…Btw, I'd be happy to send you a sample of Myrhhe ardente – I have more than I need. 🙂 Just contact me.


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