The name Dionysus, coming from the classical god of wine but also of sacred ecstasis/έκστασις (i.e.divine madness), is indicative of the mood set: restlessness, abandon, raw energy. Then again the fragrances by Lord's Jester ~composed by all-naturals perfumer Adam Gottschalk~ do often bear ancient names (Ares, Zephyr, Demeter, Hera, Phoebe, Selena etc). Does it have to do with a Grecophile German-roots past? Is it a homage to an august culture that was so in tune with its natural surroundings yet managed to harness them through reason, as natural perfumers would hope to do with natural ingredients? Dionysus is indeed wild, untamed, very potent, with a rich trail like a strong moschato wine. The formula seems short, focused on the raw potency of a few select ingredients rather than delicate accords of numerous essences.
Perhaps there is a wine note in the opening, or the effect which I associate with it, the tannic facets in cognac essence, which I know natural perfumers use. The Bacchic, orgiastic ambience is rendered through a lush floral with an oily, narcotic backdrop (possibly narcissus) and the powerful inclusion of African stone, more commonly known as hyraceum. Possibly repulsively sourced, as it is reconstituted via the excrement of a small African animal, but providing a strong pheromonic and territory-marking aroma that would have animals go wild nevertheless.
Still, the overall composition is not what I would call musky or floral musk, not in the manner that real deer musk smells (rather urinous) or in the mould that the fragrance industry has accustomed us to musk (warm, powdery, nuzzling), diverging from my own preconceptions. It's pheromone-rich, growling at several feet away, but of a different kind than human, bringing out the Cat People. Or a modern day Maenad.
Please visit the rest of the participating blogs and fora on the Mystery of Musk project following the links provided.
Dionysus and a Maenad. Apulian R.F. by the Bendis Painter 360 BCE. VUW Classics Museum via Cornell University Library