Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Parfumerie Generale Praline de Santal: fragrance review

Home-toasted cashews and hazelnuts, enrobed with a mixture of dulche de leche that contained salt and tahini paste, is part of the treats that my Kappadokian grandmother used to prepare on cool autumn evenings for us kids to consume while doing our homework and it is this memory which was jogged upon first smelling Parfumerie Générale's Praliné de Santal.

Parfumerie Générale Praliné de Santal follows a parallel life with Jeux de Peau by Serge Lutens in its caramelised overtone due to pyrazines, aroma materials with sugared maple and phenolic nuances, and its étude on sandalwood. Whereas Lutens went with his childhood memories of toasted bread and the yeast of kneading, Pierre Guillaume went with toasted nuts with a coating of caramel & salt.
Both focus on the "creaminess" (i.e.the sweet, milk-ish quality) of natural sandalwood, though one puts it in a buttered context, the other in a nuts context.
It all depends on the kind of tooth you harbor!

On this occasion, the effect rendered is extremely nutty at first (if Bois Farine by L'Artisan Parfumeur instantly reminds you of peanuts you know full well what I mean); but it mellows into a richly satisfying woody accord on drydown. I'm not sure whether I would be more impressed with the originality of the scent, had I not came into contact with the idea in the Lutens fragrance first. It certainly has an elective affinity.
Roasted hazelnuts & peanuts greet us on the opening of Praliné de Santal (lasting for a good 10 minutes on my skin), a combination of savoury and sweet, before the scent falls into an unctuous billowy note of powdery, rich woods and the soothing, smooth silkiness of Cashmeran (an aromachemical which gives an intimate, close to the skin scent, between worn clothes and suede). In the interim there are soft, powdery hints emerging (referenced as heliotrope in the press material, but really more like powdered white chocolate and fluffy, airy vanilla), without diverging from the main gourmand-woody-oriental character of the perfume. In this regard it recalls Etat Libre d'Orange Archives 69, with its easily approachable ambience of spicy woods and distantly (but in the same mood) the satisfying tobacco-softness of Guerlain's Tonka Imperiale.

Pierre Guillaume, perfumer and founder of the niche brand of fragrances, is consistent in his exploration of soft, gourmand orientals; his are refined desserts that withhold some of the sugar expected from the genre, exploring the more resinous or woodier aspects for backing up the respective central theme. Praliné de Santal lacks a certain dynamic after the initial fall into the creamy woods, belying its sharp development of the first few minutes. It's actually sandalwood and Cashmeran which are the remaining notes on the skin after Praliné de Santal has completely "dried down" at the 2-hour wear application mark; a skin scent of delicious aftertaste; sensuous, delectable, maybe having you hankering for going beyond.

Notes for Parfumerie Générale Praliné de Santal:
Sandalwood, Heliotrope, Hazelnut, Virginian Cedar, & Casmeran

Parfumerie Générale Praliné de Santal is a limited availability scent within the line, available in 50ml/1.7oz for 88euros and 100ml/3.3oz for 120 euros on the PG site.

Butternut Squash, Sage, and Goat Cheese Ravioli with Hazlenut-Brown Butter Sauce via


  1. Anonymous14:56

    I hadn't been interested in this one - but primarily sandalwood and Cashmeran, you say?

    Hm. Might have to sample.

  2. The food looks DELICIOUS!

  3. M,

    those two are what remains after the initial stage (which is VERY nutty). But yes, that's the thing you'll carry for a long time afterwards.
    Do try it!

  4. TFC,

    yeah, hence I chose the pic. Makes me hungry just looking at it!

  5. I really like the PG line, and this sounds better than I expected. I'll have to order a sample. I'm feeling more love for gourmands lately, at least ones that are woody.

  6. K,

    it's definitely in line with your woody cravings. It's sample-worthy.
    I think Pierre has created some more polished examples, but it's still oddly appealing!

  7. I've tried this one several times, but can't get over the saltiness at the start. On me, it's just a salt-lick :)

  8. I really really like that one! It's the first FB I bought, about two months ago. It smells delicious!

  9. It's a good one all right, just delectable!

  10. K,

    I can see how it would be very savoury. Don't worry, lots of frags out there. :-)

  11. A,

    good on you, enjoy!!

  12. F,

    I think so too, and completely unusual (OK, if one hasn't sampled the Lutens first)

  13. Anonymous09:57

    The prominent element I can smell in Praline Santal is burnt wood, like coal. It's the way caramel smells when it's burnt in the pan. Not appealing... :(

  14. A,

    clearly not liking it, eh?
    Personally I find burnt wood/coal's smoky smell very appealing, I have to admit, though it's rather different than burnt caramel which is "sticky" burnt, if that makes sense. Did you wait it to dry down completely? The initial notes die down in a quarter of an hour or so, on me at least.

  15. Anonymous15:07

    Yes, I have worn it for many hours, in both hot and cold temperature to check. It's not that foul a smell that I want to rush and wash away :)

    I like the smell of wood, if it's "embalmed", like furniture or freshly cut bark (better like an ambiance scent). But this one smells like a furniture with lacquer ("caramelised") has been burnt. So, that's upsetting - it's the scent of danger / damage. And that smell stays true till the end - oh, yes, PG knows how to create a potent and consistent potion :)

  16. Hmm, I get what you're saying now, thanks for clarifying. Hmmmm...I can now see how it might evoke negative thoughts for you.
    Well, there's always selection outside of this one; it's not like there are not enough fragrance releases. Possibly you might find a better sandalwood in my list in the Sandalwood perfumery aroma material article, if interested in that sort of thing, that is.

  17. Just to enjoy this treasure these days. Sweet and sensual ...

    All the best!



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