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Group: Oriental Spicy
I tend to go through phases when I'd look for particular notes in a fragrance. A while ago this note was cinnamon and based on reviews of other perfume enthusiasts I blind bought Elixir on eBay for a fraction of the full RRP.
The intricate black and gold design of the box Elixir comes in is simply stunning and fits the dark and fiery theme really well. The similarly beautiful bottle is transparent with golden engravings and a red bow around its cap, the bow being a signature of most Penhaligons releases.
Head notes: Eucalyptus, Cardamom, Orange Blossom Absolute and White Cedar
Elixir surprises me with an intense blast of smoky insense and a sharp, nose-tingling but warm whiff of cinnamon with undertones of woods. Transparent and powerful, it has the ability to transport you to places, for me it's a forest and the smell of woods, mainly that of the trees and its trunk, without the damp and mossy scent of the underwood or foilage. Over time, the generic but absolutely realistic woody scent evolves into fresh, aromatic wood cuttings or wood chippings having that characteristic scent of pencil shavings I identify as cedarwood. For a moment, the cedarwood is dominant and pushes the now increasingly powdery and rounded insense into the background evoking the feel of a wooden church scented with insense. Sadly the cinnamon is gone in a few minutes which is a pity as I hoped for a much more pronounced natural cinnamon bark note. The rest of the accord gradually merges in with the heart within half an hour or so.
Heart notes: Red Turkish Rose Absolute, Egyptian Jasmine Absolute, Cinnamon Leaves, Mace and Rosewood
Delving into the heart, the composition becomes dry and airy with a slight musty feel, like being inside church and catching the smell of the damp walls that have been breathing insense into their pores for centuries. Whilst being so photorealistic, the incense is also something else here. The heart is indeed a virtuose solo of this precious material used for thousands of years, however it is also a lot more complex nuanced with other elements the resin itself couldn't have on its own. The accord has a definite touch of powder to it coming from white florals that brighten the scene together with a sort of sweet gummy aroma (rose?) both adding a softness and a plush feel to the heart. A balsamic, woody note of sandalwood embracing Elxir with a hint of vanilla further rounds out and opens up the dense, churchy atmosphere. I find the accord balanced but a little too dry and dark on its own as a middle note. It is also quite close to the skin after its initial projection of a few inches it dries down considerably in merely 3 - 4 hours, just when I start to enjoy rather than just brave its mystic presence.
Base notes: Benzoin, Tonka beans, Vanilla, Incense, Red Sandalwood and Guaicum Wood
Wintertime I like to be enveloped by soft and powdery oriental scents, that are not always necessarily sweet and vanillic. Some days I like them to be spicy, aromatic or powdery and woody. This is all well, the problem is Elixir is all gone from midday onwards and I can only sense it directly on my skin. The main incense accord hasn't changed considerably although it does have a sweet edge coming from a powdery vanilla and aromatic ambery, caramel - tinged benzoin. The fragrance is now a soft, lightly sweetened powdery and smoky insense with woody, musty and rubbery undertones having a characteristic aroma of unscented chewing-gums. The overall vanillic incense accord is sligthly medicinal, balsamic and almost bitter but rather cuddly I find. It's comforting and cuddly in a 'wearing a warm and soft sweater in a cold church while the rays of the sun peek through the stained glass windows' sort of way.
Elixir is beautiful, mystic and dark yet intricately delicate and soft. While it likes to stay close to the skin discreetly it still has the power to enliven the senses. Its exquisite raw materials swirl around in a peaceful harmony and conjure up an inner story for everyone wearing it. Despite my reservations, Elixir grew on me although I would have never thought I'd ever be able to wear an almost pure incense scent. Some days I wear it on its own, on my more 'girly' days I layer it with cinnamon extract or rose absolute to soften and sweeten it up as I'm a sucker for sweet orientals with a dark and spicy side. Elixir is probably the softest, most splendid and complex incenses out there worth the attention.
Being an eau de toilette, Elixir is transparent and relatively airy so it can be worn in all seasons for day or evening wear. Penhaligon's fragrances tend to be short living and Elixir's short sillage of barely 4 hours and longevity of about 8 hours is rather disappointing. For a massive £110 I expected more oomph and staying power considering Elixir is a spicy oriental. Another small niggle is the lack of a distinct cinnamon note I actually blind-bought this perfume for. The enticing, unusual and beautifully composed insense does compensate for the lack of it though.
Marketed for ladies by Penhaligons, Elixir is rather unisex for me and I heartily recommend it for men and adventurous ladies who like to be individual with their orientals and aren't afraid of wearing incense-based fragrances. In winter, I find it lacks some density and consistence so as I blend fragrances myself and have quantity of fragrances / raw materials to play with, I further layer Elixir to offset its intense churchy insense aspect. Some blends I made: Elixir + Rose Absolute Stella McCartney, Elixir + Un Bois Vanille Serge Lutens, both mesured out into vials in equal parts, shaken then let settle for 48 hours. Finally, the cinnamon fix: Elixir + 5 - 10% cinnamon fragrance oil. All delightful.
PRICE AND AVAILABILITY
The RRP on the Penhaligons site is a currently reduced £80 / 100ml Eau de Toilette from its usual £110. Availability and prices on Amazon and Ebay can vary, I bought my 50ml bottle of Elixir for £35 on eBay about a year ago so it's worth checking these sites regularly.
©powered by lillybee also posted on ciao.co.uk
ps. Dooyoo put the wrong product picture in, I've asked them to change it.