Luca Turin's perfume reviews @perfumes_ilove

Bat (Zoologist Perfumes) ****

Geosmin_Structural_Formulae.svg.pngZoologist is a small Canadian niche company, and their fragrances are named after animals: Bat, Beaver, Hummingbird, Panda and Rhinoceros. Bat was composed by neuroscientist-perfumer Ellen Covey who grows orchids, composes fragrances and does really interesting basic science research on processing of auditory signals in the bat brain. Incidentally, the proportion of science nerds in perfumery is (to me) encouragingly high: niche perfumery was, after all, started in the mid-seventies by Jean François Laporte, then professor of chemistry at Dijon University. In my unscientific sampling of the industry, I have found many niche firms to be run by organic and physical chemists, a fact which has no obvious explanation except the time-honored notion that chemistry is the science of stinks.

The Bat fragrance, described as cavernous and mysterious on the Zoologist webpage, is a strikingly original combination of an elegant, masculine, green-woody-floral with what smells to me like geosmin. This is the famed molecule of petrichor, the smell of earth after rain, also found more prosaically in boiled red beets. Geosmin is mysteriously powerful and far from easy to handle in perfumery. Perfumers who want an earthy note find it easier to use patchouli which is less immediately evocative and in addition has camphoraceous and woody characters. The effect of geosmin in Bat is interesting, somewhere between patchouli and a woody amber: the top note says wet earth, but the fragrance seems lit from within by the earth note all the way to drydown. The IOA informs me that I gave this fragrance high marks when judging it blind (as a bat would, I suppose) and I smell no reason to change my mind.

Categories: starred reviews, Uncategorized