Picture a delicately carved silver dish piled high with quivering cubes of rose milk lokhoum, barely set and opalescent. This tower of pink jellies, as wobbly-legged as a newborn giraffe, sits perched on a folded suede opera glove. In the background, a complex but translucent inter-knitting of pink pepper, fruits, roses, and white tea recalls the faded-silk grandeur of both Etro’s Etra and Rajasthan, a series of polite, sepia-toned portraits of India as seen through the rose-tinted glasses of imperialists.
April Aromatics Precious Woods is a wonderful woods perfume. Although natural perfumes can sometimes be rather squat and muddy, this has an impressive scope to it. There are several layers at work, and surprisingly I can smell them all quite clearly at different stages of the perfume’s progression from top to bottom.
The top notes are pretty dark and oily – pungent almost, with fir balsam, pine, and the full-on lactic sourness of sandalwood. It’s not pretty. Actually, it’s so dense it almost feels like the top notes of something like Norne by Slumberhouse (not in terms of smell, but a general sense of notes crowding in on you too thickly). Each time I wear my sample of Precious Woods, I have to admit I have to brace myself through the opening.
Soon, though, I get my reward for being patient. Through the camphoraceous murk comes a wisp of incense smoke, weaving through and cutting the density, and paring back the oily balsams until you see the real object standing there unobscured – a rich, clean cedar. For much of the middle section of Precious Woods, there is an almost equal dance between cedar and incense. It smells richly spiced, slightly smoky, but clean and satisfying – never too oriental or ‘decorated’.
The best bit, by far, is the dry, creamy brown sandalwood that rises up from the base. Oh my God, it’s so good. It has that spiced gingerbread sweetness that I catch in scents where really high quality sandalwood has been used, like in Neela Vermeire’s first three fragrances or vintage Bois des Iles. I tolerate the opening of Precious Woods, thoroughly enjoy the heart notes, but I luxuriate and stretch my toes out in the base.
It’s more than worth the journey it takes to get there. It’s a really expensive choice, Precious Woods, but the richness, the surprisingly well-worked-out development, and the delicious sandalwood in the base make this a strong ‘maybe’ option for me. Highly recommended!