Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore

A taste of India. It’s hard not to talk about food when discussing Santal de Mysore, Serge Lutens‘ dark, gourmand tribute to that rare, precious Indian wood. Once abundant, Mysore sandalwood is so depleted and protected that it might as well be extinct for everyone but perfumers with the deepest pockets. In the case of Santal de Mysore, I think some clever olfactory alternatives have been used to recreate the dark, deep, spicy, smoky smell of Mysore sandalwood in a fragrance that is as much about food as it is about the precious wood.

The special, limited, and cheaper, 50 ml anniversary issue.

The special, limited, and cheaper, 50 ml anniversary issue.

Santal de Mysore is an eau de parfum that was created with Lutens’ favorite perfumer, Christopher Sheldrake. It was released either in 1991 or 1997, depending on what you read, and the only reason that is significant is because a special anniversary 50 ml bottle seems to have been issued at some point in time. The bottle is significantly cheaper than Santal de Mysore’s usual bell jar form, and is even discounted further on a few online retail sites. Normally, however, Santal de Mysore is considered one of Serge Lutens’ non-export Paris Exclusives that is only available at his Paris headquarters or at Barney’s in New York.

The Bell Jar form available from Serge Lutens.

The Bell Jar form available from Serge Lutens.

On his website, Lutens gives a brief description of the fragrance that hints at its notes and makes explicit its extremely spiced nature

What incredible sandalwood!

This scent takes spices to the limit – they nearly cry out against the sandalwood base. One perceives saffron and, strangely enough, wild carrot. 
Sweetness paves the way for a blast of heat!

The perfume notes are, as always, kept secret but the list — as compiled from LuckyscentFragrantica, Barney’s, and the Lutens statement — seem to include:

Mysore sandalwood, cumin, spices, styrax balsam, caramelized Siamese benzoin, saffron, cinnamon, rosewood, and wild carrot.

Baghali Polo. Source: Cooking Minette.

Baghali Polo. Source: Cooking Minette.

Santal de Mysore opens on my skin with a burst of spices. There is light curry, followed by leathery burnt styrax resin with a charred caramel aroma, saffron, a slightly herbal note that smells exactly like buttered dill, and a touch of sweetened carrots. I’m actually a little surprised by how the much-maligned curry note, noticeable as it is, feels so light. Perhaps a better description is to say that it doesn’t smell of the stale, cumin, body odor that I had so feared, or of really potent, yellow curry. Instead, for me, the strongest aroma is actually hot buttered dill and, specifically, a dill pilau or rice dish in Persian cuisine called Baghali Polo (or sometimes, Sabzi Polo). (There is a recipe for Baghali Polo with lovely photos at Cooking Minette.) Santal de Mysore is more than 75% Baghali Polo on my skin, right down to the little blob of melted saffron butter that some chefs put on top of mound. I really couldn’t believe it, but there is absolutely no doubt at all in my mind of the similarities.

Styrax resin via themysticcorner.com

Styrax resin via themysticcorner.com

There is a spicy wood note underlying it all, but it doesn’t smell like Mysore sandalwood to me. I’ve stopped hiding the fact that I’m a complete sandalwood snob, but that has nothing to do with it in this case. Santal de Mysore doesn’t smell of sandalwood in its opening minutes primarily because the curry, herbal, spiced accords overwhelm everything else in their path. This is a primarily a food fragrance on my skin, not a woody one.

Five minutes in, the styrax’s burnt, blackened aroma becomes less harsh, and the resin takes on a slightly tamer aspect. Now, it merely smells very dark, chewy, and balsamic, with sweetened leather, caramel and smoke swirled in. Flickers of cinnamon and saffron dance quietly at the edges, adding a spicy richness to the woody foundation, but I still think that this is “Mysore sandalwood” only by virtue of being built up by additives, instead of the real thing. My belief is underscored by a very definite whiff of something synthetic in the base which gives me a tell-tale pain behind my eye each and every time I take a very deep sniff up close. 

Ebanol via Givaudan.

Ebanol via Givaudan.

So, I looked up sandalwood aroma-chemicals, and I would bet that Santal de Mysore uses Ebanol. Givaudan describes it as follows:

Olfactive note:

Sandalwood, Musk aspect, Powerful

Description:

Ebanol has a very rich, natural sandalwood odour. It is powerful and intense, bringing volume and elegance to woody accords and a diffusive sandalwood effect to compositions. Ebanol is highly substantive on all supports.

Javanol via Givaudan.

Javanol via Givaudan.

Givaudan also sells something called Javanol, and there are elements of something similar to its description which pop up at the final stages of Santal de Mysore. Javanol‘s description reads:

Olfactive note:

Sandalwood, Creamy, Rosy, Powerful

Description:

Javanol is a new-generation sandalwood molecule with unprecedented power and substantivity. It has a rich, natural, creamy sandalwood note like beta santanol.

I don’t know about Javanol due to the “rosy” description given above, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Santal de Mysore contained Ebanol. For one thing, the woody note in the fragrance smells extremely synthetic, but also dark and powerful. For another, have I mentioned just how rare it is for a fragrance to have true Mysore sandalwood these days? Finally, there is a support from another skeptic, Tania Sanchez. In her book with Luca Turin, Perfumes: The A-Z Guide, she diplomatically and tactfully writes:

Sandalwood oil from Mysore, India, was for a long time both fairly cheap and gorgeous — which is probably why it was overharvested to the point of needing government protection. I have a small reference sample of the real thing, with its inimitably creamy, tangy smell of buttermilk. I have no idea if Santal de Mysore manages to use any of it or if it depends on the Australian sandalwood (totally different plant and material) or synthetics, because it aims to cover any gaps with an overpowering coconut-and-caramel accord reminiscent of Samsara, a tropical fantasy of rum in oak barrels for armchair pirates.

I don’t smell coconut and I personally don’t see the similarities to Guerlain‘s Samsara, but I fully agree that Christopher Sheldrake must have sought to cover the gaps created by the use of synthetics in Santal de Mysore’s base by adding an overpoweringly strong spice and food element as a supplement. I may be a sandalwood snob, but that doesn’t change my impression that the “Mysore sandalwood” aroma is an artificially created construct, and it smells like it.

It takes less than 20 minutes for Santal de Mysore to start to shift. The fragrance softens, and drops in projection surprisingly quickly on my skin. Yet, it’s still very potent — even a little sharp — when smelled up close. It’s an intense bouquet of dill, buttered rice and light herbal, cumin curry, followed by saffron, sweet carrots, and chewy, gooey, thickly resinous black sweetness atop a base of spiced, synthetic woods. It’s odd, unusual, very foodie, interesting, somewhat appealing, and somewhat off-putting — all at once. By the 90-minute mark, the green, herbal spiced elements feel even stronger as the styrax’s slightly leathery, burnt caramel aroma continues to soften.

Dried fenugreek leaves via Suhana.co.in

Dried fenugreek leaves via Suhana.co.in

I have to wonder if there is fenugreek in Santal de Mysore, along with something like dried leeks. There are whiffs of something in the fragrance that very much resemble bottles I have of both herbs in my kitchen. Whatever the specifics, the “curry” in Santal de Mysore smells to me like something green in nature, more than spicy red or yellow. To be specific, it’s more along the lines of a Saag than a Korma or Rogan Josh curry made with a possible Garam Masala base. The cumin is there, lurking below, but I truly don’t think it’s as predominant as the more herbal, green curry elements. Even stronger is the burnt caramel aroma that is perhaps the first real thing you smell from a distance.

By the end of the second hour, Santal de Mysore turns creamy, smooth, and much better balanced in terms of its spices. There is almost a floral nuance to the deep woods, but the synthetic element remains as well. On some spots on my arm, it’s even a little sharp. Around the 3.5 hour mark, the herbal notes feel almost solely like fenugreek and dried leeks, rather than the earlier buttered dill rice. The dominant bouquet, however, is of cinnamon mixed with burnt caramel. Santal de Mysore’s sillage drops even further, and the fragrance now floats a mere inch above the skin.

Source: samsunggalaxy.co

Source: samsunggalaxy.co

The perfume’s final dry down begins near the middle of the sixth hour. Santal de Mysore finally — finally — smells primarily of the eponymous woods in its title. It’s rich, deep, smoky, sweet, dark, and beautifully creamy. The woods are now the sole star of the show, though they coat the skin like a veil. The sandalwood probably isn’t real, given the way the woods smelled so synthetic earlier on, but the overall effect is definitely that of Mysore woods. I feel like singing Etta James’ famous song, “At Last.” The lovely drydown continues for another three hours or so, until the fragrance finally fades away as sweetened woods. All in all, Santal de Mysore lasted just shy of 10.25 hours on my skin, with moderate sillage that turned quite soft after a few hours.

How you feel about Santal de Mysore will depend on a few things: your thoughts on curry and cumin, and your patience. Whether your read the comments on Fragrantica or that of samplers/buyers on Luckyscent, it’s always the same issue. For many people, the fragrance is simply too foodie, with curry being the main problem. For a few, it’s the burnt caramel that is the issue. For others, however, the fragrance’s final drydown is worth it, and they urge patience with the early notes, arguing that they are short in duration and quickly mellow into beautiful sandalwood. To give one example, a Luckyscent commentator wrote:

i wish i could afford jugs of this stuff. it is a tricky one, though! at first, it smells gourmande — curry, black pepper, and butter. delicious to eat, but not so great to smell liek a kitchen. oooh, but wait for it… if you are a sandalwood lover, it is worth the wait. and you don’t have to wait long! on the skin, it mellows out (and warms up!) really quickly. the harsh foodie smells dissipate in maybe 5 minutes, and then the silky road down sandalwood lane begins. this sandalwood is deep, warm, rich, and buttery. it is maybe 2:1 sweet:spicy as sandalwood goes. but you know how some sandalwoods are lovely, but kind of mixed up with vanilla or amber scents? this one is subtly more smokey, spicy, and just enough of a sour or a bitter touch to balance out the sweet buttery parts so that they are not overwhelming. this is a rich, deep sandalwood, as long as you are not turned off by the weirdness of its first few minutes.

There are numerous opinions on the other end of the spectrum, however, and they are probably best represented by this Fragrantica review:

Great scent if you’re… an Indian chef ;), as it smells exactly the same as curry. Disturbing cloud of heavy cumin and nose-drilling curcuma. No trace of sandalwood or benzoin whatsoever. Literally spicy scent that is harsh and nauseating at the same time. A big no-no..

I’m afraid that Santal de Mysore isn’t for me. I simply don’t like foodie scents in general, and I would have great difficulty walking out of the house smelling of either Persian Baghali Polo or Indian Saag. If it were merely a matter of minutes, I could deal with it, but it was hours and hours on my skin. You may have substantially better luck, but, in all cases, you have to be able to withstand the curry aspects of the opening stage. If you’re one of those people who is utterly phobic about cumin in all its possible manifestations, then I would advise staying away from Santal de Mysore. If you love sandalwood above all else, and enjoy gourmand scents, then you may want to exercise some patience and see how things develop on you. One thing is for certain, Serge Lutens and Christopher Sheldrake truly give you an olfactory carpet ride to India.

DETAILS:
General Cost & Discounted Sales Prices: Santal de Mysore is an eau de parfum that comes in a discontinued 1.7 oz/50 ml size and in a 75 ml bell jar size. The retail price of the small 50 ml bottle is $200, while the bell jar costs $300 or €135. However, Santal de Mysore is currently discounted at FragranceX which sells Santal de Mysore for $164.50, and Bonanza which sells it for $167.57. Parfums1 sells Santal de Mysore for $180, with free U.S. shipping and no tax. 
Serge Lutens: Santal de Mysore is offered only in the bell jar version on the U.S. and International Lutens website (with other language options also available), and costs $300 or €135. 
U.S. sellers: Santal de Mysore is available in the 1.7 oz/50 size for $200 at Luckyscent and Beautyhabit. It is available in the $300 bell jar version from Barney’s with the following notice: “This product is only available for purchase at the Madison Avenue Store located at 660 Madison Avenue. The phone number for the Serge Lutens Boutique is (212) 833-2425.”
Outside the U.S.: In Canada, you can find Santal de Mysore at The Perfume Shoppe for what may be US$200, but I’m never sure about their currency since it is primarily an American business with a Vancouver store. They also offer some interesting sample or travel options for Lutens perfumes. Elsewhere in Europe, it’s extremely hard to find the old 50 ml bottle, leaving your only real option to trek to Paris to get the bell jar. I couldn’t find any UK retailers. However, France’s Premiere Avenue has the 50 ml bottle and sells it for €106. I believe they ship world-wide, or at least through the Euro zone. In Australia, the 50 ml bottle of Santal de Mysore is sold on BrandShopping for AUD$160.95 and on HotCosmetics for AUD$217. In Russia, I found what appears to be SergeLutens.Ru which sells Santal de Mysore in the 50 ml bottle, but I don’t think Serge Lutens has a Russian website. It’s clearly a vendor of some kind, though. 
Samples: You can test out Santal de Mysore by ordering a sample from Surrender to Chance where prices start at $3.99 for a 1/2 ml vial. There is also a Five Lutens Bell Jar Sample Set starting at $18.99 where you get your choice of 5 non-export Paris Exclusives with each vial being a 1/2 ml. 

34 thoughts on “Serge Lutens Santal de Mysore

  1. How funny that this popped up today, as I wore this for the first time today, too! I have to say, I wasn’t particularly impressed. I didn’t actively dislike it, but I wasn’t enthusiastic about it at all. It didn’t have good longevity for me either, unfortunately (although maybe that’s okay because I didn’t like it much to begin with). There was actually something marginally unpleasant about it – and perhaps it’s the spice combo you mention. I expected to generally enjoy it, but had also tempered my expectations because of sandalwood’s scarcity, so I had a feeling that it would fall short of living up to its name.

  2. I never really thought of this as a gourmand so, I just put it on now to test and you are right! It does smell very much like an Indian dish but, not specifically a curry dish. Something a little sweeter. Thanks for making rethink this one. And although I don’t know what a true Mysore Sandalwood really smells like, I do enjoy wearing this one. Lutens really does know how to make soemthing truly unique – love it or hate it!

    • Yeah, it’s definitely not curry, per se, on me, but I can see why that quick-hand classification would be one that most people might use. Have you ever had Persian food, or the rice dishes I’ve mentioned? If not, if you ever try something like Sabzi Polo, Baghali Polo, or an Indian version, then give Santal de Mysore a quick sniff when you go home. lol! Regardless of the specifics, it’s certainly a very unique, original take on sandalwood, and I’m very grateful to you for your generosity in letting me try it. Thank you so much! 🙂 As a side note, when did you buy your bottle, as another commentator is curious as to the date of the scent to compare to her own version.

      • I have not tried the dish you mention but, I love Persian food and we certainly have lots of options for it here so, I will have to try.
        My bottle is one of the export bottles recently (2013) purchased from parfum1.com.

  3. I’d be interested to find out what you think of Lutens’ other sandalwood/foodie fragrances, such as Jeux de Peau and Santal Majuscule with their pastry-like connotations in particular and then Santal Blanc?

    • Hello Michael, welcome to the blog. 🙂 To answer your question, I’ve only tried Santal Majuscule out of the ones you’ve mentioned. You can read my review if you like, but, in a nutshell, I had big problems with the synthetic nature of the supposed sandalwood in the scent. I adored the dusty, cocoa aspects and wish it had been far more significant. I detected sweet bread and, in particular, a sort of gingerbread aspect to the scent, but they weren’t a problem for me. I was too plagued by the synthetics and the dash of ISO E Super.

  4. I am curious, are you testing from a sample of a recent bottle, or an older version? My bottle dates back to 2005-2006 and while it does have that buttery saffron note, I am not getting as much foody spice as you seem to be getting. Your description actually reminds me of Arabie rather than Santal de Mysore. I will go home and sniff my bottle again while re-reading your review.

    • I obtained my sample from a very generous, kind reader of the blog, Dubaiscents, from her own bottle. I’ve asked her when she purchased it. I suspect hers is a few years old at least, though probably not as longstanding as your own bottle.

    • Hi Tara, I found out information on the bottle. It was purchased in 2013. Given your comments and the description of another reader whose bottle is 10 years old, and who had a far greater sandalwood experience, there may have been some changes. Then again, it might well be a question of skin chemistry. I hope that helps.

      • I retried my SdM this morning… it is spicy but not Indian curry or foody to my nose. I assume that there have been reformulations over the years as Serge Lutens himself has said that all perfumes are reformulated every 2-3 years.

  5. Thanks for this review. I wanted to try this but after your description I’m pretty sure it would be a waste of my time. I don’t want to smell like Indian food. I liked Santal Majuscule but didn’t love it. The quest for a fabulous sandalwood scent continues…

    • I don’t think this is the easiest scent for those who don’t enjoy foodie scents, even if the duration of that stage may differ from person to person depending on skin chemistry. So, it’s probably a wise choice to stay away. If you find your perfect sandalwood, let me know! 🙂

  6. Like Beyonce’s ‘At Last’, great stuff but not the original voice of Etta James / Mysore Sandalwood. Sounds like the name is a misnomer and could be called Santal de Mysore Fiction. Great sleuthing with the chems.

    • Aah, Etta James…. I’m with you on that. As for the scent, I have to wonder if it’s changed a little. The accounts of some people here with very old bottles would indicate it used to be much, much better and with more sandalwood. 🙁

  7. sdm is truly distinctive and just so lutens. it is definitely a gourmand and if you have an aversion to the ol curry spice rack (i do in fact detect fenugreek, but less a problem for me than you, methinks 😉 stay clear…. for me the transition from sharpish spices to soft, creamy, caramel woods is only about 20 minutes! i don’t wear this number often but i’m glad i have it; i particularly like it when i’m working in the study for long periods as it offers a great scent cloud. btw my bottle is about ten years old and the sandalwood is fairly pronounced and creamy, ‘smells’ like a possible reformulation in light of supply/cost.

    • Fenugreek. AHA! So it’s not just me! Thank you, Tim, because I was sure of it, but really wondered because….. fenugreek?! Hell, it’s not used a lot in cooking, let alone perfumery! (Amouage’s Opus VII is the only other one I can think of.)

      As for the rest of the scent, if my skin gave me the spice rack and buttery Indian food for only 20 minutes, as you experience, then I think I could withstand it with greater ease. About 6 hours, however….. no. It seems from what you and someone else with an old bottle have described that the current Santal de Mysore is different than it used to be. So, treasure that bottle of yours. It sounds wonderful.

  8. hmm … i do like some gourmand scents, and i don’t object to smelling like an indian/middle eastern spice rack – baghali polo is delicious ;^), but it’s a pity that a scent based on sandalwood would have such a large amount of synthetics. for that matter i don’t know if i’ve ever smelled the real thing. do you know of any scents currently in production that definitely have genuine mysore sandalwood (other than neela vermeire)?

    i haven’t tried nearly as many of lutens’ perfumes as i would like (i don’t know if the wax samples the house provides are good examples of the actual scents), but i have mixed feelings about most of the line – adore fille en aiguilles and feminite, detest muscs koublai khan and a la nuit. btw, i got around to smelling bois de violette and it’s beautiful, but maybe a little bit too sweet.

    • Oh, yay, someone who knows Baghali Polo! 🙂 As for other scents that have a really good sandalwood scent (other than the NVC ones), I’m afraid I don’t know any modern ones. It’s something I’m always on the hunt for as (real) sandalwood may be my favorite note of all. Thus far, it’s only been one disappointment after another.

      As for the Lutens fragrances, I’ve never tried any wax samples and I’m perpetually curious as to how they may compare to the liquid version. I hear very competing answers, so there doesn’t seem to be a consensus, I don’t think. With regard to the ones you’ve mentioned, was your issue with A La Nuit the jasmine or indoles? I’d like to get to know your tastes better, so assessing how you feel about big white flowers is a good place to start. LOL. I personally love them, but A La Nuit lasted a whole 20 minutes on me. *sigh* As for Fille en Aiguilles, it is a HUGE love of mine and the last perfume I purchased! 🙂

  9. Somehow I missed this one, I don’t even remember if I smelled it from the bottle (which I did with some bell jar perfumes last year in NY). I like Santal Majuscule, Santal Blanc and Jeux de Peau – so I might like Santal de Mysore… Though I’m not sure about the food aspect: I love eating indian food but definitely wouldn’t want any reminder of it once I’m done.

    • I honestly can’t figure out if you’d love it or not. As you mentioned, you did enjoy some of the other gourmand scents he’s done, but the curry/food thing here….. hm. I haven’t tried Jeaux de Peau, but I think sweet, bready gourmand is something you’d like, but taking it further into actual Indian food? I’m dubious, I must say.

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  11. Hi – I’m reading a few of your Lutens reviews very belatedly. I have to say that I’m a lover of this one – in fact it’s one of my favorites. Guess I like curry a lot! It is fairly spiced up at the beginning though and I’m sure that this would put most people off and Santal Majuscule and Santal Blanc are definitely an easier ride on the sandalwood front (or whatever it is exactly).

    • I’m so glad it works well for you, Megan. I think I just don’t have a high tolerance for smelling like food, especially not actual main course entrées and these particular dishes in question. It’s all subjective at the end of the day, and definitely a question of skin chemistry as well. 🙂 But I’m so glad the curry/food notes work well on your skin.

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  15. I simply love this fragrance but as with a great deal of perfumes with sandalwood (real or created by Givaudan) I am having a difficult time finding them for sale. Or, at least for sale at a reasonable price. What would you recommend as a close substitute for Lutens Santal de Mysore? I enjoy mostly the curry like effect that so many people object to. The other scents I have come across when looking up “curry, wood, and coconut” don’t seem to do it for me. The SDM is just so distinct to me. I have even gone so far as to attempt to enrich/fortify my own basic wood scents with some curry notes. My mistake up until now has been to use cheaper “fragrance oil.” They come off as…”cheaper fragrance oils.”
    I should know better. I am planning on altering some Tam Dao with some essential oils next week to see if I can create something other than a monster from the candle store effect. I have also tried DIPTYQUE L’AUTRE EAU, but it is nowhere near the food-like fragrance that SDM has…
    Any thoughts?
    I adore your writing by the way. I read your reviews to unwind and yet expand if you follow me…

    • First, welcome to the blog, Craig. I’m glad you stopped lurking, and I appreciate your kind words on my writing. 🙂 Second, your question is a tough one because, as you noted, Santal de Mysore is so distinctive. Arguably, unique in its combination of accords. The few fragrances that I’ve tried with a curry note are in completely different genres, and aren’t centered on sandalwood. Fougère Bengale has the strongest curry and food note I’ve encountered, but it’s accompanied by tobacco and immortelle. Teo Cabanel’s Barkhane has a curry note over labdanum amber that is strongly similar to Dior’s discontinued labdanum Mitzah, but the curry doesn’t last long.

      Immortelle is the material responsible in both cases, because its less typical facet or aroma actually *is* curry. One of its nicknames is “Curry Leaf” or “Curry Plant.” However, I have no idea what sort of treatment, or percentage of essential oil dilution would bring that out. I assume you’d have to create a mixed accord that also includes some spices. The best Immortelle (or Helichrysum Italicum) comes from Corsica. I looked on The Perfumer’s Apprentice under both names, but found nothing. On Amazon, however, there is a concentrated essential oil from Morocco that they say is very close to the Corsican variety. Perhaps you can try experimenting with that: http://www.amazon.com/Miracle-Botanicals-Moroccan-Helichrysum-Essential/dp/B0073XTFDU

      Since you’re experimenting with essential oils and blends, I would add a good amount of a mixed curry accord if you can make one up. Perhaps you can infuse actual curry powder into an woody oil base, then filter it out. Perhaps you can also add cumin mixed with dill seed (since Santal de Mysore has a definite dill note to my nose): https://shop.perfumersapprentice.com/p-6447-dill-seed-hungary.aspx?keyword=dill Guaiac would probably be a good addition, too, in small doses, and you can add some cashmeran too to give it sandalwood’s natural creaminess.

      Basically, you’d be trying to reconstitute various facets of Santal de Mysore through the aromas of other materials mixed with your own basic wood blends or your Tam Dao. I wish I could help you with the name of an actual fragrance dupe so you’d be spared all this work.

      If none of those things work or create what you’re looking for, you may want to consider Suzan, the perfume shopper who goes to Paris to buy things for people. She brings back Lutens bell jars every month, and they’re priced much lower in Paris than the 80% or more mark-up that Barney’s charges. Suzan’s fee is very moderate. The 75 ml Bell Jar would probably end up being a bit cheaper than the $200 retail price of the 50 ml export bottle (if Luckyscent even has it at this point), and you’d get a greater quantity. I don’t think you’ll find the 50 ml bottle on any of the discount sites, as you’ve probably realised by now.

      • Thank you SO much for taking the time to answer my query. I have quite a few essential oils on the way that I am going to play around with to see if I can create something that I like.
        Ironically I had a job in the 90’s at a perfumery in Colorado that would re-create peoples “lost scents” for them. They would bring in a discontinued bottle with just the dregs left in it and 3 of us there would try to match it as closely as possible with our arsenal of oils. That was some time ago, we had only our noses – no lab equipment, and a lot more time than I have these days. So, we’ll have to see how I fare without the “arsenal” expensive oils.

        So who is this Suzan the perfume shopper you speak of? How can I get in touch with her about procuring a bottle of MDS for me?

        I also have noticed that some places are starting to have Mysore Sandalwood for sale again… Is this a sign that it may be available as a sustainable crop again or a fluke?

        I’ll keep you posted as to my follies.

        Thanks again

        • Suzan’s service is one I usually mention at the end of reviews for the bell jar exclusives, but I didn’t do so here since Santal de Mysore was available back then in the 50 ml export line. For the sake of speed and ease, I’ll just copy and paste what I wrote in the Detail section of one old review (back when bell jar prices were $290):

          “Shop France Incis run by Suzan, a very reputable, extremely professional, personal shopper who has been used by a number of perfumistas. She will go to France, and buy you perfumes (and other luxury items like Hermès scarves, etc.) that are otherwise hard to find at a reasonable price. Shop France Inc. normally charges a 10% commission on top of the item’s price with 50% being required as a down payment. However, and this is significant, in the case of Lutens Bell Jars, the price is $225 instead. The amount reflects customs taxes that she pays each time, as well as a tiny, extra markup. It’s still cheaper than the $290 (not including tax) for the bell jar via Barney’s or the US Serge Lutens website. Another caveat, however, is that Suzan is limited to only 10 bell jars per trip, via an arrangement with the Lutens house. There is a wait-list for the bell jars, but she goes every 6-8 weeks, so it’s not a ridiculously huge wait, I don’t think. If you have specific questions about the purchase of Lutens bell jars, or anything else, you can contact her at shopfranceinc@yahoo.com. As a side note, I have no affiliation with her, and receive nothing as a result of mentioning her.”

          Since that was old information from 2013 or so, the prices will obviously be different now but I doubt they’ll be significantly higher, especially given the Euro’s current rate. Write to her at the email address listed above, and she’ll give you all the details. I actually know an established American perfumeur who just used her services recently to buy one of the bell jars for himself. She’s extremely reputable and solid. I hope that helps, Craig.

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