Io Non Ho Mani Che Mi Accarezzino Il Volto probably wins the award for the longest perfume name of 2017. The words translate to “there are no hands to caress my face” and come from the first lines of a poem written by Father David Maria Turoldo in 1948. The length of the name makes it impractical for me to refer to all nine words repeatedly throughout this review, so I’m going to make my life simpler and just call the fragrance “Io Non Ho Mani.” (In my head, I mentally call it “Yo, No Mani” in a Rocky Balboa voice. “Yo, Adriennnnnnnne, Io No Mani.” It’s terrible; I know I’m a philistine and an uncouth barbarian, but I can’t seem to help it.) Name aside, “Yo, No Mani” turned out to be quite a happy, unexpected surprise. I thought it was a great spicy, woody, tobacco, incense-y, amber oriental.
Mandala, the second recent release from Masque Milano, has a very different geographic focus than its New York sister. This one is centered on a monastery in Tibet or Nepal where the sound of Buddhist monks’ overtone singing rings out in the rarefied air, “two notes chant[ed] in perfect, peaceful harmony.” The fragrance is meant to have the same duality, as well as the same meditative serenity, according to Masque’s official scent description: “A myrrh and incense fragrance – light and delicate. A contemplative atmosphere. Vibrating at two levels at the same time.”
Today, I’d like to look at six luxury oud oils from Ensar Oud which cover a spectrum of agarwood varieties and scent profiles. Some smell of the best Islay single malt scotch poured over leather and smoked mesquite; others transport you to the heart of a green forest, have stages redolent of lilacs and peaches framed by fresh vetiver, or smell of fruits, honey, and jasmine. No two are identical, but they are all smooth, high-quality, interesting, and highly nuanced.
Last time, in Part I, we looked at the issues and methods that Feel Oud used to make its high-end artisanal oils, so today there will be 9 reviews covering the actual scent profiles of a range of different ouds and sandalwoods. What surprised me in several cases were the amazing number of complex olfactory facets and nuances that a single piece of wood could manifest, resulting in a bouquet that was really more like a fine French perfume with evolving layers and stages, rather than a mere distilled oil. It’s due solely to the things we covered in Part I, the complicated, laborious way in which that one piece of wood was treated in order to extract the maximum number of scent molecules. When more than one type of wood was used or when a rich floral essence was added to the mix, the result could be quite mind-blowing indeed, and I say this as someone who doesn’t always have the greatest degree of comfort around oud.