Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Who Won "PureDistance 1"...and a favorite from the archives

The winner of the PureDistance 1 perfume is:


(Winner was chosen using random.org.) 

Get in touch with me at olfactarama at att dot net and I will send it to you...congratulations! (Note: if I haven't heard from the winner by April 19, I'll pick another winner.)

And thanks, everybody, for entering, and for reading!

Reprint time: the post below is from the first few months of Olfactarama. It's one of my favorites.

(C'mon, you 
know you want some Yatagan!) 

Okay, this is going to take courage.

Today, readers, we are going to talk about Yatagan.

I have two indoor cats. (One of them, the purty one, is pictured. For you purebred feline fans, he’s a Natural Mink Tonkinese. Beautiful, isn’t he? But you’d better not question his position as Genetically Ordained Ruler, or he’ll make you 
so very sorry.)

Like all indoor cats, his, uh, output is prodigious.

Have I mentioned that I’m a relative noob at perfume analysis? I ordered my sample of Yatagan a few months ago, after reading Dr. Turin’s five-star review of it in The Guide. It arrived. Breathless, I ripped the package open and sprayed some on my wrist.

First thought was, “
Are you kidding me?” And then, “Hmmm…did I change the cat box?”

I mean, there are some fragrances that really test one’s self-appointed status as a 
perfumista. This is one of them. And yet…maybe it’s my skin, again; on the blotter it smells nice, kind of pine-y and herbal and dry. But on my skin, well, I just have to say it.

It has that “uniquely strange, high-pitched hissing tone…” (Dr. Turin.) Interesting choice of words, that. “Hissing tone.” I thought, maybe it’s me. So I thrust my scented wrist under the increasingly fatigued nose of my long-suffering husband. “Jesus!” he said, recoiling, “that smells like cat pee!”

This should have reassured me, but instead, it filled me with doubt.

What business do I really have, I thought, doing this? I mean, look at all the people who can take a quick sniff and then recite long lists of “notes.” Who 
lurve Bulgari Black and Angel and Musc Koublai Khan -- and this. How long is will it take for me to reach that level of skill and chutzpah? To proudly spray myself with Yatagan, and then go out into the world, smelling like…well, you know.

Or (duck and cover), is this all just some form of mass hysteria? Does Yatagan really stink of feline musk, and nobody wants to admit it, because, for God's sake this is one of the classics, etc., etc.?

Tell me, 
perfumistas. I know that (some of, well, maybe one or two of) you read this twice-weekly ooze. Your choice; reassure me, or else say “forget it, Olfacta; you are not one of us. Anybody who can’t appreciate Yatagan doesn’t have the nose for this.”

(A drawing then ensued. I'm removing that text so as not to confuse anyone.) Comments are from the original entry, and they were so interesting I left them in. New comments can be left in the usual way.


bookishredhead said...
I am so completely intrigued I can't stand it. Being the owner of a cat who also has a "prodigious output" I am quite well acquainted with that particular odor. I hate it when this happens with perfumes. When you read the notes about them and you think THIS is the ULTIMATE perfume for ME. They MUST have created it with me in mind. Then you smell it and you can't get away from it fast enough. And what if Yatagan DOES smell fantastic on me. What does that mean? Does it put me one step closer to being a Crazy Cat Lady who has birthday parties for her cats and consults them for finacial and meteorological advice?
Anonymous said...
What an experience! i'm a 'fume kindergartener, with only 3 or 4 samples to my name. but i have had a similar experience with Joy - after about 10 minutes it just smelled like pure sweat. not b.o., not sour, just lotsa hardworkin' sweat. the joke was that after about 1/2 hour of this, a soapy note started to dominate......... i have a little more experience with wine, being 40 minutes from the Napa valley, where my mom lives. many wines have truly strange tastes and odors that aren't considered faults - graphite and eucalyptus in cabernet sauvignon, for example, can really taste great. as it happens, a trace of 'cat pee' (they don't have some euphemism for it, just call it like it is) is considered to enhance the 'racy' and 'lively' flavors of sauvignon blanc, especially when made as Sancerre in France. however, they do draw the line at 'a trace'. at least you can take comfort in the fact that there is no shortage of other perfumes out there to try.... ; ) have fun, lunarose
ScentScelf said...
oh, dear heavens...I got out of cat box duty when pregnant, and a decade later, thanks to the magic that my spouse calls habit, he still attends to that chore. Perhaps I have a chance to relive the "glory days" every time I smell my wrist??? Catagain, indeed. ;)
carina said...
I can't imagine anyone passing up a chance to win a sample of a touted perfume that might smell like cat piss... I would love to be able to smell it, and then relay a complete amateur's description. Who knows - might introduce some new words to the perfume-sniffing lexicon.
Anonymous said...
You got me to come out of the woodwork with this post -- I've been reading since you started, but this one just rang so true! I'm a new-ish fragrance fan and, like you, have not come to grips with some smells. Miel du Bois is as far as I've gotten in the wavery line of nasal pain/pleasure. This one has quite an opening with a "hissing tone" that takes a while to die down. My mind is not made up on this, but I'm not quite refusing further exposure. Catagin, though, may be too much for me. You're a bold one to test this out! Eileen
tania said...
It didn't smell like cat pee to me - it reminded me instead of the time my neighbour creosoted his fence on the hottest day of the year! But though I can't wear Yatagan, I can sort of see why others admire it. In a good light. If I squint & turn my head to the side a bit....
Anonymous said...
I'm completely ignorant when it comes to perfumes, which is why I find this blog so enlightening! So of course I want to experiment with the cat piss perfume! Who knows, maybe I'll come to love the scent and not feel the need to obsessively clean out the litter box. Thank you!
Perfumeshrine said...
Of course you're on to something: in a way I think any perfumista worth his/her salt is usually "trying" to get all these classics and difficult fumes. Someone is playing a cruel joke! ;-) Seriously though, I do believe Yatagan is quite difficult to pull of. It smells weird and it makes one search for that unidentifiable source of effluvium; and if that doesn't prove one is man enough to be assured of himself, I don't know what is. Having said that, I think many took its message and progressed: Kouros being one of them, which I personally find very pleasant in small amounts. I never had any trouble with Muscs Kublai Khan, though, so maybe I'm genetically/culturally lax in those matters. Or need my head examined. Take it any which way you prefer :-) Great entry!
mark42 said...
I love the idea of fragrances that are 'difficult' to appreciate. They add another level of intellectual fascination - pondering what the perfumer meant, why this or that note? Did they intentionally overdose an ingredient? After a while you really get to appreciate the beauty of the creation - even if it stinks! I had no such fun with Muscs Kublai Khan, though - that was simply beautiful from the first time I sprayed it. Mark
BlossomingTree said...
This is really interesting. In an effort to not sound excited about smelling cat pee, I now have to try this.:)
marchlion said...
I wonder if there is a skin chemistry/nose perception thing going on? I don't own cats, but I think I know that smell you are talking about. I own a bottle of Yatagan and wear it periodically (my husband doesn't love it, but more because it smells "masculine" to him than unpleasant.) I *hate* that pee smell, but Yatagan to/on me smells more sexy -- I mean, like sex. That musky human body smell. Okay, maybe not the stuff everyone's fragrance dreams are made of, but not urine-y. :-) Nice blog!
the oblitterati said...
What a gorgeous beast! What;s his name?


Natasha said...

I think that's me!!! Hurray.. I am so excited to win...Thank you so much. I will email you shortly.

Natasha said...

About today's post.

I have the same problem with AG's Ninfeo Mio. Everyone loved it but it was all cat pee on me..I find it unwearable. I have cats and know that cat pee smell all to well.

Your cat is gorgeous...Does a tonkinese cat shed very much? I have Ragdoll cats that are big shedders but they are so soft and lovable I don't mind, but it drive my husband crazy.

a.k.a. Warum said...

But there's always the difference between the skin and the blotter! It did not smell like cat pee on paper, right? So there's some case of mis-matched chemistry, that can happen to anyone.

So, my take on this -- it's not our skin that makes us a perfumista or not. It's our nose, yes, but mostly our mind and heart. But certainly, not the skin.

Full disclosure: I cannot say a whole lot more about Yatagan, since I haven't smelled it.

Vanessa said...

I see where you are coming from with the Catagan idea - it is a very evil, sharp, stabby, antiseptic kind of smell. When I first smelt Yatagan (and Amouage Homage Attar is very much in similar vein to my nose, but with added oud), it conjured up medieval torture in a bottle. I could see the glinting scimitar, hear the thwack of the cat o' nine tails(!), smell the sweat - and feel the pain.

Natasha said...

It is me Tara. I am testing to see if the Natasha picture appears.

Barbara/Perfumaniac said...

Perhaps I didn't see this in the earlier comments, Olfacta, but I believe there was a missed opportunity for another pun. (Not one as brilliant as Catagin, of course!) In place of Turin's "hissing tones," may I suggest..."pissing tones"?

Thanks for reminding me — I need to try this stuff, stat!

Perfumeshrine said...

Your cat is gorgeous!

Yatagan is a difficult one, although you have to admire the dare. Much more so I find than MKK (a purring kitten on me) or some of the others. I don't get so much cat pee as your husband (or you) or possibly my threshold is set on high (which might point to a defective rather than a superior nose, LOL, so don't feel unworthy!) but it's not something I'd venture out of the house with on. That's because I haven't built up the stamina to stand the stares from strangers. Contrary to MKK this is strong, projecting stuff.

Olfacta said...

Hi Natasha -- No, the Tonkinese doesn't shed much, but has a few other bad habits!

Olfacta said...

Hi a.k.a. - It's true that skin matters, a lot. Mine burns through perfume in minutes. I always test on both paper and skin, although, in this 2008 post, I can't remember how I tested it. Actually, I'd like to try again!

Olfacta said...

Hi Vanessa -- Yatagan with oud? Good heavens!

Olfacta said...

Hi Barbara -- good one!

Olfacta said...

Hi E -- This was one of the first "difficult" scents I tried.Turin/Sanchez had written such a glowing review of it that I think I had overblown expectations.

I sent my sample off in a drawing, but might order another, because I'd like to see how my opinion (or nose) might have changed. I've found that other samples I hated a couple of years ago I might well like now, or appreciate at least!