Santal de Mysore was the second release by Lutens in his exceptional range of exclusive boutique scents. The numbered edition was launched in September of 1997 in the now iconic bell shaped eau de parfum bottles that sold exclusively from the Palais Royale garden boutique in Paris. Every September a new parfum is launched and the bottle is decorated with different etchings. 1997’s bottle was adorned with etched crescent moons. Engineered by perfume mastermind Christopher Sheldrake and conceived by Lutens, Santal de Mysore is an evocative scent that draws as much praise as it does criticism. With the existing scarcity of Mysore sandalwood I get the feeling many online critics feel that Lutens should have made sandalwood more of a leading role instead of a supporting one. It is said Lutens purchased enough supply of the rare oil to continue production of the fragrance following the restriction of supply in India. While Santal de Mysore is definitely a sandalwood fragrance, the signature creamy wood note associated with the Indian oil is more of a binding element instead of the note that all others in the composition bow down to.
Normally I do not like eau de parfum, I do not like coconut nor do I like gourmand scents, yet strangely I am obsessed with this fragrance that is all of the above. Highly original, the composition steers clear of the common sandalwood clichés: woody cedar accords or spicy amber orientals. Instead Lutens has created an entire meal of the wood that serves a savory curry laced with sweaty cumin, coconut and eastern spices. Although unlisted I suspect the floral notes that keep this weighty formula afloat is a sweet accord of jasmine and orange blossom. Blended with coconut the result is the illusion of white flowers and tuberose. These notes quickly subside and dessert is on the table. A vanilla custard, rich and creamy. The curry note that permeates this parfum is reminiscent of Dior Homme’s Eau Noire with its licorice lavender accord. This wears down to a cedar and sandalwood, earthy accord. If sweetness isn’t your thing, do not despair. Most of the sugary caramel notes exist in the top and mid notes. While its soul is still gourmand, the settled fragrance is a delicious blend of dry woods and exotic balsams.
Santal de Mysore’s male wearer will be unconventional and not one to shy away from a scent that does not embody the characteristics of most common male scents; clean, active and overly confident e.g Paco Rabanne 1 Million. The eau de parfum has a glass stopper instead of an atomizer. A light dab on the wrist is enough to subtly scent your day. It has become a favourite of mine to wear in hot climates. If you have a diabetic nose, try Lutens’ less sugary Santal Blanc, which is an aldehydic green floral sandalwood.
Perfumer: Christopher Sheldrake (Givaudan – Quest)
Bottle designer: Serge Lutens
Release date: 1997
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woody Oriental