Last week I published an interview with B. Kristian Malbrum, the Norwegian founder of a new line of niche perfumes called Malbrum Parfums. Of the three extrait de parfums I discussed with Kristian, Tigre du Bengale was my favourite and I was grateful to add a bottle of it to my personal perfume collection. Aside from simply liking the way it smells, I was intrigued by the unconventional process Kristian followed to create these fragrances with French perfumer Delphine Thierry. Kristian told me that his starting point for a new perfume was the raw materials. He began without a concept, design brief or story. The perfume’s title and story came after the fragrance took form. For Tigre du Bengale, he wanted to explore the boundaries between spices and leather in a fragrance. Within that journey, the idea of a Bengal tiger’s skin and what that would smell like began to interest him. The spices he had selected for his composition related to the Bengal tiger’s homeland given they were all spices used to flavour Bengali cuisine. As the formula evolved, Kristian sensed the erogenous aspect of the fragrance. When I spoke with him he laughed and said, “The first thing that came to my mind was tiger balls; tiger testicles.” He later recognised the male tiger’s mating habit of clawing bark off tree trunks. The tiger would proceed to urinate on these wood chips and the resulting fragrance of wood and urine was used to attract a female companion to mate with.
Tigre du Bengale tingles with a “dry aromatic Coke accord” and straight away, the senses are greeted by a wave of Eastern spices. Green cardamom, safranal and juniper berries carry the nose into a heart of resinous myrrh and labdanum. Toscanol’s spicy aromatic note fuses into leather, creating a subtle but unusual liquorice-leather accord. This cuir de tigre confectionary is an astringent cocktail of isobutyl quinolene with Suederal and a hint of castoreum. Patchouli oil and a wonderful quality of Burley tobacco absolute give the fragrance its complex personality. These notes of drying leaves smell of humidor air and fine Cuban cigars. Tigre du Bengale is saturated with Nimberol, a woody-amber molecule (more commonly referred to in perfume blogs by its registered Firmenich name Norlimbanol) Paired with Ambrofix, Tigre du Bengale has a modern edge and a sense of familiarity as amber molecules like Norlimbanol are a regular feature in today’s popular men’s fragrances. That being said, Tigre du Bengale smells notably different and this depends on the wearer. Last week I discussed my bottle to a group of friends and it was interesting how different our experiences were. On my skin, Tigre du Bengale dries down to become a soft oriental leather with a subtle imprint of spices.
A lot of male perfume collectors lament Gucci’s decision to delete all men’s fragrances that were created during the brand’s Tom Ford era. Gucci Envy for Men, Gucci Rush for Men and Gucci Pour Homme I and II were some of the most original designer fragrances of their era. Laden with smoky incense, oriental balsams and woods, they were polar opposite to the marine and ozonic fragrances other designers were making at the time. Resins and incense feature prominently in today’s niche perfumes but few of them have the same DNA these Gucci fragrances shared. Tom Ford had a unique knack for injecting raunch into the classic Italian brand and this spirit filtered through the clothes and his fragrances. For me, the same precarious balance is present in Tigre du Bengale. The fragrance oozes sex appeal but there is also something classic and gentlemanly underpinning it, which prevents it from feeling crass. Tigre du Bengale is an extroverted fragrance. Tigers are known for their stealth but this is one Bengal tiger that walks proudly in the jungle, letting everyone know that he is on approach.
Creative Direction: B. Kristian Malbrum
Perfumer: Delphine Thierry
Release Date: 2015
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Woody oriental