Fire and metal, Nu_Be Sulphur & Mercury

I freakin’ love chemistry. The fact that it’s everywhere around us and that we experience it daily from the outside and from the inside (think of all chemical processes in your body) excites me. If I didn’t love chemistry I definitely wouldn’t make a choice of studying chemical science for my future career. But I’m also in love with perfume… When Nu_Be appeared in the perfume market with their “elemental” fragrances I just knew I had to try them. Last year two new elements: Sulphur and Mercury joined the line as some darker take in the perfumery. Are they really that dark?

When I think of sulphur the first association that I have is the one of fire, burning matches, specific stench. Later comes the connection between sulphur, devil and hell. When reaching for my sample of Nu_Be Sulphur [16S] I was expecting something exactly like that. What I smelled was almost in a complete deny of what the perfume name and chemical character of sulphur could suggest.

Sulphur [16S] sets off with a tangy smell of grapefruit which is a little bit sour in its flavour. Without any doubt it’s just a rind that gives this aroma. The impression lasts for 10 minutes and then the perfume undergoes a complete transformation. It becomes animalic with lots of castoreum, surprisingly it doesn’t smell heavy or overwhelming. Animalic, yes, but in an appropriate manner. This perfume also has a woody element which appears in this Nu_Be creation in a form of angelica. There’s something slightly raw and herbal to it. At some point the composition becomes a bit more heady and sort of leathery impression is given. After a while the blend becomes warmer and spiced up with a handful of cinnamon, dry, almost not sweet. Opoponax makes the scent smoother and more wearable but on the other hand costus gives a curry-like impression that is probably the closest comparison to sulphur and the smell it leaves after burning. Cedar brings more roughness to Nu_Be Sulphur and it has that sweaty facet I don’t really like. The composition is finished with a portion of oakmoss which would smell much better without these sulphurous aromas. All in all it is a perfume that doesn’t smell like sulphur but it has an [16S] properties hidden in its soul.

This composition was created by Antoine Lie, it has an average sillage and lasts around 8 hours.

Moving on to Mercury. Quicksilver or Hydrargyrum (name suggesting connection with water – hydr and silver – argyrum) is the only metal in the world that is a liquid in normal conditions. Anyways when you hear “Mercury” what do you think? Cold? Metal? Unfriendly? Reserved? I thought Nu_Be Mercury [80Hg] will be like that and I was wrong again…

The first impression that Mercury [80Hg] gives me is the fact that it’s yummy. There’s a very bright and natural aroma of black currant that instantly made my mouth water. It has a mild citric background created with lemon and mandarin orange concoction. It’s not sharp, just citrusy and vivid. What I love about the opening of this Nu_Be perfume is that it’s really well-balanced. After 15 minutes I started to smell rhubarb which brough a delicious tartiness of a spring seasonal cake. At 1 hour mark the perfume reveals a hefty dose of aldehydes. They’re rather airy and fleeting, nothing oily or saturated. They interact with the tart fruity opening of the perfume in a really nice way. There’s also a little bit of metallic nature to this accord. After the time has passed aldehydes eventually become a little bit soapy when geranium and violet join the composition introducing their green and crunchy freshness. At some point of development one can notice a powdery facet of sandalwood and violet. The drydown is quite aromatic and woody with patchouli and cedar wood. Balsam of Tolu brings more density after a couple of hours, making [80Hg] more balmy, slightly more dramatic and suitable for an evening wear. This is a sunny perfume with a little bit of shade.

Nu_Be Mercury [80Hg] was also created by perfumer Antoine Lie. Sillage and longevity are good.

Comparing both Sulphur and Mercury from Nu_Be it’s possible to make a conclusion that [16S] is more masculine while [80Hg] has more of a feminine perfume composition. They’re both really well made fragrances, their power is practically the same and so is their lasting power but were I to choose one I would go for the liquid metal. Why? Because I was absolutely charmed by the tartiness and balance of sweet and sour in the opening.

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26 thoughts on “Fire and metal, Nu_Be Sulphur & Mercury

  1. jilliecat says:

    Lovely reviews, and I reckon I would prefer Mercury too (I can’t bear any hint of sweat – people might think I didn’t wash!).

    You’ve reminded me of an old favourite of mine: Paco Rabanne’s Metal. In the old days I couldn’t see why it was given this name, but I think I understand the concept better now through sniffing so much over the years and learning about the creation of perfume. I think it has a metallic element radiating from its violet notes which can seem quite cold and silvery, especially when there is no vanilla to add sweetness

    • lucasai says:

      Thanks Jillie. Glad you’re with me.
      I have never tried Paco Rabanne Metal but I’m familiar with the perfume name youself.
      Violets can be metallic for sure, but I don’t know many of them in perfume

  2. Holly says:

    Great reviews, dear Lucas. Mercury sounds like something I’d love.

    Like jilliecat, I used to wear Paco Rabanne’s Metal. I recently bought a sample as a nostalgic gesture, and found it to be much sweeter than I recalled. Considering that it’s been discontinued for quite a while, I suspect the cold, silvery top notes may have evaporated from the juice. Mercury is going on my sample list of infinity. 🙂

    • lucasai says:

      Thanks. Mercury smells much more pleasant than Sulphur.

      Funny that you both used to wear that perfume! Maybe your nose learned to detect sweeter notes over time? Or it’s true that part of top notes got lost due to aging

      • jilliecat says:

        Hi Holly and Lucas! Metal sort of disappeared for a while and then was revived a few years ago, only to be discontinued again. I did get one of the later bottles and although it was recognisably still Metal, it had been reformulated and I think it seemed a little sweeter – no doubt to appeal to more “modern” tastes. I think also that L is right, and our noses become more sensitive.

  3. How interesting! I was thinking that Sulphur would smell at least like burnt matches — rotten eggs would be asking too much 😉 Grapefruit? That’s new! And Mercury sounds interesting too. Do you know why they settled on those names for the two fragrances?

    • lucasai says:

      Sulfur on its own doesn’t have a smell, a very powdery form has a bit of scent.

      I honestly have no idea why the brand decided to pair these perfumes with these particular elements

  4. TF says:

    Glad to hear Sulphur smells nothing like its name (sulfur chemistry smells close to death). It’s quite fitting actually that they went for grapefruit since it has high amounts of sulfur compounds namely 1-p-menthene-8-thiol. Though if overdone it can smell animalic, many people also think that Guerlain’s AA Pamplelune smells like cat pee.

  5. hajusuuri says:

    Hi Sweetie, Nu_Be Mercury sounds like a must try! On the other hand, I will give Sulphur a pass. I’m with Daisy in that my first thought upon reading Sulphur is that of rotten eggs.

  6. Undina says:

    You? Like chemistry? You don’t say! 😉

    I’m trying to think if I like the idea of naming perfumes after the elements… It’s definitely better than just using numbers/years but it creates all the wrong associations – though I don’t understand why everybody has concentrated on the foul odor of sulfur compounds (the sulfur itself doesn’t smell) but completely overlooked the toxic nature of the mercury itself (see – someone else also liked the chemistry 😉 ).

    • lucasai says:

      You surprised?

      I like the idea of naming perfume after elements. Much better than naming perfumes with stupid numbers only. You’re kind of right that it might cause the wrong association. A really fine powder of sulfur has a bit of smell and yes, mercury is neurotoxic but only its vapors.

  7. rickyrebarco says:

    These scents sound really fascinating. I think the Mercury would be more to my taste. I will try to sample these. I love it that you do reviews of the really niche scents to open our minds to the beauty of science! Thanks…

    • lucasai says:

      Mercury was definitely more to my liking. Glad you like the perfume selection for the blog.
      Nu_Be is more popular in Europe than in the US

      • rickyrebarco says:

        Thanks for the info. My son was a biochemistry major at university so I am always interested in the chemical make-up of things. I learned a lot from my smart son and now I can learn even more from you. Thanks! Have a wonderful day.

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