The niche perfume line of Arquiste was more or less on my radar in the past years. For me there are perfumes to love from this house (Fleur de Louis) and perfumes to dislike (Boutonniere No. 7). Since founding in 2011 seven scents have been developed, two new are being released in 2014 – both later this year. L’Etrog Acqua, a variation on Arquiste L’Etrog from 2012, however, is launching right now in the US and selected stores in Europe, September is the month of their official worldwide launch. Since I haven’t reviewed the latter one yet I thought I would do a side by side review of both.
According to Carlos Huber, L’Etrog is the best-selling fragrance in the entire Arquiste collection. When he told me that I found it quite hard to believe this, I thought he was joking. But selling numbers don’t lie and L’Etrog really is the most popular scent in the line. It’s intriguing because we live in a perfume world where citrus/cologne scents are under appreciated and they lose by knock-out with florals or orientals. But maybe the future of a citrus blend is not as endangered as we think it is? Lately it seems that interest in cologne is growing again. I’m always in for a good one.
October, 1175, Calabria, Italy
“In Medieval Calabria, a family gathers to celebrate a good harvest. Within a cabin built of Palm leaves and other woody branches, an aromatic bounty is presented. The citrusy scent of the Etrog citron, a regional specialty, brightens the air while embracing Myrtle and lush Date Fruit envelope the sweet warmth of the Mediterranean night.”
Original L’Etrog from 2012 opens with a huge dose of citric elements such as cedrat and lemon. The aroma is quite pungent and screechy, loaded with lots of sweeter limonene aroma and more bitter aroma of citral. The concoction is mouth-watering but it’s not overly juicy and the scent associated with white albedo part of the citrus fruit quickly takes over, dominating the composition. What I smell makes me think of a sparkling lemonade, perfect to satisfy thirst when it’s hot.
In a matter of two quarters Arquiste L’Etrog becomes dry and reserved. There are many woody notes in this composition but I find it very hard to specify what kind of woods were used to create this perfume. Perhaps some cedar and maybe a little bit of sandalwood. Maybe it was something more interesting, like a lemon tree wood, especially that the aroma of grated lemon peel is mingling in the background, making me smile occasionally.
Dry vetiver roots add a lot of aromatic elements to the blend, allowing the fragrance to have more volume and better projection. Myrtle and palm leaves bring in the details of green and herbal qualities, adding a twist to something what this far was a woody cologne scent. The addition of these two notes make L’Etrog entertaining and not linear in terms of the complexity. Accord of dates, combined with vetiver create an earthy sensation which evolves into very delicate tropical sweetness. From this moment there are no significant changes in the scent. Rodrogo Flores Roux and Yann Vasnier did a good job here.
There’s a funny story behind L’Etrog Acqua. One day Carlos met with perfumer Rodrigo Flores Roux and noticed that Mr. Roux smelled almost like Arquiste L’Etrog. It turned out that the perfumer made an alternative version for his own use. Carlos liked it so much that he wanted this other interpretation to be a regular part of the line. Seems like Rodrigo Flores Roux didn’t have a problem with that, letting Arquiste to put it into the collection. And here it is!
Early Morning, October, 1175, Calabria, Italy
“The cool night air dissipates under the sun’s first rays. The ripe citrus in the field has absorbed all the water of the morning dew and the farmers are ready to work on the misty green fields, speckled by the bright yellow of the citron. They leave their woody cabin and take a deep breath…”
Arquiste L’Etrog Acqua opens with a bright and tangy smell of cedrat (citron) combined with a juicy freshness of lemon. The scent has a truly Mediterranean vibe from the start. After a while a sharp bergamot aroma joins the composition, making this perfume and ultimate summer cocktail. The initial acidic quality subsides after 30 minutes to reveal this soft and delicately sweet flavor of mandarin orange. It feels like a visit to a beautiful orangerie of Italian architecture.
A little while later I noticed how all of the citric notes become drier with cedrat being at the front of the entire composition. The albedo part is distinctive here and the dryness has a gin & tonic impression to it. At 45 minutes L’Etrog Acqua presents the herbal tones. There’s some leafy and a bit dusted petit grain, a nice dose of myrtle and a bit of dried, herbaceous lavender (not mentioned in the notes). The scent is very peaceful and kind of making you want to lay in a hammock and relax.
Later on some woody facets are floating above the surface of my skin. There’s this dry and woody vetiver which adds a nice aromatic vibe to the composition, and some cedar wood to add more weight and substance to L’Etrog Acqua. A slightly sweaty feeling is floating together with this accord, but it’s carefully blended so it never gets powerful enough to ruin the positive impression I get from this fragrance. Labdanum resin adds an oriental twist to this cologne-inspired blend – there’s a light smoky and a tad heavier feeling to it later in the drydown. Very nice indeed.
Comparing L’Etrog and L’Etrog Acqua side by side I dare to say that I prefer the newly launched version much more to the original one. The answer to the question “why?” is simple – because L’Etrog Acqua is brighter, more juicy, sparkling, more happy and more summery in my perception. L’Etrog is too dry and too woody for me to wear it during summer, I find it better for spring months. One more thing that strikes me is that Arquiste L’Etrog has more masculine character, it’s more solid. Arquiste L’Etrog Acqua is softer, suitable for both men and women.