Sunday, 26 May 2013

L' Erbolario, Meharees - Review

Meharees by L’ Erbolario, the scent of biblical resins

I’ve been longing for a sniff of this uber niche cheapie for some time. Retailing at about 26 Euro, with comparisons to Frederic Malle’s Musc Ravaguer abounding, it’s a contender for best value niche of the year. I got it in lovely circumstances:

As a member of a facebook exchange page, I made contact with Lewis, a guy offering it up for swop. Having realised we both live in Manchester, we met up for our trade. I gifted a decant of Comme De Garcons Vettiveru Cologne in exchange for his Meharees.
With a short space of time before we parted to attend our separate sunny day barbeques (a rarity in the notoriously pissy weathered Manchester), time was tight, but we made the most of an encounter with a fellow fume head. So what’s it like to meet ‘one of us’? In a word - talkative. An hour passed by with rapidity as he explored my beloved collection of niche wonders and marvelled at my sample box, enthusing over rarely encountered oddities. My sample box is a large shoe box lovingly plastered with pictures of 1950s Lanvin and Dior bottles, Serge Lutens looking pixie-esque posing in the woods and some peculiarly political Caron adverts from the Second World War period. It’s filled with collection of hard won samples, begged and boldly squeezed from my local stores and further afield. After a long selection, Lewis left with decants of Caron’s Eau de Reglisse (which intrigued him greatly), Robert Piguet’s Calypso (a superbly dark unisex chypre rose) and Tauer’s Pentachord White (which confuses both of us, love? hate?).

Back to the point – Meharees, what does is smell like?
To my nose: the strongest note is opoponax, although not listed, I believe this imparts the myrrh aspect of it’s ‘myrrh and dates’ description. If you are unfamiliar with this note, resinous opoponax smells of incense, amber and mustiness. It’s extraordinarily beautiful in the same way that old second hand book shops smell when they are overheated by winter radiators, in short, cosy and ancient. Les Nereides released ‘Imperial Opoponax’ of which I have a small decant. This fragrance combines the musty old book shop with a hint of cherry sweetness, again, another wondrous creation.
Alongside this note, an air of dirty musk resides, giving Meharees an animalic feel. This is not the clean whiff of laundry so evident in contemporary musks, but a big old whiff of the unwashed, ultimately rendering it a rather sexy fragrance. For those fearsome of ‘dirty musks’ such as Musc Koublai Khan and Musc Tonkin, you will find L’ Erbolario’s interpretation somewhat easier on the nose, yes, sexy, but not ‘inside out second day knickers’.
A third olfactory sensation comprises of a vaguely dried fruit scent. I feel this is the least obvious of it’s components. Is it the date provided in it’s description? I’m not sure. There is a noticable sweet ‘mulled wine-like’ smell that could be constituted of date, raisin, even a slightly plummy jam. Although the fruit appears, it appears shyly, lurking in the background.
Atmospherically, I can recall the dusty watercolour illustrations of my Children’s Illustrated Bible, vividly depicting the exodus through the desert or the Three Kings bearing fragrant gifts at the Nativity. As an adult I have shed any latent belief in biblical stories or indeed organised religion, however, I find the fragrant link to this childhood memory both beguiling and consoling. Overall, this is a scent of comfort, the warming hug of a lover on a cold night, languorous and appeasing. There is no exuberant stimulation here, it’s a soft edged, muzzy headed, fragrant Valium.

Other fragrances with a similar vibe:
Serge Lutens - Arabie
Chopard – Casmir
Les Nereides – Imperial Opononax
Editions Frederic Malle – Musc Ravageur

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