Disclaimer: I am reviewing the old 78% by vol. formula, the new formula is 79% by vol.
Encre Noire is a cult classic with fragrance connoisseurs, it makes a strong statement, like it or not.
It starts out with a densely green cypress note. It has the rough scent of the evergreen plant.
Its still very fresh in the beginning, somewhat clean, but never inviting.
In with the cypress is a bourbon vetiver, much smoother than its rough textured Haitian vetiver sibling.
The bourbon vetiver has a smoky, almost ashy quality to it that gives it a mature edge.
The cypress note thankfully hangs around for about 4 hours, even though its only listed as a top note it lasts.
This allows Encre Noire to remain freshly pleasing for an extended period of time.
After about 7-8 hours the cypress fades away, the bourbon vetiver tails off, and a woody Haitian vetiver comes forward.
This is where Encre Noire loses its appeal, for me at least.
It becomes a bear to wear at this point because the nice Haitian vetiver is smothered with a TON of rough ISO-E Super. Its like turning on a loud white noise in the middle of listening to some good music.
There have been some comparisons out there to Chanel’s Sycomore.
I do see it, but only while the cypress note is around to offer some brightness.
The aldehydes and violet in Sycomore amp up the brightness, making the composition much more palatable than Encre Noire in the end.
If you look at the picture below, Encre Noire is like sitting exactly where you are in the picture, Sycomore is like standing in that brighter clearing in the distance, the campfire is further away, everything seems brighter.]
This may be a cult classic, but to me, its too difficult to wear and blind buying this is risky at best, even with its “cheapy” price tag you may regret it.
A poor example of a good vetiver. It’s somewhat interesting but collapses under the weight of a base full of cheap materials. Dont let this one ruin your perceptions of vetiver. Average at best.