Today I will be reviewing this little stinker by Guerlain:
Santal Royal, EdP.
As the black bottle suggests, this one is not for the faint of heart. It was released in 2014 as a unisex fragrence. For many people, THE sandalwood fragrance is Samsara by Guerlain. But for my taste Samsara is too soapy. So when I spotted this one at my local perfumery, I was like, must try! And I slapped a generous amount onto my skin. And in the first second it really smelled like sandalwood to me. But a very dark, woody one. I was happy. For ten minutes. Then it turned a sharp and nasty medicinal alcoholic scent. I was like, dafuq? I have to say it was summer and really hot outside. And I had marinated myself with this in my lunch break. So I went back to work, wafting this awful sillage for the rest of the hot afternoon. My poor coworkers. In the evening, shortly before my shower, it got better, more gentle but also really subtle.
So that was it with me and Santal Royal for the time being. But I am nothing if not stubborn, so I went back to it. But this time I did it in winter. And hey, suddenly the sharp, overwhelming smell was greatly reduced. The whole perfume was a lot more subtle. Instead of a wafting cloud of darkness trying to engulf the whole city it is now a mysterial shroud close to the skin. Before it lasted about five hours, now I can barely smell it after three hours. During my testing period I have taken to reapplying frequently.
So what does it even smell like? Guerlain lists a normal notes pyramid, but for me, this is all base notes all the time. I think I can pick out rose, but none of the other flowers. To me, Santal Royal is sandalwood, but very shortly at the beginning. Then it gets massively smokey, leathery, a bit rosey and I have realized the overwhelming smell I am getting here must be oud. It is the strongest note in the perfume. I think the name is very misleading. This is clearly Oud Royal, not Santal Royal. If you are looking for a great Sandalwood perfume you must look elsewhere. The royal sandalwood was overthrown by the forces of oud.
It took me weeks, but I can finally appreciate Santal Royal. You have to be in the mood for it, but sometimes it works. It is my little stinkbomb. (For a sweeter, gentler take on this composition, try Tom Ford Oud Wood.)