In the town of Biella, Italy, a small fragrance company called Acqua di Biella has been making its mark since 1871. The original fragrances were based on "formulas originating from local convents" and today they have four fragrances: No. 1, Baraja, Janca and Bursch.
No. 1: An old-world scent with the perfect vintage appeal, Acqua di Biella’s first creation, No. 1, is a bewitching blend of petitgrain, neroli, jasmine, rosemary, lavender, bergamot, mint, and musk.
At first sniff, I felt as though I was smelling something familiar. The olfactory notes are quite common in many traditional Eaux de Cologne and soaps, so I just chalked it up to tradition. The scent opens with petitgrain and neroli set against a soft lavender. Mint quickly arrives with an herbal rosemary. The jasmine is quite subtle, creating a soft creaminess that blends well with the lavender and fills in the background of the scent. The musk is merely an anchor that adds a little warmth. After about 15 minutes the entire composition blends and begins to settle.
Like Baraja (see below), No. 1 has a clean and fresh feel, but because it’s an Eau de Cologne, little projection or longevity. I’m reminded of classic British soap like Bronnley’s English Fern (it’s the mint and lavender) and I like the nostalgic feel the scent creates. Overall, the fragrance reminds me of Acqua di Parma, but without the floral notes and woods, and slightly more herbal. I prefer the citrusy Baraja, but wouldn’t mind splashing on a little No. 1 on a hot summer’s day.
Baraja: The scent of the summer Tide — no not the ocean, silly…Tide laundry detergent! Yes, with notes of lemon, citron, lime, cinnamon, cardamon, nutmeg, iris, pittosporum, vetiver, patchouli, and ambergris, Baraja is snuggly and clean, fresh and light, and won’t clash with your freshly washed favorite tee!
Baraja opens with a blast of citrus, and it’s a winner; a subtle lime and citron that quickly blends into the middle and base notes that are so well-blended it’s quite difficult to pick them out individually. The scent does very little changing after the first few minutes and does not project much. The best words I can come up with are “sparkling”, “calming”, “smooth”, and “celadon”…why celadon? Well, the scent reminds me of that super-thin translucent china in a light sage color.
For comparison’s sake, I’ll offer that Baraja reminds me of Gendarme minus the musks or Castelbajac minus the almond. At the standard price of $110 for 100 ml, I’m not sure I’ll be ordering a bottle anytime soon, but my eyes will be peeled for decants.
For buying information, see the listing for Acqua di Biella under Perfume Houses.