I don't drink much (anymore) and maybe (or maybe not?) that's why I'm such a sucker for booze notes in perfume. Stuff like this...
She commissioned a twelfth-generation master distiller, also located in Napa, to produce an exquisite batch of French oak essence for the perfume. One of the defining alchemical accomplishments of the composition, the oak essence was triple distilled in old European copper stills from a wine called ‘Esprit de cognac’ which is aged in French oak barrels.1
...gets my attention, and add in rose, white sage, black currant, wild honey and lavender (ok, in all truth I can often do without lavender) and you've got something I'd like to try. The 'she' in the quote above is Alexandra Balahoutis, of indie botanical line Strange Invisible Perfumes, and the perfume is Essence of IX, a limited edition project in collaboration with California winery Colgin Cellars.
Essence of IX opens quite boozy (really, maybe it's just the alcohol) and herbal, and it's slightly medicinal to boot. You might just want to let it rest on your skin for a few minutes before you breathe deeply, especially if you're not a huge fan of lavender. After that, it's a lovely, more-dry-than-sweet rose with light fruity undertones, rather sheer, over a warm woody base. It is mildly earthy — literally, it recalls warm soil — and the honeyed oak in the finish is interesting. It does not smell like what I've come to think of as "oak" in perfume, and perhaps that is because most oak notes are synthetic, or perhaps it is because of the special distillation techniques, I don't know. Anyway, whatever it is, it smells good.
Essence of IX stays herbal throughout its development, but it isn't as strongly vegetal as Strange Invisible Perfumes' Aquarian Roses, and I also find it more focused on the rose. And it doesn't smell like wine, exactly, but it nicely evokes the idea of a Northern California winery. I love it.
If you like the Strange Invisible Perfumes style, Essence of IX is absolutely worth a try. If you don't (Kevin is a nay-sayer), it's probably not going to sway you. If you've never tried the line, you might want to start with something like Magazine Street or ...? (Please, if you've tried the line, comment and tell us what you think the best entry-level perfume is.)
The lasting power is not fabulous, but it's quite good for a natural: maybe half the day. The price is also not fabulous (see below — I can't bear to type it more than once), but it's not out of the ordinary for an indie natural brand. Still, I do wish they'd done this one in a more-affordable Eau de Parfum, and why, oh why, is Black Rosette still only in extrait?
Strange Invisible Perfumes Essence of IX is available in 1/4 oz Parfum, $320. For buying information, see the listing for Strange Invisible Perfumes under Perfume Houses.
1. Via the press release, more of which you can find in the fragrance announcement.