I almost reviewed Kerosene's new Broken Theories alongside The Different Company's Le 15 on Wednesday— they have little enough in common otherwise, but both scents went into my (imaginary) "incense box" just as soon as I smelled them. And the respective juices fit nicely into the (other imaginary) boxes you'd expect: Le 15 is smooth and sophisticated, and perfectly plausible as an anniversary fragrance of an established (and expensive) niche brand. Broken Theories is indie, and it's not particularly smooth, and it's about, well, broken theories, or existential dread, or garden-variety anxiety-induced insomnia, or somesuch:
Dark corners of a room seem to creep and reach out as the midnight clouds steal the last remaining shards of moonlight. Memories of smokey dreams are lost within your mind.
Ruminating over the scent of mystery and nightfall, the fire you went through drifts along the air, the spices of heartache linger on the skin. Assured, you know morning will come, the darkness will subside, and the theory that everything remains dreadful will be smashed and broken.
And yes, the juice could conceivably fit such a description. A little thread of blood orange lightens and sweetens the opening, then it's all bold and dark and smoky and spicy. It's not overtly boozy, really, but wearing it made me think of drinking a single malt scotch while smoking a pipe filled with spiced tobacco (not that I'd know). A mild vanilla almost, but not quite, tames the heavy woods and incense; nothing really tames the tobacco smoke.
I put Broken Theories into my incense box, but if I'd waited 30 minutes, it would have gone right in my tobacco box: it's really just as much about the tobacco (or arguably, the woods: you could put it into whatever box pleases you). I should think it would be overwhelming in hot weather. It lasts for ages.
Verdict: If you've ever worried that the smoke notes in your fragrance were uncomfortably close to the smell of cigarette smoke, or if you're a woman who finds tobacco notes possibly too masculine to wear, then Broken Theories is probably not for you. I found it great fun, and would recommend it as a perfect fragrance to warm you up on a dreary winter evening. It would indeed go nicely with a single malt, or an orange liqueur, while sitting by the fire.
If you want a sweeter, more focused tobacco, then you might want Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque (or possibly Chergui). If you want an easier to wear tobacco, do try Ineke Field Notes From Paris (Kevin calls it an orange blossom fragrance, but I have always kept it in my tobacco box). If you want to spend more, try Tom Ford Tobacco Vanille (sorry, I couldn't resist, I know everyone loves it but me); if you want to spend less, try L'Occitane Eau des Baux.
The quick poll: what's your favorite smoky fragrance (tobacco or otherwise), if you have one?
Kerosene Broken Theories is available in 100 ml Eau de Parfum, $140. The notes include blood orange, tobacco, spices, vanilla beans, sandalwood, oud and incense. For buying information, see the listing for Kerosene under Perfume Houses.