Capsule Parfums describes Brood as "old soul spice...a progressive take on ancient ceremonial fragrance." Often, in perfumers' argot, "ceremonial" means incense, and though I love incense fragrances in autumn and winter, by spring I'm getting tired of them — no more smoke or ash, please. Only Eau d'Italie Paestum Rose and L'Artisan Timbuktu remain in rotation during warm weather (and many may not consider them "true" incense fragrances). Now, a new summer-incense-y perfume has caught my attention: Capsule Parfums Brood.
Certain herbs, spices and flowers (plum comes to mind, along with other strongly-scented spring blossoms) have an light-incense vibe. Capsule Parfums has chosen wisely by including a heavy dose of spikenard (Nardostachys jatamansi) in Brood; spikenard (a relative of valerian) smells "profound" and is used in incense blends in Asia. Spikenard was used in ancient times as a food flavoring and was included in perfume recipes in Egypt, Greece, Rome and the Middle East. Spikenard is used as a drug, especially in Ayurvedic medicine and has been shown to be a strong free-radical scavenger — showing protective properties against radiation. Spikenard grows at high elevations in the Himalayas and is endangered due to over-harvesting (projects to produce sustainable spikenard are ongoing in Nepal).
Though "brood" means to "think deeply" and "to ponder," Capsule Brood makes me feel happy...and a little hungry.
Brood goes on smelling peppery with hints of old-style patchouli and vanilla. Quickly the scent of tangy/green (almost chive-y), rooty/vegetal, earthy spikenard makes itself known (it's a complex aroma). A wonderful musky, overripe fruit note appears, too. Spikenard remains in the forefront as Brood develops and either becomes a bit minty or is joined by mint; a sheer vanillic note casts a semi-sweet haze over Brood's dry-down. Brood has good sillage and lasting power.
Spikenard would mix well with many notes: galbanum, mint, vetiver (another root-y scent), cedar and moss (all those notes seem part of spikenard's genetic composition). Smelling spikenard in Brood makes me want to taste it, so I may investigate including spikenard in a savory sorbet (in place of mint or lavender), a tomato chutney or vegetable curry. In the right hands and amount, spikenard would also add distinction to a strong cocktail.
Capsule Parfums Brood features notes of cardamom, pink pepper, apricot, guava, rose absolute (Egypt and Morocco), patchouli, spikenard, vanilla absolute, oak moss, leather, cedar, vetiver, hedione, cetalox, musk. It is $90 for 50 ml Eau de Parfum at the brand website.
Note: top image via Capsule Parfums. Lower image of Nardostachys jatamansi via the Institute for Traditional Medicine, Portland, Oregon.