What do you do if you love perfume but find florals too sickly, woods too heavy and ozone too aggressive? Ok so there are a range of things you could pick from nowadays, and fragrance number 21 from Nikkos-Oskol is one of those options.
Verbena, rosemary, mint, eucalyptus, thyme, cypress.
Nikkos-Oskol differ from other brands we review here on The Sniff because their fragrances are predominantly oil based. You can read more about this in our reviews for number 7 and number 13. In case you hadn’t worked it out yet, their fragrances are largely numbered rather than named which can make them a little confusing to navigate but does cut through some of the waffly gubbins that appears on perfume websites.
The Nikkos-Oskol brand has been around since 2009 – releasing their first fragrance in 2011 – and they are based in Russia. You can read more about the company here (translated from Russian).
Number 21 is an interesting fragrance primarily because it uses ingredients that are very difficult to use well in perfumery without the perfume ending up smelling like mouthwash. Unsurprisingly from this top-end and exclusive brand, they manage to pull it off convincingly and with this offering bring something really unusual to the market.
The opening of this scent encompasses two things which we love the smell of both: eucalyptus and mint.
Several years ago, The Sniffer found herself in San Francisco: young(ish), carefree(ish) and full of joie de vivre (ish). The air was warm and thick with dampness rolling in from the bay, life held promise, and the excitement of the city beckoned. As she strolled up to the Coit Tower – which is the true guardian of this magnificent city – the air stirred almost imperceptibly but as it did so the most delicious wafts of eucalyptus rolled down the hill to meet her. It was the most beautiful breath of freshness on a Summer’s evening, and thus a long lasting love affair with eucalyptus was born.
This perfume is reminiscent of that. We aren’t talking cough sweets or mouthwash or anything synthetic or overpowering, we are talking a scent which is natural, compelling and thoroughly delicious.
The eucalyptus is backed by spearmint and the two together give a wonderful sense of clarity and purpose to the perfume. We can’t state strongly enough that this isn’t that oil that your grandma used to rub on your chest when you had a cold as a child, it’s not even it’s more sophisticated cousin. Instead it’s more like a distant relative who is so far removed that there is a familial resemblance but only in certain lights and fleetingly at that.
Nikkos-Oskol fragrances take a while to warm and settle due to the oils used, so their transformation is slower than other perfumes can be. We don’t see this as a problem though, instead the slow burn of the fragrance makes it all the more interesting and gives the wearer chance to appreciate each element before the fragrance moves on.
The heart of this perfume consists of herbal, woody yet green notes, like thyme. There is also the scent of peppermint tea in there and these two components lend the perfume a cleansing, expansive property that is both calming and invigorating. This is being able to suddenly breathe clearly after a head cold, it’s minty refreshment on your palate after a heavy meal.
The refreshing cool notes continue in the base with a pine-like quality coming through gently to give just the edge of a true woody note to the fragrance. This is a cold, resinous wood note though so it works in harmony with the notes that have come before and makes the fragrance feel like it is pulling in one direction, but it’s a direction which is very pleasant.
Indeed the whole journey of this perfume is very harmonious; it’s shades of greeny blue all working together. It’s like looking at a forest from a distance in Summer when all the leaves are on the trees, the different species are distinguished by texture rather than colour, and it’s the same for this fragrance. Nothing within it works against the coolness or cuts through it, which is both nice and reassuring; the perfumer was so confident in the quality of the materials and the harmonious scent they were building that they didn’t feel the need to drop in anything to contrast against that. If the perfume were less successful then this could be a criticism, but in this case, and handled by such experts, it works. Lesser perfume houses simply wouldn’t have managed to pull this off.
The other stuff
Fragrance number 21 is unisex and will appeal most to those who have the confidence to wear something a bit off the beaten path, a bit different, a bit quirky. It will be of interest to those who need soothing and invigorating but who want a change from scents with a watery element or citrusy feel.
The longevity of this scent was excellent, as we have found with all the Nikkos-Oskol range thus far. The perfume was still detectable in the evening after a day’s wear. The projection or sillage of the scent appeared fairly limited but, that said, it seemed to surround us with a breath of freshness when we tested it out – a bit like when someone has been outside on a Winter’s day and they bring the outside with them when they come indoors; no one particular note, just a sort of fresh and cleanliness.
As we have mentioned in our other reviews, at first sight Nikkos-Oskol scents look screamingly expensive but they last and last and you need to use a smaller amount than you would for an alcohol based fragrance so wear for wear the don’t represent bad value for money. You’re also getting something limited edition and pretty unusual so you’re very unlikely to meet anyone wearing the same thing as you, which in itself is worth paying that little bit extra for. As someone once said to us early on on our perfume journey: “you deserve to smell better than someone’s ex girlfriend”. We couldn’t agree more!
Nikkos-Oskol is available exclusively at Bloom Perfumery London where the range is priced at £98 for 35ml extrait in oil. Bloom kindly provided a sample of this for us to review.