One Thousand Scents

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Drink It Up II: Brandy by Brandy

As I said a little while back, there are two fragrances that invariably make me think of autumn. One of them is Nature Millenaire, with its aura of fallen leaves and mulch, the harbinger of winter. The other is Brandy.

I don't know why, but I hate apples almost as much as I hate cucumbers. Something about the sound and the smell of them just horrifies me. However, when you use the culinary arts to transform them, by pickling (cucumbers bad, gherkins good) or cooking (baked apples! apple pie! applesauce!), they become wonderful. What's wonderful about Brandy is that it smells intensely of cooked apples without venturing into the realm of either the gourmand scent (no vanilla here) or cheap apple-cinnamon potpourri.

Brandy conjures up its autumnal world through a fascinating contrast between warmth and coolness. It smells predominantly of hot baked apples and warm apple cider, but it also has a crisp edge to it, like the cooling air of autumn, contributed by some fairly sharp spices and herbs. Late in its development it becomes even warmer, and somewhat (but not overwhelmingly) sweet; it's never patisserie, because it carefully avoids the richness of gourmand scents. It's not quite minimalist--it has a complexity--but it's simple and gratifying.

Brandy is a comfort scent. It suggests cozying up by the fire with a glass of mulled cider after a brisk October walk, and if you love the fall, what could be better than that?


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