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BPAL Madness!


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About nok

  • Rank
    casual sniffer
  • Birthday 11/11/1979


  • Location
  • Country
    United States

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  • Pronouns
  • Interests
    Fast cars, whiskey, nice suits and shoes (old world style artisan shoe cobbling is my current thing), photography, aimless drives in lieu of therapy, black licorice to feed my ammonia + salt addiction, and my record collection.


  • Favorite Scents
    A Bachelor's Dog, Globe, Dee, Port Royal, Theodosius, The Bow & Crown of Conquest


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    Nothing Selected
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  1. nok


    A-Rovin is a beautiful, rich, full-bodied perfume that lives up to its description and would comfortably be at home amongst the Lupercalia themed fragrances. When it first hit my skin, I clumsily thought it smelled in league with Mme Moriarty (vintage, at least), but it didn’t take long for A-Rovin to find its own voice on my neck. Reluctant and cautious are two words that accurately summarize my feelings toward jasmine notes in fragrance, which can sometimes come across as stuffy & bitter (especially the Sambac variety) yet as I began to notice the jasmine note in A-Rovin moving front and center and realized it would likely become the prominent theme around which all other notes orbited, thankfully its revelation as the centerpiece was not met by any aversion on my part. This is primarily because of how well blended it is. There are no sharp points, nothing prickly, nothing treble-y, nothing feels out of place. It is a large, warm, sweeping jasmine perfume bookended with sweet notes (listed as hay sugar and honey) on one side and, though not published in the notes list, what my nose detects as something slightly reddish/purple plummy on the other end. Again, evoking memories of Mme Moriarty (a beautiful perfume but one I have not worn in some years). Wanting to sate my curiosity, I put on a little bit of Mme Moriarty to compare to A-Rovin. The side-by-side punctuates the differences between the two in terms of a literal comparison, but the feeling/atmosphere each perfume evokes is not entirely dissimilar. Mme smells more like a ‘high art’ perfume, it is vivid and complex and feels like a special occasion scent. A-Rovin is cozy and ‘sensual’ in comparison. It has a strong cuddle-up vibe (hard to pull off with jasmine, in my opinion). It also has a beautiful come-hither depth lurking under the jasmine notes without veering into cavity inducing sweetness or anything that would make this grown man feel awkward wearing. It feels like a jasmine perfume that slithers and sneaks up into the air as opposed to the bold announcement of Mme. Both are great, but A-Rovin makes a better case for being a daily driver type of signature scent. It's undeniably sexy and radiates carnality. Looking at the collection this perfume originates from and the description for A-Rovin, it’s safe to say Beth 100% achieved what she set out to accomplish with this one. I highly recommend this. It is not remotely challenging to wear. It is one of those perfumes that I feel inclined to keep adding more of to my skin after just a few minutes, which is to say it's the kind of perfume that will make people want to move in closer and get a better smell. I would also classify this as a “jasmine for people who don’t typically like jasmine”, as the way the notes are arranged here present the jasmine in an easily digestible manner which is completely free of anything challenging or off-putting. The blend is seamless, almost like the perfume melted into itself, completely unified in all aspects. Sillage and longevity are both stellar. 5/5
  2. nok


    This is more of a quick first impression. This was sent as a gift from the lab and I rather like it. Medea seems like a nod to chypres such as Guerlain's Mitsouko, although lacking the key note of oak moss (at least to my nose). Some may perceive this perfume as soapy or "old lady" but that would be an unfair oversimplification of what I find to be a rather compelling formula. It certainly leans feminine and a bit conservative, although I think this would smell exceptional on a man as well. If I can be totally honest, it smells expensive - or at least, it smells like what a wealthy woman may smell like. There is definitely a sophistication and refinement here, and also an atmosphere of something 'classic' and maybe a tinge melancholic. It is one of the safer BPAL fragrances I've tried, but I am ok with safe so long as it is done well, which Medea is. A pastel jasmine hued floral perfume, inhale deep and there's a bitter sensation in the back of your throat. It smells vaguely of fruit but I would never call this a fruity perfume. Resins of labdanum and myrrh are listed as notes, but I do not detect them (in all fairness, I am only 2 hours in so perhaps they arrive later in the drydown). It is very well blended. Nothing stands out or comes across as misplaced. It is not a gigantic fruity or syrupy floral. It is reserved, conservative, elegant, high iq and classic, like you borrowed a fragrance from your mom's counter, assuming your mom had amazing taste and loved expensive perfume. This would work in both hot and cold climates and would also be a suitable daily driver. Edit: there is a vaguely grape-note that seems to curl off the end of the jasmine. Perhaps a methyl anthranalate type material. Feminine autumn church winds.
  3. nok

    A Hailstorm of Knitting-Needles

    An oversimplification would be to say Hailstorm = Geek (original) + Dorian, but that’s not enough praise for just how seamless and perfect this scent wears on skin. The duration of Hailstorm reads as soft brown oak wood with its natural vanilla notes buttressed with a subdued woodsy sweetness that is appointed with candied tobacco leaf, golden apple tea and a wood polish halo. The grand sum of this perfume astounds me. It’s the greatest discovery of my perfume hobby, of any brand from mainstream to niche to indie. When I wear it out and about in my daily life I feel like the best version of myself. I've gotten all kinds of unsolicited remarks and compliments on it. It wears like magic in the air. This is the greatest BPAL I've come across. So perfectly sophisticated and refined. I’ve done side-by-sides with this vs so many other BPALs over the last months, including Geek, and it kills me how Hailstorm soars above everything else I test it against. The more I wear this, the more I fall in love with it and stand in awe of how perfect a scent it is. 5/5
  4. nok

    Dragon-Smooched Snake Oil

    This is gonna go down as one of the lab's best scents ever imo. It's one of the most perfect BPAL scent I've come across. It's huge, moody, harmonious, dark, sweet, musky, evokes all kinds of imagery and allure. It smells like a mix of Marianne, Snake Charmer and MME Moriarty (edit: and Schwarzer Mond). Leans a bit feminine at the start but dries down to something legendary. I'll never forgive myself for only ordering one bottle. Edit the following morning: I also agree with those saying this also has a Schwarzer Mond cola vibe. If you have a chance to buy a bottle of this, do not hesitate. It's absolutely divine. I really hope the Lab recorded the formula for this mistake in hopes it can be reproduced in the future. It'd be a shame if such a glorious scent was confined to such a limited offering. And I agree with those who say this is the type of blend that will age like a champion.
  5. nok

    Some Heraldry

    I agree, this one smells mostly like soap to me, which isn't what I expected given the notes list. I wondered if maybe I'd received a mislabelled bottle but it looks like other people are picking up the soapiness as well. I don't get leather, tobacco, sandalwood, incense or ambrette seed (a lovely warm musky note, one of my favorites in perfumery). All I smell is soap. It's not a bad scent per se, and I actually have a soft spot for soapy fragrances so this ends up working for me in a roundabout kind of way.
  6. nok


    I have always loved Hunger. It smells like the most BPAL-y bpal scent in existence. It's rich, sweet, syrupy, floral, heady, and super evocative and alive, almost like the scent itself has a pulse to it. The smell is a potent & rich syrupy orange liqueur made creamy with a deep vanilla note that, fortunately, doesn't make the scent smell too sweet. The orange burns off after 30 min leaving this incredible playdough/amber/cola/skin scent which I find very sexy, and it lasts and lasts going well into the next morning. I can't bury my nose deep enough in this one. I wouldn't change a thing about it. One of the most intriguing scents in the GC.
  7. nok


    “Many things -- such as loving, going to sleep, or behaving unaffectedly -- are done worst when we try hardest to do them.” This oil is quite addictive. I'm slightly obsessed. It's funny, I never cared much for the Dragon's Blood scents from BPAL but was frimped Dragon's Milk in a recent order and fell in love with it. There's a rough/sharp opening to it, but that fades and 15 minutes later it's like a creamy marshmallow Dragon's Blood that smells like pink and red notes swirling through milky white twirls of sweet creamy ambrosia. I've been wearing it to sleep the last couple of weeks and waking up in the morning is heaven with the smell in my bedroom. TKO seems like a sister scent to Dragon's Milk, just replace Dragon Milk's pink and red with TKO's rich pastel purples of all shades swirling through those same soft milky sweet curls. The opening shares a similar difficult opening too. TKO starts with a fresh lavender note right front and center, and lavender smells great at its heart and base but the top notes of lavender oil smell heavily herbal, like a cacophony of terpene heavy astringent notes that are none too pleasant. But once that initial blast subsides and those volatile top notes dissipate, you get hours upon hours of sweet coumarin-rich tonka hugging up on that gigantic soft pillowy lavender note. It's never too sweet, perfectly balanced. A nice big soft and cozy lavender marshmallow, a very addictive scent. A total companion scent to Dragon's Milk in my book.
  8. nok

    Theodosius, The Legerdemain

    After years of alternating through Dorian, Jareth and Theo, I find myself most likely to reach for Theo these days. An oversimplification would be to refer to Theo as Summertime Dorian, or rather, Dorian strolling through a garden in the golden hour while enjoying an effervescent gin and tonic with lemon. There's even a faint trace of soapy florals hidden in the mix which lends a certain freshness. The whole affair eventually fades to a sweet creamy musk that'll lure even the most fragrance-phobic person in for a closer sniff. Masterpiece material from the lab.
  9. nok

    Pleasures of the Imagination V

    V may not be the most attention-grabbing scent, but it is utterly perfected in the smooth, seamless and effortless style in which it wears on skin. The notes list (Black leather, red sandalwood, orris root, tobacco absolute, oakmoss, and sweet patchouli) is of no consequence when analyzing a fragrance like this because V is anything but the mere sum of its parts. If you insist I address the notes, I would say the only one I find completely absent is the black leather note. However, as that note typically comes across as harsh, chemical and synthetic, its absence here is most welcomed. Unlike the heavy (some here refer to as 'chewy') notes that can bog a scent down or relegate its suitability to only very specific occasions, V is allowed to breathe without ever feeling fleeting, yet maintaining a weightiness that never veers toward excessive. V is an incredibly smooth and balanced dark fragrance, to me it leans toward the masculine side of things as there is, hanging deep in the background, a classic gentlemen's cologne vibe going on - and though it is understated, that same understated approach lends an elegance and ease that makes wearing this one such a pleasure. V feels like a suit and tie fragrance with character, begging for an autumn afternoon with a nice scarf, fitted with a slight sweetness to prevent the fragrance from ever feeling too dusty or dry. It comes across as smart, clever even. V feels like the comforting way a Ferrari engine starts up and that smooth, satisfying bass-y hum that sounds like what I'd imagine a fluffy 100ft mountain of black velvet purring through an ASMR microphone would sound like. Totally satisfying right down to the marrow. While a scent like this could easily cross over into a hamfisted caricature of a moody/melancholic Victorian cologne, V benefits from coloring within the lines and staying in its lane. The result is, to my nose, a kind of dark yet dapperly woody/mossy cologne with a perfect balance of smolder and sweet. Nothing edgy or shocking, and perhaps even possibly a bit safe, but truly superb nonetheless.
  10. nok

    The Cat

    I've been wearing this one a lot lately and figured I should say some things about it. This is one of those unique oils that truly smells like nothing else I've come across, bpal or niche in general. A carefully crafted treasure where honey and benzoin sweeten a sawdust cedar with barbershop musk and baby powder. It's a rich, thick, deep golden colored oil that goes on sticky like real honey itself. In many ways it doesn't smell like an intentional perfume/fragrance at all, and it wouldn't surprise me if someone were to smell this in passing and think it was a unique smell of place-or-time and not a personal fragrance. It's definitely an 'outside the box' scent and rather abstract smelling. Sometimes it smells like a simple but perfectly crafted combination of 4 or 5 notes, yet at other times it seems to have an unspeakable complexity to it. To me, this is ultimately a dark honey musk fragrance - like an avantgarde film noir version of Sed Non Satiata (which would be a hypersaturated modern crime/romance). The Cat also wins the award for longest lasting bpal I've tried. Not sure if it's due to the viscous nature of the oil itself or the ingredients, or both, but this stuff lasts and lasts and lasts. A must try.
  11. nok


    One of the most beloved men's fragrances that straddles the mainstream/niche line would be Thierry Mugler's Pure Havane, a cherry and vanilla cigar leaf fragrance that is virtually impossible not to like. Perversion, which actually came out seven years before Pure Havane, treads eerily similar ground but with a more robust character. After an hour, the rum soaked cherry-gummyworm loosens its grip and allows the warmth of pipe tobacco and honeyed tonka bean to steal the show. Superb projection and longevity carry this phase of the scent on and on, which is all you could really ask for. The tobacco note alone is something everyone should experience for themselves. 5/5
  12. nok

    The Bow & Crown of Conquest

    Vanilla, leather and herbs create a faux-gourmand tinted fougere that tops my alltime favorite BPAL list and has remained at that #1 position for nearly a decade now. TB&COC is a rich, sweet and velvety smooth scent that is about as perfect as it gets in terms of seamless blending. My favorite BPAL scents are those that are more than merely the sum of its notes, and while the notes list for this one may look simple, the fragrance itself is full bodied and complex while seemingly dabbling its foot in every category: gourmand, fougere, floral, woodsy, spicy and musky. There's a lot to explore here. Looking through reviews of this one, I'd be remiss in not addressing that this scent has a quality that is very much a love-it-or-hate-it quality, and that would be TB&COC has a prominent note of talcum powder, a lavender/powder barbershop scent that is beloved by some and seen as dated or 'old man' by others. Personally I find the way it's presented here to be fascinating, and often I consider this scent a BPAL bastardization of a classic men's barbershop scent. It is definitely a manly scent but also friendly and comforting - not menacing or nocturnal as many other BPAL masculine scents come across as. If you're looking for a nice twist on a classic scent, this will hit the spot. It's my #1 compliment getter, my go-to date scent, and a scent so comfortable that some nights I'll find myself putting it on right before bed. Usually I fanatically and relentlessly wear a scent until my interest wanes but TB&COC is immune to that. It's too good to tire of and I'm fairly certain that the more I wear it, the more I love it. If Dorian is a dandy scent, TB&COC is a dapperly one, leaving me feeling like a sharp witted Dillinger-esque gangster in a pinstripe suit. An impressive take on a classic theme.
  13. With the recent passing of Justice Scalia, I found it fitting to pull out my bottle of this one and give it yet another wearing. If ever there were a "Macabre Powerhouse" perfume category, Looming Spectre of Inutterable Horror would dominate the hierarchy. From the moment I smelled this perfume I found something about it to be borderline creepy yet simultaneously comforting, scorched medicinal clove seeping into an old and eerie study rife with dusty furniture rich in varnish and aged leather. The effect is sinister, juxtaposed only by a rich vanilla - never cloying - which perfectly anchors this beast and tempers the bitter astringency. A previous reviewer referred to this one as "one of those aggressive, dark bpal blends" and another called it "dark, mad and brooding" while multiple people have used the word "bitter" to describe it. None of these remarks are inaccurate. This is not a play-nice masculine fragrance. It oozes a particular type of seriousness in its ability to smell black and grey and very unforgiving. 5/5