Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Paris


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Paris was one of the very first Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents I ever tried. It was in the form of a sampler vial (what they call ‘imps’) and it was, unfortunately, not my cup of tea.

In Bottle: Tons of lavender loaded up with sweetness and a little bit of spice.

Applied: Yep, lots of lavender with a lot of sweetness. I’ve tried other BPAL lotus scents to me and the lotus components always smelled sweet and a little off. It’s off because it smells like chemical sweetness. Like the chemical sweetness you might associate to something you’re not supposed to be near. That’s the kind of sweetness that I’m getting from Paris and it’s very distracting. Lavender has to be mixed just right for me or it ends up distracting or just smells weird in a fragrance. Unfortunately, Paris’ off-sweet lotus mixing with the strong lavender in this fragrance creates an odd sensation that I’m at the dentist and getting ready to have my teeth worked on. As Paris progresses, the fragrance ages into strong off-sweet lavender with a hit of cinnamon. The spice does help to mature the fragrance and make it more appealing, but it’s too little too late for me.

Extra: Paris is a part of BPAL’s Wanderlust series of fragrances.

Design: Pretty much what you’d expect from a BPAL. Paris sits in an amber apothecary bottle with a standard BPAL label and standard black cap.

Fragrance Family: Sweet Aromatic

Notes: Lavender, lotus, cinnamon.

In addition to Paris, I also had a scent that worked out a lot better in my first order from BPAL. Thankfully, The Unicorn was a big hit for me and kept me going on BPAL’s to slowly sample their massive library scents. In that time, I’ve discovered stuff that didn’t work at all and stuff that I really like. Though it’s way too easy to get lost in all the inventory.

Reviewed in This Post: Paris, 2010, Perfume Oil.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Wensleydale


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Wensleydale is the fragrance I go to after a shower and feel like I need to be as clean as possible. Wensleydale is a part of the Good Omens series of fragrances by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. You can find them here. Wensleydale

In Bottle: Strong but very reminiscent of a classic bar of soap. Think a bar of white soap and you’ve pretty much got Wensleydale.

Applied: Strong waft of soapiness that’s a little bit sharp to begin with, but the fragrance settles down quickly into a warm clean smell with an added hint of sweetness and cream. I get a wonderful mix that reminds me of stepping out of the shower and wrapping myself up in a warm terrycloth robe. There’s not too much else to Wensleydale, it barely goes through two progressions with the sharpness fading into a creaminess and the fragrance fades into a pretty linear clean cotton smell. But boy do I love it because of how nicely it combines warm, clean, fresh, sweet, and creamy into a scent.

Extra: Wensleydale is named after a character in Neil Gaimen’s Good Omens book. And the Wensleydale character, in turn, was named after a valley in England.

Design: Wensleydale is bottled in the same way as other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents. Amber bottle with a label affixed to it. Wensleydale and the other scents in the Good Omens series feature unique art for their labels.

Fragrance Family: Clean Floral

Notes: Cotton, milk, amber, white musk.

I have no way of knowing what the notes are in this, so it’s all a big guess on my part. It might also interest potential Wensleydale testers to know that Black Phoenix is donating proceeds from the sale of Wensleydale and other fragrances from the Good Omens line to two charities.

Reviewed in This Post: Wensleydale, 2010, 5ml Bottle.


BPAL Schrodinger’s Cat


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Schrödinger’s Cat by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab whose name is inspired by the paradoxical thought experiment is a interesting scent reminiscent of Terry’s Chocolate Oranges. Schrodinger's Cat

In Bottle: Crisp and clean citrus with a mix of creamy chocolate and a hint of earthiness.

Applied: Crisp citrus, a touch of sweetness with a bit of tartness up top. I get the grapefruit most with its sweet pink treatment as the fragrance digs into this creamy minty chocolate scent. It reminds me of those chocolate oranges that you smash on something before eating. As the fragrance continues to age the citrus fades leaving the minty chocolate note to speak for itself as the earthy hints fade in and out of the scent.

Extra: The Schrödinger’s Cat thought experiment was by Erwin Schrödinger and has to do with quantum mechanics and the paradox that could occur whereupon a cat could be both dead and alive. If you want to read up on it, I suggest the Wikipedia entry.

Design: Same design as the other BPAL fragrances. Bottled in a simple amber glass bottle with a plastic cap. The interesting part about Schrödinger’s Cat is the label which differs from most other general catalog scents.

Fragrance Family: Fresh

Notes: Tangerine, lime, grapefruit, sugar, oakmoss, lavender, zdravetz, chocolate, peppermint.

This is a pretty neat little scent with its midstage that’s so reminiscent of a tasty chocolate treat. The fragrance itself has a good balance of citrus and creamy chocolate. I just wish the chocolate orange scent lasted longer.

Reviewed in This Post: Schrödinger’s Cat, 2009, 5ml Bottle.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Lady Una


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Lady Una from Neil Gaiman’s Stardust has a pretty little fragrance by Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. Lady Una

In Bottle: Sweet and fruity with an underlying tartness from the berries.

Applied: Sweet berries up front with a bit of astringency from the green tea note and the berries that help with a little bit of tartness–not a whole lot of tartness here though as Lady Una is mostly honeyed berry. The fragrance continues on a rather linear path through its midstage and as it delves into its dry down the fragrance takes on a soft vanilla and clean musk.

Extra: Lady Una is a fragrance in the Neil Gaiman’s Stardust line from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab that focuses on concepts and characters from the novel.

Design: Lady Una is bottled much the same way as other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents. You get a small amber bottle with a plastic cap and stopper and a label featuring artwork by Sarah Coleman.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Honey, green tea, blackberry, vanilla, musk, spices.

Very nice soft fruity fragrance. If you’re a little too old for the vanilla and fruit explosion of most mainstream fragrances then give Lady Una a try for a softer, more subtle sweetness.

Reviewed in This Post: Lady Una, 2010, 5ml Bottle.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Fairy Wine


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Fairy Wine from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab is a part of their Neil Gaiman, Stardust collection of fragrances that are supposed to invoke characters or concepts from the book, Stardust. I was originally intrigued by this fragrance because it purportedly actually smelled like wine. Fairy Wine

In Bottle: Fancy that, it smells like wine! Wine with a hint of sweetness and blackcurrant.

Applied: Now I’m about as unsophisticated as you can get when it comes to wine so I can’t identify what type of wine this is if there is a type to this. All I can say is that it has that deep, fruity scent of wine with a hint of honey, a little bit of green bitter dandelion, and a few tart blackcurrants added into the mix for good flavor. The notes blend together very nicely with the wine taking on a bit more sweetness as the fragrance ages on the skin. The final stretch of this fragrance has me smelling less wine and more currant.

Extra: Fairy Wine is a joint venture between Black Phoenix and Neil Gaiman for a charitable cause that goes to the Comic Book Legal Defense Fund.

Design: The bottle is, of course, the same as all other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents. The only difference is the label which features interpretive illustrations of Stardust characters and other elements. The artwork was done by the very talented Sarah Coleman.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Wine, dandelion, honey, blackcurrant.

Well, I did go into this expecting wine and I got what I wanted after all. While I don’t know if I can wear this often it is quite a pleasant scent.

Reviewed in This Post: Fairy Wine, 2010, 5ml Bottle.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Snake Oil


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Snake Oil is one of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s most popular fragrances. In fact, I can probably safely venture that it’s the most popular fragrances. Many people love it, and even those who aren’t within the BPAL folds tend to say that there’s something about Snake Oil that makes it special. Snake Oil

In Bottle: Here’s the thing about my bottle of Snake Oil. It’s been “aged” for two years so it smells different than a fresh bottle. Mine has a deeper vanillic quality to it, layered on top is an incense like smoke note, a jolt of cinnamon and clove, and a little hint of woods.

Applied: A bit of medicinal spice to this, I swear it’s a cinnamon and clove mix with some other spices I can’t identify. There’s a bit of an incense going on, smoking up the fragrance a bit and making the smooth vanilla scent that’s hidden underneath these opening notes. Snake Oil lasts a ridiculous time on me, and I can often wait most of the day for it to turn into something else. But as you keep wearing it, you’ll notice the spices and the smokiness level out a bit and dense, warm, vanilla fragrance will waft up. The vanilla in Snake Oil isn’t your sugary ice cream vanilla scent. It’s got a bit spiciness and sophistication to it. It draws with it a woodsy sort of note that I want to say smells a bit like sandalwood or some other sort of powdery, perfumed wood. The more you let Snake Oil wear on your skin the more vanilla and less spicy it will get until it turns into a lovely creamy, warm vanilla fragrance with a hint of some clove-ladden spice and wood in the background.

Extra: So there’s a practice amongst BPAL fans who adore Snake Oil. What you do is get some of the stuff and leave it hanging around for a bit. That’s it. You leave in a dark corner of your fragrance chest, cupboard, drawer, sock, what have you, and pull her out periodically to test. Many people have reported the vanilla becomes stronger and sweeter. If you like the spices and the woods then perhaps “aging” Snake Oil is not up your alley. It’s still an interesting experience to compare a fresh vial of Snake Oil to an older one.

Design: Snake Oil, aside from having a fancy label that makes it look like it actually came out of a tonic peddler’s wagon, is bottled in the same amber glass vials as the other Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab scents.

Fragrance Family: Spicy

Notes: Cinnamon, clove, ylang-ylang, frankincense, amber, sandalwood, vanilla.

Please note that I’m only guessing at the notes list above based on what I think I’m smelling in Snake Oil. The official word on the BPAL website says that Snake Oil is “a blend of Indonesian oils and vanilla”. So we at least know for sure there’s vanilla but the rest of the notes list I’ve got is only a guess.

Reviewed in This Post: Snake Oil, 2009, 5ml Bottle.


BPAL The Zieba Tree


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When I tried the Zeiba Tree I had expected a much woodsier fragrance than I actually got. While it does contain a bit of sandalwood, the majority of the fragrance depends on its fruitiness to get by. The Zieba Tree

In Bottle: Fruity and sweet, like lemons, peaches and–for some reason–a little bit of apple.

Applied: Perhaps it’s the citruses (particularly lemon) mixing together with the ultra fruitiness of peach because I smell a little bit of apple in The Zieba Tree. It’s odd, because it’s more of an authentic apple note than any of BPAL’s actual apple notes. I quite like it even as the sandalwood waffles in and out of the fragrance like it’s uncertain whether or not it wants to hang out or get out of there. The musk in this fragrance is a very light clean musk that makes me think of a tree that someone’s soaped up and scrubbed down. The rest of the fragrance isn’t too deep the resins add a little more of a tree-like quality to the fragrance but in general, The Zieba Tree is a predominantly clean and fruity fragrance with little hints of sandalwood.

Extra: The Zieba Tree, being a mythological entity was said to have housed bare-chested individuals in its branches.

Design: Bottled the same way as most of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s other 5ml fragrances.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Sandalwood, musk, resin, davana, lemon blossom, orange blossom, white peach.

I’m rather delighted at how fun the morph was when I first applied this and smelled apples. I’m not the only one who noticed as many other Zieba Tree testers have noted a whiff of Ye Olde Forbidden Fruit too.

Reviewed in This Post: The Zieba Tree, 2009, 5ml Bottle.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Josie


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Josie is a member of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s District line of fragrances that focus on the sensual side of smell. Josie, in my case, hits a nice little sweet spot I have for peach notes. Josie

In Bottle: Strong. I mean, up your nose and clear out your sinuses strong. Josie is a heavy handed dose of sweet peach candy with a dollop of honey and a light dusting of sweet magnolia flowers. Yikes.

Applied: This fragrance is no wilting flower. It’s loud on application and remains loud until a few hours in. Your first impression of Josie is likely to be her very sugary personality that plays up the honeyed peach angle. If you aren’t partial to sugar, you might want to consider a difference fragrance because this stuff can be cloying. It dries down to a finer peach with a little less overbearing sweetness as the magnolia makes faint efforts to make itself present but don’t go digging into Josie looking for florals, she’s peach candy and honey for most of the ride. If you’re looking for something like a refreshing peach, you may have to look elsewhere. If you just want sweet peach candy then Josie should be up your alley.

Extra: I do like Josie, or at least like her concept of a simple sweet peachy fragrance. But she is very sweet and a bit too young for me now. If you liked Katie Perry’s Purr fragrance but wanted even more peachy goodness then give BPAL’s Josie a sniff.

Design: Bottled in a similar manner to BPAL’s other fragrances. You will get an amber colored glass vial with a plastic stopper. The label for Josie differs a bit from the other BPAL fragrances as it features artwork by the very talented, Molly Crabapple.

Fragrance Family: Fruity

Notes: Honey, magnolia, peach.

Ultimately, Josie falls a bit flat on me because she’s just too sweet and I expected her to have a bit more temperance. Still, whenever I see someone ask for a peach fragrance I’m tempted to tell them to smell this.

Reviewed in This Post: Josie, 2010, 5ml Bottle.


BPAL Fox-Woman Kuzunoha


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The full name of this fragrance is The Fox-Woman Kuzunoha Leaving Her Child. Due to space constraints, I couldn’t fit that whole thing in the title above. Regardless, Kuzunoha is a beautifully done clean tea floral fragrance from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. The Fox Woman

In Bottle: Lovely wafty of soft white tea settled with a pleasant bit of woodsiness. The jasmine in this fragrance lends the scent an even more tea-like personality.

Applied: Kuzunoha is one of my favorite fragrances. It’s light and beautiful and airy. The opening is a straight up showing of what the fragrance has, settling first with a hit of white tea followed by gently powdered jasmine. The white tea and jasmine mix well to make this fragrance smell a bit more like jasmine tea than just white tea while the two florals in this scent mix to make a floating floral background. The wisteria and cherry blossom are very light. The cherry blossom making a bigger appearance but it is still largely relegated to the background. The real star of the show here is definitely jasmine. Finally, the teak adds a tiny bit of woodsy presence to the fragrance to round it out. The entire experience is elegant, well-done, and very beautiful. Kuzunoha also benefits from the light approach because it is a very easy fragrance to wear.

Extra: The Fox-Woman Kuzunoha Leaving Her Child is a print by artist, Yoshitoshi Tsukioka.

Design: The Fox-Woman Kuzunoha Leaving Her Child is bottled in a similar way to most Black Phoenix Alchemy lab perfume oils. The glass is an amber color with a square label affixed to the surface of the glass. The label in this case features artwork by Yoshitoshi Tsukioka whose painting of the same name inspired this fragrance.

Fragrance Family: Floral

Notes: White tea, cherry blossom, wisteria, star jasmine, teak.

Big as I am on this fragrance, its longevity leaves a bit to be desired. I’m not surprised by this as most of the notes are rather fleeting in and of themselves.

Reviewed in This Post: The Fox-Woman Kuzunoha Leaving Her Child, 2010, 5ml Bottle.


Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Hemlock


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Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab’s Hemlock doesn’t smell how I’d assume Hemlock would smell like. But then, I didn’t expect this stuff to be green either. The real novelty here as most BPALs tend to be any color but green. Hemlock

In Bottle: Green  and a bit bitter with a slight woodsy undernote and a citrus note up front. I’d dare to call this refreshing.

Applied: Yep, citrus with a light green scent a bit of sharpness to make this fresh and a bit dewy.There’s something quite aromatic about this too, mint and a little bit of peppermint and some green leaves picked fresh off a tree thrown in. The woodsiness in Hemlock is ever present making the scent smell a little bit like pine-scented air freshener. But it’s a good thing, believe it or not.

Extra: Hemlock is a plant type. One of hemlock’s most famous historical deeds was poisoning Socrates.

Design: Bottled in the same amber glass bottle with the plastic twist cap as other general catalog scents from Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab. You’ll notice Hemlock’s label is a tad different in design. This design is employed for BPAL’s Rappaccini’s Garden fragrances of which Hemlock is a part.

Fragrance Family: Woodsy

Notes: Lemon, mint, peppermint, pine.

Just as a note that I am guessing at those notes up there. Now while I can’t really see myself wearing this as a fragrance, I do love it as a home scent. It’s got a classy air freshener smell to it, with my nose and I like those digs.

Reviewed in This Post: Hemlock, 2010, 5ml Bottle.