Farmacia SS. Annunziata Patchouly Indonesiano

Well, this will clear your nose! The most intense patchouli I have ever experienced is Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 Patchouly Indonesiano, which is also the longest named patchouli fragrance around. Patchouly Indonesiano is, quite literally, patchouli tripled: the best and highest quality leaves from Indonesia, from top to bottom, without a single thing to leaven them. It is quite… an experience.

Source: Fragrantica

Source: Fragrantica

Farmacia SS. Annunziata dal 1561 (or “Farmacia SS. Annunziata” as it is called for short) is an Italian niche house based in Florence whose history goes back to 1561, when a chemist called Brunetti worked with the Benedictine Nuns of San Nicolò to create all-natural beauty products and potions. As Roullier White explains, the ancient, original apothecary:

passed from the nuns to various owners until it was acquired by the Azzerlini family, who has now managed the brand for over three generations. However the apothecary which was recorded in existing documents in 1561 still survives, with white ceilings and dark wooden shelves decorated with apothecary jars from the 1800’s and although it preserves its old traditions, Farmacia SS Annunziata uses modern machinery and new materials to make its world renowned fragrances.

Source: Luckyscent.

Source: Luckyscent.

Patchouly Indonesiano is a concentrated eau de parfum which, in my opinion, is more like extrait de parfum that feels like undiluted perfume oil which you’d find in a naturalist’s store. Farmacia SS. Annunziata describes it quite simply as an

[a]roma that never sets, a symbol of history. Intense and eternal aroma. It surrounds the wearer of a seductive atmosphere. A fragrance with an unmistakable character, an earthly beauty.

Top notes: PATCHOULY

Heart notes: PATCHOULY

Base notes: PATCHOULY

Indonesian patchouli. Photo: Aromahead on Flickr. (Website link embedded within.)

An Indonesian patchouli plantation. Photo: Aromahead on Flickr. (Website link embedded within.)

Patchouly Indonesiano explodes on my skin with a blast that did, indeed, clear my nose. If you have sinus trouble, you may want to consider this fragrance because it has a seriously potent opening. It is a strong blend of: dry dust, dark earth, medicine, camphor, smoke, sweetness, raw black leather, and musk. Mere seconds later, a rubbery note, bitter coffee, and dark chocolate join the party, along with hints of something vaguely sweaty. The whole thing makes my head spin a little. The combination is truly intense and with powerful projection, though the sillage seems to drop almost instantly to coat the skin like a perfume oil.

Source: deseretnews.com

Source: deseretnews.com

It only takes a few minutes for the camphor that leads the charge to soften, and for Patchouly Indonesiano to shift a little. The nose-clearing menthol is joined by an oily smell that resembles castor oil, as well as by a strong element of paper. Patchouly Indonesiano’s primary bouquet is now of: paper, oil, menthol, dry dirt, black rubber, dust, and a hint of chocolate. It makes me think of an auto mechanic’s shop where a greasy pool of castor oil and the smell of rubber tires swirl with the scent from a nearby coffee-maker that is on a table with dusty old ledgers. The mechanic is wearing patchouli oil from a nearby health-food store, and eating a bar of dark chocolate. Outside, construction is going on, with a diesel-running machine uprooting mounds of dark earth, as dust particles fill the air.

Indonesian patchlouli fields. Source: boccecreative.com

Indonesian patchlouli fields. Source: boccecreative.com

I realise none of that sounds particularly good, but there is something oddly fascinating, even entrancing, about the panoply of aromas in Patchouly Indonesiano. It’s as the though the essence of nature with sweet, rich soil has mixed with the most intense manifestations of something industrial and mechanical. There is a sweet, spicy muskiness that is earthy and soothing underlying Patchouly Indonesiano, and that I like quite a bit.

Source:  quora.com

Source: quora.com

It’s just the rest of the bouquet that I’m dubious about and struggle with. The menthol is seriously medicinal, as if our car mechanic slathered himself in Vicks Vapor muscle rub, but it is the distinctly rubbery rawness of the patchouli that is the hardest to take. This is not  the more burnished, soft, richness of leather that can sometimes underlie the note. This is sharp, raw, black rubber with a hint of diesel fuel. The notes feel distilled down to their concentrated essence, then mixed with castor oil, and rubbed right into my nostrils. It actually made my eyes go a little cross-eyed at one point.

Patchouly Indonesiano is largely a linear scent where the notes vary only in degree and prominence. Fifteen minutes in, the dustiness, tobacco, and that fleeting drop of sweatiness vanish, while the smoke, paper, menthol, rubber, oil, and dirt elements go stronger. At the end of the first hour, the fragrance is primarily camphor and castor oil, followed by subtle nuances of black rubber and smoky woods. There are muffled, muted whispers of sweetness and spiciness, but they can’t counteract the rougher elements.

Source: 123rf.com

Source: 123rf.com

Things improve, however, about 2.5 hours in, when Patchouly Indonesiano becomes much more focused around the traditional aromas of the note. The scent is now a warm, brown, spicy, sweet patchouli scent with very little of the dusty, rubbery or diesel elements. There is still a hint of something mentholated lurking about, but Patchouly Indonesiano is much better balanced and mellower. The fragrance turns into a skin scent at the end of the second hour, and remains largely unchanged until its very end. By the end of the 6th hour, it is a mere blur of sweet woodiness, and then it fades away entirely about an hour later.

The reviews for Patchouly Indonesiano on various sites largely center around the fragrance’s dirtiness and its price (which is $160 for 100 ml). On Luckyscent, a number of people find the perfume to smell like simple patchouli essential oils that you can purchase from places like Whole Foods for $16. Others find it to be the truest and most refined patchouli scent around:

  • This is what I’ve been looking for, for years even. A gorgeous patchouli that has all the rich, earthiness and dry, woodiness without that nasty, unwashed hippie thing going on. This is an elegant, refined and very true patchouli that smells wonderful on its own, and layers very well with musks and ambers to create really sexy scent combinations. Outstanding!
  • I have tried many of the other Patchoulis (Patchouli Patch, Patchouli Leaves, LeLabo’s 24) but this is by far the loveliest and most refined. […]
  • This is the dirtiest patchouly I’ve ever smelled (and that’s a good thing). I really enjoyed sampling this scent, it is the rawest patch I’ve come across. This one is about as earthy/dirty as you can get, it’s pure patchouly oily and nothing else. Everytime I closed my eyes and smelled I pictured myself surrounded in a warm grassy dirt patch. This oil has a slightly above average longevity rating from me lasting just about all day and projects a strong 4-5 hours. Really good scent but it smells pretty close to your run of the mill patchouly oil you can find at any herbal store. I do find this to be a bit stronger and a slightly more unique than your typical patch oil but I can’t see paying the extra money for something you can find for around $20.

The focus on Fragrantica is more about the scent itself, with all its dusty complexity:

  • Patchouli + cobwebs. Very earthy, dry, dusty, and almost moldy. [¶] This is how an antique rocking horse that’s been sitting in an attic for several years would smell. [¶] All that being said, I like it. It’s full of character and smells like historical objects.
  • I love patchouli, and I guess I expected this to blow me away, but maybe I am learning that I like my patchoulis best when blended with other notes. It started out bracing, camphorous, and dirty, and within an hour it was a velvety smooth, warm, and woody skin scent, but Patchouly Indonesiano had very poor staying power on my skin and was barely detectable after that first hour. Four hours later there was no trace of it on my wrist. I like it for being a high-quality single note fragrance, but I would have to reapply it constantly to be able to fully enjoy it.
  • Dust and patchouly. And a little more earthy dust. In my imagination this is the type of dust that could be found settling on a crypt or kicked underneath the heels during a dry desert walk.
Dusty, dirt road in Laos. Photo: Daniel McBane. http://www.danielmcbane.com/laos/dusty-road-central-motorbike-loop/

Dusty, dirt road in Laos. Photo: Daniel McBane. http://www.danielmcbane.com/laos/dusty-road-central-motorbike-loop/

The most interesting comment for me comes from someone who has purchased two bottles of Patchouly Indonesiano, and is still ambivalent about it!

I have been through two bottles of this, and I have a ambivalent relationship with it. Most of the time I love it for it’s true, up-front patchouli note – it’s everything that patchouli is supposed to be. This would be: camphoraceous, dusty, earthy, dry, linear and even wine-like at at times.

However, sometimes I think that I’d get the same results by adding a good amount of aged patchouli absolute, iso e super, a touch of cedar and a synthetic musk (all easily obtainable) to some perfumer’s alcohol. This would probably result in a similar scent for a good deal less $$. There really isn’t much more to this other than patchouli and some bolstering modifiers.

It just depends on the day. Nonetheless, if you love patchouli, this will be absolute heaven for you – nobody will mistake what you’re wearing.

I adore patchouli, but I share the feelings of a number of those quoted up above. I’m starting to realise that I need some modifiers and softening agents to go with my patchouli. This sort of untamed, concentrated, and very raw form isn’t really my cup of tea. Patchouli Indonesiano is, as one commentator on Basenotes put it, “a balls-out, take no prisoners” patchouli. It would be lovely once in a blue moon, but not for $160, especially if there are similar scents which one can purchase as pure essential oils from a health food store for $16. Even if the fragrance were cheaper, the hard-core, balls to the wall (to paraphrase that Basenotes’ description) extremeness of the opening blast makes the scent too much like a novelty fragrance for me personally, while the poor sillage and minimal longevity on my wonky, unobliging skin would be frustrating.

I’ve been trying to imagine what would happen if a bottle of Patchouly Indonesiano fell into my lap, and the simple truth of the matter is that I doubt I would reach for it very often. Perhaps it might work as a layering scent, though I don’t really do that. It might be interesting as a bath oil (since the perfume really feels more like an oil), but that’s rather heretical and ridiculous for something that costs $160. I wouldn’t want my sheets to smell of castor oil and black rubber, so that would be out, too. I would probably do what some chap did on Luckyscent: give the bottle to someone who is a hardcore patchouli nut, and whose skin chemistry works wonders with the thornier elements in question. I have no idea who that imaginary person might be, but it’s definitely not me.

DETAILS:
Cost & Availability: Farmacia SS. Annunziata Patchouly Indonesiano is a concentrated eau de parfum that is available only in a 100 ml/3.4 oz bottle which costs $160. The European price seem to range from €110 to €129, but I can’t figure out the set retail cost. Farmacia SS. Annunziata does not seem to have an e-store, and it doesn’t provide any pricing information. Discount Price: I found Patchouly Indonesiano offered by an Italian eBuy boutique called Store Perfumery for $148 with free worldwide shipping. The exact link (which will obviously be inapplicable if the perfume sells out) is hereIn the U.S.: Patchouli Indonesiano is available for $160 from Luckyscent, along with a sample. Outside the U.S.: The entire Farmacia SS. Annunziata line of fragrances, body products and samples is available from Italy’s AllaVioletta. You can also find Patchouly Indonesiano at Profumeria Manuela for €110. Germany’s First in Fragrance sells the perfume for €121, while the Netherlands’ ParfuMaria sells it for €129. In Switzerland, Beauty Flash sells the fragrance for CHF 175. In the UK, some of the Farmacia SS Annunziata line is carried by Roullier White, but Patchouly Indonesiano is not listed on the website. Rich Perfumes in Buckinghamshire also carries the line, and you may have to call to see if they have the Patchouly. Samples: I obtained my sample from eBay, but you can also buy one from Luckyscent. Surrender to Chance does not carry Patchouly Indonesiano, and neither does The Perfumed Court.
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18 thoughts on “Farmacia SS. Annunziata Patchouly Indonesiano

  1. Ah dear Kafka, I wondered if your reviews of patchouli fragrances would include Patchouly Indonesiano! I have a bottle which I purchased used for $90. You describe its progression and shifts exactly, as well as the ambivalence I also feel about wearing it often. I think the thing that struck me the most was its very short life span, becoming, as you say, a skin scent a little into 2.5 hrs. It certainly is cask strength patchouli while it lasts! 🙂 I experimented layering it with one of your favorite ambers, Ambra Aurea, and find I really like the combination, though application of the two viscous perfumes makes them difficult to apply in a consistent fashion. It’s like the ‘hot toddy’ of my two favorite fragrance notes! (For external use only, of course!)

    • Aha, layering it with Ambra Aurea is exactly what I was pondering! I really can’t see myself doing that beyond once as a mere experiment, mostly because of how viscous both fragrances are. This one is really like an oil, though! I’m curious, though, when you layer, what does the Ambra Aurea do to the Patchouly Indonesiano and, in particular, to that castor oil, black rubber accord? Even more oil, but just less rubber? No rubber?

      I struggle with the car mechanic vibe, but at least it goes away eventually. The end is nice which makes the fragrance’s sillage/duration a bit of a pity. I know you don’t have skin issues or longevity problems, so it’s certainly not good if you too thought it had a short lifespan!

  2. I like patchouli, but combined with other elements and definitely not tothis degree. But I became curious and interested in the house that produces this perfume. I may be interested in another fragrance from them, possibly. I guess this is how people past centuries smelled when applying a fragrance, they used truly heavy, concentrated, rich and probably also linear scents, mainly to hide the smell of not bathing very often lol, which is way the scents needed to be so heavy.

    • I don’t think you’d like this at all, Vicky. lol. As for historical fragrances, I don’t think they were like this at all. They may have been strong to counter a lack of hygiene, but Western fragrances were still generally thinner and milder than most things today. They were colognes centered around herbal notes, flowers, and powder. Really concentrated fragrances were more of a Middle Eastern thing.

  3. I believe Indonesian Patchouli features in Annick Goutal’s Mon Parfum Cheri par Camille in an opening blast that has put some people off. If you had told me as a teenager that I would one day eat artichokes, blue cheese, oysters and anchovies I would not have believed it. We acquire tastes as we travel about, but Farmacia SS may be a bridge too far.

    • Haha, a bridge too far indeed!! I very much agree that our tastes change and adapt, especially with time and experience. But so much raw, undiluted Indonesian patchouli with the roughest edges of the note, and very little of the spicy, sweet mellowness…. it’s not the easiest thing to take. 🙂

  4. Dearest Kafka
    My goodness, this does sound like the hard liquor!
    Having more than a passing fondness for patchouli this description (I adore the backstory) has The Dandy drooling. Triple distilled and parfum strength: I wonder if it should carry a health warning for wearing it in public lest others sue for the effects of passive patchouli!
    Loving this series and the ability to comment once again.
    Yours ever
    The Perfumed Dandy

    • WELCOME BACK, my dear Beau! You have a voice again! You were sorely missed, especially during your retreat to take the waters in Bath! 😉 I’m so truly happy to have you back.

      Re. the Patchouly Indonesiano, it’s certainly the hardest of hardcore patchoulis! I wish it had more of the beautiful sweet, spicy mellowness of the note, but it’s definitely an interesting scent to try out once at least. Patchouli is such a favorite thing of mine, but I realise now that I may prefer it accompanied by other things, as in the glorious Coromandel, or in the refined LIDGE.

      BTW, speaking of things that you would drool over, please read my review of Hard Leather when you get the chance as that had ME beyond drooling and in dire need of a cold shower. It has the hottest, sexiest opening of any perfume that I tried this year, and I thought of you SO MUCH while writing about it. I know your passion for leather, and your fondness for musk as well. I’m telling you, that is a scent you HAVE to try. Your leather-worshipping soul will keel over at the gloriousness of that opening. Such a sexy scent that even thinking about it has me heated up all over again.

      • Dearest Kafka
        It is magical to be back and magically restored (it must have been the waters!).
        I’ve written about Coromondel just recently and LIDGE I adored since I tried it and bought it instantly (hoho) at an airport a couple of years ago.
        Now, Hard Leather, I must find the review and then it sounds the perfume too!
        Yours ever
        The Perfumed Dandy

        • I responded to your wonderful, utterly WONDERFUL Coromandel review. But you were in silencio, so don’t worry about replying back from the depths of time. lol. Just know that I loved every bit of it. 🙂

  5. How interesting – this one really piques my interest! But, as those other reviews mention, if I can get it for $16, maybe I’d be better off trying that instead. Even though I think I would like this (I really like the smell of mechanic shops), I struggle to think of when I’d wear it. Though they aren’t the same scent, I feel like I’d have the same issue I have with Lonestar Memories. I find it interesting, I enjoy it, but really I don’t reach for it often because it’s quite impractical, IMO, for daily wear. As you mention, layering could be a good option, but I don’t really even know where to begin with layering and I like all my scents on their own, I’m too afraid of ruining a good thing by attempting layering and ending up a Chernobyl disaster zone, scent-wise. Still, I appreciated this review very much. It sounds like quite a decent reference patchouli, and while it isn’t absurdly expensive for a niche scent, one must consider the availability of patchouli oils for a comparative pittance.

  6. Maybe I should also try patchouli oils and save some cash! Time for a visit to the local BIO store me thinks. This perfume sounds like a weapon of mass destruction. I think I would need something like cocoa or vanilla to sweeten it up slightly. My sinus may not be up for the challenge of this patch bomb.

    • The YSL Noble Leather was a weapon of mass destruction! This one is merely…. sinus-clearing at first. LOL. It’s definitely not the friendliest, most easy going patchouli around!

    • Heh, it was quite a surprise to me too, I must say!! I think that says something about the unleavened, rawness of the patchouli here. It’s really like nothing I’ve ever encountered. Are you a patchouli fan, Doc Blue? 🙂

    • This one would probably kill you, my dear. I know (true) patchouli isn’t your favorite note, and this take on it… yep, it would kill you. LOL. So, smart move in avoiding it.

  7. Pingback: Santa Maria Novella Nostalgia: Drive, Baby, Drive | Kafkaesque

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