2014 is quickly become the year of the rose for me. It all started with the fabulous (and addictive) Tobacco Rose by soon-to-be-launched perfume house Papillon Perfumery and quickly spiralled into many days absorbed in clouds of Montale’s Black Aoud and a thirsty hunt for more roses. Nothing can satiate my appetite when I’m on a mission, so it was with much interest that I approached Isparta PG26 (hereafter referred to simply as ‘Isparta’) – the new rose fragrance from Parfumerie Générale.
Now Parfumerie Générale and I have a complex relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I have great respect for the brand and Pierre Guillaume as a perfumer, but nothing from the line has bowled me over yet (Djhénne has come VERY close – I really should invest in a bottle but something holds me back) and I want so desperately to love something with PG’s intriguing gourmand signature.
Isparta is very much in the Pierre Guillaume style (read: woody/gourmand-ish) but displays more clarity than a lot of his perfumes. His other rose, Brulure de Rose for example, is a much thicker and ‘delicious’ take on the note, but Isparta thankfully errs more on the transparent side of things. This is perhaps due to the perfume’s inspiration, which is a woody rose based entirely in nature:
“The province of Isparta in Turkey is famed for its rose oil, obtained from a variety called ‘Isparta Summer Roses’, which grows profusely in gardens and terraced fields on the soft mountain slopes. The roses are picked early in the morning when they are half-open and their fragrance is the strongest… intense, rich and slightly spicy.”
Red Fruits, Summer Rose of Isparta, Peru Balsam, Calamus, Patchouli, Incense, Benzoin, Agarwood, Ambroxan and Musk
How Does it Smell?
Isparta starts out as a juicy red rose. Sniffing it conjures to mind the experience of biting into a delicious fondant rose filled with berry compote, and if that doesn’t sound attractive to you, then I don’t know what will. At this stage, this rose perfume is also reminiscent of other roses, namely Malle’s Portrait of a Lady, capturing the tartness of Dominique’s Ropion’s masterful raspberry rose accord, and Dior’s Oud Ispahan, drawing a parallel with the smoky rosewater of Francois Demachy’s ultimate rose and oud combination. Think of it as a happy hybrid of the two.
With time, the gourmand sensibilities of the opening subdue, making way for a much smokier and more intensely woody affair. There is a touch of something animalic too, something that is reminiscent of the oud-like cypriol found in Dior’s Leather Oud (and Oud Ispahan for that matter). This little ‘animal’ inflection, with its leathery smoke, is a nice touch that compliments the sweet, dewy quality of the rose to create an ambience that is deeply resinous.
Perhaps the most impressive element of Isparta is its sense of restraint and balance, a feature that should be highly lauded when Guillaume’s fondness for heavy gourmands is taken into consideration – he is, after all, the gent that gave the world Musc Maori (a.k.a Eau de Nesquik). As it settles into the base, what remains of this hybrid red flower is a nicely proportioned (and rather robust) bed of oud and incense that exudes gorgeous red threads of fruity rose.
Do I love Isparta? In short: no. That said, I do like it quite a bit and I also think that it’s a very well executed rose. If I didn’t have a bottle of Portrait of a Lady and a calculated stash of Oud Ispahan decants, I would most definitely consider a purchase. For now though, I’m happy to file it under; “if a bottle landed in my lap I wouldn’t complain” and it is fair to say that I feel more fondness for it than the brand’s other rose (Brulure de Rose), which I’m really struggling to make my mind up about. Thumbs up for Pierre, but I’ll keep looking for ‘my’ PG scent.
Parfumerie Générale’s Isparta 26 is available in 30ml, 50ml and 100ml Eau de Parfum.
Quotes, notes and images via parfumerie-generale.com.