In the Welsh language “hwyl” is a “stirring feeling of emotional motivation and energy” but it is the solace of Japanese forests that Aēsop cite as inspiration for their latest fragrance that carries this Welsh name. Now, if you don’t know Aēsop you are missing out. They make the most beautiful skincare and body products, fusing together nature and science for a range of treats for the face, body, hands and more! What’s more, all of the Aēsop products smell heavenly, not to mention their actual fragrances which are much better than the offerings from most brands of a similar ilk. In fact, they’re really rather good!
I must admit that the inspirations for Hwyl are somewhat confusing. When I smell the fragrance I can see the Japanese hinoki woods but I can’t reconcile that with the Welsh name, especially when the brand appears to think of isolation and solace, whilst the name suggests enthusiasm and energy. It all seems a little bit muddled, almost as if Aēsop just liked the sound of the name, rather than any of its deeper meanings. That said, Hwyl the fragrance is anything but muddled and it is made entirely in the manner of the brand, which is to say that it is a thoroughly exacting piece of work presented with little fuss.
Cypress, Frankincense and Vetiver
How Does it Smell?
Hwyl is cold and green in the opening, with the spikiness of cypress and pine nestled in the cracks of cold stone. Incense shines a light of hope in luminous colours of brown and gold, bringing in elements of spice and a shimmering coolness that is utterly resplendent. It feels as if the incense is really allowed to just shine in all its glory, with other notes added for contrast, texture and glow. It’s a remarkably sharp presentation, thanks in part to the mossy pungency of vetiver, which brings the whole thing into focus with an oily, tartness that gives Hwyl a razor’s edge.
All of Aēsop’s products have an earthy, natural feel to them and Hwyl is no exception. It feels entirely bound in nature, with a beautifully full incense accord that creates a starting contrast against the darkness of vetiver. It does speak of isolation and introspection, but it’s also incredibly pleasant and presents a more herbaceous take on incense. I’m not a huge incense fan (although I feel as if I am becoming one) but I really could wear this – it’s incredibly clear yet also complex. Hwyl is a beautiful piece of work that feels on brand for Aēsop, even if the message is somewhat muddy.
Hwyl is available in 50ml Eau de Parfum for £83.
Sample, notes and quotes via Aesop. Images are my own.