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Instead of a Christmas gift guide this year, I’m switching out my regular Candy Crush posts for just as regular Christmas Crushes instead. In these posts over the coming weeks you’ll find some wonderfully scented gifts just in time for the holiday season, with products that I am crushing on. So get ready for some marvellous Christmas gift inspiration!

Gosh, I’ve been reviewing so many candles recently you might as well call me ‘The Candle Perfume Boy’ (hold for applause). OK, terrible puns aside, I very much enjoy a scented candle so it was imperative that I brought you a selection for one of my Christmas Crush gift guides – nay, not a selection, an extravaganza! So that’s exactly what this is, a round-up of some beautiful scented candles that make lovely Christmas gifts for those languishing on your ‘to buy’ list (hurry up folks, because you don’t have many shopping days left). Some are evocative of the festive season and some aren’t, but all smell fabulous, making perfect gifts for the house proud or those that simply love a scented candle like me!

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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.

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There’s a simplicity and cleanliness to the Tom Daxon brand that really appeals to me. It feels unfussy and uncomplicated in presentation, with clean, structural lines favoured over anything remotely eye-catching or gimmicky. It’s a brand where the fragrances are allowed to speak for themselves and whilst the presentation may be simple (and elegantly so) the composition of each of the fragrances is anything but. Tom Daxon presents a collection with remarkable range, offering beautiful twists on familiar themes, creating fragrances that really don’t smell like anything else. If you haven’t sniffed anything from Tom Daxon then you absolutely must rectify that fact immediately.

The latest addition to the Tom Daxon collection is Riven Oak, and if you’re in to woods in a big way, then your interest should most definitely be piqued right now. Tom Daxon describes this oak-centric fragrance as “layers of smooth woods” and without giving away too much in advance of this review (because I’d quite like you to read on!), I’d say that’s a pretty spot on description. Riven Oak is no ordinary wood fragrance (see more on wood fragrances here) – it’s a multifaceted essay on the complexity of wood, with an entirely unique signature. Interest still piqued? Good, because it should be.

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I have a lot of time for Atelier Cologne. They’re a brand with a very clear direction and whilst they have an absolutely massive range (over 30 fragrances!!), which includes an impressive number of fragrances across many sub-collections, they don’t feel as if they are overdoing it. Whether it’s the glorious never-ending citrus tones of their neo-colognes or the unconventional exoticism of their oriental collection, Atelier Cologne are making beautiful, well-composed fragrances high on the wearability factory. Absolutely nobody can fault them for that!

So we’ve established that Atelier Cologne know how to make perfumes that smell good, but are they actually adding anything new to the world of perfumery? There is so much scent out there and the big question is whether Atelier Cologne are making anything particularly unique. The short answer is ‘yes’ and the perfect example of this is their latest offering, the intriguing, nay, surprising ‘Café Tuberosa‘ – a fragrance that pairs two completely polar opposite materials together: coffee and tuberose. How’s that for new and unique?

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Episode 24 is available for download!

In our latest episode of Fume Chat (the perfume podcast) we’re getting down and dirty with a battle of filthy (dirty, animalic, pungent, beastly, carnal, disgusting) fragrances. If you’re not familiar with our battle episodes, the format is simple: Nick and I pick three (or four) fragrances on a theme and then sniff them together in the episode. A guest judge determines who has picked the best selection of scents and is therefore, the victorious winner of the battle. It’s simple and a ton of fun too!