Czech & Speake is another of those slightly quirky, English perfumeries, also based in Jermyn Street in London (refer to my recent post on the Geo F. Trumper line). C&S, like Trumper, tends to turn out rather masculine perfumes, but not quite as old-fashioned as Trumper, with fewer colognes. They had a very generous sample programme about a year or so ago (perhaps they still do, it's worth checking) whereby if you registered on their website, they sent you samples of their entire collection for free. For some reason I registered twice by mistake, and lo and behold, I received two lots of their samples, so I am no stranger to their perfumes. I don't want to discuss the whole line, as it is relatively extensive, but one I wore today is Frankincense and Myrrh. I was in an incense frame of mind for some reason and thought I would revisit this oddity. The notes include citrus, basil, myrrh, camomile, clary sage, pimento leaf, lavender, frankincense, sandalwood and cedar. The opening is quite citrusy, and is joined fairly quickly by a muted incense note. If you enjoy perfumes like Heeley's Cardinal, Incense Pure by Sonoma Scent Studio, or Incense Extreme by Tauer, the C&S might just leave you feeling a little let down. Shortly after the incense interlude, a mild and quite sweet myrrh note emerges with a herbal accompaniment of Lavender. After that, Frankincense and Myrrh is all about Lavender on my skin, with some woods. It becomes slightly dated and the lavender dominates all the way into the dry down, and even then it never relinquishes its hold. In itself, this is not a poor fragrance, but I wanted more intense incense notes and in the end, I find it a wearable fragrance, but ultimately a little fusty and dull. It qualifies as unisex I suppose, but in my opinion sways more towards the masculine side.
While on the subject of C&S, I quite enjoy Dark Rose, which is a rose-oud combo very much in the vein of Montale's Black Oud, but milder and more approachable. It's probably my favourite in the line. No 88 receives a lot of love from male perfume lovers, particularly over at Basenotes. I find No 88 to be a slightly strange, musty and powdery rose-geranium perfume, not totally my cup of tea. It does have its rabid fans though, so who am I to disagree? The rest of the line is worth exploring, but I must admit that many of them leave me feeling slightly short-changed, particularly at these prices. However, if you can get free samples of these, then why not give them a go? You might just be pleasantly surprised. I suspect that a lot of the ladies among you might find C&S a bit easier to sample. Cuba and Citrus Paradisi in particular might be a good starting point, and although not my cup of tea, No 88 might appeal to the rose lovers among you.
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