Timbuktu is one of my favourites in L'Artisan's lineup. Created by Bertand Duchaufour, it is meant to be inspired by a trip to Mali in West Africa and contains notes of green mango, pink pepper berries, cardamon, karo karounde flower, smoky incense of papyrus wood, patchouli, myrrh and vetiver. For some reason, Timbuktu reminds me not of West Africa, but of some high, cold and desolate plateau such as what might be encountered in Tibet. Now don't ask me why - I haven't travelled to either of these areas, so am in no position to judge, but that is the image and sensation conjured up for me by this fragrance. I think what I am trying to say is that the incense I smell (and this is mostly about incense) is not aromatically smoky and heavy, but clean and contemplative. And it is this combination of senses that takes me to Asia rather than Africa. The smell of Timbuktu, if I could present it pictorially, is of white smoke, wafting in on a dry, cold wind, high above a windswept plain. Underpinning this incense is a dry woods smell, none of that cliched cedar accord, but quite clean, which I presume is the mixture of pink pepper and papyrus. There is a background sweetness though, more fruity than gourmand. Actually, thinking about it, it is a fruity tang and I realise that this is the green mango, with a bit of vetiver. I would never have expected mango to work with the incense, but for some reason it does here.
Although this has little relevance to the review, to my mind if Jean Claude Ellena was going to do incense, this is the style he would choose to convey its facets - clean, delineated, uncluttered, even contemplative in its relative simplicity. Of course, it is Duchaufour who has done it and very well indeed. Although L'Artisan is not renowned for the lasting power of its perfumes, Timbuktu lasts very well indeed, without being intrusive. If you are an incense fan, I would recommend trying Timbuktu if you haven't already, particularly as it doesn't smell like anything else, and doesn't go down that usual gothic incense route.
Image credit - luckyscent.com