The Alembicated Genie is always thrilled to make new discoveries. Should you be an indie or niche perfumer wondering what I might find to write about you, please feel free to contact me at
Having said that, there is a caveat. I can’t guarantee that you will actually be reviewed, nor that a) it will happen quite so quickly as you may hope, not even b) that should I choose to review your work, that the review will be 100% positive. Sometimes, there’s a lot to be said for creatively stated antagonism. Which brings me to…
How I Review
As a writer who writes many different things, I sadly don’t have as much time as I might like to review as frequently as I like. I don’t write reviews every day – or even every other day.
I don’t write short, snappy, factual reviews. If that’s what you’re looking for, I recommend every single one of the bloggers listed in the Friends, Facilitators and Fellow Perfumoholics link section of TAG’s main page. These are all the blogs I read myself, and in some instances, the people I’m proud to have connected with via the ephemeral art of perfume.
All reviews listed on this blog are tested repeatedly on both Arches aquarelle paper and my skin, and sometimes in an ambient form – meaning, I spray my Tibetan prayer flag, my pillows and my bedding.
When testing on skin, I first spritz two initial sprays – or dab, if I can’t spray. I might also note those impressions, but not always. Next follows a full ‘immersion’ – meaning I apply as I’d apply any perfume I love; five sprays in the usual locations and a full day of wearing. I notice things like evolution, complexity, the influence it might have on my mood and composure. Is it similar to anything else I might have experienced? I will do this for a minimum of two days – not consecutive – also, writing down my impressions as I go.
I make no qualitative distinctions between natural or mixed-media perfumes and happily wear both, although they’re reviewed differently. Perfumes based on all-natural essences, CO2 extracts and absolutes have a different complexity and often a different evolution than mixed media perfumes, and are judged accordingly.
When the time comes to write my review, I apply again, and correlate my initial impressions with whatever impressions I get while writing. The fastest review I’ve ever written was written in an hour and 39 minutes, the longest it has taken me – twelve drafts and two weeks. I write ex tempore, meaning…I write spontaneously. Orthography, punctuation and certain phrasing is revised as I write. Instinct tells me when to stop, which usually – although not always – occurs somewhere around 1000 words.
Sometimes, I’m told/am inspired to write a story rather than a review, in which case, that’s how I write it. I never know.
Sometimes, what I review doesn’t work for me at all. Most of the time, I at least try to honor the concept, provided I can find it. But sometimes, I veer towards the satirical, to stir things up, to make it more fun for me to write and hopefully for my followers to read.
I have never been compensated for my reviews, never curated content, never regurgitated PR copy/press releases, always go by my own personal impressions and never post anything on this blog that is NOT 100% original writing I stand 1000% behind.
Having said that, there are certain houses and indie perfumers I have connected with in the course of writing about perfume for nearly three years. This means I receive free samples for review with no strings attached, only that the house/perfumer has an interest in my particular perspective and highly idiosyncratic approach to perfume writing. Some of those houses and perfumers – you’ll find them listed under ‘Primeval Forces of Perfume’ – are what I’d call ‘stop press’ houses, meaning I try my best to review them as quickly as I can. Not because I have an inside track to new releases (although it’s a compliment!), but because these houses/perfumers so consistently blow me away in terms of dedication, quality, execution and concept.
In such cases, the laws of disclosure obligate me to state it on the blog post itself.
I began to write about perfume in the hopes it would make me a better writer overall, and so it did. I have no professional affiliations with the global perfume industry of any kind.
No one ‘taught’ me how to write about perfume, although I did read perfume blogs for many years before I became a perfume writer myself. I wrote by trying to emulate some of my own greatest inspirations, only to find that my own voice sprang out no matter what I did.
My nose, my associations, my memories, my references and my experiences are always the ultimate judges. As for the rest – I trust the process and follow the words and the perfumes where they want to go.