Naomi Goodsir Bois d’Ascese Eau de Parfum is a more bonfire-like scent–the smoke is darker, almost charred, full of flaming cedar, pipe tobacco, and smoky, somewhat peaty scotch whiskey. Compared to some other whiskey scents, this wasn’t nearly so peaty and felt almost “golden” in comparison (less blackened). You have to love fairly smoky scents, and not ones that are just spiced incense kind of smoke, but smoke that runs the gamut from ashy to tarry to campfire.
Throughout the first few hours, there was a subtle hint of spice, from cinnamon and the cedar, and plenty of dry, aged leather that added to the dry feel of the fragrance. In the drydown, the cedar becomes the star and is accentuated by subtle smokiness and spice from incense.
Bois d’Ascese Notes
It is described as being inspired by a “wooden church” with the “surrounding countryside ablaze.” It includes notes of: tobacco, whisky, Somalian incense, cade wood, amber, and cistus labdanum. But here’s a list from retailers:
- top notes: tobacco, whiskey
- heart notes: labdanum, amber, cinnamon
- base notes: incense, cedar, oakmoss
What does Bois d’Ascese Smell Like?
It was incredibly dry, smoky whiskey in aged wood barrels, smoky tobacco, and aged leather. For all the smoke, though, it wasn’t nearly as blackened and ashy as I anticipated. By no means a “light” sense of smoke, but compared to some others I’ve experienced, it felt more translucent in its appearance–more like I would expect from a campfire.
Given five minutes to settle, a touch of cinnamon spiced the composition with wafts of cedar under all the smoke; it started to smell a little like a bonfire made entirely out of cedarwood.
There was no letting up of the smoky tobacco, dry, cracked leather, and charred cedar until the beginning of the third hour, when spiced incense started to mix with the drier, ashier smoke and the cedarwood came through more clearly–think the bonfire at the close, smoldering but winding down.
The drydown was marked around the fifth hour for me, and it was primarily a dry, cedar-chest kind of perfume that was slightly spiced but hints of amber but fairly dry, mostly woody and a little smoke.
It lasted for eight hours until it was a skin-scent and about 14 hours before it was quite difficult to detect on my skin. The sillage and projection were moderate for the first four hours and started to pull closer from there.
For me, it was significantly more wearable and enjoyable than other whiskey-based scents that are often too “black” in their smoke for me to enjoy–too charred, too much like burning everything, rather than just lots of aromatic wood ablaze. I definitely have gotten to understand my preferences enough to know that this is still too much of a smoke show for me to gravitate toward, though.
These are more subjective feelings based on what I like (or don’t like) in a perfume as well as considering the fragrance against other perfumes I own and love.
For testing, I used 1/3 of a 0.7ml sample vial dabbed to the underside and topside of my wrist area. I used an unscented moisturizer prior to applying the scent as I found scent did not hold well here otherwise.
I purchased my sample in February 2022; fragrances are known to be reformulated over their lifetime, so be mindful of when a review was made, e.g. a review from 2010 may not reflect what the same-named perfume smells like in 2022.
Bois d’Ascese is available for $187/50ml.
If possible, I highly recommend trying a fragrance before purchasing a full bottle because fragrance can wear differently just because of skin chemistry. Skin chemistry can effect not just the longevity of a fragrance but also what notes are prominent or hidden.
Bois d’Ascese Samples
We recommend the following retailers for purchasing decanted samples (typically 0.7ml to 2ml in size). This is a fuller list, so individual availability may depend on inventory.