Monday, October 27, 2008

Andalusia by Toujenais, gran reserva

Today's vintage pick: Andalusia Eau de Parfum. The name refers to Andalusia, Spain. Andalusia is a large area that encompasses all of southern Spain. Seville is it's capitol. Cardiz, another large city is located along the water. The region is steeped in history. A legend tells that Hannibal was reduced to tears when he was forced from the city and its treasures centuries ago. The area is famous for its many world class culinary treasures as well.
The only information I find about this perfume is this very evocative name. Toujenais, from the box, I assume is the maker. The bottle indicates it was manufactured in Los Angeles and since nothing else is indicated, the perfume may also hail from local California sources (that fulfills my fantasies but given the quality I smell, who was blending and bottling small batches of fine perfumes in LA in the '50's??). But many times, essences are imported from France and other sources that could be blended anywhere, by some local producer/distributer. The bottle even has a patent number but the print is thick and smudged. Given the abbreviation "Cal." instead of the modern "Ca.", I am guessing it is circa 1950's or 1960's.
When I opened this bottle there was a thick paper seal that yielded the slightest pop. The perfume itself brought a smile to my face on first inhale. Nice and sunny and full... I had feared the scent might have gone flat or would have the ugly and cheap smelling oily base I detect in many decaying vintage American scents (especially Avon perfumes). Well, no need to worry there. It is lovely stuff. Definitly vintage but good. I've been a bit uncharacteristically butter fingered lately and I spilled a bit of both this perfume in the process of sniffing. At least it landed on top of an unsealed oak desk, which has soaked up a good deal of the scent.

Andalusia opens with a sumptuous sunny orange and sun drenched orange blossoms and jasmine. It recalls Joy very well especially early on as I detect sweet rose and lilly of valley join in the classic smooth blend- but it's rounded or tamped by the woody addition of subtle oak notes. It is easy to imagine there are Andalusian oaks and groves of Seville oranges warming in the sun. There is a slight metallic note I detect several times for brief flashes and cooler violet shadows open up spaces in the scent. The florals soon tip their petals to the side to reveal gentle puffs of something underneath the flowers, a hair/skin note, which is slightly dirty like unwashed hair and then grows steadily more musky. At this point, the scent begins to pick up distinct salty and buttery tones. At first I was surprised. But considering this is the area famous for Ibezian ham, and the pigs are feed acorns to impart a nutty flavor to the meat, it makes sense. The effect is more of a nutty effluvium with a sweeter dessert-like side than a bar-b-que thanks to the gentle notes of chamomile tea, almonds and honey that begin to weave in and out and harmonize with the richness, recalling after dinner amarguillos (almond macaroons) and Manzanilla. Soon the skin notes are replaced by skin that is now cleaner, soapy even but still it it never looses its salty and musky undertone. As the scent mellows out, there are only traces of musk and jasmine remaining of the earlier symphony, now overlain with beeswax and powder, which seems a perfectly natural end for the lazy and sumptuous parade of flavors- the musterion that is this Andalusia.

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