L’Artisan Dzongkha ~ fragrance review

Dzongkha is the third fragrance in the L'Artisan Parfumeur travel series that includes Bois Farine and Timbuktu. Dzongkha was developed by perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, and was inspired by the Dzongs of Bhutan. The fragrance notes include peony, lychee, cardamom, tea with milk, vetiver, incense, cypriol (a grass used to make papyrus), cedar, leather and iris.

Dzongkha was one of the few fragrances that I was really looking forward to this year, and I am happy to report that it did not disappoint, in fact, I like it even better than I expected. It is heavily dominated by iris, one of my favorite notes; iris is listed in the heart and base notes but is evident almost from the first, along with sweet floral notes that I would never have identified as peony. For that matter, I wouldn't have picked out the lychee either.

As it settles, it gets drier and earthier and takes on a subtle little buzz of spice from the cardamom. The iris stays velvety-cool in a way that nicely evokes the stones of a temple in a far-off land, as advertised. It is an odd fragrance (in the best possible way), but not quite so odd or hard to wear as Timbuktu, the other Bertrand Duchaufour fragrance in this series. Fans of Timbuktu, and of Duchaufour's Paestum Rose for Eau d'Italie, will recognize some common notes, especially in the dry down; of the three, I will say that Paestum Rose is the most easily wearable, Dzongkha the most otherworldly, and Timbuktu handily retains its title for outright weirdness. Meanwhile, Bertrand Duchaufour is fast moving up the list of my favorite perfumers, and I am very much looking forward to his new scents for Eau d'Italie, Sienne l'Hiver and Bois d'Ombrie, which according to today's Women's Wear Daily should appear in the US in January 2007.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha is a unisex fragrance, and is available in 50 and 100 ml bottles of Eau de Toilette. The lasting power is excellent.

L'Artisan Parfumeur Dzongkha

On a side note, Dzongkha is the first L'Artisan scent that I've purchased in the recently redesigned bottle, and I have to say that I hate the packaging. It has a rather clunky appearance that is not nearly as elegant as the old bottle. The cap looks just like a bolt head, and is nearly as heavy as the bottle itself. It looks like it was particularly designed to attract men to the brand: the kind of men who would be embarrassed by a bottle with even a modicum of femininity about it. Bah.

For buying information, see the listing for L'Artisan under Perfume Houses.

Note: image is Kyichu Lhakhang Temple [rotated & cropped] by Dana + LeRoy at flickr; some rights reserved.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. Anonymous says:

    It is a favourite of mine too. I liked Narcisse as well, but not enough to spend $300+ on it.

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hurrah! You a) like it and b) also get lots of iris. I am waiting for my bottle to arrve, this will be my first redesigned L'Artisan bottle. I wish they didn't mess with what was if not perfection then at least a very nice design.

  3. Anonymous says:

    V, I just adored Fleur d'Oranger and STILL wouldn't spend 300 on it, so the chances of Narcisse joining my collection are distant at best, LOL…

  4. Anonymous says:

    M, I can't really explain why, but the cap REALLY annoys me. Also happens to be just like the stupid cap for YSL L'Homme, which as it turns out looked even stupider in person than it did in pictures.

    Admittedly I was tired of the old design (probably because I have so many of them) but this is a step in the wrong direction.

  5. Anonymous says:

    How wonderful is that, R? You found a fragrance that you like even more than you thought you would!

    I will definitely test this in the very near future!


  6. Anonymous says:

    R, it is wonderful and rare!

  7. Anonymous says:

    heh heh, sounds like something I would hate Robin. we really are evil twins eh? :-)

    Very nice review!

  8. Anonymous says:

    Loved this one too! I've heard others say they hated it, so I'm glad to see you like it!

  9. Anonymous says:

    L, so nice to see you! Yes, guessing you would detest Dzongkha. Any new fragrance loves for you lately?

  10. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn't think it would be universally loved, but it seems more wearable than Timbuktu. Actually I'm surprised Timbuktu sells enough to not be discontinued, but what do I know :-)

  11. Anonymous says:

    I can't wait to try this one, R! I am a big Timbuktu fan, and I'm hoping to love this one as well. Have to see that new bottle too. It seems to be causing quite a commotion here!

  12. Anonymous says:

    OK, I seem to be alone in getting lots of wet, soapy vetiver in the drydown? Sigh. I still like it, in top notes, mostly. If it didn't get so soapy, I'd love it more.

  13. Anonymous says:

    K, hope you will love it! Did you try Paestum Rose yet?

    As to the bottle, well, gosh, I'm just easily riled apparently. It isn't exactly a huge change, LOL…

  14. Anonymous says:

    Hmmm, vetiver yes, but wet soapy vetiver, not exactly to my nose, although wet soapy vetiver would be like Guerlain Vetiver, right? And I love Guerlain Vetiver. Not sure that is what you meant though.

  15. Anonymous says:

    I'm really puzzled. I get an overwhelming sense of saffron from Dzongkha, which is not one of the listed notes at all. I don't get the incense, and just a suggestion of the iris. Either it's my nose playing tricks, or my sample has been contaminated with Safran Troublant! I'll try it again tonight, and see if I smell anything different. I may have to venture into London to sniff the bonafide juice…

  16. Anonymous says:

    I detest the new caps too – in fact, I detest all bottles that have very heavy caps. But I'm happy to hear you liked the juice. I can only wear Timbuktu layered over a sweet lotion like Warm Vanilla Sugar or JPG2 massage oil.

  17. Anonymous says:

    I saw another comment somewhere (on MUA probably) saying not too much iris, but I can't imagine it…the iris is very pronounced. The incense probably less so. I think it is classified as a woody chypre, if that is at all helpful.

  18. Anonymous says:

    This is much easier to wear. I have actually grown to love Timbuktu, but I still have to be in the right mood or it wears me instead of the other way around.

  19. Anonymous says:

    I'm not usually a spice/incense girl, but this one sounds awfully nice. I particularly like the mix of floral scents & herbs listed in the notes. I am with everyone else on the bottle re-design: stupid and pointless – not appreciably different, just clunkier.

    Do you know how Dzongkha is pronounced?

  20. Anonymous says:

    It isn't loaded with either spice or incense, so do try it! And I have no idea how Dzongkha is pronounced & am probably saying it wrong myself :-)

  21. Anonymous says:

    R, I can not wait to try this one! An SA at Barney's told me that if I love Dzing! (which I do), then I will totally dig Dzongkha. Hey, am I the only one who likes the new L'Artisan cap? I happen to like straight lines and sharp angles. However, I wish they had not messed with the the bottle itself. There was no need to move to odd numbers.

  22. Anonymous says:

    I really must try this.

    I love Paestum Rose and Bois d'Ombrie, so Dzongkha sounds very very good indeed.

  23. Anonymous says:

    I really liked this, in spite of its cool, remote nature, and bought a small size recently.

    It's interesting, several SA's detest it, feel it's too cardboardy… one referred to it as “Dzing on crack” !

    I think it grows on you – first it's intriguing, then it's pretty, then you love it.

    I don't think it fosters moderate responses.

  24. Anonymous says:

    Hey, wonder if the SA is right. I don't find it very Dzing-ish, except that they are both rather odd so perhaps if you'll accept one you'll accept the other? LOL…let me know what you think of it.

  25. Anonymous says:

    And I can't wait to try Bois d'Ombrie — glad to hear someone loves it!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Dzing on crack, LOL…I would have thought it was the other way around — but still, I think you're right that it isn't necessarily a love at first sniff kind of fragrance.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Wow! Lots of great reviews and postings while I was at work yesterday. I get mostly iris from this, and while I liked it, it didn't knock me out. I think I need to try it again, though; I didn't pick up any resemblance to Dzing!, which I love. I can't wait to try Bois d'Ombrie!

  28. Anonymous says:

    Not sure it is the sort of thing that would knock you out at first sniff — might be a sleeper sort of scent. Nothing in common with Dzing other than smelling unusual, IMHO, and completely agree on Bois d'Ombrie!

  29. Anonymous says:

    I just happened to sample Dzongkha this morning and my first thought was “WOW, this smells just like Johnson's Baby Shampoo but on steroids.”

    A bit later it starts to mellow and a leather note starts to come through very loud and clear.

    I find it to be almost masculine, but not quite. I also find it to be pretty but not in a frou-frou girlie way.

    It has grown on me but I'm not sure I'm ready to purchase a full bottle. It's quite different / unique and that may be the only reason I may consider purchasing it in the future. Maybe.


  30. Anonymous says:

    Almost masculine but not quite is a perfect description, and love “Johnson's Baby Shampoo but on steroids”, LOL…

  31. Anonymous says:

    are you serious Timbuktu is one of l'artisans best sellers..

    I find it extremely provocative and sensual

    as for Dongkha… Love it, sampled it at the Madison Boutique 3 months ago… new it was a hit.

  32. Anonymous says:

    Glad to hear it…

  33. Anonymous says:

    I'm waiting for my sample from luckyscent. Can't wait to see if I like it more than Timbuktu, which I really like except it's a little bit too masculine. Yet hate frou-frou girly. Need Goldilocks to find perfect fit… somewhere on the female side of unisex without any sweetness …

  34. Anonymous says:

    As I just mentioned under your comment to Timbuktu, I'd also recommend Eau d'Italie's Paestum Rose as worth a try. It is also by Bertrand Duchaufour, and all of these (Timbuktu, Dzongkha, Paestum Rose) have some similar notes. Of the 3, Timbuktu strikes me as the most masculine.

  35. Anonymous says:

    :-(( my sample of Dzongkha came crushed. Maybe an angry mail carrier… who knows. So I still haven't tried it. Loved your review of Paestum Rose. Didn't see it on lucky to try though. Since my real name is Rose, I usually shy away from the scent. Soooo predictable. My whole life I've gotten rose scented EVERYTHING. But it does sound enticing. I also want to try 10 Corso Como (also crushed). To be continued. PS I love your reviews!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Oh, so very sorry about your samples! That makes me so crazy when I'm looking forward to trying something and then it has leaked or been crushed. Hope you'll be able to get them replaced.

    The Paestum Rose is at Aedes, listed under “Le Sirenuse – Eau d' Italie”. Do try it, it is anything but a predictable rose.

    And thanks for the nice words!

  37. Anonymous says:

    I love Timbuktu!!!

  38. Anonymous says:

    I do too, but it took awhile to grow on me.

  39. Anonymous says:

    wonderful review, and wonderful site; (i'm a longtime and very appreciative lurker.) so, i've had Dzonghka on by desk, dabbed on a strip of blotter paper, for the past two days, and it could not have a tighter grip on me if it were king kong and i were fay wray. when i wear it, even a little on the back of my hand, i can't do anything except smell it again and again, puzzling over it, “gnawing” on it, rather. i can't begin to say what the riveting weirdeness of it is, but it has a quality way beyond “nice” or “not nice.” i find it stranger than both timbuktu and dzing. something in it declares a disturbing distant kinship with The Different Company's Sel et Vetiver, another recent preoccupation, but maybe i have begun to hallucinate things. in any event, your review has helped me greatly in thinking through this fragrance; that's good news, because thinking about it appears too be the only thing I can do lately.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Hello Sal, and welcome! I wouldn't have linked it to Sel de Vetiver, now I'll have to try them together. Interesting that you find Dzongkha stranger than Dzing or Timbuktu, I would have said the opposite.

    Have you tried the Paestum Rose yet?

  41. Anonymous says:

    I'll have to try dzing and timbuktu again. maybe it's my chemistry. i've got a sample of paestum rose on the way. today, am pondering samples of malle's musc ravageur and bigarade concentrée. have you ever considered reviewing them?

  42. Anonymous says:

    Both are great scents that don't suit me at all, I'm afraid!

  43. Anonymous says:

    Eee, I'm poking an old review. xD I was moseying around and was caught first by the name and then the glittering review.
    I ordered some samples from LuckyScent and this was one of them. It is by far my favorite. What an amazing scent it is! What's more, I can smell nearly all of the notes listed (peony and lychee evaded me as well,though) which is a first. I think I'm getting better at note-identification. I've also discovered that this is how I like my iris: anchored with a dry base. The perfume opens a little strangely on me (a cross between citronella and minty gum) but the base is just so warm and lovely.
    My friends hate it (it's been called noxious, dirty, and nose-searing) but I'm really excited by it. I secretly think that when someone doesn't like a perfume, I like it even more. o…o;; Anyway, I'm planning on buying a bottle as soon as the weather changes again; I don't think it would work too well is sweltering heat.
    But thank you for the review. You're just so darned helpful.
    And in regards to the bottle: granted, I haven't seen it up close but I like the bottle. The bolt-y top is odd, but the whole bottle has presence; it's not silly, like a lot of the main-stream ones floating around. I'd like to have the bottle on my shelf.

  44. Anonymous says:

    Upon reapplication (xP) I'd describe the top notes as hay and cardamom, with a hint of incense. I think the hay scent I get is vetyver (I don't actually know what it smells like; I just know it's a grass) but I don't want to seem like a total newbie and peg the scent as the wrong note. xD

  45. Anonymous says:

    HA — I peg notes wrong all the time, who cares? Vetiver can smell sort of like hay (it is a grass, but the essence comes from the root, and to me it also smells very earthy), and so can coumarin.

    But so glad you like Dzongka even if your friends don't, and now you need to try everything else by Bertrand Duchaufour — many of his fragrances are in this same style, and they're simply awesome.

  46. Anonymous says:

    Oh, okay. That's good to know. =3

    I certainly will, though I'm hoping I can find a L'Artisan counter around here; online decanters would render me broke for all the ones I want to try. Dx

  47. Anonymous says:

    I really thought I would love this, but I'm afraid my newbie nose isn't ready for it! All I could smell was incense and leather–it reminded me of an old book that you would find in the library of some impressive manor, such as Hearst Castle or the Biltmore. Not that it's a bad thing!! I'm just not sure that's what I want to smell like. I couldn't smell any of the flowers, chai, or vetiver. I'm going to put this away for when my nose has become more refined…or maybe less so?

  48. Anonymous says:

    I don't know if it's about teaching your nose to be more refined or distinguishing between “what you want to smell like” and “what you want to smell”. If I like a smell, I want to smell it…and my body is just a convenient way to carry that smell around, if that makes any sense! At any rate, yes, put it away for 6 months. If you still don't like it then, no big deal — it might just not suit you.

  49. Anita says:

    I just bought a sample. Oddly enough, I’m getting an overwhelming scent of leather (which I would think would be a base note) first; then again, I always have been an odd duck. ;) I’ll be interested to see how this develops on my skin.

    • Robin says:

      Interesting, I don’t get that!

  50. Blimunda says:

    Ah, THAT’S what it reminded me of! I forgot that Duchafour created this scent, and the entire time I’ve been wearing it today I’ve been noticing that it reminded me of Sienne L’Hiver!!! This website is invaluable for one’s journey through the land of perfume exploration.

    L’Artisan is becoming rather a favourite line of my now. I’ve tried Dzing, Timbuktu, Dzongkha, Bois Farine, Passage D’Enfer, Poivre Piquant and Mechant Loup. So far Bois and Passage are my stand outs. But, let’s face it, I’ve got quite a few more to go before deciding which to purchase a full bottle of!!!

    • Robin says:

      I do think many of Duchaufour’s fragrances smell related to each other…& can see Sienne being close to Dzongkha.

      Agree on L’Artisan! Still one of my all time favorite lines.

  51. sweetgrass says:

    I’m still making up my mind on this one. I don’t love it, but I don’t really dislike it either. I get a lot of iris in this. It kind of takes over on my skin. Iris smells soapy to me, so if it weren’t for the vetiver, this would just be a giant soap-fest. I don’t get any incense at all, which is disappointing. I keep coming back to this sample, though, so who knows.. I might come around.

  52. EngelseCloggy says:

    Just received my first bottle of Dzongkha having ordered based on reviews alone and am happy with my choice. This post however concerns the packaging. I read comments that this was less impressive than the original and OK I should focus on what’s in the bottle but really, how can this be an improvement on what came before ?. The bottle is a clean septagonal section, (reminds me of Zendiq from the early 80’s), the ‘masculine’ cap makes the package very top heavy and will damage any delicate bathroom floor. The paper label lets down the show, a bit of a Monday morning attempt to stick it straight which led me to suspect it might be a fake. What a shame it doesn’t do the fragrance justice.

Leave a reply