I am very fond of Amouage Gold (as fond as I'm willing to be given the price), and might be the only person who laments the passing of Amouage Ubar, but their more recent offerings have mostly left me cold. So when I read Luca Turin's latest article in NZZ Folio, which talks about the recent launch of the line's Jubilation fragrances and concludes...
To my relief both were very good. The feminine is a Diorella with tuberose. The masculine is a lovely incense composition, by Bertrand Duchaufour.
...I was dubious. Still, if Luca Turin says they are good, it is at least worth digging the samples out, no? And lo and behold, they're pretty darned good, more than good, actually, and not only in that abstract sense in which I can see why he says they're good but would rather not have to wear them, but also in the sense that hey, I'd really like a bottle of each.
In particular, fans of Bertrand Duchaufour (my 2006 pick for perfumer of the year) must get their hands on Jubilation XXV. We already know that Duchaufour has a way with incense and wood (Comme des Garçons Red Series Sequoia, Incense Series Kyoto & Avignon; L'Artisan Dzongkha, Timbuktu & L'Artisan Aedes de Venustas; Eau d'Italie Paestum Rose). They aren't smell-alikes at all, but I think of Timbuktu, Dzongkha and Paestum Rose as a linked series of olfactory meditations, and Jubilation XXV joins the list as the luxury entry. It starts out bright, with citrus notes over deep incense and what smells to me like a rich fruit liqueur. As it dries down, it gets darker and woodier, but it never gets as dark or heavy as you might expect from the notes (labdanum, coriander, orange, davana, frankincense, blackberry, honey, bay, cinnamon, rose, orchid, clove, celery seeds, gaiac wood, immortelle, musk, ambergris, patchouli, opoponax, cedar, myrrh, moss and oud) — this is a full but beautifully mellow fragrance, more dusky than dark, and there is nothing even slightly churchy about it.
I described Timbuktu as "dirt, soft woods, old parchment and smoky incense"; Jubilation XXV tones down the dirt a few notches (and leaves out the sweaty notes entirely), and adds something deliciously spicy and honeyed simmering in a pot two rooms over. I adore Timbuktu but wouldn't necessarily call it elegant; Jubilation XXV is Elegant with a capital E. I'd call it higher on the wearability scale than Timbuktu, and although Amouage is marketing it for men, a woman who would wear any of Duchaufour's other fragrances listed above could easily wear Jubilation XXV. Highly recommended.
Amouage Jubilation XXV is an Eau de Parfum, and is available in 50 ml (€170) and 100 ml (€205). For €22, you can get a sampler of 6 of their men's fragrances (2 ml each of Jubilation XXV, Reflection, Gold, Dia, Ciel & Silver Cologne). For buying information, see the listing for Amouage under Perfume Houses, although I don't think these have made their way to the States yet.
And I can't resist adding: IT'S SNOWING! (It's our first snowfall of the year)