My favorite musks smell animalic: wild, oily, hairy and sweaty. In a word: sexy. Such musks are an endangered species (much like many of their original animal sources). Whenever I'm asked what fragrance notes I hate, white "toddler" musks always get a mention (as do Calone and Iso E Super and Cashmeran). Yet, I can easily name you perfumes I own that contain each one of those ingredients and I absolutely love and wear these perfumes all the time. I enjoy Jardins d'Écrivains George and Hermès Eau de Gentiane Blanche — both contain white musk. All ingredients can be used masterfully to highlight or to augment other notes in a fragrance; white musk in the right hands (or Nose) is not juvenile, obnoxious, cloying, utilitarian — or readily apparent. But, to be frank, white musk is not 'musk' to me, and if a perfume house puts 'musk' in the name of a fragrance, I expect some colorful MUSK (not white fluff).
I was interested to try two new musk fragrances that found their way to me in December; these are the first perfumes I've smelled from the niche lines Aether and Mad et Len.
Aether Muskethanol lists exotic notes of Damascenone, Cetalox and Muscone. The names alone whisk me away to...sterile labs in industrial complexes. Of course I know that most synthetic molecules in perfume have such names, but I'd rather see them referenced as: rose, ambergris and musk, respectively.
Muskethanol goes on smelling great, with tangy citrus, immortelle and a velvety rose aroma. As sometimes happens with rose and immortelle, there's a body-odor element present (not unpleasant: the scent of a man at the end of the day, a man who started his day bathed and wearing a nice perfume). The mid-development of Muskethanol may be "blank" for some people judging from my experience. I asked several friends to smell my wrists after the rose-immortelle (quickly) faded and they said they could not smell a thing. Muscones are large molecules and not everyone can smell them. Don't even THINK for a second to buy Muskethanol without trying it on skin first. For me, who can smell its heart notes, I detect soft, milky, indistinct (synthetic) florals (imagine 'early 2000s department store' women's fragrances). Muskethanol fades fast to a downy skin scent; it teeters close to dryer-sheet/laundry detergent territory in its fluffy white musk-floral base. Overall, Muskethanol is a bore and as sexy as a kitchen sponge.
Mad et Len Red Musc starts off spicy (cloves?), with an accord I'll call 'evergreen' musk (musk dripping from a resinous pine tree). My first thought was "RED musk? This should be Green Musc or Musc Émeraude." Red Musc is pleasantly sweet, natural smelling and rich, and it has a retro character (I'm visualizing some handlebar moustaches, blow-dried hairstyles and tight plaid woolen pants). Red Musc's musk, in mid-development, has a sensuousness, there's some sebum in the mix (and is a much better match for the top image of this post than Muskethanol). Red Musc dries down to a talcy/spicy/musky amber-and-pine needle aroma. Red Musc would have been a perfect addition to Robin Here at NST™'s Christmas gifts posts: a solid perfume present for men who enjoy 'straightforward' colognes (nothing weird! no flowers!)
Red Musc does contain white musk, but I didn't smell it till I took a shower! After I toweled off, I smelled pure white musk, that die-hard ingredient. Eight hours after my shower I could still smell it.
Have any of you come across some 'hairy' musks in recent perfume launches? If so, do share your finds.
Note: top image is Man Cuffed to a Bedrail [cropped] via Wikimedia Commons.