Being a huge fan of Creed, it was with excitement and some trepidation that I tested Original Santal, one of Creed’s two launches for 2005 (the other being Love in White). I was quite disappointed with Creed’s previous launch, Original Vetiver, mostly due to the fact that it was anything but original (though truth be told, I’m considering buying a bottle anyhow) and word of mouth has not been much better for this new scent.
Original Santal is a 21st century interpretation of a scent created by Creed for Emperor Franz-Josef of Austria Hungary in the 19th century. It is an Eau de Parfum housed in a beautiful red-orange, typical Creed bottle. It has notes of cinnamon, coriander, juniper berry, lavender, rosemary, ginger, mandarin, neroli, orange wood, Mysore sandalwood, cedar, benzoin, vanilla and ambergris.
The second Creed fragrance exploring the theme of sandalwood — the other being Santal Imperial, an Eau de Toilette — begins with a zing of citrus and a hint of a sharp woody note. The effect is quite similar to Paco Rabanne’s citrusy XS for Men. The initial aroma also immediately reminds me of two other Creeds — Neroli Sauvage and Himalaya — but before I can write off the fragrance, the top notes calm and those woody notes make their grand entrance. Beneath the cool, icy citrus opens an amazing array of warm, slightly smoky cedar and benzoin and finally, after about 15 minutes, the ambergris and vanilla reveal themselves. Now I’m reminded of Nina Ricci’s Memoir d’Homme or the wonderful lower notes of L’Artisan’s Tea for Two.
After about an hour, the scent has settled completely and there hasn’t been much development. There is an odd note lingering at the edges of the drydown similar to…gasoline. I remember something similar in Silver Mountain Water. Strangely enough, I don’t detect a lot of sandalwood here; similarly, I didn’t get much vetiver from Original Vetiver.
I like Original Santal, but I am not terribly impressed. Many of Creed’s early scents were masterpieces of then modern perfumery. A number of these fragrances, such as 1938’s Cuir de Russie and 1933’s Angélique Encens, have endured and I’m proud to have them in my collection. Many of the newer Creeds, however, employ the millesime base, a common bouquet of notes that are found in Creed fragrances such as Imperial and Green Valley, and as such, Original Santal leaves me craving something different. Devotees of that rich millesime base will be pleased by this fragrance, but sandalwood aficionados will likely be puzzled by it.
Original Santal can be pre-ordered online exclusively at escentual in the UK. It will be available in the United States in March of 2006.