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Let me tell you, there’s nothing like a box of Black Phoenix Alchemy Lab Yule oils to get you in the spirit. Every year, BPAL; the most imaginative perfume house on the planet, releases limited edition holiday oils that conjure the scents of the season. In 2010, they have absolutely outdone themselves.
This year’s Yule collection features 58 oils in all (seriously, do they ever sleep?), broken up into 3 sections; The Nutcracker (19 oils), A Christmas Carol (21 oils) and Yuletime 2010 (18 oils). They will be on sale till January 22, 2011, so you’ve got a bit of time to scoop some up. But not a lot- so let’s get right into it, shall we?
Is there anything more magical than The Nutcracker? I had the joy of seeing it a few years ago, and I felt like I was going to combust from holiday happiness! This section of the Yule releases had a similar effect on me.
In act one, during a grand party you are introduced to a young girl, Klara – Honey dusting powder, mandarin, iris, ylang ylang, tea rose, and carnation, and a toymaker, Herr Drosselmeyer – Pipe smoke, sweet leather, woods and linen, whose special toys come to life to dance for the party goers. The most special toy of all is given to Klara; The Nutcracker – frankincense, black mission fig, and galbanum.
In act two, The Nutcracker comes to life after being broken by Klara’s brother Fritz in a rage of jealousy (way to go, Fritz). But as the Nutcracker comes to life, so do the other toys around the tree, including The Rat King – Dust, wood and feral musk with a fang-sharp undertone, and a fierce battle ensues. But the Rat and his mice are no match for the Nutcracker, love prevails and here’s where it gets really good…
Act three is the stuff that dreams are made of! The Nutcracker turns into a Prince and leads Klara into The Kingdom of Sweets – jellybeans, rock candy, sours, lollipops, gumdrops, peppermint sticks, held together by taffy mortar, where they are met by the Sugar Plum Fairy – sugar plums, vanilla-infused sugar, tiare, amber musk, apricot peel, and a light dusting of cacao. She rewards them for their brave battle with six dances before ultimately dancing the finale herself.
But as all dreams come to an end, Klara awakes underneath the Christmas tree with The Nutcracker in her arms. But for you, the dream doesn’t have to end! These oils are pure magic and spin a tale as beautiful and intricate as the actual ballet does. It’s the smell of wooden toys, candy and pure happiness.
I got to try two Nutcracker scents. First up, The Solider from act one. Described as Red musk, vanilla cream, black tea, black pepper, leather, and pie. Oh, how I love this! It’s everything I like rolled into one. There’s a rich, dark side; first from the musk and then a hint of leather. Then comes the spiciness from the pepper. Finally this underneath layer of creamy, foodie sweetness that lightens everything up. I read a lot of people on the BPAL forums are smelling anise in this. Thankfully, I am not. If you are a fan of woodsy scents and gourmands, this is the love child of the two.
I also tried Mother Ginger, from act three, which has the most delightful description: from beneath her skirts emerge eight gingerbread children: gingerbread, French vanilla, sugar, nutmeg, cinnamon, and marshmallow cream. Hello ginger! To me, this smells like the ingredients of a ginger cookie in a mixing bowl, but not baked. Which I love, because bakery scents are way too sugary for me. This is fresh versus overly sweet, yet still warm and delicious. Yum, yum, yum.
Our testers will be by in the comments to review two other Nutcracker scents:
Sugar Plum Fairy – listed above
The Spanish Dance – Chocolate, orange blossom honey, and pomegranate
A Christmas Carol
Next up is A Christmas Carol, the Charles Dickens classic. What a dark and really quite scary tale this is. It is a ghost story, after all. Perfect for BPAL!
The tale takes place on Christmas Eve, where we meet the world’s most famous miser, Ebenezer Scrooge – A dry, dusty, soulless scent, flinty with greed, sour with ill-temper: neglected leather, oakmoss, tonka bean, black pepper, cumin, and vetiver. Scrooge is visited by three spirits: the Ghosts of Christmas past, present and future.
The First of the Three Spirits – Shimmering white amber, voluminous vanilla, white musk, zdravetz, and summer flowers, reminds Scrooge what he once was and the happiness he felt as a boy. The Second of the Three Spirits – Pine boughs, plum pudding, spiced pears, sugared chestnuts, punch floated with oranges, boughs of holly and myrica berries, shows Scrooge closer glimpses of the world he currently lives in, but chooses to ignore. The Last of the Three Spirits – Blackcurrant, myrrh, and vetiver, shows a dire tomorrow, should he not change. And his ultimate demise, all alone in death.
Versus the other two collections, this one is a bit harder for me to embrace, mainly because even though it ends happily (Scrooge, of course, changes), it’s ultimately not a very happy tale. It’s a cold tale. Cold, as in damp, foggy Victorian England and cold as in sadness and despair. The notes in the oils mimic this. But when there are moments of warmth (in the story, so therefore in the oils) they are marvelous. I really do believe it’s with collections like this that BPAL really shows it’s imagination (along with its dark side for which it’s known and loved).
The testers will reveal whether they say “Bah Humbug”, or “God bless us, every one!” about the following oils:
A Golden Idol – Glittering gold and loss beyond understanding: antiqued amber, English lavender, vetiver, and tea rose
Christmas Eve on the Moor – Windswept moor grass, grey moss, mud, and stone warmed by a small, comfortable fire
Whoop – Golden sunlight and sweet fresh air brightening a Heavenly sky on Christmas Day: crisp winter air, shimmering amber, sweet honey, with a touch of pumpkin pie, pine cone, cranberry, and bayberry
The next collection is Yuletime 2010. Here you get the holidays gone wild. You also get the largest concentration of repeat performances; scents that were released in previous years, but with slight variances that BPAL addicts notice (even if the descriptions don’t change). Anything labeled 2010 is something that has been released in previous years. There are seasons, sweets, midnight mass, even a figure in icelandic folklore, Jólasveinar. And big props to BPAL for acknowledging that other religions exist!
I got to try Snow White 2010 – A chilly, bright perfume: flurries of virgin snow, crisp winter wind and the faintest breath of night-blooming flowers. This oil was also previously released in 2003, 2005 and 2007. This was a departure for me, as I’m usually not drawn to florals, and anything that has any sort of water description usually gives me a headache (thinking snow is essentially water, right?) But something about this really works for me. To me it smells exactly like a cold day, with the smell of snow floating in the ozone. Bright and chilly is a perfect description. I also get a hint of an almond-marzipan undertone to it. Almond-y snow? Count me in. It’s really pretty.
Our testers will be letting you know their thoughts on the following oils:
Lick It Vigorously – This is a candy cane perfume, minty, sweet and sugared
Rose Red 2010 – The perfected winter rose, dew covered and freshly cut
Woods in Winter – Wild hemlock and juniper berries scattered in the snow beneath leafless trees bedecked with glittering icicles
Review team, are you smelling the holiday spirit thanks to BPAL? we heartsters, have you tried any of the Yules? Let us know your favorites!
Disclosure: This review includes products that were provided by the manufacturer/PR firm for our consideration. For more info, or any questions, please see our disclosure policy.