Now, if you are expecting a straightforward gourmand, you won’t find it here. And if you are craving after a simple, comforting almond-vanilla combination (as the official note listing on the Montale website might lead you indeed to expect), I’m afraid you won’t find it here either. What is Amandes Orientales then? It is nothing short of a groundbreaking, edgy gourmand that breaks the sweet/comforting mold and one that is far more complex than the simple note listing would have us think.
Even though Amandes Orientales does develop over time, it does not follow the classic top-heart-base pyramid construction.. The opening is tender, a touch of powder on a precious swan’s down puff. The nutty scent of golden-roasted almonds emerges almost immediately, urged forward by a creamy wave of ground-almond paste that is good enough to eat. But what you don’t expect is the improbably realistic, deep floral bloom upon which these nutty, gourmand almond notes rest. Heady and warm, the unfolding floral scent is that of a gorgeous bouquet of grand lilies. I wish I knew enough about lilies to specify the type, but in order to describe the scent I will refer to two different perfumes: Donna Karan’s Gold and Hermès’ Vanille Galante. Despite these two scents both featuring a very intense lily note, this is not the lily scent employed here. Both Gold and Vanille Galante feature a lily scent that is rather unnatural, cold, almost metallic and very obviously aquatic. The lily in Amandes Orientales is instead incredibly warm and carnal, very much the scent of lilies I’ve smelled in gardens and bought from florists. It forms a complete picture: the beautiful, narcotic, improbably beautiful scent, the yellow pollen on the stamens, the dizzying, sticky nectar. Most importantly, it imparts an intense sexually charged vibe to the perfume with its highly indolic nature. This entirely unexpected pervasive eroticism is what renders this perfume the most unique gourmand I’ve ever experienced. Its wanton animalic nature is incredibly provocative, but at the same time, being rendered through an exquisitely feminine floral note, it remains dashingly elegant and tasteful. A beautiful, confusing contradiction, Amandes Orientales is a fervid, lusty, almost pornographic temptress dressed in the most polished, stunningly affluent ensemble. And how can you not fall in love with a contradiction like that? It is simply masterful! The scrumptious almond elements and the voluptuously aphrodisiac floral epicenter are both enfolded in a marvelously dark, highly concentrated vanilla absolute. Its tendrils are almost sticky (but never overly or obviously sweet) and beautifully underscore the toasted nature of the almonds with their lightly smoky, inky character. This is a gourmand like no other.
I am offering a small decant of this stunning, unique eau de parfum to one reader. Anyone who posts a comment in this entry becomes eligible for winning the decant in a draw. Winner to be announced in a week’s time, next Wednesday.
Images: Unripe almonds, Flickr by ReefRaff. Lily via sxc.hu