Dragon’s Breath And Phoenix Rising – Review: Celtic Fire By Union

Hey Olfactoria’s Travelers,

Portia from Australian Perfume Junkies and Perfume Posse is in the Olfactoria house once more. I hope I find you happy and well, wishing them both for you if not.

Here I am in Sydney, Australia and summer is over. The temperature is cooling considerably and there will be no more swimming until the end of September. While sitting in my office I am reminiscing about my madcap holiday through Europe in Jan/Feb and how much great fun it was. While we were there I think it was Vanessa from Bonkers about Perfume who had read my review of today’s fragrance back in May 2013 from a sample. Clearly it was not enough to get a real feel so I was given a 5ml mini bottle. I am, sitting here with a great big delicious spritz of Celtic Fire and smiling at the memory of us all together in Selfridges and I had given myself a spritz there too. Now I wish I’d taken the plunge…

Celtic Fire was created by Anastasia Brozler for Union in 2012.

Celtic Fire Union FragranticaPhoto Stolen Fragrantica

Fragrantica gives these featured accords:
Top: Oak, balsam fir, pine needles
Heart: Fern, (Marmite unnamed on Fragrantica)
Base: Birch, myrtle and peat

Can I say that I find these bottles are absolutely freaking killer? I love the flag, the feel, the whole shebang. It is fun, festive and a perfect Objet d’art to sit in a modern bathroom, yet still could be very at home in an old fashioned tiny tile floor and lilac porcelain features. I can see it on a steel and nylon dresser or a Queen Anne looking either completely at home or exquisitely out of place, both images make me smile.

Woods, fire, peat, smoke, bracken, leather. This is hard-core scent that creates a wall of fragrance. Hefty, deep and opaque from the outset, Celtic Fire is like a burning battleground, right down to metallic tang and gunpowder/fireworks smoke.

Could it be that Union has discovered the secret scent of dragon’s breath or perhaps the smell of a phoenix rising? This is what an old wool jumper would smell like after a back yard burn and a few BarBQs and though I don’t get Marmite, I do get a lanolin edge and some salt. Interestingly the birch in Celtic Fire doesn’t smell like soft plush leather in the heart, but like hides that have just come from the tanners/dyers. Even in modern times the smell is ferocious and this is a softer version of it. And through everything comes peat: earthy, boggy, slightly dank and dark peat and more smoke from peat fires.

Celtic_Fire Union Dragon_Tatoo DeviantArtPhoto Stolen DeviantArt

Further into the heart of Celtic Fire the whole cacophony calms to a softer, less strident feel. The leather now could be processed, a handbag or shoes, something elegant from Bottega Veneta perhaps. The fires are banked and we have a warm glow but almost no smoke, the peat and birch are playing nicely and this is how I know the end is near, maybe a couple of hours though till I lose all sense of fragrance.

The story is short and more about progression than real change and the lifespan good, projection feels very big when I sniff my hand and I can smell wafts while I type but when I spritz a touche and make a coffee my return is not greeted with as much fragrance as I expected. This is a fragrance for someone fearless and perfectly put together, or on the other hand it would be excellent on a complete lad.

Celtic_Fire Union  Phoenix_by_Ruth_Tay DeviantArtPhoto Stolen DeviantArt

Further reading: here on Olfactoria’s Travels and on Now Smell This
Celtic Fire is exclusively available at Selfridges & Co
Surrender To Chance has samples starting at $5/ml

I’m sure many of you have tried the line, what were your impressions?
Portia xx


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24 Responses to Dragon’s Breath And Phoenix Rising – Review: Celtic Fire By Union

  1. cookie queen says:

    How many ways you find your way into my kitchen! Wonderful review. I got sausages. Bussi. xxx

    • Ha Ha Ha! SAUSAGES!! Like at a BarBQ or Sausages with BarBQ Sauce?
      I love being in your kitchen, one of the most comfortable and fun places I’ve ever been Val.
      Please hug your whole family for me.
      Portia xx

  2. Ines says:

    I love that name! 🙂
    Now, sausages don’t sound so bad but I do like the idea of dragon’s breath better. 😉

    • I have been told by a couple of VERY reliable witnesses that I did indeed say BarBQ Sausages in Selfridge & Co in Feb 2014.
      I think these must have been from a dragon BarBQ.
      Yes, the name is extremely evocative, well done Union. My surprise is that it’s not been used before, to my knowledge anyway.
      Portia xx

  3. Tara says:

    Portia, “This is what an old wool jumper would smell like after a back yard burn and a few BarBQs ” is the most perfect description of Celtic Fire.

    I’d be willing to try and smuggle a bottle past the Royal Mail if you want it badly enough to take the risk?

    • Tara,
      Is there a constellation named for you? There definitely should be.
      I think that I will wait till my next visit to the UK in 2016, I have promised Jin we will do a whirlwind tour of the whole shebang.
      I’m glad you like my imagery too.
      Boy do I wish I lived closer so we could hang out.
      Portia xx

      • Tara says:

        2016??? That’s a long way away Portia but at least hopefully I’ll get to meet Jin.

        Hugs x

        • There’s SO MUCH of the world to see. Yes, Jin is worth meeting. The best guy ever. You two will get on like crazy, I bet. He will fall madly in love with your dark, mysterious, prettiness. Such an English Rose he will say, I can hear it now.
          That’s a lie, what I can hear now is his snoring from the next room.
          Portia xx

  4. Vanessa says:

    Tara pipped me to it – that bit about the wool jumper was the standout line in your review for me too! You have captured the essence of this perfume down to the last little smouldering spark, and I am fiercely drawn to your description even if the scent itself is too fierce for me. I am not big on burnt or barbecued things – Lonestar Memories springs to mind – and was actually afraid to walk past a burnt out house as a child! Thanks for the shout out btw. 😉

    • You may be a bit grumpy with me Vanessa. I was down at the Sydney Opera House on Friday for lunch and forgot to photograph the Tom Cruise Caramels for you. Never mind, I’ll be back soon enough. Maybe I’ll put them in my car so I don’t forget it again.
      You are remembered so fondly.
      Portia xx.

      • Vanessa says:

        Portia, you are totally excused – they will keep I am sure – and may not even have been edible to start with…I’d had them a while. Now I don’t know what kind of autumnal(?) weather you are enjoying at the moment, but maybe just keep them from extremes of heat in case they coalesce into one big messy fudgeslide. The photo will be worth the wait, no question. Fond memories here too! Vxx

  5. Sabine says:

    Hello Portia,
    I wasn’t so sure about the line when I first saw it in 2012 and initially thought it was some marketing joke for the Olympics. The Union Jack was on every product from marmite to loo rolls, and I had seen rather enough of it but when I managed to try the perfumes last year I liked Celtic Fire a lot and Gothic Bluebell was love at first sniff. Several sprays at Selfridges and a sample later it is still on top of my FB purchase lust list for 3 months running and it will happen eventually this month I think.

    • WOW! 3 months is a pretty good run, they are pretty expensive though so I completely understand the wait. It’s the only reason I didn’t purchase in February. BIG ticket item by the end of a holiday.
      I am SO jealous that you got to live the Olympics in London. For all the rubbish bits there must have been a whole lotta magic too. We LOVED having them in Sydney. I was one of the Drag Queens in the closing ceremony here, AH MAY ZING.
      Portia xx

  6. poodle says:

    I really liked this one when I first tried it but the horrified reactions of my sniffing companions made me think I was crazy. I love to light a fire in the outdoor fire pit in the summer. After dinner I’ll make myself a cocktail and go sit by the fire and it’s incredibly relaxing. Celtic Fire makes me think of that. It alao made me feel like I was wearing the liquid smoke that you can use when you want to cheat and have barbecued taste and smell without the barbecue. I think that’s why I didn’t buy it. I love it but it might be just a smidge too much smoke on me and not much else.

    • Ha Ha Ha! Yes I bet they were all a bit EWWW you smell like embers.
      We aren’t allowed to do fire pits in our area any more, way too much development and eucalyptus, which love to explode into flame, only takes a spark. Yes, LOVED bonfires and autumn burn off in my childhood, the smell would practically pick you up and take you to heaven.
      Hungry Jacks roll that taste on to their burgers here in Australia. YUM
      Portia xx

  7. Sandra says:

    Loved your review Portia! As much as I love BBQs and fires, I am not sure if I would like to smell like that. I love Gothic Bluebell. xo

  8. rickyrebarco says:

    Hi Portia, I tried the Celtic Fire recently since I love the smell of a peat fire. But this was too much campfire and wood fire in a fireplace without a proper draft to me. It smelled like smoky clothes and camping. I thought it was well done in that the perfumer accomplished what he wanted to, apparently. But I’m just not sure this stuff is wearable at all. Even after the drydown, which doesn’t last long unfortunately, it’s too smoky and funky smelling to wear. I could imagine myself wearing this and someone saying, “Oh my gosh, there’s a fire! Quick pull the fire alarm!”
    Maybe a really outdoorsy hipster kind of guy could pull this off or a man who likes camping and fishing but it would scare off the fish and certainly would not work for hunting. Couldn’t wear this when horseback riding as horses are deathly afraid of the smell of fire. Even though the bottle is totally fabulous, I don’t think this one will be a big seller! Just not wearable, IMHO.

    • Yes RickyRebarco,
      You could be quite right. I think it would be incredible of a fully suited man, totally elegant and perfectly groomed. Just one soft spritz on the stomach in the morning would be killer through the day.
      I got great longevity from Celtic Fire which is VERY unusual if someone else has issues, my skin is notoriously scent hungry. I get around 5-6hours smellable in medium weather without too much running around. Less for a busy day.
      Portia xx

  9. rosestrang says:

    Sounds intriguing but I wonder if this was funded by the Better Together campaign! I quite liked Fireside by Sonoma Scent, so might like this too

  10. Anna in Edinburgh says:

    Chiming in for rosestrang to answer your question, Portia, the “Better Together” campaign is trying to convince Scotland’s Voters to vote to stay in Union with England, Wales and Northern Ireland in the independence referendum. (It does seem unfortunate timing for a fragrance brand called Union!)

    I’d love to find a fragrance that does justice to peat smoke. (I suspect the BBQ and wood smoke references above mean that this won’t be what I’m after!)

    cheerio, Anna in Edinburgh

    • Hi there Anna in Edinburgh,
      What a wonderful, beautiful and friendly city you come from. I’ve only spent a few days there and the nights I was working and disco-ing till dawn. Very handsome men up there too.
      If you guys leeave then I bet we are next off the Commonwealth lists. So sad. I love the pomp and pageantry. I think Australia will be all the poorer for its lack.
      Do get a sample of Celtic Fire, it may just do the trick.
      Portia x

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