I have a fondness for light incense fragrances such as L’Artisan Parfumeur’s transportive Passage d’Enfer. Therefore I’ve long been eager to try another reputedly airy incense which was released back in 1997 – Shaal Nur.
I’m grateful to an Aussie pal for sending me a large decant of the EDT earlier this year.
It has the following pyramid structure:
Top notes: Lemon, bergamot, grapefruit, mandarin, rosewood and coriander
Heart notes: Thyme, tarragon, rosemary, karo karoundè, rose and petit grain
Base notes: Patchouli, nutmeg, vetiver, cedarwood, opoponax, incense and musk
I am instantly intrigued by Shaal Nur‘s strange opening which contrasts bright and crisp citrus against a decidedly dark and dusty background.
The incense is very gently spiced and reminds me of the (unlit) joss sticks I have from India. There’s also lots of vetiver, old-school patchouli and that “forest floor” effect which is created by woods and leafy, aromatic herbs. I also notice a light rose note, but only if I get in close.
Shaal Nur is more multi-faceted than a straight-up incense fragrance but if I were to categorise it under just one accord, that would be vetiver. I have issues with most vetiver-heavy perfumes but not this one. The vetiver here is musty and well blended with earthy patchouli to form the base. It’s at its most prominent once the citrus, incense and vanilla have faded away.
Some fragrance fans actually see Shaal Nur as a modern twist on a classic, namely Shalimar.
As well as the citrus top notes, I recognise the smoke puffs of opoponax and a dab of sweetness from vanilla. Although, while these elements are also present in the Guerlain, I wouldn’t say the two are smell-a-likes by any means. I see the similarity but would not have independently thought to compare the two.
Shaal Nur is a lot darker, less feminine and much more resinous. I picture an antique Indian steamer trunk that has been opened up for the first time in years. It doesn’t possess Shalimar‘s gourmand curves or level of refinement.
It’s an accessible oriental which is wearable year-round because it isn’t at all heavy. In fact, it would probably work better in warmer weather because it might get muffled under layers of winter clothing.
I find that it wears close to the body, giving it an attractive intimate feel. Longevity is far better than that of your average Eau de Toilette.
Shaal Nur has a subtly exotic, enigmatic character and I can envision the Indian Queen that Etro say its name represents. I think it’s striking but I also find it grounding.
Shaal Nur imparts a feeling of calm and inner strength, with added interest and a touch of mystery.
Have you tried Shaal Nur or any of the other fragrances by Etro?.