Sonoma Scent Studio

Sonoma Scent Studio is one of those lines that comes up on my radar – a couple of their scents get mentioned regularly by perfumistas – but, as often happens, I’d never managed to try any.  I finally ordered some samples from the SSS website, and (full disclosure) perfumer Laurie Erickson threw in additional samples, so I got a sense of the range of her line.

I also looked at reviews of the line on MakeupAlley and it’s apparent that, in contrast to her current offerings, she used to do a lot more scents, including dupes of familiar classics.  I asked her about this via email and she said she’d decided she wanted to do her own thing – hone her focus and reduce the number of scents she offers.  Here are the highlights in my (self-selected) winter-comfort category:

Tabac Aurea – Cedar, sandalwood, tobacco, leather, vetiver, patchouli, clove, labdanum absolute, tonka bean, amber, vanilla, musk.  This is the new-ish scent that finally prompted my order, I’ve read raves and I understand why.  A warm, sueded comfort scent that makes me think of Donna Karan’s Black Cashmere with a leather overlay and pipe-tobacco drydown.  I could smell this all day long.

Incense Pure – frankincense, myrrh, labdanum, cistus oil, natural oakmoss absolute, aged Indian patchouli heartnote fraction, sandalwood, cedar, ambergris, orris, angelica root absolute, elemi EO, vanilla absolute.  With those notes, how could this smell anything other than wonderful?  Resiny, like a walk in the woods; more than straight frankincense but not fussy, a perfect drop of vanilla.

Fireside Intense – Guaiacwood, Texas cedar, Himalayan cedar, Indian sandalwood, agarwood, birch tar, cade, leather, oakmoss absolute, castoreum, ambergris. I read reviews of this as “very smoky.”  Uh … sorry, no.  Diptyque John Galliano?  CB Burning Leaves?  Those are very smoky.  This is a cheerful, soft leather/smoke scent with a nice peaty note that differentiates it from your basic birchtar campfire-scent.  If you like the idea of the Galliano or Burning Leaves, but find them a bit too literal, smoky and unwearable, try this one.  Bonus – wait for the oakmoss to pop up like a little green elf after about fifteen minutes.*

Winter Woods – Guaiacwood, cedar, sandalwood, birch tar, cade, oakmoss absolute, castoreum, amber, labdanum absolute, vetiver, ambergris, musk.  The one I instantly wanted a bottle of, which will come as no shock to some of you, reading that notes list.  There’s something quirky and humorous about the way the guaiacwood obscures the naughty bits… for awhile.  It wears like a musk on me — very cuddly, surprisingly warm, not too sweet, for those of us who long for a dirtier Muscs Koublai Khan.

Jour Ensoleille – orange blossom, neroli, tuberose, jasmine, beeswax absolute, labdanum absolute, myrrh, sandalwood, ambergris, vetiver, green leaves, oakmoss. This doesn’t fit with the theme of winter comfort-scents which I chose for my post, but I feel I’d be remiss not mentioning this, because WOW.  An intensely indolic orange blossom/jasmine, a dollop of furry golden beeswax, balanced by the liquid-absinthe greenness of vetiver and oakmoss.  I hope you get what I’m getting, which is less golden-sunlit afternoon and more tumble-in-the-haystack-with-the-miller’s-son.  Probably not work-friendly, unless you work as either the randy goat-heard or the innkeeper’s saucy serving wench.

The most interesting small perfumers develop their own style, with an array of scents that hang together and “feel” like their work and nobody else’s.  Coming fresh to Laurie Erickson’s scents, I enjoyed how unsweet they are, and how (at least in the more winter-y ones I tried) she’s got a fondness for leather, woods and smoke, but they don’t all end up smelling like slight variations of each other; they’re distinct and attractive scents.  (She’s got more summery things and seems to have an affinity for violet, heliotrope and rose.)   I was pleasantly surprised by how ripe many of these smelled.  She uses labdanum, ambergris, oakmoss, musk and castoreum with a generous hand. I’d recommend this line for those of you who like your winter comfort a little darker and less sweet, can tolerate some skank, and are willing (with the oil format) to wait a minute or two for the scents to set up.

I know a number of you have sampled Sonoma Scent Studio – please name your favorites in comments.  Also, don’t be shy, if you’ve blogged on them, add your links!  As far as I’m concerned, the more the merrier.

image and samples from Sonoma Scent Studio (I paid for about half of them)

*Laurie uses low-atranol oakmoss in several of her scents: “Oakmoss, or Evernia prunastri, is a lichen that grows on oaks as well as some other trees and is harvested to produce oakmoss absolute. The absolute is green or brown and is very thick; it has a wonderful earthy, mossy aroma with herbal and green nuances. Oakmoss absolute is a skin allergen to a small percentage of people, so its usage is restricted to small amounts of the low-atranol natural version …”

victoria December 23, 2010

I just tried Incense Pure for the first time (thank you Perfume Posse swappers!) and it's fantastic. On first spritz it smells almost exactly like Ormonde Jayne Woman, which to me means it smells *exactly* like fresh lemon zest. Then it slowly develops into a scent that is still similar but just slightly more incense-y than Woman. I'm off to order more samples now!

Anne December 22, 2010

My first comment on this site, tho' I'm a long-term lurker. I liked Jour Ensoleille enormously when I first tried it, but it is so STRONG. For me, something rather harsh and pine-y emerges out of JE that, depending on my mood, sets me on edge somewhat. And yet it is a fascinating scent. I can't ignore it. Femme Jolie is by a long way my favourite SSS - the balance of fruit, spice and cedar gives me such pleasure. I bought a back-up bottle a while ago, in anticipation of it being discontinued. Laurie may still have a bit left if anyone wants to as her, but she did tell me that she won't be making any more.

Suzanne M. December 21, 2010

Late-comer SSS fan checking in. I got stymied trying to decide my favorites. Let's just say it's hard for me to pick among many, so this list is subject to change... Incense Pure Tabac Aurea Winter Woods Champagne de Bois Jour Ensolleile I agree totally with Shelley's comment about Laurie's work and how it makes her feel comfortable exploring her “don’t tend to go there” places with, just to see what’s she’s doing there. I was able to sniff the new "classique" fragrance she's working on. I'm in LOVE - though I wasn't at all sure it would be "me."

Vasily December 21, 2010

I liked Tabac Aurea enough to order a bottle; I suspect anyone who like SL Fumerie Turque might want to try this one. Others that stand out in my trials (I wouldn't purchase these but might try them again): Egyptian Musk Winter Woods Ambre et Encens Fireside Bois Epices

nozknoz December 21, 2010

I ordered a bottle of Tabac Aurea unsniffed based on all the rave comments here and at NST. I know I committed one of the seven deadly perfumista sins, but I do throw caution to the winds every now and then, and Haunani likes Tabac Aurea, so I was pretty sure I would, too. And I do, I totally love it! It does not smell like tobacco to me, but rather resinous woods and other good things. Rather like Via del Profumo Mecca Balsam, which I also love, and the core of my fav classic vintage Guerlains. I have samples of others, thanks to kind Rapple and Tammy, and plan to test them with concentration, since there must be other wonders from the creator of the beautiful Tabac Aurea.

Suzy Q December 20, 2010

Laurie's fragrances are a bargain. They wear like parfum concentration. It was a shock to go from just dabbing samples to spraying from a FB of Jolie Femme. And they last a long time, as people have been mentioning. Tabac Aurea is the first tobacco I've really liked, so if you're generally not a fan of tobaccos, it's still worth a try. I just dabbed some on so I could join in the spirit of the post!

ElizabethN December 20, 2010

There very few of Laurie's scents that I don't like! Vintage Rose, Tabac Aurea, Ambre Noir, Champagne de Bois top the list, though.

Elisa December 20, 2010

This is one of my favorite lines. My favorite is Winter Woods (love that castoreum! I wrote about it, and a few others, here: ; I also own Tabac Aurea (DK Chaos reminds me of this, though I think Tabac Aurea is better; haven't smelled Black Cashmere) and Vintage Rose (which is sooooo lush, I put some on a turtleneck a few weeks ago and it still smells like a full dosage; wrote about it here: . I asked for a bottle of Voile de Violette for Xmas but it looks like she didn't open up shop in time. And I had a very similar reaction to Jour Ensolleile as you: Beautiful line, tons of naturals, potent and long-lasting.

Dionne December 20, 2010

I own Incense Pure, Winter Woods and Femme Jolie - wore it yesterday - with plans to buy Champagne de Bois, Vintage Rose (I did a wrist-to-wrist comparison between it and Parfum Sacre to see how it stood up - they were BOTH fabulous ;)) and Jour Ensoleille. And heck.... I wouldn't turn down bottles of Ambre Noir, Sienna Musk and Wood Violet. Tabac Aurea didn't work for me, but then tobacco in general doesn't. And like mals, there's lots of smoke in my Winter Woods, so Fireside and Fireside Intense were just tooooo much. Cameo and Lieu de Reves were lovely, but not my style at all, and the jury's still out for Voile de Violette. I'll revisit that one in the spring. And may I also commend Laurie's amazing customer service? I live in oh-so-annoying-to-ship-to Canada, and she's really made extra efforts to send stuff to me.

Jared December 20, 2010

I own Incense Pure, and it's probably my favorite incense out of my over-represented incenses. So impressed. I really do want to try more, so I'm glad you reviewed these. I've heard the buzz about Tabac Aurea, but Winter Woods sounds pretty incredible. A dirtier MKK? Yes, please.

OperaFan December 20, 2010

March - So glad you mentioned Jour Ensoleille, My SSS HG. This one is very very special, and seems to fall under the radar for many in favor of her wonderful woodsy and incensy fragrances. Makes me smile every time! None of those naughty notes on me though....

Tiara December 20, 2010

I'm a big fan of Femme Jolie which is, sadly, discontinued. Sienna Musk is probably my next favorite. Nicely spicy without being too much. Since I'm not a fan of tobacco or smoke, I've avoided scents like Tabac Aurea, Winter Woods, etc. Besides being a talented perfumer, Laurie's customer service is top notch and delivery has been lightning fast in the past.

Tom December 20, 2010

for those of us who long for a dirtier Muscs Koublai Khan This might have to be my Christmas present to myself..

Shelley December 20, 2010

Tabac Aurea is a staple tobacco for me. I think anybody who has found themselves fond of tobacco scents would be doing themselves a favor in trying this one. Absolute comfort for me, and easy to wear for a variety of clothings/situations. Incense Pure is lovely, but can go sweet on me...but I am That Person when it comes to adding in a dollop of sweet. Remember, sometimes Black Cashmere is too much sweet on my skin/to my nose. She has other incense formulas...need to try them... Since you asked, here's my take on Lieu de Reves: I've come to trust Laurie's work. She's the kind of perfumer that I'd feel comfortable exploring my "don't tend to go there" places with, just to see what's she's doing there.

Kristen December 20, 2010

Those are not my only two SSS bottles--I have seven--thanks, Laurie!

Kristen December 20, 2010

Hoarding my preciousssss bottles of CdB and the original ETranquille. I was shopping yesterday at the natural food store and heard two workers there say "Why does it smell like PERFUME in here?" and the other replied "Yes and it's so STRONG!" Ha! Two teeny spritzes of CdB about two hours before! I wanted to say "One more disparaging word and I will get out the entire bottle!" The I went and got lunch and my blood sugar returned to normal.

jirish December 20, 2010

Fireside Intense is one of my top five scents. It's what I wore for a whole week on the Scent Challenge, and I'm glad to see it getting more attention. Love the leather note in it. You've already mentioned many of my favorites from this line, but I also love her Ambre Noire and her Voile de Violette. The Ambre Noire I think you would really like. Didn't you like the original Prada? It's similar, but better IMHO.

helenviolette December 20, 2010

I have been wanting to try Tabac Aurea! I have a bottle of Fireside and WANT a bottle of Champagne de Bois. Wood Violet is beautiful too. Glad you got to try this special pefume line.

lemonprint December 20, 2010

It's so interesting that you posted this, because I just recently tried this line for the first time - I was on a violet kick and someone recced Jour en Soleille, I think, and I took the opportunity to get samples of the ones I'd heard about the most, including Champagne des Bois. Sadly, I didn't love ANY of them! I'm wondering now if there's a sort of sweetness I expect that they don't have. They just struck me as bland, uninteresting. Good blends - it wasn't as though I felt overwhelmed by any one note - but the mix together making something that I knew I should like but just didn't, like medieval descant music. I'm going to try them again when it's warmer, though, as almost everything has been disappearing so quickly on me these days - my skin is dry and so is the air and most of my favorite perfumes are wearing on me like echoes of themselves shouting down a long dark tunnel.

Shelley December 20, 2010

I am fortunate to have some of Laurie's terrific fragrances. She's one impressively talented perfumer! I enjoyed reading this thoughtful article.

maggiecat December 20, 2010

I love Sonoma Scent Studio's musks and will be looking forward to the new scents!

MJ December 20, 2010

Yes! I discovered SSS about a year ago and love Champagne des Bois and the violet scents (one woodier, one greener). We have Tabac Aurea as well, though I tend to not wear it to work (and husband, a unlit tobacco fan, uses it to refresh his loose tobacco office potpourri [it works!]). I also get a good day of scenting from any of these, so they're perfect for business trips and all day wear.

Victoria December 20, 2010

The names alone appeal to me, but you mention of them not being sweet is even more interesting, because while I occasionally like a full-bodied, sweet oriental, the drier kind is what I am usually drawn to. Still have not tried this line. Sometimes I think that I will never catch up, but as I mentioned to you before, I have adopted a Zen philosophy towards it all. :)

tania December 20, 2010

I've got quite a few of Laurie's scents, and love them all. My favourites are Vintage Rose and Tabac Aurea, but I also luuurrrve Winter Woods, Encens Tranquille, Ambre Noir, Incense Pure, Wood Violet.... well, like I said, I love them all. And they last! Last night I dabbed on a bit of Incense Pure from my sample. This morning I woke up from a dream about a forest, wondering what the lovely smell was. And I just won a draw at her blog for some purse sprays, so I'm a happy bunny!

Fiordiligi December 20, 2010

The only bottle I have is Lieu de Reves which I bought after a review by helg on Perfumeshrine whetted my appetite. No problems ordering from the US, by the way. Laurie was extremely accommodating. This, and others I've sampled, have been really lovely scents. I should really re-visit my samples and get to know more of her other confections.

Rappleyea December 20, 2010

Also checking in to say I'm a major SSS fan! Champagne de Bois is one of my top five, no three, scents! Absolutely could not be without it. It is not at all intimidated by my precious bottles of vintage Guerlain extraits! I have a FB of Incense Pure and keep a sample vial on my desk as it is such a beautiful, calming scent. I also own a bottle of Cameo, strange considering that I am *not* a rose lover. But it manages to be both romantic, old fashioned and dry at the same time. Laurie is working on a couple of new ones - she's blogged about them - and I'm lucky enough to be one of her testers. While the new Lieu is indeed beautiful, the new classic style scent is off the charts! It has literally haunted my scent memory and I cannot wait until it goes into production. It is the best new scent I've smelled in years! Great reviews! Did you try Amber Noir? I would think you'd like that one a lot.

Ann C December 20, 2010

I also love many of Laurie's perfumes, but I tend to like her softer florals like Lieu de Reves. She is working on a new version of Lieu de Reves that is amazing. It's a little more complex than the original, but still utterly gorgeous. She's going to sell this one through I plan to snap up a bottle as soon as it's available.

Ines December 20, 2010

I love both Winter Woods and Tabac Aurea and have bottles of both. :) I can also see myself acquiring some more Laurie's work in the near future. :)

Monica December 20, 2010

Laurie from SSS is a doll! I think I own sample vials of her entire line from the beginning and really they are all good~ I'm particularly fond of Violette Encens (discontinued) and Voile de Violette, and now Incense Pure and Winter Woods. She has a way of combining woods, incense and violet that makes them irresistible and all her scents last until the next shower =)

FragrantWitch December 20, 2010

Yay SSS! I received decants of Tabac Aurea, Winter Woods and Cameo in Swapmania and now a sample set is in my future. I ADORE both TA and WW ( Cameo is beautiful but totally not for me )and with the snow here Winter Woods has been getting a lot of love. I too love incense and now I really want to try Incense Pure and Fireside Intense. Once we've recovered for Christmas, I will be placing an order!

aotearoa December 20, 2010

oooh that's uncanny....I just ordered a bottle of Champagne de Bois yesterday after e mailing a very gracious Laurie. It's the first bottle I've ordered in ages but my sample haunted me- especially the delicious drydown. I wish I'd read this first March and thrown in some samples. I did have the incense sample which was OK, but I seem to like the more hollow incenses like Timbuktu nad Incense Extreme. Any one else love CdeB?

Adrianna December 20, 2010

Hi March, Just a random question here, what would you recommend that is similar to Kenzo Amour Le Parfum and Organza Indecense?? Adrianna

Louise December 20, 2010

Thanks for this review, dear. I am a long-time fan of SSS, and it just occurred to me yesterday that I needed to revisit the site. I do see that some great oldies are missing, but am glad Laurie is doing her own thing-she's a treasure ; ) I see some sampling in my future....especially the Wnter Woods and Incense. Can. Not. Get. Enough. Incense!

angie Cox December 20, 2010

I am not keen on ordering from the U.S in case the parcels get lost but you have wetted my appetite now :)

florentina December 20, 2010

What a terrific review! Now you've got me very eager to sample these soon... especially the tabac aurea and the incense pure!

Karina December 20, 2010

This is the first time I am visiting your Blog and I really liked the content of your articles. We can see how much you like fragances.

(Ms.)Christian December 20, 2010

I've been wearing Laurie's scents for ages, going back to the time she was making dupes. Her Chaos dupe was spot on. I think Incense Pure is one of the best things she has done to date. On me it is austere, dry and what I wanted Karan's Incense to be. Laurie's Incense Pure is strong and direct but very wearable. I could stop a few lanes of traffic, comatize a full elevator or clear a whole restaurant with one miniscule spritz of Karan's Incense. I love the fact that she uses vanilla minimally, if at all. Several years ago she made something called Buddhawood, or else it had it as a predominant note. I used to layer that with DSH's Hinoki (a wickedly brilliant scent!!!) when I wanted to be a super queer femme powerhouse. Talk about smoking... Laurie (as anyone knows who has gotten to know her even a bit) is a wonderful, kind, generous and friendly artist-kind of a "perfumer next door" and in the same ken as Dawn Spencer Horowitz and Andy Tauer. I only wish she would make some intensely galbanum things. I can hope.

Danielle December 20, 2010

I love Sonoma Scent Studio! It wasn't that long ago that I first experienced Laurie's scents, and I've since become a huge personal fan. Thank you March for talking about them! Mals; I don't get any skank at all out of JE---to me, it's just golden sunshine all the way. My review on that one: Rose Musc: Champagne de Bois: and Summary: -dee

Mals86 December 20, 2010

I haven't yet tried all of the SSS scents, but I have been impressed with most of them, even if they didn't quite work for me. Looks like I've only reviewed Champagne de Bois properly, and done one quickie smitten post on my dear Tabac Aurea: Tabac Aurea is still rockin' my world, though I tried it first from a 1/3 full sample vial more than a year ago. I like Velvet Rose a lot too - nicest "big armful of scarlet roses" scent I've ever tried. And you might remember I'm a Rose Ho, so there have been quite a few. I didn't bother with either Fireside (reg. or Intense), because Winter Woods was VERY SMOKY on me. Seriously, I was wearing it at work last February, and someone walked by me and said, "Who's burning wood?" One I haven't tried, but have wanted to get my mitts on, is Jour Ensoleille - but I admit that "indolic OB/jasmine" really, really turns down the volume on my Want. I don't get on well with either OB or jasmine, so that might not do. And Vintage Rose, although the notes list calls my name, is an absolute disaster on me. Each time I try it, I've had to scrub within 12 minutes or less - it *smells* fine, but there's something in there that just turns my stomach. It works like whatever-it-is in the Lauder base that nauseates me. Have been eagerly awaiting her Bouquet Blanc fragrance, which I know she's still working on (but which will probably have to be renamed, because of the Le Labo/Anthropologie scent by that name).