Creed Santal Original was one of my very first samples, but I've been saving it for cooler weather. Inside the vial, it smells heavily of sandalwood, so I thought it would be perfect for fall. The notes in Santal Original are:
Top: Royal Indian sandalwood, cinnamon, coriander, juniper berry
Heart: Lavendar, orange tree leaves, rosemary
Base: Tonka bean and vanilla
I was right--this is a wonderful fragrance for fall. But this scent in particular serves as a fine example of why you should never judge a scent after simply smelling a sample. Upon smelling it in the vial, I thought this unisex fragrance would favor a man, and I almost gave it to Bob. I'm glad I didn't. Immediately upon applying, beyond the sandalwood, I got the most wonderful sweet juice, what must be the juniper berry. I need to stop for a second and interject: the notes listed above are from Aedes, and they are the same notes that appear on Neiman's site. If you go to the Creed site (where they do not list notes, and where they say directly this is a unisex scent, which is important) and click the link to buy a fragrance, it takes you directly to Neiman's. This one's a bit out of my budget, so I went to eBay to see what the prices are like out there, and I found several shops that listed both a men's and a women's version of this scent. Interestingly, the men's version contains the notes listed above, while the women's version (remember, according to eBay) also contains neroli, ginger, mandarin, orangewood, cedar, benzoin, and ambergris.
Because Neiman's is an "officially sponsored" site, I'm going to assume they have all the notes correct. And because Neiman's and Creed both say this is a unisex scent, I am going to assume it is. eBay also sells a cologne version, and I'm wondering if this is the "men's," however Neiman's and Aedes both sell only the EDP. Make of all this what you will.
But to return to the fragrance: I admit the first thing that came to my mind, before I read the notes anywhere, was neroli. If other notes are present, then neroli must certainly be one...but on the official list the closest thing is "orange tree leaves." The juiciness of the opening is tempered beautifully by the spice, and the sweetness softens somewhat after the first thirty minutes, when rosemary and lavendar take the stage. This stage is fresh and slightly medicinal, in a comforting way. Think of it as luxurious aromatherapy, as this scent bids you to relax. The tonka bean and vanilla lend a warmth and slight creamy sweetness.
I am trying to be picky about what I put on the bottle-worthy list, and I can't see how to leave this off. Of course, it will take me forever to collect everything on that list, and I've still barely made a dent in my samples. There are whole houses whose perfumes I haven't even sampled yet. I cannot afford this hobby. I'm going to go buy a lottery ticket now.
Update: I've been wearing this all day, and I'm sad to say that it does fade quite a bit. I smell a barely-there deep orangey vanilla, and not much else. For a sandalwood fragrance, especially one with such a strong beginning, I'd expect more. This tempers my longing somewhat. It'll stay on the list for now, but so far the winner this week is still Shaal Nur.
*photo from Aedes