Can a fragrance brand be both educational and enjoyable to wear? Not usually, but in the case of Escentric Molecules, we say a resounding “yes”.
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Niche brand founder and perfumer Geza Schoen created a cult following when he released a series of fragrance pairs from 2006 – one just with a well-known synthetic (a perfume in itself, for example Molecule 02 featuring Ambroxan) and the other a more conventional scent (featuring the synthetic in combination with other notes, for example Escentric 02.)
The perfumer had already established his reputation before launching his own company with creations such as Diesel EDT (1996), Clive Christian X Masculine Edition EDP (2001) and many of British niche brand Ormonde Jayne’s superb releases, including Tolu EDP (2002), Frangipani EDP (2003) and Ta’if EDP (2004).
Even if you’re one of those curmudgeons who think Escentric Molecules is an expensive con (yes, theoretically you could buy any of the synthetics for a fraction of the price from an online supplier and bottle it yourself, but would you?), you’ve got to give credit to the brand for doing more than most to highlight the importance of aroma-molecules in modern perfumery.
We present the best of Escentric Molecules.
Our Shortlist For Best Escentric Molecules Fragrances
Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 EDT (Geza Schoen)
The brand’s debut release in 2006 wowed and shocked people in equal measure. It’s all about the molecule Iso E Super, which was discovered in 1973 by scientists John B. Hall and James M. Sanders at International Flavors & Fragrances.
The synthetic was famously overdosed in classics such as Dior Fahrenheit EDT (1988), Lancôme Trésor EDP (1990) and Shiseido Féminité du Bois EDP (1992). It also features prominently in Abercrombie & Fitch Fierce EDT (2002) and Hermès Terre d’Hermès EDT (2006).
So what makes ISO E Super so special? Apart from its smooth cedarwood qualities, it seems to come and go due to the way it affects receptors in the olfactory system. While lighter and less intense than many conventional woody materials, it’s super versatile, hence its use in a wide variety of fragrances.
“Iso E Super is one of those skin-sexy scents that makes you want to nestle into it. It’s comforting, cocooning,” says Geza Schoen. We couldn’t agree more.
Escentric Molecules Escentric 01 EDT (Geza Schoen)
Are you one of those people who doesn’t like things to be too “perfumey”? Then Geza Schoen had you in mind when he created this 2006 release.
“I wanted to create something unconventional, not too perfumistic, something for my friends who said they didn’t like fragrance,” he says on the brand website.
There’s freshness from notes of lime peel, pink pepper and hedione (the jasmine synthetic), while orris adds a touch of powerderiness.
The perfumer keeps it minimalist to allow ISO E Super to do its woody-musky thing. It’s all super subtle and soft. The kind of fragrance to enjoy all to yourself.
Escentric Molecules Molecule 02 EDT (Geza Schoen)
This 2008 launch is all about Ambroxan, the synthetic version of ambergris, the extremely precious substance that’s excreted by the sperm whale (no, it’s not “whale vomit”) and that hardens into a waxy, solid material after floating in the ocean.
Due to its rarity and cost, the substitute (discovered in 1950) is used in a vast array of fragrances such as Hermès Eau des Merveilles EDT (2004), Dior Sauvage EDT (2015) and Maison Francis Kurkdjian Baccarat Rouge 540 EDP (2015).
Almost all fragrances which have ambergris as one of their listed notes (including niche varieties) actually refer to Ambroxan or any of the other chemical equivalents (for example, Ambroxide and Ambrofix).
“Ambroxan has a fresh, almost mineral quality,” says Geza Schoen, “that lingers into the drydown.”
In its unadulterated form in this EDT, we love its fresh yet sensual take on the musk theme. You may also experience it as salty, sweet, creamy and animalic.
Escentric Molecules Escentric 04 EDT (Geza Schoen)
This 2017 release opens with a huge fresh burst of sharply bitter grapefruit and aromatic juniper berry.
The listed marijuana and floral notes (green jasmine bud, freesia, osmanthus, orris, rose) are more elusive, but that’s not what this composition is about.
If you’re patient, there’s Javanol in the drydown. Discovered by Jerzy Bajgrowicz in 1996, this Givaudan molecule produces a clean and crisp sandalwood effect, which makes for a fascinating contrast to the slightly overpowering opening.
“What I love about Javanol is its almost psychedelic freshness,” says Geza Schoen. “It smells as if liquid metallic grapefruit peel were poured over a bed of velvety cream-coloured roses.”
To enhance the effect, the perfumer paired Javanol with another synthetic sandalwood, the slightly sweeter Polysantol, and the balsamic tones of mastic.
The result: a super-fresh sandalwood scent we can’t get enough of.
Escentric Molecules Molecule 05 EDT (Geza Schoen)
A 2020 release which showcases the aroma-molecule Cashmeran (also known as cashmere wood or blond woods).
Discovered by John B. Hall (the same chemist who gave us Iso E Super) in the 1970s, this synthetic is ubiquitous, to say the least. It can be found in everything from Cacharel LouLou EDP (1987) to Nasomatto Duro Extrait de Parfum (2007) and Frédéric Malle Dans Tes Bras EDP (2008) to Bentley Majestic Cashmere EDP (2019).
It’s easy to understand its appeal to perfumers. More complex and versatile than most synthetics, it’s known for its cocooning muskiness and warm woodiness.
Escentric Molecules Escentric 05 EDT (Geza Schoen)
For this 2020 release, Geza Schoen wanted to create a summery Mediterranean island fragrance without the aquatic clichés. He succeeds admirably with a scent that’s simple but evocative.
It opens with bright citrus notes of bergamot and orange. Hints of fig and fig leaf add to the sunny ambience.
There’s more freshness of the aromatic variety from notes of juniper berry, rosemary and laurel, with the distinctive earthiness of cypress towering above it all.
The drydown displays Cashmeran at its resinous pine-y best, with supporting depth from mastic and labdanum. ISO E Super and Ambroxan also feature in the mix.
Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris EDT (Geza Schoen)
In 2021, Geza Schoen launched the M+ range, featuring the synthetic ISO E Super combined with one note (for example, Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Mandarin EDT and Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Patchouli EDT).
We love both those releases, but Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris EDT must be our favourite from the line.
It opens with the floral note at its creamy and powdery best (the German assures us he’s only used quality orris absolute) with a soft sweetness and freshness.
ISO E Super was synthesised in a laboratory in 1973 and here it imbues the scent with its customary velvety-sensual cedarwoody-muskiness.
Simplicity itself but highly effective and a joy to wear.
Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Patchouli EDT (Geza Schoen)
Forget what we said about Escentric Molecules Molecule 01 + Iris EDT being our favourite from the line. Having spent more time with this 2021 release, we’re adding it to our list of best patchouli fragrances. Yes, it’s that good.
They come together to produce a scent that’s woody, warm, spicy and earthy. Although on the cleaner side, it has character in abundance.
If you still associate patchouli with the hippies of the 1960s, this thoroughly modern interpretation will surprise you in all the best ways.
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Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.