Before the phenomenal success of Nishane, Turkish perfumery was often more renowned for its fragrance dupes.
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While that industry continues unabated, the niche brand has put the country’s olfactory traditions on the scent stage for all the right reasons.
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Founded by Mert Guzel and Murat Katran in 2012, Nishane (meaning “mark”, “sign” or “symbol”, according to the brand’s website) has built an impressive line-up of top releases often inspired by the Turkish capital Istanbul’s heady mix of the modern and the ancient, and lofty ideals.
Diverse collections, including Miniature Art, Blossom, Shadow Play and No Boundaries, feature distinctive unisex releases in extrait concentrations.
We take you through their best releases – from the well-known (Ani, Hundred Silent Ways, Hacivat) to others you need to get your nose on (Tuberóza, Colognisé).
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Top Picks for Nishane Fragrances
Nishane Sultan Vetiver Extrait de Parfum (Jorge Lee)
Perfume-lovers knew they were onto a good thing with one of the brand’s first launches.
From the Miniature Art Collection, the 2013 release makes it clear, in no uncertain terms, that vetiver rules from top to bottom in all its guises.
Nishane Sultan Vetiver opens with the smokiness and bitterness of Javanese vetiver. Hints of bergamot and anise add citrus and herbal aspects respectively.
The vetiver keeps on coming with contrasts of large doses of the Bourbon (warm and spicy) and Haitian (fresh and green) varieties. You might just notice the honeyed citrus aspects of neroli in the background.
Ready for more vetiver? The woody Brazilian type is blended with a deep leather accord in the drydown.
If this one doesn’t satisfy your vetiver craving, nothing will.
Nishane Tuberóza Extrait de Parfum (Jorge Lee)
Of all the florals at a perfumer’s disposal, tuberose is probably the most potent and intoxicating.
There was a time when the white floral was synonymous with the forbidden and all sorts of carnality.
A 2014 release from the Blossom Collection, Tuberóza opens in bright and light mode, with notes of ylang-ylang and orange blossom.
When the tuberose from Mexico (where it originates from) takes centre stage (can it be any other way?), it’s more fruity than animalic. Gardenia and marigold intensify the floral ambience.
The drydown sees the synthetic Amberwood, all musky woodiness, in combo with creamy sandalwood.
This EDP is a surprisingly uplifting take on the genre. The diva is so charming and warm, no wonder all the other actors are more than happy to lend their support.
Nishane Ambra Calabria Extrait de Parfum (Jorge Lee)
While the brand is known more for their heavier fragrances, they also excel at quality freshies with a difference, such as this 2015 release from the Miniature Art Collection.
The opening is gorgeously green with notes of green leaves, galbanum, and the softly spicy tones of Calabrian bergamot, in particular, in play. It’s fresh without being overly sharp and bitter.
Coriander and jasmine add an element of subtle sweetness to the mix.
The drydown takes it in an unexpected direction with an elegantly sweet vanilla-dominant amber accord. Clean powdery musk gives it extra(it) oomph.
Beautifully refreshing from start to finish.
Nishane Wūlóng Chá Extrait de Parfum (Jorge Lee)
Cup of tea, dear? Yes please, if it’s as good as this one.
This Nishane Wūlóng Chá Extrait de Parfum 2015 release from the Miniature Art Collection also has an invigorating vibe in abundance.
It gets going with the crisp green-citrus tones of bergamot, supported by lesser notes of delicately sweetened orange and mandarin. There’s some aromatic lemon-y freshness courtesy of litsea cubeba, the shrub native to east Asia.
The oolong tea, softly fruity and green, is supplemented by honeyed fig and clean white musk in the drydown.
For a freshie, this one lasts quite a long time, but then it’s an extrait de parfum.
One of our top tea fragrances.
We approach much-hyped releases, such as this 2016 launch from the Rumi Collection (the name comes from a poem by the Persian poet), with caution and dreaded disappointment. But we needn’t have worried…
It opens with an unusually restrained take on tuberose partnered with powdery peach.
Gardenia leads the florals with its creamy characteristics, while powdery orris and musky jasmine make supporting contributions.
All of these set the scene for the large dose of vanilla in the drydown. It’s smooth, slightly boozy and spicy, with just the right amount of sweet sophistication. Sandalwood bolsters the creamy ambience.
Nishane Zenne Extrait de Parfum (Jorge Lee)
Feeling fruity? Then this 2017 release from the Shadow Play Collection is the one for you.
Yes, we know rhubarb is a vegetable, but its tart fruity nuances are displayed to great effect here, with support from blackcurrant (green!) and grapefruit (fresh!) notes.
Turkish rose picks up on the fruitiness of the intro, while the combo of magnolia, sandalwood and vanilla adds a smooth ’n creamy dimension.
The drydown is big on the musk, with a quality synthetic ambergris accentuating the clean vibe.
Fruity fragrances can overdo the sugar. This one gets the balance between the sweet and sharp so right.
Nishane Hacivat EDP (Jorge Lee)
Thanks to the huge popularity of Creed Aventus, any fragrance with a pineapple note is inevitably compared to that best-seller.
So let’s state categorically: Aventus doesn’t own pineapple and this 2017 release from the Shadow Play Collection should be judged on its own merits.
Now that we’ve got that out of the way, there’s juicy pineapple galore in the opening. Citrus notes of bergamot and grapefruit ensure it’s not too icky-sticky sweet.
Fresh jasmine continues the fruity tropical vibe of the intro, with patchouli and its biotech equivalent Clearwood bringing clean depth.
The bitter oakmoss in the drydown makes a pleasing contrast to the sugary aspect.
Karagoz, also from the Shadow Play Collection, sees grapes and pineapple in action. Well worth sniffing out too!
Eaux de cologne seem to be fashionable again. Which suits us just fine, as we love their refreshing qualities when the sun is doing its thing.
Inspired by the Turkish tradition of lemon splash colognes, Nishane Colognisé is a standout in the genre. Although all the notes are familiar enough, the result is not.
The opening is all about the freshness of bergamot, green tea and jasmine. There’s a dab of lemon and grapefruit in the background.
There’s more greenery from neroli and vetiver, while musk gives this 2018 release more longevity than most.
Look out for Safran Colognisé with its saffron-rich variation on the theme.
Nishane B-612 Extrait de Parfum (Chris Maurice)
We love the inspiration behind this 2018 release from the Imaginative Collection: the smell of the asteroid in The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry. We love its execution, too.
It opens with the clean aromatics of lavender, cypress and geranium notes.
The synthetic Cashmeran gives it lots of musky woodiness, with sandalwood and cedar adding to the woody profile.
Notes of powdery musk and earthy oakmoss in the drydown complete the composition.
Perhaps not as childlike as its inspiration, there’s still something comforting and nostalgic about this scent.
Nishane Nefs Extrait de Parfum (Chris Maurice)
One of the brand’s big sellers, this 2019 release from the Prestige Collection is beautifully complex stuff. The price is kind of prestigious too, compared to some of the house’s other scents, but it’s well worth every sweet drop if you’ve got the cash to splash.
An East-meets-West oriental, it makes a grand statement from the start with contrasts of powdery honey and violet, the leathery spice of saffron and gourmand-ish fig.
The florals that follow – fruity (rose and osmanthus) and fresh (jasmine and geranium) – are given a subtly spicy twist with earthy nutmeg.
There’s a lot happening in the drydown. We can’t pick up all the officially listed notes. What stands out most, though, is the complex woodiness of whiskey and oud (mmm…) mingling with the spiciness of vanilla and muskiness of gurjun balsam.
It’s opulent, sensual and cosy at the same time.
Want something more overtly gourmand? Fan Your Flames, with its notes of coconut, rum, and tonka bean, should do it for you.
Nishane Ani Extrait de Parfum (Cécile Zarokian)
Even if you haven’t smelled this 2019 release from the No Boundaries Collection, there’s a good chance you’ve heard about it. That’s how popular it is. People go seriously gaga for this stuff.
The inspiration – the ruins of the ancient Armenian city Ani near the border between Turkey and Armenia as a means to bridge the hostilities between the two countries – is noble.
The execution is impressive, which should come as no surprise as the scent was created by Cécile Zarokian. The Paris-based perfumer has produced standouts such as Amouage Epic Woman, Jovoy Private Label and Masque Milano Tango, as well as the delightfully powdery Nishane Nanshe.
Ani commences in fresh and green mode, with notes of citrus bergamot and minty blue ginger. Pink peppercorns bring a spicy-rosy aspect.
A blend of resinous cardamom, fruity rose and tart blackcurrant continues to pique the interest.
And then the pièce de resistance: superior vanilla featuring nuances of wood, spice and cream enhanced with the warmth of benzoin, musk and sandalwood.
One of the best vanillas in recent years? Hyped to high heaven? Too sweet? A modern classic? The more sought-after this scent becomes, the more it’s hated too. Try it for yourself, we say.
Nishane Ege Aigaio Extrait de Parfum (Ilias Ermenidis)
Probably because it was overdone at a certain stage, the aquatic genre is often looked down upon as inferior in some way. Nishane Ege Aigaio should restore your faith in the category. It’s familiar and different at the same time.
Inspired by summer holidays on the Aegean Sea, this 2020 creation from the No Boundaries Collection puts the Greek background of perfumer Ilias Ermenidis to good use.
The opening is suitably fresh and bitter, with yuzu in focus. Violet leaf brings airiness to the composition.
Notes of mint, basil and cardamom take it in a green direction. There’s an accomplished balance between herbal, spicy and aromatic facets here.
The olibanum in the drydown is wonderfully woody and maintains the fresh seaside ambience.
There’s a subtle anise note throughout. We’d like to think that’s a nod to the Greek aperitif ouzo.
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.