Friday, May 24, 2024

“Yatagan” is a One-Way Ticket to the Woods

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Yatagan is not to be messed with. Crafted during the rise of the Ottoman Empire, the Turkish knife had no hand guard. The Yatagan knife style would later be adopted by bayonet-makers, and the weapon once again wreaked havoc on the battlefield over the course of the nineteenth century. The name “Yatagan” simultaneously recalls the brutality of close-combat and the elegance of weapon craftsmanship.

It’s both a condemnation and a compliment to say that Caron’s Yatagan (created in 1978) does its namesake justice. As soon as it hits the skin, Yatagan announces itself with a barrage of pine and artemisia, recalling a forest where the scent of trees has drowned out any flowers that might be hiding in the shadows. Cedar, incense, and an array of herbal spices are all blended underneath, yet even these are not ‘soft’ in the usual sense – they’re loud, but the strongest notes are simply louder.

And the loudest note of them all? Castoreum, AKA beaver musk. Yatagan is not the sweet woodsy scent that fills the men’s section at a department store, but the smell of a vibrant, lived-in forest devoid of the moisture that might otherwise smooth its rough edges.

It’s a testament to perfumer Vincent Marcello that Yatagan is anything but a trainwreck. By some miracle, Yatagan smells loud yet cohesive, animalic yet beautiful.

Perhaps Yatagan works because it is both bold and familiar. This is the sort of fragrance a hiker would adore for its transportive power. There are several scents, such as Profumum Roma’s Arso and CB I Hate Perfume’s Winter 1972, that also present photorealistic images of wood. However, Yatagan’s the only perfume I’ve smelled that nails the smell of the woods as a place instead of as an object.

Will Yatagan make you smell clean? No. Will Yatagan make you feel like you’re on a living, breathing planet no matter where you are? Yes. Yatagan is a wearable piece of art that is as likely to draw in those who love the wilds as it is to push away people repulsed by, well, beaver musk. If the wild calls to you, then Yatagan will get you there. Just be warned that it will take everyone around you there too.

Finding a bottle of your own, however, is its own journey, and it’s a little costly. For an authentic bottle instead of taking your chances on eBay, you can pick up a 75 mL bottle for $90 from Beverly Hills Perfumery.

The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated. 

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