Guerlain – Santal Royal


First negative review of the year, and I’m sorry that it had to be a Guerlain. I’m sorry that I hold you [Guerlain] to a standard that is higher than most brands. After all, you are the one who brings me much joy with masterpieces such as L’Heure Bleue, Mitsouko, Shalimar, Après l’Ondée etc. etc. You are the one that I own the most bottles of, more than 30 at last count. You are the one that I actively seek vintages of, my heart bursting with joy when I find some. You are the one of whom I’ll happily buy the EDC, EDT, PDT, EDP, Parfum of the same perfume. You are the one who creates magic. You are the one I’ve splashed out ridiculous amounts of money on. You are the one who gives me crazy special memories, such as finding a brand new, sealed in box bottle of Gourmand Coquin in Nordstrom Rack for $40 (Yes, you read that right). You have my heart.

So why is it that you release dross such as Santal Royal? Just to make money? I get that it’s necessary, in order to keep the business afloat, but surely making money can run hand in hand with producing quality fragrances? To think that I was so excited to find that it was cheaper, at $200 for a 4.2oz bottle, than most of the other fragrances in the exclusive lines…

Santal Royal doesn’t have real sandalwood, that’s for sure. I wasn’t expecting any, but surely Guerlain could have done something better than the rubbish aromachemical that has been thrown around left, right and centre in pretty much every perfume that was designed for the Middle East (Santal Royal was exclusive to Dubai for some time).

Somebody needs to impose a moratorium on Not Oud

Somebody needs to impose a moratorium on Not Oud

But the “sandalwood” isn’t even the main player in this fragrance. Instead, we have a huge blast of what I’d like to call the Not Oud. What is the Not Oud? The Not Oud is the crap that fragrance companies try to pass off as oud, which comes nowhere close to the real stuff, and which is pretty ubiquitous at this point of time, in every perfume that has “oud” in its name. Think Tom Ford’s Not Oud line. Actually, I wouldn’t mind the ubiquity if Not Oud actually smelt good, but hey, no prizes for guessing what I think of Not Oud. It’s douchey and it’s vile. What’s the point of creating something like that? You don’t make money by creating something that is derivative and that blends in with every other perfume on the market. To that end, I respect people such as James Peterson, who recently started a line called Brooklyn Perfume Company, which I had the pleasure of sampling in Twisted Lily over the weekend. Now that’s a beautiful oud, replete with blue cheese and salty animalic goodness. Or how about Ex Idolo Thirty-Three, which does the best take on the rose-oud theme with its ultra smooth, rich and velvety texture?

I'm Bored

For good measure, Santal Royal throws in some rose, because, you know, that hasn’t been done before. Guerlain, do you honestly think that the folks in Dubai want this? They probably have access to far, far better ingredients and perfumes than this trainwreck of a perfume. I haven’t minced my words, and I shan’t apologize, because crap deserves to be called out, even as I cuddle up with my beloved Guerlain fragrances.


If you’re looking for a nice sandalwood, go get vintage Samsara instead, the one with the gold cap and transparent bottle. I don’t know if the sandalwood there is actual Mysore sandalwood, or if it’s a synthetic one, but either way I don’t care, because it smells good.

Guerlain, you break my heart.

~ The Smelly Vagabond

9 thoughts on “Guerlain – Santal Royal

  1. I’ve always loved Samsara too (but it has to be vintage, doesn’t it, not the current screechy, thin version). So sorry about your disappointment, but I completely understand what you are saying.

  2. Oh, dire it is indeed. I can’t give them points for either originality or wearability. But I wouldn’t say that they are ‘sliding into the abyss’. I do still prefer the classics by a mile (they have after all withstood the trial of time), but some of their recent releases haven’t been too bad. This one, however… bleagh.

  3. Pingback: Guerlain Santal Royal - Kafkaesque

  4. my friend bought the perfume for 55KD and said its dire!! and she threw it way. she couldnt spray it anymore as its smells like chemicals. she is very disappointed that she spent that big amount on a rubish!!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s