Monday 29 May 2023


A bottle of Phloem perfume from Jorum Studio
An increasing trend in perfumery in recent years has been the desire to hunt out fragrances based on ingredients rather than the overall composition, so almost the reverse of the well-known saying “the whole is greater than the sum of its parts”. This quest for a specific ingredient can often leave the hunter disappointed, as there are multiple varieties and strengths available to a perfumer, so is this really the best way to choose a scent? Long counters filled with endless choices used to be the norm so, instead of an ingredient-focused approach, are you ready to choose by complementary odour profile instead?

There cannot be anyone in the world that hasn’t heard of oud. This wonderfully resinous ingredient used to be used as a valuable supporting player in western perfumes, most notably in Guerlain’s Habit Rouge, but never took centre stage. That is until Tom Ford shook up the industry with his Oud Wood in 2007. It was an ingredient that had been used for centuries, especially in the Middle East, but it was about to take on a new life. Every company launched their own “oud overdose” and it became almost unthinkable to wear anything else. However, you can have too much of a good thing.

Oud has a very wide odour profile depending on what variety is being used; it’s described as faecal, barnyard-like, blue cheese-esque, balsamic, resinous, leathery and reminiscent of damp wood. However, there’s another ingredient out there that can replicate some of these facets, especially the sensual side, and even add its own dose of “post coital” fragrance. Cumin has a bitter and sour note, but is mostly regarded for its scented effect of sweat and… secretions. It gives an animalic note to fragrances, in a similar way to oud and so, if you’re an oud lover, then dipping your toes into cumin fragrances could provide an interesting alternative.

The box for the Phloem perfume from Jorum Studio
One fragrance that features a heavy dose of cumin is Phloem from Jorum Studio. Founded in 2019 by Scottish perfumer Euan McCall, the company promises “to allow the wearer's creativity and sense of expression to shine”, and this is definitely true with Phloem. It takes its name from the tissue in plants that transports organic nutrients, but Euan has also mixed “a miasma of olfactory sin” with “a violent, primal sensuality”. You can easily see how the animalic facets are carrying over from oud to cumin, and how the resinous edges have been replaced with sexual aromas, but how does Phloem perform in practice?

From the very beginning you smell cumin, and it’s this that sets the tone of the fragrance that is to follow. It has that sexual scent quality of skin after “the act”, and introduces the animalic facet up front. It’s accompanied by touches of bergamot and galbanum, so there is a brightness cutting through the depravity, and an intriguing note of honeysuckle. Now, this plant’s stamen is phallic to say the least, and so it perfectly fits the brief. There’s also a dangerously dark berry aroma in the heart as well, which seems to latch onto the powdery saltiness, but we’re not quite finished. The development of the scent sees a densely distant rose quality appear and is joined by a whiskyed ambrette and velvety tonka bean, so it’s definitely a ride you won’t forget. Phloem is not for everyone’s tastes, but oud lovers should dive into this animalic delight immediately.

Phloem is available from the Floralia Perfume Boutique at, and also the Jorum Studio website, priced at £84 for 30ml. [Sample provided by Floralia]

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