Have you ever smelt the smoke from a fire in a library full of science textbooks? No? Then you’ve probably never smelt a perfume by fragrance house Le Labo. The whole ‘library-full-of-burning-science-textbooks’ description came about when I first smelt Patchouli 24, one of Le Labo’s distinctive perfume blends.

As with all their scents, encountering Patchouli 24 for the first time was a unique experience, shocking and challenging on the first sniff, but now a fondly familiar scent that always draws comments when I wear it.

Continuing with their adventurous compositions, Le Labo have just launched their newest scent, Santal 33. Originally only available as a room scent from the company, it was later adapted into the scratch-n-sniff covers of their scented notepad. Over time, enquiries increased about the availability of the scent in a perfume form, leading to the new Santal 33 composition by perfumer Frank Voelkl.

Voakl, who is also responsible for Le Labo’s Iris 39, Musc 25 and the original Santal room scent, has blended Sandalwood, Papyrus, Ambroxan, Violet, Iris and Cardamom, to produce a new perfume of distinct quality that stands out in Le Labo’s range.

Containing a higher percentage of essential extracts – around 30% -, Santal 33 has superb longevity. Even now, after 10 hours, I can smell it clearly on my arm. It may have a higher dose of oils, but the smell is by no means overbearing. It’s actually pretty comforting. A soft woody scent, with a sort-of wet paper smell in there as well. Menthol tree bark covered in petals. I won’t pretend to be a perfume expert, so my whimsical description will have to do until you get a chance to smell some for yourself.

The Santal 33 eau de parfum has a more complex composition then the room scent, with 7 additional ingredients that blend together harmoniously to create the distinctive fragrance. It’s highly evocative, and I’m sure the Sandalwood in it will suggest a variety of locations to each person who smells it; such are the global origins of the ingredient.

Sophisticated and a little smoky, but not in a burning library sense, Santal 33 is yet another exceptional fragrance from the perfume house that isn’t afraid to experiment with scent.

John Francis Bowyer