Monday, September 7, 2020

Australian Brand Mihan Aromatics -- Inspired By Nature


The idea for Mihan Aromatics came to Julia Brown and Josh Mihan, natives of Melbourne, Australia, when they were living in London for a time. Missing the nostalgic and natural smell of home, they began a conversation with a perfumer friend about recreating these fond memories into fragrances. The idea germinated into a business and they began with three scents and have since added two more, with another due later this year.

When I married my Australian husband over thirty years ago and I came to his home in Adelaide for the first time, we stepped out of the international airport into an early morning mist. It had recently rained and I stopped in my tracks to experience the scent of eucalyptus trees. The rain touching the leaves releases the distinct mentholated, herbal, peppery scent. Perhaps people from California are familiar with this smell, but coming from Texas, it was new to me. Since that initial visit, I've always been intrigued by the unusual flora and fauna of Australia. Mihan Aromatics has done an excellent job of capturing the essence of some of these scents of nature, but turning them into wearable perfumes. 

I found Mihan Aromatics to be aptly named. I'm not sure why it was "Mihan Aromatics" rather than "Mihan Perfumes" but it totally fits the brand. The scents, which have a hefty 25 percent of fragrance oils, don't have the traditional smell of what I think of as French perfume. They smell natural and of nature, but amplified—fragrantly aromatic. Each of these scents is very gender neutral. I will give a description of each, but there is a larger focus on my two favorites from the line, which are the first two up. Enjoy the Australian artists and photographers below. 

Standly Chasm, 1945, by Watercolor Artist Albert Namatjira.

Guilty Story

This is the most lush, sexy fragrance from the house. It starts out with a rich boozy sweetness that makes me think of sipping a brandy while sinking into a tapestry chair in front of a roaring fire. The walls are lined with wooden shelves laden with books, their decorative spines enticing the reader to explore. A weather-beaten patterned rug that looks as if it was stolen from a Bedouin's tent is underfoot. You can sink into this scent as it envelopes you in a cozy cocoon of comfort.

Mihan Aromatics describes this as a soft oriental scent, which is accurate, and this would be equally appealing on men or women. Mihan likes to describe their scents with tactile and emotive labels, and for Guilty Story the words they chose are: irresponsible, gregarious, leading, lustful.

The top notes are lime and bergamot which give just a little bit of light, and the middle notes are saffron and guaiac wood. The saffron adds subtle spice and can also provide woody and hay aromas. Guaiac wood can add sweetness, as well as a tar or rubbery smell, and sometimes a hint of tobacco. I believe it is this, blending with the vanilla and amber in the base, that give that giddy booziness. There is also musk, Australian sandalwood, and cedar wood in the base. I love woody notes in perfume when they are done well, and here they shine. If I had to add other descriptors to the words Mihan has provided, I would say this perfume makes me feel confident and comforted. This is one of my two favorites from the line. 

Aboriginal Art--Mona Mitakiki Shephard and Tjimpaji Preseley

Mikado Bark

I'm a Virgo, an Earth sign, and Mikado Bark grabs me on a totally elemental level, as if it was made just for me. I read that it is based on Josh and Jules visits to the parks near their home in Melbourne, and I get that sense. If you aren't from Australia you may not know how parks are such an important element in the cities, bringing a bit of the wild into suburban settings. Adelaide is a city of parks, with the native trees so stately and majestic, and the smells they emit are subtle but beautiful. This scent is an intensified version of that experience. 

Mikado Bark is classified as woody, which you could guess by the name, but on my skin the resins and spices come through clearly which make it feel like a light oriental style scent. Opening notes are green pepper, rosemary, and basil. I don't pick those out individually, rather, it smells bright and alive and quivering with life. The middle notes are dry cinnamon, oud, and earth, and the cinnamon comes on quickly for me, spicy and bright. Base notes are autumn dew, Australian sandalwood, and wet cedar. Okay, autumn dew is a rather esoteric description, but it is accurate. When wearing Mikado Bark for the first time I thought what a great autumn scent it would be. Having said that, though, it is transparent enough to wear in hot weather when you're craving those warming notes. 

Mikado Bark is constantly morphing and changing on my skin. It reminds me of Guilty Secret, with some of the similar resin and spice notes, but it is lighter and airier. It goes through a phase where it smells of amber powder and it's very comforting. I can't stop sniffing my wrist and I find Mikardo Bark deeply grounding. If I knew that I was going to have the worst, most stressful day ever I'd wear this, because it would make me feel better and safer, like a protective shield. That's what happens when you find a scent that really feels like you! I know that any scent can be worn by man or woman, according to their taste, but all these scents are so unisex, and I think it is their connection to the fragrances of nature that makes this so. 

Uluru by Peter Taylor Tjutjatja, Alice Springs.

Petrichor Plains

The word "petrichor" explains the earthy scent produced when rain touches dry soil. Most scent lovers are familiar with the word but what I didn't know was that it was coined by two scientists in 1964, and coincidentally they were from Melbourne, which is Jules and Josh's home base. Petrichor Plains starts with a watery smell like rain, then moves into a dusty, dried earth phase. These notes come and go, and when I smell the watery note I can almost sense the cool rain hitting the hot baked soil with a sizzle. 

Petrichor Plains carries on with that airy mixture of dry earth and refreshing rain. It feels descriptive of the cracked dirt yet at the same time there is an airy translucence. I have smelled several scents based on the idea of petrichor, including the mitti attars in India, and this scent really nails this effect.

The notes are interesting with opening elements are rain, cardomom, salt, and bergamot. Rain is the only one that totally stands out and I don't know how that effect is achieved, but well done! Heart notes are iris, violet, and rosemary, with base notes of buddawood and sandalwood. It is classified on the Mihan Aromatics website as fresh and woody, but it retains that floaty airy feeling throughout its wear, so to me it is more on the "fresh" side.

Bondi Beach, Sydney. Google image.

Sienna Brume

Sienna Brume is the scent for those who love that summer at the beach feeling, although I remember reading somewhere that Josh's favorite pools in Melbourne also served as inspiration. It is that feeling of sunlight and a carefree summer day to enjoy stretching before you. The opening has notes of sea air, juniper berry, and cucumber. Anyone for a gin and tonic? The heart notes are soft coconut and palm, and this is indeed a softer and more nuanced coconut than what  you find in many beach scents. Base notes are greenwood, cedar, and timbersilk. I had no idea what timbersilk was, but it is another form of Iso E Super. I would have guessed there was sandalwood in the fragrance because Sienna Brume feels very creamy in the dry down, but it's not listed.

Australia beaches are different from tropical sand destinations around the world. Often there are craggy rocks, and if you're in the south the water can be icy cold as it drifts up from Antarctica. They feel more naturally wild and elemental to me, than the warm sandy beaches I grew accustomed to while living in Asia. Even in the North where the land and waters are warmer, beware because there are deadly jellyfish you don't want to tangle with and sharks cruising by looking for their next meal! Sienna Brume is more reminiscent of these beaches of natural beauty, and has less in common with the idea of Coppertone and pina coladas. For those who love scents that remind them of relaxed days at the beach, or swanning around a sparkly pool, this could be a worthy and interesting addition to a beach scent collection. It feels more natural and polished than many.

My favorite part of Sienna Brume is the long slow dry down. It settles to a quiet, creamy and woody scent, provoking that relaxed and happily exhausted feeling after a day filled with sunlight and water.

Convict artist Joseph Lycett recorded Aboriginal life in the early days of British occupation. A campfire glows in the distance.

Munluck Ash

I heard in one of the interviews* with the founders of Mihan Aromatics that this is Josh's most worn scent. It is a smoky forest scent, and on my skin the definite emphasis is on the smoke. The first time I smelled it I thought that Ash was a good descriptor, although I really don't know the intended meaning of the name. The smoke has that smell of a campfire the morning after, when the scent lingers in the air reminding you of it's warmth and the great time you had while gathered around it last night. The smoke is present, but it is not the full-on experience of  smoke blowing in your face from a raging fire.

Notes are bergamot, black pepper, incense, and fir. Then as it mellows down you get blue cypress, cedar, musk, amber, and vetiver. I get the feel of being in a wood or forest, but without any sharp notes. Everything is muddled and blended, and after some time the smokiness dissapates and soft woods remain.

I loved this shot of the kangaroos on a beach in Coffin Bay National Park, Eyre Peninsula, South Australia. The photographer kindly let me use it. Follow him @richard.kozuszko


This is the newest scent that will be released from Mihan Aromatics in the near future. They are including it in their discovery kit so I am assuming it must be in a fairly polished version. On one of the interviews* I saw, I remember Julia (Jules) saying this scent had something to do with the surf lifestyle that is so big in Australia. I don't know any of the notes so I'll just give you my impressions. It starts off with a rather plastic/rubber note that may mean something to surfers but it is not a smell I love. However that was very short lived and then I get more beach references. It is different from Sienna Brume which is fresher and brighter on my skin. This one has that sun and surf vibe, but I thought I got a few whiffs of smoke too, and maybe a touch of vanilla. We'll see when they release the perfume and give the notes. I'm probably way off! Out of all the scents this one resonates the least with me. I'm more into my woods and resins, personally, but your experience will of course be totally different, depending on your likes.

I am glad to have discovered this line and would like to add a bottle of both Guilty Story and Mikado Bark to my collection!

* I watched interviews with Josh and Jules, in part, on two different Instagram platforms. @mrcologne76 and @aroundtheunknown. I may have gleaned some of the information presented here from those interviews, but I don't have any way of going back to check, so I just want to give them credit.

Top photo is my own. All other photos are from Google except for the kangaroos at the beach which is from @richard.kozuszko. I paid for my Mihan Aromatics discover kit. All opinions are my own.

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