A winter gem and a compliment magnet, Angel’s Share by Kilian has been one of the most anticipated fragrances of 2020 that still keeps selling out months after the release. In this review I’m unveiling the secret of its success! Curious? Keep on reading!
I knew I had to get it the first time I heard about it, having Steven @redolessence describe it in our YouTube conversation only confirmed the decision. I am a big lover of strong spirit notes in fragrances (if there is cognac, whiskey, rum or gin involved, count me in! Here are some other of my favorites in this genre). There is just something instinctively attractive in the compositions with aged alcohol scents, even though I am actually not a big drinker of the same beverages (the taste is too harsh and burning for my palate). So I pass on drinking, but smelling them is a different sensation altogether! Maybe this involuntary reaction of mine is part of the prehistoric legacy of human-apes – the smell of fermented fruit must have signaled an energy-rich food source of which our hunter-gatherer ancestors could hardly get enough. But let’s go back to here and now!
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With The Liquors collection, of which Angel’s Share is part, Kilian Hennessy is paying tribute to his family legacy. Even though his perfume company is part of Estee Lauder group and the family cognac business stands for the H in LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moët Hennessy) and belongs to different owners, connection with everything spirits-related is probably in his blood. The perfume’s poetic name means the share of alcohol that evaporates from the wooden barrels while a cognac ages. It’s only that in the case of Angel’s Share the aging takes place not in some dark cellar of a remote château, but in the middle of a Christmas bakery!
Oak and cognac mix with cinnamon, vanilla, hazelnut chocolate and milky creamy sandalwood. The result is soft, warm, sweet and reminiscent of an adult’s memories of all the happy Christmases celebrated as a child. The joyfulness is sincere and touching, yet the mood distinctively adult (the slightly bitter, dark oak wood doesn’t let the composition turn into a childish kitsch-feast).
The idea to pair cognac- or whiskey-drenched wood with sweet gourmand notes is not new to perfumery. This structure has been employed before and will be recreated again and again, especially now since the success of Angel’s Share. But there is one quality that sets it apart from the rest. It’s also the reason I don’t think it’s possible to create a cheaper dupe or clone that can work the same magic.
The reason is the perfect balance. Angel’s Share is as smooth as it can be. And even though it develops on the skin from darker and deeper woody cognac to the lighter and sweeter gourmand side of things in the dry down, nothing ever sticks out. There is nothing harsh, too dominant or otherwise distracting in there. It’s a smooth ride from the beginning to the end.
I guess finding such a balance is harder than it sounds, because with many other similarly structured fragrances there is a feeling that some component does take over at one point. I wonder how many iterations it took perfumer Benoist Lapouza to bring Angel’s Share to this level of perfection! What feels effortless must have taken thousands of tries!
And, even though we are talking fine nuances here, I find it fascinating that the nose knows. Even people with no experience or interest in fragrances can tell the difference. Germany is not a country where friends, yet alone strangers often compliment each other on perfume. It’s too personal of a topic. Yet I’ve been getting compliments from friends and random strangers on the street alike while wearing Angel’s Share. My theory is that the perfectly calculated warmth and delightful smoothness of this perfume make people spontaneously react with joy, which happens so quickly that they are caught off guard and don’t have the time to suppress the outburst of emotions.
And what more can one ask for from a fragrance? Angel’s Share has been tailor-made to delight. And even though the commercial motives of a big corporation are clear, it’s still a masterpiece.
And speaking of commerce – the perfume has been released in September-October 2020, but it is still sold out and hard to get in many shops. So here is the selection of retailers where Angel’s Share is currently in stock and available, you can check if they ship to your location.
I’ll start with Berlin since I live here. Angel’s Share is available in Delfi Parfümerie, they are a high-end brick-and-mortar boutique, take orders by phone not only during lockdowns and ship internationally. I bought my bottle at KaDeWe, but I don’t think they have much of an online presence. Both Dutch shop skins.nl and their South African sister store skins.co.za have it in stock, as well as the Italian retailer thalershop.com.
And… that’s about it for now (December 2020). I’m sure there are some local shops that have a bottle or two standing on the shelves, but they are hard to find on google.
It’s bizarre, but Angel’s Share is sold out in most big name department stores and shops worldwide as I write it. But who knows, maybe they will have restocked by the time you read this, so here are some potentially useful addresses: Kilian’s own website in the USA, and in Europe, ausliebezumduft.de (Germany, worldwide shipping), luckyscent.com (USA, worldwide shipping), debijenkorf.nl (Netherlands), peonymelbourne.com.au in Australia, osswald.ch (Switzerland), ludiwgbeck.de (Germany), madisonperfumery.com (Romania), Premiere Avenue (France), 24s.com (France), John Lewis (UK), selfridges.com (UK) & harrods.com (UK). Let’s hope it will soon become available again! And in the meantime, Roses on Ice from the same collection is very different, but good too!
Have you tried any of the new Liquors from Kilian? What are your thoughts?