I initially wanted to try New Haarlem because of the coffee note. I love the smell of coffee in almost all of its forms: coffee beans, the beans being ground, a freshly poured cup. I love all of it. However, I’ve found that coffee notes don’t always show up on my skin. Or, if it does show up, it can be a slightly weird roasted kind of note. I know it’s supposed to be a roasted coffee bean, but it can take on a grilled meat kind of tinge, not good! So I had somewhat mixed expectations when first testing New Haarlem, but I was really happy to discover that this one works for me.
The initial opening, and I do mean the very initial opening, is a lightly herbaceous fizziness. I assume this is the lavender and bergamot making a fleeting appearance on my skin, as this herbaceous impression only lasts a couple of minutes to me before sweet gourmand flavors take over. The overwhelming note for the first hour of wear time is that of maple syrup drizzled over a stack of fluffy pancakes. There’s some melting butter present here too for good measure.
The coffee note comes on quite strong during the second hour of wear time, which makes me happy. The coffee is blended with cedar wood, really deepening the composition. At this point, New Haarlem is less sweet and more verging on a dark flavor. I love this middle stage of the fragrance and I actually wish it were even darker and more woody. The base notes of amber and vanilla begin to seep through a little too quickly for me, and bring the composition full circle to a sweet fragrance again. The dry down is less foodie and more like a soft cashmere blanket made of amber and tonka. I don’t sense much patchouli, and I wish that I got more because it might help round out the dry down by adding more depth.
Many gourmand scents remind me of dessert, with notes of chocolate or a creme brulee-like vanilla. New Haarlem is a little different in that it’s a gourmand that goes pure breakfast. This is no trendy brunch vibe, instead it’s a full breakfast meal. It reminds me of a diner in New York near The Met where my sister and I have eaten breakfast a few times. I remember ordering pancakes there, so I’m sure that’s why the memory is so striking to me.
New Haarlem is definitely not for everyone, nor is it for every mood. I like this fragrance, and even I’ve applied it a couple of times and then realized I’m not really in the mood for it. It can be an overwhelming scent, and I definitely wouldn’t recommend it for hot weather. But it’s so warm and inviting, which makes it a great cozy comfort scent for Fall. It’s particularly nice in the mornings, since it gets a little darker and a little cooler through October. If for some reason you can’t have your morning coffee, New Haarlem makes a really nice coffee-like treat.
The image and the info on notes are both from Bond No. 9