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Lalique Encre Noire Review: A Forest, But A Lonely One

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Lalique’s Encre Noire is a perfume akin to wearable art. Less a cologne in the mass-produced, spray-and-forget sense of the word, Encre Noire is an abstract composition that exudes introspection, loneliness, and darkness. As such, I was expecting to like it. 

I was expecting right. It’s easily one of the most expensive, premium smelling scents I have ever had the pleasure of scenting.

This is not the sort of scent you wear all the time. It’s moody and extremely sensitive; reach for it at the wrong time and it isn’t guaranteed to play nice. 

However, when it’s shining, it’s shining, and anyone even remotely a fan of vetiver, woods, darkness, or perfume as an art needs to get their nose in its vicinity ASAP. In this Encre Noire review, I’ll break down everything you need to know about this scent.

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Personal Impressions

As I said, I was expecting to like this fragrance. The note breakdown, in kahoots with the moody-mysteriousness air I had heard this exudes, was enough to get me excited.

My first time wearing this was on an overcast, rainy day in Cork, Ireland. The weather and overall vibe was perfect for it, and I can honestly say it was perfect for the thoughtfulness that cloudy, rainy days bring on

Folks, what they say is true. You hear dark, and then you smell it, and it’s something else entirely. On first sniff, this smelled like something I could fall in to. The depth was astounding, especially considering its simplicity.

Encre Noire has all of four notes — and most of them woods at that. The blending and overall way the notes play off of each other is great. I enjoyed wearing it that first time, but I’ve enjoyed it more and more every time since.

One thing I will say is that it was more linear than I was expecting; don’t expect some shifty composition that starts off in Rome and ends up in Rio. This isn’t a zig-zag, it’s a straight line down.


Encre Noire is simple, and if you take a good stab at its scent by looking at its note breakdown, you’d probably end up in around the right place. Aptly named, there is a dark inky accord in there — it’s definitely prominent enough to convince me it’s not my imagination — that strays from the notes, by really, it’s right about what you’d imagine. Here are the notes that make up Encre Noire:

Top Notes:

  • Cyprus

Middle Notes:

Base Notes:

  • Cashmere Wood
  • Musk

As you can see, the composition is very simple. It’s part of what makes it so magical, so abstract.

In the opening, you get a hearty helping of woods. It’s dark, papery, and a little damp. They say it’s cypress wood, and who am I to contradict them? It smells like a rainy forest to me. 

In the middle, you get a nice dose of vetiver. Not straight vetiver though; this is a bit of an interesting take. Instead of the fresh-cut grass aroma, this note develops into a much darker, earther version of vetiver. There’s a hint of soil in here, and it helps ground Encre Noire in the natural world.

For more vetiver scents, be sure to check our comprehensive guide on vetiver.

In the heart, the cashmere wood and musk show up. This is where the fragrance gains a more personal feel to it. This part will smell different depending on your skin chemistry. To me, I felt that this part warmed up the overall scent just a bit, and the inky note showed up, intermingling with the papery wood. 

I’m not kidding, wear this to a used book store and watch the eyebrows raise. 

The overall vibe of this scent is dark, moody, mysterious, and supremely introspective. Not in an antisocial way (although it also isn’t social, per say), but in a more “he just said something profound, and somehow I’m not all that surprised” kind of way. 

It lends itself well to walks, but walks alone and without a particular destination in mind. If you understand that, you understand all you need to about the scent of Encre Noire.

It’s considered a “classic vetiver” scent, and a “woodsy cologne,” but if you approach it that way, you will be approaching it wrong.

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Encre Noire does not feel like a fragrance at its price. In that I mean that it feels like a perfume that is much, much more expensive. In that, I’m talking both in scent and performance.

Longevity wise, you’re covered for around 11 hours. Maybe not with insane projection, but it will be a noticeable part of your aesthetic for around 11 hours. Around five hours in, the scent will reach its base, and begin to sit closer to the skin. This takes it from a sharper scent in its opening, and more of a scent-trail perfume, to a more intimate one at the heart.

Another thing to note is its performance on clothing — I can usually still smell it on my clothes when I wear them next.

Sillage is good too. You get a good amount of projection without choking out the room. I will say that with this one, if you overspray, you run the risk of treating your vicinity to a nice throbbing headache — like I said, the opening is relatively sharp and projects pretty well.  

Overall, performance is nothing to worry about, and you can set out for a forest stroll without concerns that you’ll come back scentless.

Who Is This Scent Good For?

This cologne is good for anyone who appreciates perfume as an art, and allows that their surroundings and environment can be a powerful driver of profound thought. 

If you’re the kind of person who goes for a walk after a rainstorm, just to hear yourself think for a while, this scent is for you. If you appreciate good paper; if you stargaze and plot your own insignificance on the same tapestry; this fragrance is for you.

I would also say that this scent is for someone thoughtfully impulsive; someone who’s made the conscious decision to whisk themselves away when they feel like it, because they’ve learned to trust their minds.

When To Wear It

Two places come to mind: the vintage book store and a dusky forest, after rainfall

I would say that this is one of the least versatile colognes you can find. It’s dressier, but not dressy. More of a loose button up and crisp linen pants kind of dressy. Wear this to the bookstore or that astronomy conference you have coming up. Wear this to your stoner friend’s house. Don’t wear it to the gym. Don’t wear it to the grocery store.

I would say that Encre Noire is exclusively a colder day or night sort of scent, the cloudier the better. Winter days after a snow are nice too, when the world is quiet. My point is, this fragrance needs time to itself. If you’re busy rushing around, it just won’t fit. This fragrance feels like having time to spare on whimsy. 

Similar Fragrances

If you’re looking for a scent similar to Encre Noire, we have a few options for you to choose from. 

  • Terre D’Hermes is a similarly classy woodsy scent, except taken up a notch. It’s also less warm, more citrusy, and arguably even more elegant. Read our full Terre D’Hermes review for more.
  • Tom Ford’s Grey Vetiver is a similarly woodsy scent that also invokes a certain element of class. Grey Vetiver is, however, we believe, more versatile and wearable. Read our full Grey Vetiver review for more deets.
  • Guerlain’s Vetiver offers a similar dose of vetiver, but reads more wearable and less heavy. Far less dark, Guerlain’s Vetiver is a less artsy and more straightforward take on this fragrance note.
  • Versace’s The Dreamer is an effortlessly cool, dreamy men’s fragrance for those who want to smell different. With a profound charm, The Dreamer is a love-it-or-hate-it scent that I adore.
  • Dior’s Homme makes this list of similar fragrances because of its similarly thoughtful, dark-classy vibe. Dior homme, however, is far better at getting compliments, and is a bit more wearable.

If This Was A Color…

It would be a deep inky black. That of the blot spreading itself slowly across some great ancestor’s creamy stationary.

Where To Buy

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Overall, Encre Noire is an abstract work of art that smells like slow contemplation and silence. It’s unique ability to dredge up the better parts of your mind is fascinating, and contributes to an interesting wear. 

We hope you enjoyed this review of Encre Noire. Happy sniffing!


Isaac Marks

Isaac Marks

Isaac is a fragrance expert from Chicago, Illinois, specializing in smelling good at all times. When he isn't sniffing things, Isaac likes to read, write, run, bake, and play the guitar.

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Jack Harbor

Full Time Fragranista

Jack Harbor is an expert in all things scent – from wearing, to mixing, to making perfumes, his expertise is varied and robust. He loves to smell good, and loves helping other’s smell good – for the good of us all!

Jack Harbor

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