Launching on 2 March, Byredo’s Super Cedar has all the hallmarks of everyone’s favourite Swedish fragrance brand. Like the box it comes in, Super Cedar is cool, clean and minimalist – discreet and very wearable, with an apparently simple smell that probably took regular Byredo perfumer Jérôme Epinette ages to perfect.
According to Byredo, ‘Cedar is without a doubt one of the scents that our nose recognises most easily. Reminscent of pencil shavings, it evokes a sense of nostalgia for school days and simpler times. Evocative of log cabins and Scandinavian furniture, cedar adds warmth to the overtly modern. In the perfumer’s palette, it has the power to inject energy and lend verticality to a fragrance.'
Leaving aside the question of how a vertical fragrance might smell different from a horizontal one, that’s a pretty fair summary of how cedar wood smells, though Super Cedar is far less immediately redolent of pencil shavings than, say, Hermès’ classic of the genre, Bel Ami. In fact it has the odd but interesting effect of smelling less strongly of cedar when you first spray it on than it does after half an hour on the skin, when its faint initial scent – which reminded me of surgical spirit with a hint of baking biscuits – makes way for an attenuated cedar fragrance that then changes little over the remainder of the day.
Actually ‘cedar’ (like so many terms in perfumery) is something of a misnomer, as ‘cedar wood’ oil actually comes from a species of North American juniper tree, Juniperus virginiana. As such it’s more closely related to the European juniper bushes whose berries give gin its distinctive flavour, but cedar wood oil does have that wonderful pencil-shavings smell, which also makes for an effective moth-repellent – worth bearing in mind if you tire of Super Cedar on the skin.