The ability scent has to bring us closer to a certain place or time is so magical. There are a handful of independent perfumers and small fragrance companies here in the US that do a fantastic job of creating unique and beautiful scents and to them, I tip my hat. (Here’s looking at you, DS&Durga.)
However, it’s some fine folks out in California who prove to be a constant source of inspiration. Juniper Ridge is an independent fragrance company that’s been defying the formulaic approach to making fragrance since 1998. In addition to being a fanatical group of perfumers, these guys are also naturalist experts, trail explorers, environmental stewards, kick-ass product developers, clever marketers, and just all-around rad dudes who know a thing or two about what makes a for a good fragrance as well as what makes for a good hike .
For seventeen years Juniper Ridge has been developing 100% wild-crafted fragrances from the mountains, canyons, forests, and deserts of the west. And every year, their product selection grows to reflect a romantic and textured scent library evocative of their home out west.
‘Timberline Trail’, their newest Field Lab scent, was released last week in an extremely limited run, and is now available in both a beard and face oil as well as an all-natural incense pack. As with all Juniper Ridge fragrances, this one is unisex in fragrance profile. (However, I do think this one smells especially sexy on fellas.) Perhaps one of the brands most wearable fragrances, Timberline Trail has notes of sappy pine boughs, fresh rain, and a smoked woods accord. Timberline Trail Beard and Face Oil ($45) is; as their website describes;
“an organic jojoba-based moisturizer scented only with wild-fragrance. Formulated with wild spruce resin, lichen distillate, moss infusion, fir oil, and late-summer wildflower enfleurage. All wildharvested this fall, deep in the Oregon backcountry.”
Boom. I don’t think I could have written it better myself so I won’t even try. The whole shebang is packaged in a handsome tube with a pretty, granite-crusted bottle — perfect for Holiday gifting.
The incense stick is their first Field Lab incense ever. And it’s pretty dang special too. Made with wood from real fir and pine trees, with 100% natural materials from the mountains of the west. Real leaves, tree trimmings, tree pitch, cambium wood, and wild herbs! At $15 bucks a pop, this stuff will go real fast, so I suggest picking a tube up right away.
Many commercial fragrances are full of artificial fillers, fake fragrance, nasty petrochemicals, and abrasive alcohols. In addition, all the outsourcing and fakeness involved in the production and wearing of fake fragrances can be harmful to both our bodies and our environment. And while that is all good and well if that’s how one wants to play it, it isn’t how perfume used to be made.
Juniper Ridge prescribes to a different type of thought when it comes to making stuff smell good. Hal Newbegin, Obi Kaufmann, and the rest of the crew believe that the only way to re-create the true scent profile of a mountain ridge or a Redwood forest is to strap on one’s boots and actually go there. Harvest the fir needles, pick the wild berries, smell the salty air and collect the fragrant barks and saps. In the Mojave Desert, the peaks of Mount Hood, and the canyons of California, the Juniper Ridge crew crawls around on wet dirt, digs for pine needles and mushrooms, harvests silt from the sides of mountains, and then kits it all together in extremely special low-batch fragrances using ancient perfumery methods like distillation, tincturing, infusion, and enfleurage.
And not only are they one of the few companies to still make fragrances in this way, but they also are the only fragrance company around to be accomplishing all of this hippie magic in-house; in a closed-loop manufacturing process from their small and very cool workshop in Oakland, California. The result are fragrances that are just as finished, sophisticated, and yummy as the designer stuff — with a whole lot more soul, grit, and courage distilled into each bottle as well.
So, are the guys at Juniper Ridge perfumers? By all means yes. Are they kick-ass marketers? Yes. Punch-drunk with passion product-developers? Yes. Are they stewards of the environment, magicians of Mount Hood, tincture-developers of the trail, wild-harvesters of the West? Yes, Yes, Yes, and YES. And that’s what makes them so special. So spray on my friends, spray on.
+ all photos courtesy of juniperridge.com and the Juniper Ridge Trail Blog.