Perfume Review: Captain Blankenship’s vessels of imagination

A perfumer's head is always close to the ground.

Jana Blankenship, following her nose towards inspiration.

PerfumeThe more I get into natural perfuming the more I come to understand that when I connect with a scent I am connecting with an artist. And just as I have had to read everything Ann Patchett has ever written, or have followed Vermeer across geographies into the golden light of timeless domesticity, I was driven to smell the other fragrances created by perfumer Jana Blankenship to experience how a real scent artist experiences the world. To my great delight, all of the scents in Captain Blankenship scent sample package deliver a revelatory experience.

Based in the Hudson River Valley, Captain Blankenship is a vessel of imagination for artisan perfumer Jana Blankenship, who has been making a whole line of organic beauty products with the alluring tagline: Wild with nature.

If Portland’s OLO’s Dafne was my gateway scent into natural perfuming, Captain Blankenship’s Jaune was the one that tipped me over into obsession. I first came across it at one of those tiny shops on Portland’s East Burnside, Sword + Fern, which carries the loveliest tiny apothecary section of handmade self-care products. I was drawn immediately to the hand-drawn ship of its logo, which feels like a doodle from a daydream.


Jaune was a revelation for me — a rose-based scent that smelled fresh and light. Until Jaune, rose perfumes had always seemed plucked from a cake in Miss Havisham’s dining room. But then there was this — cascading roses in the prime of their beauty in a garden with lemons, sweet orange blossoms. And there is someone serving vanilla tea there, not in a frumpy floral teapot but in a glass pot, where you can see the leaves unfolding. When I wore Jaune I felt like I carried this scene with me, and as is changed on my wrist it felt like the sun moving across the sky.


Scent samples from Captian Blankenship come in tiny vials with a hand-made bag dyed with natural indigo.


You wouldn’t expect a wolf to smell so sweet, but that is the allure of Seawolf, Captain Blankenship’s Seawolf. It’s surprising meeting of earthy forest notes such as pine and fir with lighter florals like ylang ylang cut through with grassy palmarosa and vetiver make it feel very much of nature but not by nature. It has patchouli, myrrh and frankincense, lending it something of an exalting spiritual dimension, but the effect is very cathedral-of-the-forest, not a trip-to-the-altar. I adore this scent for its ability to transcend so many categories to create its own.

Wolf Moon

Wolf Moon is the darker component to Seawolf’s light run through the ancestral forest. It meets you with the light floral of honey blossom which quickly develops into a warm foundation of smoked frankincense, and iris root. It’s the woods that might await you if you stepped off the path, over there where the moonlight is shining through. It gets silkier as it develops. I would want to smell this one on someone but not on myself.


This scent meets you in a hothouse of citrus made more interesting with blooming florals of jasmine, orange blossom and neroli. It feels like an imagined place, as if it were possible to build a solarium on top of the sea and fill it through with uplifting botanicals, and every now and again this floating greenhouse would tip towards the reeds on the shore. I could see myself sequestering myself from the world and floating around with this one.

Do you have a favorite indie perfumer that I have got to try? Please share in the comments!

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