WALK 'N' SNIFF: Test Lab Candles and Hawaiian Candles

So I have recently felt a sensation that I haven't experienced in a very long time - curiousity.

In the past maybe 2-3 years, I sorta went thru the motions with BBW; my visits to the store went down dramatically with the only motivation for said visits was to sniff things for the sake of a review; usually leaving underwhelmed and, more often than not, empty-handed.

But today, for the first time in years, I genuinely and sincerely wanted to step inside a store because there were new creative and unique scents that were worth sniffing.

I decided that I would travel to new WB store that I never knew even existed until recently and even on the long arduous subway ride there, I could feel myself getting more and more giddy with anticipation. I made it safely to my destination and as I stood outside the store, I could feel it almost beckoning to come inside and sniff its scented treasures thus sending me on an olfactoral journey. I was ready to sniff...THE TEST LAB CANDLES!!!

This particular store had every single one of them, including Grill, Thai Coconut Basmati and the so far fan favorite, Exotic Lychee. (I have no earthly idea if those failed or if they're limited releases or late releases. Some stores have em, some don't; for the moment, it's the luck of the draw.)

So right off the bat, these candles are NOT for the basics. If you're into Watermelon Lemonade Gardenia Mango Cinnamon Caramel Coconut Mahogany Pumpkin Cupcakes, these candles are soooooo the opposite and sooooo not for you. These are for TRUE candle connoisseurs with more mature and sophisticated noses who like their notes/blends more on the high end side. These scents are weird and out there; some may argue that they're a little too weird and out there...


....however, after YEARS of Watermelon Lemonade Gardenia Mango Cinnamon Caramel Coconut Mahogany Pumpkin Cupcakes, I WANT WEIRD AND OUT THERE SCENTS DAMMIT!

So enough rambling, on the review!!!

Blue Geranium ~ Aromatic Blend 004 - this was not what I was expecting at all. If, like me, you were expecting an intensely perfumey floral scent, this is not it; it's oddly masculine bordering on the cusp of cologney. Then again, it's not that surprising as quite a few colognes and cologney scents have geranium notes ie Villa Bergamot/Bergamot Woods and Ma-BLAH-gany Stankwood. Also notice that this candle's tagline says, "aromatic blend" and not "floral blend"; it's an "aromatic blend" of manly notes. It's heavy on the vetiver that gives the blend an earthiness. Fig...eh maybe...if it is, it's more a fig still on the tree as opposed to the sweet creamy fig we're used to in home fragrance. The "geranium" floral note hits your nose last but it's so faint and light. Overall this blend is light. BG reminds me a lot of Mrs. Meyers soap; if you mixed the geranium and the lavender ones together, that's essentially what this smells like. 

Sunny Fig ~ Fresh Blend 007 - this one was probably the most underwhelming and forgettable of the bunch. It's vaguely fruity (I got absolutely no fig), a little bit of citric brightness and a hint of woods. Very very blah smelling.

Exotic Lychee ~ Fruit Blend 008 - this seems to be the runaway hit of this collection and is receiving quite a bit of hype on social media. I'm a little on the fence as to whether or not it deserves said hype. On the one hand it certainly did NOT blow me away by any means but it did legitimately smell like what the name suggests. A for friggin accuracy cuz it does smell like a legit fresh cut lychee . Passionfruit.. eh, maybe; there's a sharp citrusy note that could be passionfruit. I get absolutely no coconut whatsoever - mainly lychee and raspberry. It's a nice scent; it's crisp and juicy, has just the right amount of sweetness with a little tartness. I'm not 100% in love with it but I can definitely see its appeal and future popularity.

Thai Coconut Basmati ~ Gourmand Blend 009 - this one surprised the heck outta me; I was kinda diggin this one more than I thought I would. If you remember Spiced Coconut Milk from last fall, this TCB is very similar to point of being twins (TCB is better though). I totally got the rice note, almost like a rice pudding sweetened with vanilla and coconut milk. Speaking of which, that coconut and vanilla blend kinda has a Tiki Beach vibe to it. And you get a tinge of spice from the ginger and saffron. Overall, it's not nearly as savory as you would think; it smells like sweet, slightly spiced coconut rice pudding (a sweet treat in Thailand btw)

ADDENDUM: waaaayyyy backintheday Slatkin did indeed have a scent called Coconut Rice with essentially the same notes. I wonder if this is it or similar...


Turmeric and Tarragon ~ Wood Blend 011 - I was totally expecting this to smell like straightup curry but I was wrong. That said, after further inspection of the notes, my second impression was more accurate - it's manly/masculine woodsy scent. To be honest there's really not much to say about this one - there's a little bit of spice, a hint of incense-like smokiness and masculine wood notes. And it's ever so slightly sweet which is surprising given the notes. Out of all the spicy/smoky woodsy scents in this collection, this is the best one.  

Lavender Cacao ~ Gourmand Blend 012 - as a hardcore lavender lover, I was super intrigued with this scent. Having smelled it, it smells EXACTLY how I imagined it would be. Hot Cocoa & Cream and Lavender Marshmallow made love by the fire and Lavender Cacao is the lovechild. It has the same base has HC&C but smoother and less savory with a creamy lavender vanilla vibe similar to LM, though perhaps a smidge more astringent. I've heard some folks say that they didn't get the lavender; their noses are straightup trippin cuz  I totally get it; it's faint but it's definitely there. The combo of chocolate and lavender blend really well together; I have had and made my own lavender hot chocolate  and it's delicious!

Garden Arugula and Verbena ~ Green Blend 014 - this one threw me for a loop. On of the one hand, I do enjoy fresh, crisp green scents but this is a little too green even for me. It legit smells like a freshly tossed salad with greens from a garden. I get the arugula - it's quite sharp and astringent. And there is a crisp watery watercress note. But what I get the most (and it's not mentioned in the notes at all) is cucumber. If you remember Lemon Cucumber from 2014, this is similar but with an intensely heavier cucumber note. Think garden salad with cut cucumber with the skin still on drizzled with olive oil and a spritz of lemon. These kind of gourmand scents are a little awkward because they smell too authentic; I dunno if I want my apartment to smell like a fresh salad. Though it could be funny to burn this at dinner party and say you're making a salad with fresh organic ingredients from the farmer's market.  

Pimento Wood ~ Wood Blend 017 – another scent that wasn’t what I was expecting. It smells sooooo similar to the Palo Santo candle that’s out now. There’s not much to say about it besides it’s smoky/incense-y slightly spiced woodsy scent.

Black Pepper Kale ~ Green Blend 019this one is just bizarre. You see the name and you read the notes and you expect this to be a salad-ish green scent like Garden Arugula & Verbena…NOPE! It smells ever so slightly…cologney! Think Black Pepper Bergamot mixed with Tomato Vine! It has the same warm spiced manly basenotes similar to scents like Black Pepper Bergamot, Tobacco Flower/Mad about Madrid, Be Daring etc with a very noticeable vegetal greenness. It should’ve been one or the other – cologne or green; I don’t know if I like those two aspects combined.

Sunset Pier ~ Floral Blend 021this one in my opinion goes in the blah category. First of all it was light so that in and of itself lessened my interest. And it’s just kind of scent that I avoid – powdery matronly old lady perfume florals. It’s soooo intensely orange blossomey – it’s the same fragrance family as Beach Cabana or Sea to Santorini/Freshwater & Seasalt, Orange Blossom & Driftwood/Coastal Oak & Sea salt and Suntan/Beachside. It smells like a summery tanning oil for a mature lady at the beach.

24 Karat Gold ~ Fresh Blend 024with a name like “24 Karat Gold” with a gold label, it conjures images of lush, exquisite, expensive, fancy things (that are translatable to home fragrance) – champagne, cognac, vanilla, saffron, truffle, foie gras, etc. What doesn’t or shouldn’t conjure is laundry detergent..and that’s EXACTLY what this smells like. It’s “fresh” intensely powdery laundry detergent/softener; ever so slightly Sea Island Cotton-ish. 

ADDENDUM: So apparently the idea was for this to smell like soap; it was inspired by Dial Gold soap


Sriracha ~ Spice Blend of 027so this one was creating quite a buzz on social media, with many of us scratching our heads in utter confusion…yet at the same time, we couldn’t help but feel slightly intrigued. I have to say this totally surprised the hell outta me and I found myself kinda digging it. So we’re all aware of sriracha sauce with its savory umami blend of chili peppers, garlic and vinegar… this candle ain’t that! Complete opposite actually; it smells oddly sweet and fruity. You may remember the candle Currant from last fall (which was a repackage of the failed test scent Tomato Garden); Sriracha smells similar to that. I get a sweet tomato note with some kinda unmentioned sweet citrus fruit, mango or peach maybe. There’s a spicy kick from the jalapeno which brightens the blend. And I totally get cilantro; that said, this also reminds of Mango Cilantro/Peach Cilantro Twist. If you miss that scent, Sriracha is totally its cousin and runner up. If you see this scent, sniff it with an open mind and no expectations cuz it will totally surprise you.

Grill ~ Smoky Blend 029have you ever smelled something so vile that it immediately makes you start dry heaving and retching? Time stands still and you feel your soul leave your body and is floating in the ether silently judging you? You almost want a future version of you to come to the present to save you from making such a mistake? That was my experience with Grill. There is absolutely nothing good that I can say about this hellspawn of a scent, no redeeming qualities whatsoever. Also this is NOT Smoked Vanilla or Pumpkin Fireside or Marshmallow Fireside or any other savory sweet smoky scent. It is legit meat on grill; there’s almost smoked jerky quality to it. I dunno what’s worse; the umami meat aspect or the liquid smoke/mesquite chips aspect. I can not with this mess..I can NOT!!!

ADDENDUM: I never got to smell the failed test scent Campfire Cookout from the Lakeside collection (which was a mesquite heavy smoky scent) so I wonder how close Grill is to that


Turmeric Accord ~ Earthy Blend 038  - just what we need…. Yet another spicy incense-y wood scent! I dunno what the point of this is when there are already 2 spicy smoky wood scent..one of which is a turmeric scent!

So yeah, that's the all of the Test Lab candles. There were definitely some hits, some misses and one that should not have existed in the first place. Overall I wasn't really too disappointed and fun sniffing all of these.


And now on to something less exciting...the Hawaiian candles...yay! For the sake of brevity, I'm only gonna talk about the new scents.

Pineapple Sunrise (8024AGB1) - I had really high hopes for this one; while I am not a fan of both pineapple and coconut which both overused by BBW lately however that "Persian lime" note drew me....utter bull****. There's no lime or coconut, just straightup pineapple. It's soooo similar to Seasalt Pineapple. I'm really disappointed, it's just all kinds of underwhelming

Salt Flower (8031M841) - so based on the name and notes you would think it would be last year's Beach Orchid or something reminiscent of Beach Cabana or White Jasmine or Orange Blossom & Driftwood...nope! It's a new scent but very familiar; it reminds me a lot of Black Sands ..NOT a repackage but quite similar. There's a vague unobtrusive white floral that is suffocated by an intense mist/miasma of ozone/salty "ocean air" and maybe a hint of sandalwood. And like Black Sands, it smells oddly masculine despite the feminine softness of the name and notes.

Island Reef - definitely without a doubt Frozen Lake...dunno why, but it is  

Lastly there's are those odd vacation locale mason jars

Havana is totally Havana Heat

Bondi Beach is Pink Sands and Petals (I think)

Rio de Janeiro smells like a mix of Mango Coconut Cooler and Guava Colada

Blue Lagoon is Eucalyptus Mint all the way 





    

Comments

  1. Omg your description of Grill made me laugh! Any time I get on the BBW website and see a new candle, I come over here to read what you say about it. When I first saw Turmeric and Tarragon I was like "what? no" but now I'm thinking about buying it lol I never leave comments on anything but I've been coming here for a long time and I just wanted to say thanks for the great content

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    1. Awww, thank you so so much for reaching out as well as reading what I have to say!!! It really does mean a lot!

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