Encre Noire à L’Extreme opens indeed as an “extreme” version of Encre Noire, where “extreme” is to be intended as more powerful, rougher, drier, more woody, somehow more “mature”, a bit more dirty, and ultimately with some more “oomph” than that. It doesn’t smell particularly “natural”, and I guess that’s part of the concept, but surely it does have something crisper, rootier, earthier if compared to the round, and kind of muted synthetic “inkiness” of classic Encre Noire. It’s also quite woodier, thanks to cypriol and to some more cedar. Be reminded I’m talking about nuances, the main bone structure of Extreme is still clearly Encre Noire – nothing dramatically different. But still, especially (and sadly, only) during the early stages, there is indeed enough differences to make this Extreme stand on its own. It smells basically like Encre Noire briefly drenched in wet balsamic woods (cypress) and dusted with pencil shavings and incense ashes, almost making it resemble to a sort of a lighter, drier, more cedar/incense-oriented version of Jovoy’s Private Label (Encre Noire à l’Extreme is nothing remotely that complex or intriguing, but there’s some slight connections) infused with a drop of L’Artisan Parfumeur’s Timbuktu (again – not hinting that the quality is the same; just a matter of superficial similarities between notes, especially some sort of similar “papery cypress” feel). Finally, just mix that with Montana’s Graphite kind of “freshly cut dry cedar”, and here’s this Extreme flanker of Encre Noire.
Now, despite the first minutes seemed quite promising, I must say that overall I’m a bit underwhelmed by this scent - the main issue being that it quickly starts to smell a tad more synthetic and flat that I wished, especially at this price point (but I guess there’s a reason why this is already widely available at a fraction of its original cost). It’s not bad, it’s actually fairly decent; but the dry ashy-cedary part soon smells as much nice as muted, generic and heavily artificial, so do vetiver and cypress, and incense – all notes, basically. I wouldn’t consider Extreme “cheap”, as even if it smells quite synthetic and a bit dull it’s a well-played, ultimately quite pleasant kind of synthetic. Still it doesn’t really keep up with the initial promises for me, soon that “oomph” I mentioned will be just a souvenir. And since Extreme is also heavily linear, there’s really no hope for some twists or changes (which in fact, don’t happen, except for a weak sort of “velvety suede” feel I get after a couple of hours, which combined with vetiver, kind of reminded me of Jil Sander Man by Wasser and Menardo from 2007).
All in all this isn’t strictly a bad scent, but not a great one either. Not even a “very good” one for me, just more only “boringly nice” with a subtle bitter aftertaste of disappointment. This may be a smart choice if you’re looking for your first and only “night vetiver” to own and you don’t want to bother trying others: but be sure to get some good discount though, as this isn’t worthy the full price tag.