Let's get this out of the way: Aftelier samples come in a ridiculously adorable vial. That's because Aftelier perfume samples are ridiculously tiny: .25 milliliter, compared to the .7 ml most samples seem to be. The sample my work friend gave me was, understandably, mostly empty, but I got a couple of good wears out of it.
Shiso opens with a heady, herbaceous sweetness, like anise or thai basil - Wikipedia suggests the chemical estragole takes the credit - with a pleasant soft under-note, like a nice green tea perfume. As it warms on my skin, it turns camphorous and woody. There's a hefty dose of patchouli, an old-fashioned dirty-hippie patchouli, which incidentally is my favorite kind. The geranium is pleasantly sweet without overwhelming me with plant reproduction. The sandalwood is nice. This may be the first perfume I've tried where I like everything that it does, without a single fake-y note of wow-I-wish-that-wasn't-in-here, though the oud is pleasantly pungent and could evolve into something less pleasant as it goes. So far the drydown is woody, though. Mm, frankly. This is the first come-here-and-smell-me perfume I've tried that hasn't been a sugary amber, though it would take a very specific person to want to come here and smell me. It does still smell composed, like a perfume and not a bottle of patchouli oil, but I feel like the formalism of that structure is very loose and it mostly just smells dirty and green and woody.
After I took the notes above I wound up wearing it for the rest of the day, and it went faint and dried down to nothing - six hours later - before it hit a single note I disliked. I would happily smell like this full-time, though hopefully that's not because I'm anosmic to the cat-pee note that some people got from the oud.
Straight up, this is one of the first perfumes I've smelled that I liked more and found more interesting than the everyday unedited smell of Human Being. I'm not going to lie, there are some deodorantless vegans in this town who I think smell fantastic, but this smells better. So this might only be a recommendation if your tastes run that direction, I can't tell. Either way, I'm delighted with it, though given the pricing on Aftelier perfumes I'm going to have to buy more tiny elf bottles and dole it out very gradually. Possibly Aromatic Green is the scent family for me? Thoughts?