Patchouli in my experience tends to be very much an ingredient influenced by those around it: in Terre d’Hermès, it becomes part of a damp, earthen-yet-ozonic, ‘mineral’ accord; in Habit Rouge, it becomes part of a powdery-dusty continuum that brings together vivid citrus, genteel florals, tidy musks and old books. Patchouli is the star in Zino, and its features and facets – from the chalkiness of raw cocoa powder to unsmoked marijuana to musty peat moss, are all to some degree present, although it should be said that these aspects are thoroughly smoothed over and civilized.
Full disclosure: patchouli is not a note that seems to react particularly well with my chemistry. I rarely enjoy a multidimensional experience of patch; for better or for worse I mostly get the smell of garden variety potting soil; a little each of both arid and dank. I rarely experience any greenness or oiliness, although I do notice these features in its sillage more when I am outside than indoors.
Zino opens with a strong rosewood note, its pleasurably dated character sharpened by a savory accent of sage. The camphor of the patch is made oh-so-briefly tangy with a fougère accord of bergamot and lavender quickly joined by the biscuity goodness of coumarin; a tobacco-ish, phenolic sweetness is supported by vanilla, which may remind you of the dry vanilla used by Guerlain, albeit unblended with Guerlinade flowers (I know there are floral notes listed in the pyramid, but aside from a dried red rose in faded alizarin crimson, this is an earth-tone scent: burnt sienna, burnt umber, iron oxide reds with their ochre and violet undertones, the slightly blueish hue of a greyed-down bone black).
You might recognize this powdery-starchy, dark-patchouli-with-woods accent as one prevalent via Tom Ford offerings like Black Orchid or Noir. The melding of earthy, mossy maltiness with dusky, dusty patchouli is Zino, from start to finish, though a little candle of amber burns in the drydown, which is subtle but lovely.
From The Empire Strikes Back to the Reagan Administration, the 1980’s bore witness to the problematizing of the old school father figure. This is really a deep moda dad smell: it is not so much the smell of Davidoff cigars as the echo of lost suavity you’d get in sniffing an empty cedar cigar box; its balsamic aspects are not sharply terpenic but cozily aloof. A heavy wearing adds a touch of humidity to the overall effect; I get a definite reference to fermented tobacco (as someone noted below) or sodden autumn leaves not unlike that found in Burberry London. I have only the current version to go by, but find it very companionable, albeit notably subdued after the first hour or two of wear. On a mechanical note: the sprayer is a bit of a weak point and does not work all that well.
All in all, I find Zino to be bit of a regal ghost with legs: this ‘fragrance of desire’ is a remarkably comforting accord of accords, but, barring the opening, not a demanding nor especially daring one. Wear it if you want to be someone’s solid somebody: subtle, a little stolid; affable, honest, proud but modest -- & not wrong.