Aaron Terence Hughes Unicorn Elixir Review


Aaron Terence Hughes Unicorn Elixir bottle, photo by Michael Devine©

The unicorns were the most recognizable magic the fairies possessed, and they sent them to those worlds where belief in the magic was in danger of falling altogether. After all, there has to be some belief in magic — however small — for any world to survive.” — Terry Brooks, The Black Unicorn

Aaron Terence Hughes

Aaron Terence Hughes, photo courtesy brand website

With his cheekily-named concoctions and often-opinionated You Tube reviews, UK-based perfumer Aaron Terence Hughes might be considered a polarizing figure. One of his more recent releases, with an unprintable name that would melt the Mitsouko off a classicist, contains a note of “cocaine,” while other creations include notes of “filth” or “MDMA.” It’s all in good fun, actually, as his website even includes a disclaimer: “please do not purchase unless you have a sense of humour.” One might think Mr. Hughes shouldn’t be taken too seriously, but anyone who’s experienced his work knows: he’s the real deal and his compositions smell utterly fantastic. There’s a reason his UK website and US-based distributors are constantly selling out, sometimes within hours of a restock. Unicorn Elixir, one of his latest releases and his first attar, solidifies his position as a serious perfumer.

Unicorn Elixir is an attar by Aaron Terence Hughes

Aaron Terence Hughes Unicorn Elixir presentation photo courtesy brand website

Above and beyond the brand’s already sleek/lavish aesthetic, Unicorn Elixir is presented in a 10ml bottle in a satin-line coffret complete with lock and key. One knows there’s something special inside. Five years in development, this is a thick, dark elixir (note the lowercase “e” as this feels like a true elixir beyond current industry trends). The list of notes is fairly concise, highlighted by 35% rose absolute infused with a proprietary “Unicorn” oud at 5%, rounded out with additional notes of raspberry, sandalwood, patchouli, guaiac wood and vanilla. One small dab to the pulse points is all that’s needed, this is potent—and absolutely jaw-droppingly beautiful. To a synesthete, a rainbow.

Best rose attars


It’s immediately clear that Mr. Hughes knows when to exercise restraint, selecting and respecting the finest raw materials and letting them shine as nature intended. Yes, this is an oud/ rose combo, a pairing ubiquitous in today’s perfumery, but with more than a touch of ATH magic. His signature is most evident in the ultra-smooth “Unicorn Oud” developed per his specifications. There’s also his deft use of supporting players which compliment not just the included accords, but the illusory notes in the many facets of the oud and of the rose, such as leather, dried fruits and balsams. The rose is jammy rather than dewy and provides a sweet, rounded fullness to the overall composition without screaming, “Rose!” Those familiar with Aaron’s Onyx, Onyx Extreme and the recent (and wonderful) Onyx Air might feel that Unicorn Oud could be part of the line. I wouldn’t have been surprised if this was called Onyx Attar.

It’s been years since I’ve experienced a composition that moved me to tears, but the sheer beauty of Aaron Terence Hughes Unicorn Elixir truly touched my soul. I will proudly display Unicorn Elixir among my other attars from Amouage, Xerjoff and Sultan Pasha. While there’s obviously no real narcotics in his compositions (despite the cheeky assertions), there’s something actually addictive in the ATH DNA. When I named last year’s brilliant Hard Candy as one of the best perfumes of 2022, I compared Aaron to a Wonka-esque figure and I stand by that, particularly as I delve deeper into the line, further exploring and understanding the gravity of his work amid the playful winks and Cheshire cat smile.

Aaron Terence Hughes Unicorn Elixir presentation photo courtesy brand website

Aaron Terence Hughes’ fragrances are fairly priced according to ingredients; some are easily accessible and can be had for well under $100. Unicorn Elixir, however, with a high concentrate of real oud and real rose absolute, is priced at £350 (about $450) and is not yet available in the US, but can be ordered from the brand’s UK-based website. My order landed on my door in New Jersey less than a week after placing it. I should note that at the moment, every item on his UK site is sold out (as it often is) with a restock planned for January (follow Aaron on Instagram for inside hints on restocks). This is true indie perfumery with a small staff who make small batches by hand. Beyond my gratitude to Aaron for creating his art and sharing it with the world, as a fellow animal lover, I’m grateful that he donates a portion of his profits to an organization called SOI DOG which provides food, shelter and more to dogs and cats in Asia. While now, finding a bottle of Aaron Terence Hughes Unicorn Elixir is almost as likely as finding a real unicorn, I highly recommend chasing the rainbow.

Top: 35% rose absolute: Mid: vanilla absolute, amber, raspberry; Base: 5% Unicorn Oud, sandalwood, patchouli, guaiac wood, ambergris

Disclosure: Based on a bottle of Aaron Terence Hughes Unicorn Elixir purchased by the author, opinions are my own

Michael Devine, Senior Contributor

Follow us on Instagram @cafleurbonofficial  @aaronterencehughes @fragrance_detective

This is our Privacy and Draw Rules Policy

We will be happy to hear your thoughts

Leave a reply

Shopping cart