Around 1966, Judith Muller released three separate perfumes in her new Bat-Sheba perfume line. They came in beautiful hand-painted amphora bottles that evoked the weathered artifacts of ancient archaeology, which – then as now – was a national passion in the state of Israel. Her perfumes were very popular both in Israel and as souvenirs for visitors. The fact that there were three different Bat Sheba fragrances is a source of some confusion for people – many people think they are smelling the original Bat Sheba, when in fact they are smelling one of its flankers. The original is simply called Bat Sheba. The two flankers, which were released around the same time as the original, were called “Bat Sheba – Woody Modern” and “Bat Sheba – Exotic Oriental.” These two flankers are labeled with their distinguishing subtitle somewhere on the bottle’s label (often on the backside of the hanging tag, while the front of the hang-tag always just says “Bat Sheba”) or on the box. Below is a picture showing both the front and back of these two flankers’ hang tags. One wonders why Judith Muller would name the two flankers so similarly to the main fragrance, with packaging that makes it hard to distinguish between all of them. This has undoubtedly lead to quite a bit of confusion among people seeking the specific fragrance out of the three that they originally smelled & fell in love with.
The original Bat-Sheba is a striking rose chypre with a heart of distinctive, sweet-fruity notes, drying down to a chypric base with patchouli, musk, & a hint of Iso BQ leather. I’ve owned a couple mini bottles of this original Bat Sheba and it smells so luscious, the sweet fruity notes are ripe and unique, complementing and binding with the floral bouquet for the full duration rather than merely acting as fleeting top-notes. It’s unique and mouthwatering, and it was composed, according to Judith Muller’s daughter, by legendary perfumer Ernest Shiftan at IFF.
Now onto the two Bat Sheba flankers. I have two examples of each of these, but they’re in different states of preservation. I’m reviewing the ones that smell the freshest, my mini parfums in the picture:
Bat Sheba – Woody Modern was a bitter green-aldehyde with hyacinth & powdery florals. It smells very similar to the pure parfums of Fidji & Norell, which all came out around the same time, and smells remarkably similar to her perfume Judith, released in the ’70s. Was this one discontinued due to all the name confusion, and then re-released as “Judith?”
Bat Sheba – Exotic Oriental starts off rosewood-y, drying down somewhat honey-like, with sweet vanilla & balsams in the base.
Between 1970 and the early 1980s, Judith Muller continued to release new fragrances. Here are my own brief descriptions of these others:
Shalom (1970) – a chypre; like a dryer Bat Sheba, lacking the former’s sweet/fruity notes. Very fleeting, gone in 5 minutes on my skin.
Sharon – Very hard to detect on my skin…After 10 minutes, I think I’m smelling a sweetish aldehydic floral a la L’Aimant, Le Dix, L’Interdit, etc.
Judith (1975) – I mentioned above that ‘Bat-Sheba Woody Modern’ is very similar to this one, and Judith may simply be that same fragrance, renamed. It’s a floral in 1960s style, very similar to Fidji or Norell (pure parfum) with bitter-green florals, powder, & woody base.
JM – a light & fresh floral of late 70s/early 80s; a slight buttery quality keeps it from smelling too shower-fresh or “80s shampoo”-like. In the same vein as Le Jardin de Max Factor but with a subtle buttery note.