I like to use a three-star system to differentiate scents. More than anything, this is to help me remember what I’ve liked, disliked, and tried. As with many other things in life, YMMV (your mileage may vary).
Here I rate things * – ***, and ** – *** can be considered recommended (i.e. I’d consider buying a decant or bottle myself if testing from a sample). Ratings on Basenotes range * – *****; I’ve included the analogues for my scores for easy comparison – *** – ***** is something I would give a positive review to in the Basenotes directory; ** would get a neutral review; the rare * would earn a negative review.
***|***** – Exceptional, fairly unique, well-blended out of natural-smelling ingredients. Stands out as a top example of its type. Definitely worth seeking out as either a bottle or decant.
**1/2|**** – Excellent, perhaps not as unique – or lacks some of the joie de vivre – compared to ***|*****, but still a benchmark of its type. Worth seeking out in bottle or decant format.
**|*** – Very good, and still in the upper echelon of fragrances of its genre. Few noticeable detractors, although it might not be as unique or easy to wear as other good examples. Possibly worth seeking out as a bottle or decant.
*1/2|** – Good or adequate. These fragrances may have significant detractors, and generally are not unique or to my taste. At a low price, may be worth a decant or bottle.
*|* – These fragrances may have significant detractors, and are not unique or to my taste at all.