Little comes close to citrus in the summer: tart lemon, bitter orange, lime so tangy and effervescent that you salivate just on smelling it. Combined with the lightest, whitest florals and a transparent trail of musk, citrus can brighten and render limpid even the heaviest of hot summer days.
As with so many, the eau de cologne is a Scentimentalist summer staple. Last year, a bottle of Penhaligon’s aromatic Douro took its place in refrigerated splendour alongside the mayonnaise, supplying freshness and citrus vigour with every leathery, bergamot blast.
This year, the English summer is set to be tempered by two newer offerings from Penhaligon’s: its luscious, lemon-bright Eau de Cologne and gorgeous, dusky Orange Blossom, sampled recently from this British house’s expanding ‘Anthology’ series.
Strictly speaking, Eau de Cologne is not a ‘new’ Penhaligon’s scent, given that it is an un-tweaked re-release of an archived 1927 classic. A gloriously pulpy and astringent, lemon-orange flesh-and-zest fest, it glazes the skin with the clean, lively sparkle of a sorbet, its gentle rosemary note dusting it down to the soft powder of a bonbon.
Devoid of basenotes, the Eau de Cologne experience is unabashedly hesperidic, bracing but brief, and this scent works hardest when sprayed directly onto fabric (or hairy chest)—though to do so is to lessen its intensely blood-cooling impact.
Orange Blossom, meanwhile, is the creative re-rendering of in-house nose Bertrand Duchaufour, who riffs here on Penhaligon’s original scent from 1976. Duchaufour, to my mind, works a minor perfumery miracle by enrobing the clear, stimulating potency of neroli oil with waxy indoles and a soothing, slightly gourmand syrup of spiced summer fruit.
This is a honey bee guzzling at the heart of a bigaradia flower; a cardamom-laced Lebanese pudding steeped in maa’ al-zahr, cedar and sandalwood. For The Scentimentalist, perhaps the prettiest phase of this lovely summer fragrance is its floral middle, when jasmine, rose and tuberose entwine amidst a caress of the ripest peach.
Following swiftly on from last year’s fabulous Amaranthine, Penhaligon’s latest project with Duchaufour is also unquestionably a triumph, and strikes a clever and whimsical balance between the classy florals for which this house is so renowned and daring departures into modern and even mildly avant-garde territory.
I await Duchaufour’s next Penhaligon’s creation with bated breath.