Penhaligons is one of those brands that has long been in my affections. It emotes ripples of nostalgia in me as it has always been the brand favoured by my family for Christmas and birthday presents. When stuck for ideas I always head to one of their branches and get a candle or some Bluebell bath oil. There is something deeply satisfying about that lovely duck egg blue wrapping that all of their products are presented in along with their super elegant carrier bags. Its traditional English style at its very best. So I was overjoyed to be asked by the lovely people at Penhaligons to go to the Burlington arcade branch for an olfactory testing in order to find my favourite smell from them.
Above the shop floor is a wonderful, rather sumptuous red and black room where all the bottles of their scents are placed – sort of like ones dream boudoir. I sat down and the Senior fragrance expert, Daniel Godito Aguila, a very dapper and very charming man in a beautiful suit and bow-tie, proceeded to ask me various questions to hone into which smell would be perfect for me. I was asked if I was sporty, whether I liked red or white wine, if I was someone who was quite social, what kind of smells I am normally attracted to.
Since I am well known as a complete perfume obsessive and own about 50 bottles of various wonderful smells, I enjoyed this conversation with a fellow fragrance enthusiast hugely. One thing was clear – I love everything from fresh zesty colognes, to masculine spicy incense, to white floral smells such as rose, gardenia and tubereuse. It was pretty obvious it was going to be hard to reduce this to one smell but Daniel, like some kind of perfume matchmaker, was in his element and determined to find the right one for me.
Daniel presented me with my first smell, hiding the bottle as he sprayed the scent on a paper strip so I had no pre-concieved ideas. I found out afterwards it was the light, feminine white smell of Gardenia which I liked very much – it smelt like a better version of Marc Jacobs classic fragrance but somehow not so heavy or obvious. The next strip, I was told, was on a middle level of scent – light but somehow a little more earthy. I also liked this one. It turned out it was Orange Blossom which, like Gardenia, is one of Penhaligons scents created in the mid 70s.
In order to not get confused and clear my nose a bit, Daniel handed me a glass of water to drink and then handed my third strip to sniff which he described as going on a deeper, more exotic level. Now this was interesting – it was a sexy, quite heady smell and not something I would normally choose but I really connected to it. I was conscious of the bottle of Bluebell in my bathroom and slightly determined to be taken out of my comfort zone and go for something completely different for a change and this was it. It turned out it was a recent creation of the brand, Amaranthine ; a corrupted floral with oriental spices with the unusual under-notes of tonka bean and condensed milk giving it a sweetly erotic charge. Penhaligons have also created a body and bath line called Vanities which has been made to compliment the perfumes without fighting for attention with them and I was told how to layer my smell with the hand-lotion and Vanity oil in order to prolong my scent, Vanities has cotton fresh, creamy fragrance that works perfectly.
So there it was – I had found my scent match in Amaranthine. Fellow perfume enthusiasts, if you have a special treat coming up for someone you care about or just want to pamper yourself, I could not recommend the Penhaligons olfactory experience more highly – try it out.