Cool Spice: Cardamom Scents We Covet

Cardamom’s been spicing up perfumery at least since Egyptian times, and was one of the key fragrance plants used in Greek perfumes. With it’s cool, aromatic, head-clearing scent, we’re still loving it to this day. And here, in our continuing series of blog posts exploring the spices used in fragrance and especially beloved at this time of year; we’re taking a look at some of our favourites…





Cardamom is costly to use in perfumery – the third most expensive spice for scent usage in the world (after vanilla and saffron) – but so aromatic that only a touch is needed of the essential oil that’s steam-distilled from the seeds of the Elletaria cardomomum plant. Widely used in cooking, too, in south-east Asia – and perhaps most famously, to flavour chai – its slightly camphorous properties work to freshen breath.



In fact, there are two varieties of cardamom: earthy, smoky black cardamom – and the fresher, almost minty, eucalyptus-y green cardamom. The first works perfectly in more exotic, Ambrée blends – making for something that’s almost skin-like, or suede-soft – while the aromatic green cardamom adds brightness.




Back in our thirty eighth edition of The Scented Letter Magazine – the summer Solar Flair issue, which you might like to dreamily thumb your way through these chilly days!  – we followed fragrance-lover and author Neil Chapman‘s travels via his journey through fragrant spices. And he spoke so beautifully about cardamom, I wanted to include this snippet here. Neil wrote that…

‘At a plantation I near Bandung in Indonesia, as I was led through the fields I suddenly realised that like most people, I had no idea where the spices we use actually come from: cinnamon from the inner bark of the tree; saffron from the stamens plucked from inside crocus flowers; cloves from the dried buds of flowers; and cardamom from the seed pods of a plant that grows close to the ground in nut-like clusters.



It was fascinating to see this being cultivated up close, not least because cardamom is the most refreshing of spices and the one I use the most: green, almost citric. I never drink tea without it; the essential oil is also astonishingly head-clearing; in the bath, within minutes you feel mental cobwebs being zapped away.



In perfumes, cardamom oil is also used in introductions–such as Cartier’s woody-spicy Déclaration (1998) – for its brightness, if rarely as the main protagonist. Exceptions include the lovely Cardamusc by Hermès (2018), a clear, aldehydic musk as pure as angels that begins with an introit of sheer, singing cardamom: I find this enjoyable to use at night before bed, like an immaculate corridor of white.’



So, be it cool, head-clearing, aromatically versatile or even drifting to incense and toward a chai tea aspect – which of these cardamom-infused scents would you like to try first?


Memoize London Vita

Piquant pepper, silver-y cardamom and a sizzle of saffron enliven the juicy fruits that drench the heart of this joyful scent. A billowing incense tickles sun-warmed strawberries for summer memories grounded in dry woods.

£177 for 100ml eau de parfum in our shop



Parfums de Marly Byerly

Intensely elegant, lightly smoked, the cool (almost mint-kissed) breeze the cardamom adds here is a delightfully nonchalant contrast to both the rugged woodiness and the more dandified amber-warmed base. Intriguing!

£230 for 120ml eau de parfum




Jovoy Paris Remember Me

Give in to the seductive delights of milky chai tea spiced with that iconic cardamom and ginger, as the floral breeze of frangipani flowers drifts towards you on tendrils of sun-warmed airiness. Utter bliss.

 £145 for 100ml eau de parfum Jovoy Mafair





Armani Prive Magenta Tanzanite

Composed as a tribute to the spectacular colours of Africa’s landscape, a cool breeze of cardamom is warmed by furling plumes of honeyed tobacco smoke, spicy ginger and the energising scent of coffee. A lively dance of contrasts, this sizzles pleasingly.

£260 for 100ml eau de parfum



Electimuss Mercurial Cashmere

With an alluring character, the cloud of cardamom-flecked iris swirls to the buttered warmth of tonka and amber touched by cashmere’s creamy caress. Especially good at granting you backbone and strength, this one.

£225 for 100ml pure parfum


Written by Suzy Nightingale

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