Rich, warm, luxurious and comforting, honey works wonderfully in fragrances to emphasise floral notes, or add touches of amberiness. And with the profusion of gourmand fragrances out there, honey-lovers can easily find themselves in sweet heaven. We love what the nose Christine Nagel has to say about this ingredient:
‘Honey has two facets – half devil, half angel. In Ambrée structures, it has a sweet, comforting effect, taking you back to childhood. But a small touch in a feminine structure can be extremely sexy…’
Are you already a honey-lover…? Then you’ll know that honey comes in so many different varieties, each taking their smell (and colour) from the flowers on which the bees that produce it have feasted. Orange blossom honey. Eucalyptus honey. Acacia honey: the variations are almost limitless, sometimes woody, flowery, herbal or even tobacco-y. The ancient Arab perfumers were the first to capture honey’s sweetness in perfumery, but today the honey featured is generally a synthetic note – one that’s drizzled sensually over quite a few fragrances in the past few years.
It’s over 15,000 years since man first harnessed bees’ busy-ness to produce this natural sweetener. (According to cave paintings in Valencia in Spain, anyway.) Symbolically, honey stands for ‘the sweet life’, prosperity, even immortality; the word itself comes from the ancient Hebrew word for ‘enchant’… When man and bee teamed together, it turned out to be a win-win situation: bees got a safe place to live (and a reliable food source, in the form of flowering crops) – and we got to harvest honey and beeswax in unbelievably impressive quantities: a single beehive can produce up to 200 kilos of honey each season.
Guerlain are known for their love of bees of course, featured in their utterly exquisite and iconic Guerlain Bee Bottles, which have been… ‘An icon for nearly 170 years: timeless, the Bee Bottle is more than a bottle, it’s a statement: a precious Guerlain signature and a craft symbol between tradition and modernity.’ What’s more, apart from using honey in their skincare and as a note in fragrances, Guerlain also fund a number of Bee loving projects to ensure the future of bees (and, therefore, crops – and humankind! For without the bees we are truly lost).
Guerlain explains: ‘First founded in 2018 and launched globally in 2021, Guerlain’s Bee School initiative was founded as a result of the brand’s ongoing mission to teach children about bees and how they positively affect our environment. Nearly 6,000 children in over ten countries have been able to learn about the various issues facing bees and biodiversity conservation. After discussions, question-and-answer sessions, workshops, and games to test their knowledge, each child receives a Bee School certificate at the end of the session. The programme encompasses meaningful initiatives and partnerships…’
With World Bee Day having been celebrated recently around the globe, and with summer scents in mind (now the weather finally seems to be playing ball), what better time to explore honey fragrances, with scents that evoke both the flirty innocent sweetness and the deeper, more ‘devilish’ side of honey’s character, as Christine Nagel so beautifully put it…?
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Nettare Di Sole
A deliciously unusual icy floral honey absolute that sings of summertime, the magnolia, rose and Sambac jasmine bathed in honey, as if infused with the sun itself, and rippled with that deliciously cool note evoking dappled shade in a courtyard. Glorious to wear at any time, I especially adore wearing this when the heat properly simmers.
£89 for 75ml eau de toilette guerlain.com
Floris Honey Oud
A really good introduction to how oudh can be used in a nuanced way – almost as a seasoning instead of the main flavour – this one is actually delicious (as in, if it came in a jar, I’d want to slather it on buttered toast and guzzle it, or perhaps slather myself in it and roll on a meadow). The dark, spiced honeyed note deepens as the oudh kicks in. Intensely nuzzle-able, there’s nothing whatever to frighten the horses, here.
From £22 for 10ml eau de parfum florislondon.com
[NB: Also available to sample as part of the Floris Private Collection set, for only £35, and including some of their most iconic scents].
Manos Gerakinis Methexis
The name ‘MEΘEXIS’ derives from ancient Greek, translating as ‘the communication between the divine and the human’. A feast for the senses, cocoa and honey luxuriously swathe fig, while blackcurrant ensures the perfect balance of sweetness, swirled into the reassuring woodiness of cedar. A sprinkle of cinnamon ensures this so-sophisticated, intoxicating indulgence of a scent is seasoned to perfection. Divine!
From £50 for 10ml eau de parfum shymimosa.com
[NB: Try samples of the rest of the collection in the Manos Gerakinis Discovery Set, where for £35 you can explore his other scents].
Sarah Baker Charade
An absolute stunner of a scent, there’s a mellifluous segue between hypnotic floral notes of tuberose and ylang ylang, generously drizzled with honey that brings forth their headiness and makes them swoon into the dry, grassiness of vetiver and tea. Nestled in the base are deeper notes of leather, amber-y warmth and resins resting on smooth sandalwood and snuggly moss. Completely beguiling…
£145 for 50ml extrait de parfum in our shop
Marc Jacobs Honey
Created by master ‘noses’ Annie Buzantian and Ann Gottlieb, the sunny fragrance opens with a refreshing bouquet of green pear, juicy, ripe mandarin and a cool, fruity punch. Then at the floral heart you’ll find a composition of orange blossom, peach nectar and honeysuckle, followed by a warming base of that gloriously golden honey, creamy vanilla and silky woods. Scrumptious!
Currently £39.99 for 100ml eau de parfum at theperfumeshop.com
Written by Suzy Nightingale