Pep Up Your Perfumes! Black & Pink Pepper Scents

It’s definitely the time of year we need a pep to our perfumes, and thankfully many scents showcase pepper – of the black and pink varieties (though chilli and other types are increasingly being used). Pepper pairs so well and enhances many ingredients, just as the spice does in cooking, so are often used as a type of ‘scented seasoning’ within a fragrance formula. However, as you will see, pepper can radiate wonderfully when allowed to shine as a more dominant ingredient, too.

You can read our Ingredient pages for the more about the fascinating history and uses of both black pepper, and pink pepper; but meanwhile, we urge you to seek out these spice-sprinkled scents and add an olfactory tingle to get you through colder days…

 

Molton Brown Black Pepper Recharge

This iconic sizzle of a scent was WAY ahead of its time, with the magnificent pepper enhanced by lemon and ginger and dark green herbs – a true wake-up call to get you going any time you need a fragrant boost!

£120 for 100ml eau de parfum moltonbrown.co.uk

 

 

ARgENTUM Magician

Inviting you to ‘take the dare’, clove bud and chilli-flecked incense curls skyward while pepper-flecked ribbons on unctuous myrrh, sticky labdanum and the grounding steadiness of cedar evoke ancient, healing balms.

£228 for 70ml eau de parfum in our shop (or try a sample in the Fire Collection Discovery Kit for £28)

 

 

Kingdom Scotland Metamorphic

A wee splash of Islay malt amidst black pepper, tobacco, incense, minerals and rose absolute. Metamorphosing on the skin as it’s warmed to reveal a base of amber resin and leather, it’s an absolutely stunning winter warmer.

£120 for 50ml eau de parfuin our shop

 

 

 

Molton Brown Fiery Pink Pepper

This perkily spiced pink pepper is delicately balanced, with the alluring layers enhanced by the complex aromas, it’s the top notes of those peppercorns mixed with tangerine and elemi oil that really reel you in for more…

£85 for 100ml eau de toilette moltonbrown.co.uk

 

 

Ostens Rose Oil Isparta

Using the highest concentration of exquisite quality rose oil, Dominique Ropion, no less, conjures blackcurrant jammy-ness shot through with pink pepper’s tingle. Voluptuous, addictive, the closest thing to Heaven on earth.

£135 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

4160 Tuesdays Shazam!

Evoking the olfactory adventures of wandering a spice market in the Marrakesh Medina, a sassy pink pepper sizzle atop a classy, classic amber base of resinous labdanum balsam with cardamom, cocoa and vanilla.

£65 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Glorious Ginger

Ginger fragrances are definitely having a moment – perhaps we’re simply gravitating toward them more at this time of the year, for their warming spiciness? But ginger can do far more than add a tingle to scent: there’s the juiciness of freshly sliced ginger root for adding an almost aqueous touch to a composition, too.

Many of us are familiar with the beige-skinned, yellow-fleshed fresh spice, which adds pungency to cooking – as the Romans, who first imported it, discovered. Those same roots we love to spice up our food with – rhizomes, to use the perfume world’s word for them – can be steam-distilled to produce this useful scented oil.

Ginger can be variously bracing, uplifting and almost nose-tinglingly spicy, depending on the type (and how much) a perfumer chooses for their formula. And ginger can be very versatile – it pairs beautifully with vanilla, woody notes and citrus, for example; as well as white flowers like jasmine and sunlight-filled neroli. This spice is used quite widely in perfumery – as well as a wide range of foods and medicines, too, produced everywhere from South America to Malaysia, the Caribbean, Japan and Africa.

With many people now enjoying ginger ‘shots’ for a bracing morning drink – using it to clear the cobwebs and ward-off colds – we’re suggesting you seek out these gloriously ginger-spiced scents for a more fragrantly lasting (and just as soul-reviving) boost…

 

When this launched as an eau de parfum, it became a best-seller, setting many hearts aflame. Now the latest to be intensified as an extrait, the orange blossom is a new, buxomly formidable accord developed by Sarah, with caramelised zest and ginger’s zing . A car chase through tuberose fields on fire, she says. Oh MY! Fan me.

Sarah Baker Flame & Fortune Extrait Pre-order for £120 instead of £145 sarahbakerperfumes.com

 

 

Alive with Asian aromatics, tingling like a ginger martini, the succulent mandarin squeezes sweetness onto ginger’s vibrantly quenching, just-grated spiciness. Wrapped in the golden glow of amber, the ginger grows spicier and drier as it warms on skin. Utterly delicious, it seems to segue through all the seasons, seamlessly.

Goldfield & Banks Ingenious Ginger £138 for 100ml eau de parfum selfridges.com

(P.S.: Try a sample as part of the Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box – £23 / £19 for VIPs)

Oh this is much-needed at any time, but never more than in winter! A uniquely spicy green floral that boosts confidence via zingy Ethiopian ginger absolute and crisp pink peppercorn; the fresh spices tingle amidst the verdancy, with gorgeous wafts of Indian jasmine absolute and iris concrete to enhance the instant bliss.

Edeniste Lifeboost Well Being £68 for 30ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

 

 

floris-vert-fougere

 

An imagining of a fern in an English garden at twilight, lavender and patchouli entwine galbanum for a damp, earthy beginning. A cool lingering of tempered sunlight is evoked via a bitter-citrus accord of bergamot, neroli and grapefruit, the encroaching darkness cut through with ginger’s sparkle, then grounded in smoky shadows.

Floris Vert Fougére from £30 for 10ml eau de parfum florislondon.com

 

 

 

Exploring the believed ‘psychoactive and spiritual’ facets of oudh, joyous bergamot greets you like a dear friend, a surge of ginger awakening senses before cedar smooths a path to the main feature. When the oudh hits it’s like a bear hug. One to spritz on sluggish mornings when the duvet refuses to release you from its plump embrace.

INITIO Oud for Happiness £305 for 90ml eau de parfum harrods.com

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Sizzling Saffron Scents to Spice Up Your Life!

Over the coming weeks, we’re going to be sharing some of our favourite spicy scents – perfect to add a bit of a sizzle to your life during these cold, grey days. It’s astounding how many fragrances utilise saffron recently – we included a whole section of saffron scents to our just published Scented Letter magazine, in the feature A Feast of Fragrance, in fact.

But with so many to cover, and a plethora of differing perfume styles, wanted to ramp up the spice and add a sprinkling of some more scents for you to consider this season.

 

Firstly: what do you know about saffron as an ingredient…?

 

 

Add a touch to cooking, and it turns a dish bright yellow. Add a touch to a perfume, and it gives a bittersweet, leathery, intimate quality: a little bit earthy, but soft at the same time. Honeyed and hay-like are other descriptions that perfumers give to saffron, which works especially well in Ambrée-type perfumes.

 

 

The priciest of spices – known as ‘red gold’ – saffron’s one of the most ancient perfume ingredients: it was popular in Ancient Egypt, Greece and Rome, often as a ‘single note’ perfume, as well as in more complex blends. (The ever-extravagant Romans even strewed it over the floors of public places, to scent the air on special occasions).

 

 

Saffron was also used to scent baths, houses and temples, while in medicine it was a narcotic.  (Erotic postscript: in the tantric rite of the Five Essentials, saffron was applied to the female’s feet… If you’re planning to do similarly, we suggest you don’t walk on a pale carpet following this practice!)

 

 

The plant itself – Crocus sativus, from the iris family – was introduced into Europe in the 7th Century, after the conquest of Spain in the 16th Century, English saffron was prized as the best in the world, grown in large quantities around Saffron Waldon – which is how come that town got its name. Today, we mostly grow crocus in the garden, so can overlook its wondrous properties (until we realise how expensive it is to buy a tiny tube in the supermarket). Often seen as the first herald of spring – oh! How we long for that moment.

Until then, let’s snuggle up with these spicy little numbers…

 

 

 

Merchant of Venice Byzantium Saffron

Taking a pinch of saffron to awaken the warm, aromatic tones of radiant amber, this has an almost glow-in-the-dark warmth, finishing with a molten stream of patchouli and suede in the lingering dry-down.

£150 for 50ml eau de parfum fenwick.co.uk

 

 

 

Map of the Heart Gold Heart v.4

Have you ever soaked a few strands of saffron in some milk in preparation for a delicious meal?  Gold Heart is basically that smell with some added rose water and cardamom shimmer on top for good measure. Delectable!

Try a sample in their Discovery Box £35 for 7 x 1ml samples

 

 

 

 

Creed Carmina

Rose de mai and cashmere wood are joined by the succulent seductiveness of black cherry, pops of pink pepper and a richly resinous base of precious myrrh, frankincense and ambroxan; and the saffron tingles throughout, passionately.

£260 for 75ml eau de parfum harrods.com

Or try a sample in our Fabulous Fragrances Discovery Box!

 

 

 

Shay & Blue Oud Alif

Celebrating the ancient art of smoked oud wood in the most contemporary way, Shay & Blue add delicious notes of dark chocolate for a sophisticated gourmand ripple of desire. Then, saffron-spiked leather swathes sexily. Yum!

£85 for 100ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

 

Adscenture Serendipity

A swooningly gentle take on saffron here, which nonetheless sizzles on skin as it slowly warms the sandalwood, amber and tonka-enriched notes surrounding it. Like a furtive glance that grows to something far hotter, it’s utterly beguiling…

£85 for 50ml eau de parfum in our shop

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Spice Up Your Life – the history of spiced scents (and what to wear now)

At this time of year we’re suddenly surrounded by spices – precious ingredients once so rare and expensive they were kept in locked wooden boxes, and have been beloved by perfumers for thousands of years. And ‘noses’ today still love weaving these warmly tingling, simmeringly sensual ingredients into their compositions. So, why are we so attracted to spices, and which fragrances are the best to wear today?

Over the next few weeks we’ll trace them in turn, starting with…

Cinnamon

Even 2000 years ago the Egyptians were using cinnamon in perfumes and incense burned to send scented prayers to the gods (though it probably originates way before that, in China).

Cinnamomum verum is thought to have been an ingredient in the original holy ‘anointing oil’, mentioned in the Bible. The Greeks and Romans used it too, often with its near-relation cassia.  It’s long been considered to have aphrodisiac properties, when eaten – though if spicy scents turn you on, maybe when dabbed onto pulse-points, too.

Cinnamon bark oil ihas to be used very sparingly in a scent – it’s a sensitiser, and as such, you may see ‘cinnamates’ on perfume packaging, as a warning. Where natural cinnamon’s used, it’s likely to have been distilled from the leaves and twigs. But it’s often also synthesised, adding a spicy warmth to amber scents.

Here’s renowned niche perfumer Andy Tauer on the restrictions on using cinnamon, which he shared with The Perfume Society – and why he loves to use it, all the same:

Andy Tauer: ‘Ah… a forbidden fruit. Sensitising cinnamal, potential allergen. So warm, metallic almost, spicy of course, gourmand, hitting the nose with memories of rice pudding with cinnamon sugar, and making your saliva flow. I love to cook with cinnamon. It brings out the flavors of ginger, onions, adds warmth to the cocktail of exotic flavors from clove, pepper, cumin, fenugreek. In my perfumes, I love it – like a synthetic aldehyde – as it switches the light on, brings out the colours and contrasts. One fine day, in perfumery heaven, we will all smell and enjoy cinnamon in heavy doses: Until then, we have to live life with the regulations that we have…’

Here we travel to the land of Assam via the richly resonant aromas of the East. Cinnamon leaf oil and nutmeg make for a lively opening that tingles all the way to wonderfully exotic citrus-fresh elemi oil. Black tea accord marks our fragrant journey with its smoky tendrils slowly opening to the deeper base and that sweet, wet earthiness and smooth wood played out with notes of oudh and vetiver. Honey is drizzled to sweeten the mix but never becomes sickly, the stunningly smooth tobacco accord putting us in mind of freshly-rolled cigars and dense canopies of greenery outlined against mountains beyond.

Molton Brown Mesmerising Oudh & Gold Accord £120 for 100ml eau de parfum
Molton Brown

One of those unforgettable ‘sexy church’ scents, the cinnamon here infused into wafts of sheer smokiness, all shot through with a surprising, champagne-like airiness. Transparent in the opening (definitely more organza than velvet, at this stage), Angelique Encens’s warmth emerges on the skin, kindling notes of pepper, sandalwood, patchouli and oodles of smoothly simmering cinnamon. You shall not only go to the ball wearing this, meanwhile, but perhaps find yourself partying way beyond midnight wrapped in its enduring musk, vetiver and incense embrace.

Creed Angelique Encens £275 for 75ml eau de parfum
creedfragrances.co.uk

This fresher take on cinnamon is inspired by ‘mountain of paper, autumnal hues of corduroy… thoughtful parting words and a reminiscence of dry oil paint.’ It’s golden light on crunchy leaves, rich fabrics in earthy colours gleaming in the honeyed light, a cool, herbaceous breeze of rosemary and basil just sing with the fizz of green peppercorns in the top notes – the cinnamon all the while a link to the deep thrum of oudh, earthiness and smooth woods in the base. One to wear while wrapped up for a country walk, breathing glad lungfuls of air and exalting nature.

Mihan Aromatics Mikado Bark £123 for 100ml extrait de parfum
mihanaromatics.com

Lapped by milk, snuggled by soft blooms of immortelle flower, the cinnamon in this is neck-nuzzle-worthy – you’ll definitely want to move closer to the person wearing it. Inspired by Manos Gerakinis’s Greek heritage, the immortelle is a yellow flower found in Greece, its story dating back to the Trojan war. In myth, during Helen’s capture, she asked Paris to validate her beauty against Venus. Paris replied: “Do you not see this flower? Your hair shares the same golden colour and your body smells like the flower while your skin is as soft as its petals. Your beauty will be everlasting.’ The resonant warmth the cinnamon affords sizzles for hours, beautiful indeed..

Manos Gerakinis Immortelle £145 for 100ml eau de parfum
shymimosa.co.uk

Written by Suzy Nightingale