Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Penhaligon's Juniper Sling .

As a Londoner I regard Gin as a birth right, we should be christened with it instead of holy water.  It has through the centuries been our solace, our ruin and our ‘dutch’ courage (quite appropriate as the drink itself originates in the Netherlands).  It has morphed from evisceratingly rough alcohol dispensed straight into the mouth from a tube into a sophisticated libation. It is the ingredient for Martini and White Lady cocktails, sophistication distilled and poured into a glass.  In a tumbler with tonic it kept the stiff upper lip, well not exactly stiff but better immured to hot climes and angry natives. Recently with the introduction of smaller boutique distilleries it has become fashionable and shaken off the “gin and orange and a slice” doldrums it found itself in in the seventies and even then it was still the chosen tipple of a certain kind of brassy sassy London Jolie Ladie of a certain age.

Gin went through and endearing yet unglamorous phase in the 70's

Gin does not, contrary to myth make you sad (unless of course you exhaust your stock), nor does it, as long as you resist mixing it with cherry brandy and Sambuca shots, give you a worse hangover than anything else.  The fact that it is flavoured with medicinal herbs and berries should all being equal make it slightly more agreeable than a basic vodka. As you can see, I do like gin. But until now I have not had the urge to smell of it. Smelling of alcohol is something I have managed unintentionally several times so perhaps I should go with the flow. I was therefore amused to hear a perfume house had made a gin scented perfume and that for some inexplicable reason they were offering me a sample to try.

True, we girls do like the a nice smelling chap...
To be fair the perfume house in question is the distinguished Penhaligons, founded in the 1870’s whose shops are always worth a visit if you are in London. What is more the perfume itself is not ‘gin’ themed but it is inspired by the predominant flavouring of most traditional gins, Juniper.  The scent itself is called ‘Juniper Sling’, a name that conjures up the image of a 20’s bright young person waving a glass in the air. Now I am not blessed with good skin for perfume, everything seems to smell pleasant enough for the first few minutes before metamorphosing into a cross between toilet freshener and a stale dusting of tabac talcum powder. It was with some trepidation that I opened the bottle and sniffed.  It did rather smell like gin and tonic, I like gin and tonic so I slipped some on my wrists.

Interior of Penhaligons Covent Garden shop.
It certainly didn’t smell as if I had been stirring my arm in a vat of Bombay Sapphire, rather the first impression was of a fresh smart fragrance. I waited for the talc effect, and was pleased that for once it didn’t seem to set in. A fruity Juniper scent is the initial niff but it becomes warmer after it has been on the skin for a while. This is probably explained by some of the other spicy scents in the mix: primarily cinnamon with a whisp of cardamom. It is one of those things a decent scent does, this one starts as a bracing stiffener in a chrome  and glass cocktail bar full of aviators and brittle flappers and ends up as a wood panelled speakeasy full of Italian gigolos and oriental seductresses in silk. Oh dear I am getting carried away, but that is what scents evoke; pictures.
The mint green and silver deco inspired  product design.

The publicity states the perfume house wants to evoke the bright young things of the twenties and they have produced a faux period newsreel  to promote it. Well I think it does have a vintage edge. The bottle is stylish and provides good dressing table/shaving shelf eye candy.   When I first tried it I was in a very traditional gentleman’s club and it suited the surroundings well, perhaps because this is a scent designed to be ambiguous: the gents can wear it and I felt it was masculine enough to accompany ironed cotton and cufflinks.

A still from the promo mockumentary...
I liked it, and as I always say, this is not a sponsored blog so I don’t have to endorse anything. It smelt evocative and had staying power. Also it is unlikely, due to its mid-upper price range and Penhaligons niche position unlikely to be worn by hordes of people. I love cocktails and all the scents combined to make it so yes, I would actually happily wear this.  A bottle of eau de toilette is £78.00 so perhaps a friendly Santa will give me a bottle for Christmas, certainly the Travel Atomiser at £16.00 would make a rather nice stocking filler, along with some gin for the gentleman or lady in your life. 

What are your favourite scents? Is there one you think is particularly evocative of the  past? We'd love to know. xxx


Mim said...

I'm a complete perfume nut. Today I'm wearing Jean Patou Divine Folie, which is just heavenly and has just enough clove/carnation to spice up a gloomy autumn day. Perfumes, like clothes, have an identifiable era, and most of my faves are pre 1940.

My absolute love is Guerlain Mitsouko, but you have to be careful with that as the current formulation of the EdC is vile (and Mitsy's a very difficult beauty at the best of times). However, for perfume houses, as most of the Patous are no longer available, I'd plump for Caron.

I heartily recommend Les Senteurs in Belgravia as a perfume shop. I was really scared the first time I visited 'cos I thought they'd look down on me for being a complete guttersnipe, but they're lovely.

LollyWillowes said...

Interesting. I'd like a sniff, but as mentioned before, I too have peculiar skin regarding scent.
I like Pehhaligon's, Violette, but it's just too expensive. Not that it matters because I don't think they make it anymore.

LollyWillowes said...

Actually, scotch that, just found out they do still sell it, and it's called Violetta, but it's still too fact it's even more so than it was when I last looked!

monika said...

I love perfume, but a lot of them turn soapy on me. My party perfume is Chanel no 19, love that one! I don't feel I have the style to carry it as an everyday scent though. I bought it for my wedding, so it brings back wonderful memories (especially layered with Elnett hairspray).

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