Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

Some of my favorite bloggers are posting about favorite holiday fragrances, and several have created their own fragrance Advent calendars, so clearly ’tis the season! I love Advent, but I was too slow off the mark to organize my own Advent calendar in time, and this is a very busy time of year for me at work, so I’ll just enjoy reading about theirs — although I might get my act together for a few “scents of Advent” or even a fragrance Twelve Days of Christmas, so stay tuned!

As some of you know, I’m an enthusiastic amateur gardener. One of the plants I love most is the hellebore, sometimes called the “Christmas Rose” or “Lenten Rose” because it blooms in the winter. I love it so much that the special china we bring out for the holidays from now through February has hellebores on it.

Spode Christmas Rose

So for my “scents of Advent” post today, I’m going to write about a few of the rose scents that I especially enjoy in the fall and winter, although real hellebores have little fragrance. Actual roses can emphasize so many different facets of their natural fragrance, and then perfumers focus on a few of those, and choose companion notes to heighten that emphasis; this is undoubtedly why there are hundreds, if not thousands, of rose-centric fragrances. I know some perfume-lovers dislike rose, but I’m inclined to think that may be because they haven’t found the right rose for them, or because they have unhappy associations with bad rose scents like poorly made soap.

I love fresh, citrusy, green roses in the spring and summer, but I’m just not drawn to them when the weather turns colder. Luckily, many perfume houses have created scents that emphasize the spicier, darker, warmer aspects of rose, and those are the ones I enjoy at this time of year. I’ve written before about some of them: Aramis’ Calligraphy Rose, Montale’s Intense Cafe, Gres’ Cabaret. Here are a few more:

Tauerville’s Rose Flash: this is one of the best fragrance buys on the market, imho. It is the first of Andy Tauer’s “Tauerville” line, fragrances that are deliberately more experimental (and more affordable) than his main line but still artfully crafted and multi-faceted. Rose Flash comes in a 20% concentration; in other words, parfum extrait strength. At $63 for a 30 ml bottle, and given its high quality, it’s at the top of my list. Here is the description from the website: “A shamelessly diffusive, tenacious, extrait-strength creation, overflowing with the greens, spices, citruses, woods and creamy intimacies which enter your very soul when you stick your nose into a bona fide, scented, living rose.” Be still, my heart! Yes, it really is that good.

Bottle of Andy Tauer's Tauerville Rose Flash parfum

Tauerville Rose Flash; image from

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018: an update of a former Penhaligon’s classic, Elisabethan Rose, its notes are: Hazelnut Leaf, Almond Oil, Cinnamon, Red Lily, Rose Centifolia Oil, Rose Absolute, Vetyver, Musk, Wood. The unusual opening is just spicy enough to make it clear that this is a deep red rose, nothing pale. The cinnamon note makes it right for this season, but it isn’t strong. The rose notes, which appear right away, are fruity and deep, with wonderful undertones of spices and light wood. This is rapidly becoming one of my favorite rose fragrances — and what’s not to love about a bottle with a white ruff around its neck?

Bottle of Penhaligon's Elisabethan Rose eau de parfum with roses

Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose 2018;

Jo Malone’s Tudor Rose & Amber: one of the limited edition “Rock the Ages” set of 2015, Tudor Rose & Amber is meant to embody one of the most notable periods of English history. From Fragrantica: “Tudor Rose & Amber evokes the bloody and turbulent Tudor era. The fragrance contains Damask and Tudor rose as well as ginger in the heart, spicy beginning of pink pepper and clove and the base of golden amber, patchouli and white musk.” The ginger and clove make this a warm, dark rose for winter. Many commenters talk about a boozy or winelike impression; if so, it’s a mulled wine. Even Luca Turin likes this; in “Perfumes: The Guide 2018”, he gave it four stars and wrote:

The distinguished Grasse house of Mane must have been gutted to see Christine Nagel move to Hermes, because she was a priceless treasure. It’s not as if the rose-amber accord hadn’t occurred to anyone before, but Nagel inserts her trademark slug of biblical spices and woods smack in the center, as she did in Theorema (Fendi, 1998) and rescues it from heaviness and banality. Very fine work.

Rock the Ages collection of five fragrances from Jo Malone London

Jo Malone Rock the Ages Collection 2015;

Do you have any favorite cold-weather rose fragrances? Any fragrances that particularly say “holidays” to you? Please share!

Featured image from


17 thoughts on “Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

  1. Rose flash is so good! I haven’t smelled the others. Last year I won a rollerball of DSH perfumes Chataignes des Bois on cafluerebon. Chestnuts! I like wearing that one for the holidays, along with various vanilla and spicy things (I have a lot of vanilla perfumes!)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I was recently gifted a travel spray of Atelier’s Rose Anonyme and it smells glorious in the cold weather. Also, Attar de Roses was always a cold weather favorite rose of mine until my 81 year old dad confiscated the bottle 🙂

    Scents that remind me of the holidays are some long gone discontinued Pacifica’s like Avalon Juniper, Egyptian Bergamot Rose, Mexican Cocoa and Tibetan Mountain Temple. I also enjoy Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, Vanille Insensee and Jo Malone Ginger Biscuit around the holidays.

    And finally, very simple but so divine two oils from Eden Botanicals….Labdanum 10 % which I have infused with two vanilla beans to make it a dark dense chewy amber which I use as an all over body moisturizer and Fir Balsam Absolute 10 %….I made a simple roll on perfume blend of half Fir Balsam and half of my own vanilla bean blend..when I wear it I smell like a delicious Christmas tree.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Thought of another great winter rose because it’s jammy and delicious -1000 Flowers Rose Cassis Paradis…some say it’s even better than Lush’s Rose Jam.

    and two that I will definitely be wearing this holiday season…St. Clair Scents Casablanca and Solstice Scents Estate Vetiver (which is more about a thick unctuous vanilla with dark patchouli and cocoa rather than vetiver to my nose…it’s a decadent grown up vanilla).

    Liked by 1 person

  4. I was in The Burlington Arcade in London last year. The window display for Elizabethan Rose was fabulous. I took several pictures.
    The Serge Lutens windows opposite were spectacular …..I took lots of pics of their windows as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Rose Flash is on my list to sample! I think I’ll bump it up to the top spot once I get through a few more of my current sample crop.

    I’m not a gardener, so I didn’t know anything about hellebore! Thank you for teaching me at least a tiny bit of knowledge. That china looks gorgeous to use around Christmas — appropriately festive!

    Liked by 1 person

    • I love it (the china) because I can keep using it before, during, and after Christmas. It’s pretty much the “good” china I use from the start of Advent through the end of February — not coincidentally, about the same season as the different hellebores. Two of the bloggers I follow via my other blog, Old Herbaceous, have posted gorgeous photos of hellebores: The Teddington Gardener and Susan Rushton.

      Liked by 1 person

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