Scent Sample Sunday: Christmas Roses

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 www.theredolentmermaid.com.

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; http://www.penhaligons.com.

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; http://www.jomalone.com

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

Featured image from www.neillstrain.com.

 

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas …

It’s Beginning to Smell a Lot Like Christmas …

Is there any season to compare with Christmas in the range and variety of lovely fragrances it evokes? From the balsam-scented boughs of wreaths, garlands and decorated trees to the delicious smells emanating from kitchens; from the incense of Midnight Mass to the smoke of fireplaces hung with stockings; from the spiced scents of oranges pierced with cloves and meat roasting with rosemary and garlic, to the narcotic perfume of paperwhite narcissi forced in pots — the fragrances are everywhere.

I make some holiday drinks mostly because of their wonderful smell, although they also taste terrific. One favorite is the Scandinavian mulled wine Glögg, a concoction of red wine, port, aquavit and brandy mixed with fresh ginger, orange zest, cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, raisins and almonds. I make it in a slow cooker and let it simmer all day. Heaven! One must approach it with care, though — one mug makes you feel lovely and warm inside, with holiday goodwill toward all coursing through your veins, and a second mug will likely leave you on the floor, relying on others’ goodwill to take you home and put you to bed. There are many variations on recipes for Glögg, easily found online; I encourage you to try it. So easy and festive.

One of my favorite blogs, Bois de Jasmin, has had posts in which readers recommend various perfumes to wear on Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and throughout the holiday season. So much fun to read what others recommend and enjoy! I decided to layer the gorgeous attar of Taif Rose that my husband brought me from Dubai with Aramis Calligraphy Rose, for the notes of rose, frankincense and myrrh. Frankincense and myrrh are obvious candidates for Christmas, but rose, you ask? “Lo, How A Rose E’er Blooming” is my response.

On a more serious note, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin is again running an online fundraiser for Doctors Without Borders, an admirable and effective organization that provides medical care to civilians and refugees in some of the most dangerous, war-torn parts of the world. As the Christian world gathers to worship the homeless newborn of a refugee family, born at a time of armed strife and conflict, we should remember the children and families who today find themselves in similar danger. My teenaged son’s Christmas gift to me was an IOU for a gift of fragrance that I could choose; I will ask him to donate to Victoria’s fundraiser and Doctors Without Borders on my behalf — the fragrance connection being that each such gift enters one into a drawing for some marvelous fragrance-related prizes. Check it out! You can enter until January 15, 2017.

Doctors Without Borders (Medecins Sans Frontieres), treating refugee mother and baby in Africa

Doctors Without Borders treating mother and child; photo Stephanie Christaki/MSF

The weather here has been so unseasonably warm that we are running around outside doing errands and chores without coats! I plan to do some gardening this week while I am away from my office, which will surely bring more scents to my attention.

What does Christmas smell like to you? Or if you celebrate another holiday at this time of year, what are its most evocative scents?

all-saints-altar-christmas

Christmas altar with Nativity creche and roses