Welcome to the weekly Perfume Chat Room, perfumistas! I envision this chat room as a weekly drop-in spot online, where readers may ask questions, suggest fragrances, tell others their SOTD, comment on new releases or old favorites, and respond to each other. The perennial theme is fragrance, but we can interpret that broadly. This is meant to be a kind space, so please try not to give or take offense, and let’s all agree to disagree when opinions differ. In fragrance as in life, your mileage may vary! YMMV.
Today is Friday, September 17, and we have had several days of birthdays in this household! Mine was at the start of the month and my husband’s was last week, so we’ve had serial and shared celebrations with our kids. And yes, a few new fragrances snuck into the house. The highlight of the shared celebrations was our family trip to see the musical Hamilton, a long-delayed Christmas gift from December 2019. We had seen it once before, all but my son, and it was just as enthralling the second time. My son was blown away by it. This was the first live performance any of us had attended since March 2020, which added to its impact. We also went out for a fancy family dinner on a different night, given that Hamilton was an entire evening unto itself. We tried a new Italian restaurant nearby, and it was terrific! Again, our perceptions may have been enhanced by how long it has been since we really went out to dinner, but we loved this place and will go back.
The birthday fragrances I received (bought for myself on behalf of my family, lol!) were: Jean Louis Scherrer, Mont de Narcisse, Choeur des Anges, and Crepuscule des Ames. A dear friend surprised me with a lovely gift of body lotion and soap from Lili Bermuda, which she recently visited, in my favorite Lily. It’s very difficult to find gifts for my husband because 1) he actually doesn’t want much; and 2) if he does want something for himself, which is rare, he’ll often just get it. But this year, I was able to surprise him with a bottle of a new botanical gin, which we’ll enjoy (slowly) together. We started down this road a few years ago when we discovered Hendricks. Given how rarely we drink cocktails or hard liquor, I expect this bottle will be with us for a long time!
Do you have your eye on any upcoming birthday fragrances? Or have you recently received any?
I’ve been wanting a bottle of Penhaligon’s fragrance Juniper Sling for a long time, since I got a tiny mini bottle of it in a Penhaligon’s gift coffret and sampled it in place of 4160 Tuesdays’ Scenthusiasm, which hadn’t been available to me in 2018 when I read a review of it on the blog “I Scent You A Day.” Happily, since 2018, I’ve been able to snag a full bottle of Scenthusiasm and, now, one of Juniper Sling, in Penhaligons’s summer sale. So I’m fully stocked with gin-inspired fragrances, thank you, to go with a gin cocktail (click the link for a recipe for one made with Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade).
Revisiting my former thoughts on Juniper Sling, I still find that the juniper berries dominate the opening, and that note persists for a while. It lends the fragrance an aromatic aura and adds to the sense that this scent is truly unisex. It’s also an ideal scent for hot, humid, summer weather — herbal and cool. Created by Olivier Cresp, its notes are listed as follows: Top notes are angelica, cinnamon, orange brandy, and juniper berries; middle notes are cardamom, orris root, leather and pepper; base notes are vetiver, cherry, sugar and amber. I like that I can clearly smell the cardamom, and now that I have a full bottle and can really spritz, I can also smell the angelica. Not much cinnamon, thank goodness — I can only take cinnamon in very small quantities in fragrance, much as I like to cook with it. Orris root softens the edges of the herbs and spices. Vetiver is detectable in the base, but I can’t say that I smell cherry or sugar. An amber accord may be there, and there is definitely something warm that balances the vetiver. Juniper Sling is a transparent sort of fragrance, like a limpid pool on a hot summer day — clear and sparkling. It doesn’t last more than a few hours on my skin, but I’ll be more than happy to reapply as needed.
Scenthusiasm, on the other hand, is more floral, though it is also very summery, cool, aromatic, and refreshing. It was created for a Hendrick’s Gin event — not to smell like the gin itself, but to complement the floral and herbal notes in Hendrick’s.
If you like the sound of Gin Cucumber Lemonade, try the recipe and let us know how it is in the comments (or try my recipe linked above, or try both)!
In Sarah McCartney’s own words:
Scenthusiasm is made with natural orris (iris) butter, rose absolute, lemon and orange essential oils, cucumber extract, juniper absolute (of course) and coriander essential oil. To make it last, boost the scents of the naturals and too smooth them out, we blended it with our favourite simple musk, fresh air and white wood note synthetics. It’s inspired by gin, and has gin notes but mostly it’s a floral at heart: rose and iris, with the herbs dancing around it.
I think Scenthusiasm is also quite unisex, though it may lean a bit more traditionally feminine. Sam at “I Scent You A Day” wrote that the orange and lemon notes risk making it go “a bit Pimms”, but I’m not qualified to judge that! My lack of familiarity with Pimms several years ago resulted in my allowing two of my three children (all under the age of 12, as I recall) choose it as a canned drink to go with their lunches at Kew Gardens, on a day-trip from London. As all the food and drinks were together, I’m sure the checkout cashier thought I was planning to drink the lot myself!
Luckily the older of the two would-be Pimms drinkers took one sip, realized it was alcoholic, and alerted me before her (much younger) brother drank any. Not that it would have killed either of them, of course, but one doesn’t like to render a five year-old tipsy. So having sensibly got for myself a simple lemonade, I switched with the children and drank one of the Pimms, pouring out the other surreptitiously on the ground as both had been opened. It was fine as a summer drink, but on a later trip to London I was introduced to Aperol spritzes, and that is now a favorite (nor does it raise embarrassing memories).
I really love Scenthusiasm. One might say, I am scenthusiastic about it, lol. It’s a delightful summer floral with the unexpected references to gin botanicals, more aromatic than sweet. Definitely not fruity, nor green. The cucumber note is noticeable, and it’s an unusual note to find in perfume. One of the few I’ve been able to find with a prominent cucumber note is a 2020 launch from By Kilian, called Roses On Ice. Lo and behold, it is supposed to smell like Hendrick’s Gin, the original inspiration for Scenthusiasm. I may have to try it some day, but for now, I’m very happy with my purchase from a favorite independent small perfumer.
I could see a couple wearing Juniper Sling and Scenthusiasm to complement each other’s fragrance. But which would each one choose? Which would you choose? Or would you, like me, say “Both, please!”?
I’m not much for cocktails. My tipple is usually a glass of wine; two years ago, I was introduced to the Aperol Spritz, and that’s my “fancy summer drink”, though I also like sangria (basically wine with fruit). However, on a couple of trips to Northern Ireland and Ireland in recent years, my husband and I were introduced to small-batch artisan gin. We had previously enjoyed Hendrick’s Gin and I even made up a cocktail that combined it with Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade (here’s the recipe), because my husband does like a good gin-and-tonic in the summer, and I wanted some variety.
Imagine my delight, then, when I found out that 4160 Tuesdays had created a fragrance called Scenthusiasm, based on the botanicals found in Hendrick’s Gin, for a special event by that brand! I didn’t really expect to get my hands on a bottle, but the opportunity arose after I wrote that post in 2018, and I seized it. After all, my little mini of Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling wasn’t going to last forever!
I also have a purse spray of Commodity’s Gin, and I’ve been wanting to compare the two. So today, I sprayed Gin on one hand, and Scenthusiasm on the other. They actually go quite well together as adjacent scents (not layered one on the other). Of the two, no surprise, I prefer Scenthusiasm. It doesn’t smell like gin; it smells like the floral and herbal notes in Hendrick’s, with natural orris (iris) butter, rose absolute, lemon and orange essential oils, cucumber extract, juniper absolute (of course) and coriander essential oil with musk, fresh air and white wood note synthetics. As perfumer Sarah McCartney says: “It’s inspired by gin, and has gin notes but mostly it’s a floral at heart: rose and iris, with the herbs dancing around it.” Just my cup of tea, to mix my metaphors! To my nose, the dominant floral note is the orris root; here, the rose is uncharacteristically cast as a supporting performer. The cucumber and juniper berries led the middle phase an astringent greenness, while the orris root carries through from start to finish.
Commodity’s Gin, on the other hand smells more masculine, aromatic, and woody to me. Commodity has closed down, but its fragrances are still to be found online and sometimes at discounters like T.J. Maxx and Marshall’s. Gin‘s top notes are Juniper Berries, Grapefruit and Lime; middle notes are Ginger Leaf, Labdanum and Freesia; base notes are Oak, Musk, Smoke and Patchouli, according to Fragrantica. As soon as I spray it, there’s a strong pop of lime and juniper, both aromatic scents I quite like. They do smell like a traditional, aromatic men’s cologne to my nose, an association I can’t shake even though Gin is truly unisex. The opening is really intriguing, with its burst of lime and juniper, together with the citrus essential oils. The heart phase smells mostly gingery to me, with an early entrance from both oak and smoke., followed pretty soon by patchouli. I don’t smell freesia at all. Both the opening and heart stages dry down pretty quickly, leaving a combination of oak, musk, smoke and patchouli that smells like the wood-paneled interior of an old-fashioned room like a library or study, where gin cocktails might be served before dinner and where family members and guests might be allowed to smoke occasionally.
How do you feel about gin? Boozy scents? Aromatic florals?
P.S. 4160 Tuesdays is having a “Tidying Up Sale” to make room, and Scenthusiasm is marked down in its smaller sizes (50 ml and below), by 50%! If I didn’t already own a lot of it, I’d be jumping on that.
As some may recall, I went to Ireland in August with part of my family, on our first extended trip there (we had previously visited Northern Ireland and Dublin, briefly). We just loved it and can’t wait to go back! One of the things we discovered while there was Irish artisanal GIN. We aren’t much for cocktails in our house; we don’t go out very often, and our usual tipples are wine and an occasional beer. Part of this trip included a few days of a work retreat for my husband, and his colleague who organizes these had a different “tasting” dinner of one kind or another every night. One night, the tasting included small-batch gin, made into different summery cocktails. These included Shortcross gin, and Jawbox gin, both made in Northern Ireland. They were combined with different Fever-Tree tonics, and different garnishes, which brought out their different herbal notes. After we left Northern Ireland and during our stay at Powerscourt in County Wicklow, we sampled cocktails made with Glendalough Wild Botanical Gin, and the Scottish gin Hendrick’s, which we had previously discovered. (And which we used to invent our own gin cocktail two summers ago, combined with Fentiman’s Rose Lemonade). Ireland is producing dozens of terrific small-batch gins, which you can read about here and in other publications.
Why am I carrying on about gin in a perfume blog, you may ask? It’s all Sam’s fault. The author of the I Scent You A Day blog wrote a wonderful post this past week about the limited edition 4160 Tuesdays fragrance Scenthusiasm, which was created for a Hendrick’s event, and can now be bought from the 4160 Tuesdays website.
It sounds marvelous, with many of the floral and herbal notes I adore. Here is Sarah McCartney’s description:
It’s ever so slightly gorgeous. It isn’t the same as our first ever gin fragrance but this one is made with natural orris (iris) butter, rose absolute, lemon and orange essential oils, cucumber extract, juniper absolute (of course) and coriander essential oil.
To make it last, boost the scents of the naturals and too smooth them out, we blended it with our special musk, fresh air and white woods accord.
It’s inspired by gin, and has gin notes but mostly it’s a floral at heart: rose and iris, with the herbs dancing around it.
Want!! But the price is a bit steep, even before UK shipping costs, and I haven’t found it being sold in the US by the brand’s regular stockists, so I’ve had to cast about for other options. Enter Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling, which I have in a mini size from a gift set.
Named after an old mixed drink called a “gin sling”, this fragrance’s strongest note is juniper berries, which give the beverage gin its distinctive odor and taste. Created in 2011, it is a woody aromatic fragrance, unisex, created by Olivier Cresp. Top notes are angelica, cinnamon, orange brandy, and juniper berries; middle notes are cardamom, orris root, leather and pepper; base notes are vetiver, cherry, sugar and amber. Penhaligon’s has even kindly shared its own recipe for an actual “Juniper Sling” cocktail, made with Hendrick’s gin! When the scent was launched, they also released an entertaining fictional short film about its supposed origins, linked to on Now Smell This.
The opening smells a lot like one of the gin cocktails we recently sampled, with a burst of juniper berries, the most characteristic odor of real gin. The opening is herbal and slightly spicy too — definitely aromatic, but not green. In the middle, I can clearly smell the cardamom, which I appreciate; cardamom is one of my favorite smells, but often I find that even fragrances that list it as a note don’t really smell like cardamom. It doesn’t last very long in the progression of Juniper Sling, but it is definitely there. The orris root and leather are less discernible but there is a smoothness and woodiness in the middle stage that I think they add. I can’t say that I detect the separate notes listed among the base notes, but I also haven’t applied a decent-sized spray to my skin, as the mini splash bottle is so small.
All in all, while I still yearn to try Scenthusiasm, I was happy to scratch that itch with a gin-evoking fragrance I already own. Have you tried Juniper Sling, or Scenthusiasm, or any other gin-related fragrances? What did you think? Do you have any favorites?