Recently, I’ve engaged in a number of conversations on the links between perfume and spirits, whether it be relating to ingredients, the multiple aroma essences of juniper, or the apparent superior ability of women to nose spirits (or fragrances).
Personally, I’ve never been particularly interested in perfume, although more due to the difficulty of finding ones that I really like than anything else. I’ll be honest: I’ve only ever bought two fragrances in my life, and the thought of trying to find that elusive “ideal” scent, much like the thought of trying to find a single, lone whisky to drink for the rest of your life, fills me with dread. So you can imagine my delight when we were asked to try Penhaligon’s latest fragrance, Juniper Sling, which threatened to change the way I look at fragrance by first drawing me in with the undeniable power of gin.
A “playful, chilled and mysterious homage to the Bright Young Things of London’s roaring twenties”, Juniper Sling is inspired by London Dry Gin and has juniper berries – suitably – as a main ingredient. It initially seemed to be a bit of an oddity, but its elegant packaging and 1920s-inspired marketing neatly offset that and seemed to politely request that I take it more seriously.
Like some of the ladies who have already reviewed this, I have to admit that I initially hesitated, thinking that I would spend the rest of the day smelling of gin. This fear was supported by the fact that, in the phial, that’s exactly what it smells like: there’s lots of dry, earthy juniper and other notes like orris and angelica root that, as a member of the Juniper Society, I instantly recognised from our tastings. The one thing that I do know about perfume, however, is that it smells different on the skin to in the bottle and so I decided to try it out over a week, to see how it stood up to my day-to-day life (and to see if anyone mentioned that I was increasingly smelling of fine juniper spirit).
It took approximately five minutes for me to realise that, despite the name, there’s a lot more going on here than just juniper. On my skin, at least, the scent quickly warmed, gaining slightly sweeter, spicy notes, like cinnamon and cardamom, whilst keeping the depth and softness of the angelica. Altogether, I found it rather comforting.
When I later had a look a the Penhaligon’s website, I wasn’t surprised to see that they mention high notes of orange brandy and base notes of brown sugar and black cherry, which I’ve been picking up on ever since. The addition of these kind of notes is very clever, because they complement the juniper whilst also adding a warmth and sweetness that you don’t usually find in gin. The result is a fragrance that pays tribute to London Dry without making you smell like one.
I’ve worn Juniper Sling for a full week now and have grown rather fond of it in that time. I love the cinnamon, brandy and brown sugar notes, all of which are balanced out by the dry juniper and earthy orris and angelica. It’s complex, warm and sensual. A little also went a long way on me and although the scent softened throughout the day, I kept smelling wonderful wafts of spice every now and again.
All-in-all, I can see myself wearing it regularly and would recommend it to anyone who likes warmer, spicier fragrances. If you don’t, I’d still recommend popping into one of the Penhaligon’s shops, if you can find one; we visited their one in Edinburgh and were impressed both by the range of fragrance and the skill and knowledge of the gentlemen working there. I’m thoroughly looking forward to visiting again soon to have a closer look at their full range.
– Mrs. B