Thursday, September 29, 2011

Penhaligon's Juniper Sling: fragrance review & draw

Just utter Juniper Sling and find yourself playfully laughing at its jovial, throwback style recalling 1920s London's Bright Young Things consuming gin and recklessly dancing the night away. Indeed "the fragrance that put the ROAR in the 20s" is the new Penhaligon's tag line in their ingenious "mock-umentary" which succeeds their Monty Python-esque previous cartoon film for Sartorial (At this pace, I think we also have an advertising phenomenon on our hands!). Sucker for spicy woodies that I am, I find myself enjoying the trail left by it.

Perfumer Olivier Cresp follows in the steps of Jean-Claude Ellena, who in aromatic Angeliques sous la Pluie (by F.Malle) first gave us a gin & tonic potion that is bracing, cool, delightfully dry and decidedly unsweet; like a soldier's memory of a frosty icecle perched on a thatched roof when away fighting malaria in the tropics. Indeed, tonic water was widely embraced by British soldiers away in the belief that quinine treats malaria. And gin had to be mixed in order to take off the especially bitter tang of quinine, so gin & tonic became a long-held tradition. Penhaligon's drew from that precedent and the advent of "bathtub gin" made during the 1920s and they created Juniper Sling, following the recipe of London Dry Gin. The term ’London Dry’ refers to the way in which the spirit is made, as botanicals must be added during the distillation process instead of after.
There is also another Ellena segment fused in the new fragrance, that peppery-woody facet of Poivre Samarkande, exploiting the properties of Iso E Super so pointedly. Juniper Sling unites the two elements (herbal clarity and low-hum woodiness) into a coherent structure and adds a third pillar; a slight vetiver sweetness plus synth woods. Sweet accents in such a composition might throw the whole off (after all, Ellena's compositions withstand so well and possess such clarity exactly because they're unsweet), but the accomplished Cresp holds his own and balances the act in a likeable, not-too-daring style.

Juniper Sling is characteristically laced with angelica and juniper, the herbal qualities allying with spicy notes of a somewhat warmer character (a pepper & pomander accord). The effect is crisp, groomed-clean. Lots of terpenic linalool in the scent exhibits a light floralcy that is spiced up.
This is contrasted with sensuality coming from the skin-like effect of a suede accord and from the cardamom; indeed cardamom has amongst spices a most sensuous, skin-like, warm aroma. Essentially traversing a low, soft develpment arc, Juniper Sling retains a low-hum vibrancy on skin, very woody and quite musky (clean musk), that verges on sweeter, more gourmand nuances as time passes; there is a pleasant licorice note surfacing, coming from vetiver. This is not the cold stones & musty roots note in hardcore niche vetivers (see Turtle Vetiver or Vetiver Extraordinaire), but rather the warmish, intimate drydown of Guerlain's Vetiver.

My fragrance testing came from a splash on vial, so the hum was low indeed, therefore I would suggest that in order to capture its full effect and much of the spicy top notes as well, you should opt to test with a spray.
Although technically perfectly unisex, the fragrance might appear more spicy-woody masculine than usual for women who embrace warmer notes (or ultra femme fragrances like Penhaligon's Amaranthine). I for one find it a quietly enjoyable tipple that won't get me drunk, but I would have liked it to be more daring and polished.

Not unintentionally, the launch party given featured a menu consisting of food inspired by the notes of the perfume itself: Kicking off with juniper smoked sea trout (spritzed at the table with an edible Juniper essence!), then onto peppered lamb rump with roasted courgettes (roasted on a BBQ on the roof of the car park!) and finished with black cherry and brown sugar ice cream. (A menu created by Chefs Jon Rotheram, Robin Holmgren, Dave and Shaun).

Two deluxe samples for our readers, answering these questions: 1) What is it that makes you cross/not cross the sex divide in fragrances? 2)Do you have a favourite opposite sex marketed fragrance to wear for yourself? Draw remains open till Tuesday 4th midnight.

Notes for Penhaligon's Juniper Sling:
Top: angelica, cinnamon, orange and juniper berries;
Heart: cardamom, orris root, leather and pepper;
Base: vetiver, cherry and sugar.

Juniper Sling is an Eau de Toilette and is now available to buy online and in all Penhaligon's stores.

photo of Bill Murray and Theresa Russell in the 1984 remake of The Razor's Edge film via photobucket 
In the interests of disclosure, I sampled the new scent via a promo


  1. Zazie08:51

    I borrow form the men's shelves with moderation. Fougère is the deal breaker word.
    But there are thwo gentlemen perfume I absolutely love: one is egoiste (vintage= sandalwood heaven). Besides being creamy and delicious and complex, I think Egoiste bears a great resemblance to feminité du bois, a true forerunner, and I love the chanel take on dry fruits and woods so much more.
    I also have a soft spot for Mouchoir de monsieur. I love jicky extrait (the edt I hate) and MdM is a great alternative to the expensive parfum.

  2. Stephan10:33

    I'd like to believe that great fragrances can be enjoyed by either gender. There isn't really a divide between the two, maybe it's just a thing of one's own perception of likes and not-likes. For me Shalimar isn't in the least feminine, and I equally love the gorgeous, tropical, night-blooming Manoumalia. And I also believe other gentlemen could wear these with great elegance.

  3. Funnily enough, it's lavender - the whole fougere thing. But I just don't LIKE lavender, even in a non-fougere.

    I wear Bulgari Black with delight, and have been known to indulge in a spritz of Stetson (yes, that Stetson) every now & again.

  4. rosiegreen14:36

    I love fragrance and I tend to prefer the more unisex/masculine types. I am not a big floral girl. The masculine scents I wear a lot are Jicky, Bulgari Black and John Varvatos Artisan, I love the orange blossom in this one. I have been searching for the perfect G&T scent since a Sapphire and Tonic is my favorite drink.

  5. Anonymous14:51

    If I like something and find out it's 'masculine' that wouldn't stop me from wearing/purchasing. But I think the whole feminine/masculine thing might act as a filter, drawing me toward fragrances that are marketed as feminine as opposed to masculine. Therefore, I think I'm missing out on great scents just because they're 'for men'. That bothers me so I'm going to try to expand my fragrant horizons. I really think there is no real reason (from my point of view at least) for the man/woman distinction in fragrance. Distinctions, yes, but not necessarily that one.
    At this point, I don't have a favourite masculine fragrance - most of my favourites are unisex. I like Iris Pallida by L'Artisan, Comme des Garcons Kyoto, Annick Goutal Eau d'Hadrien, Le Labo Gaiac, and of course, Angeliques sous la Pluie. And a bunch of others I can't recall at the moment!
    Thanks for the offering the draw - I've been wanting to try a Penhaligon's scent lately.

  6. I gave up on this masculine/feminine shit upon discovering Cacharel's Nemo. I guess it's a marketing gimmick and the difference can be made only betweem garden variety stuff - fougerish masculines, floral feminines, I'd say. But beyond the realm of boring, there's no divide. I have more frags marketed to women because there're more of them in general, but I have a plenty of men's stuff too, and some are indeed great. Basala is my long-time favourite, to start with.

  7. 1) I'm not sure I see a sex divide in fragrance at all... Of course I'm aware that most fragrances are marketed at either women or men, although some brands/fragrances have a more unisex concept (Serge Lutens, l'Artisan, Goutal...) but in the end I will always buy a fragrance based on whether I want to wear it or not. And I happen to wear a lot of so-called "masculines"...

    2) Some favourites with a "male" tag are Bulgari Black, Lalique Encre Noire pour Lui, YSL M7 and M7 Fresh, Cartier Declaration, Dior Homme, Caron Pour Un Homme, Parfums de Nicolai Patchouli Homme and New York, I could go on! ^_^

  8. The fact that I love woody and spicy scents, or even green and some fougères, makes me be more interested in fragrances launched for men than for women. At least talking about mainstream perfumes, which usually make that division.

    My favourite men marketed fragrance to wear for myself are Dior Eau Sauvage and Gucci pour Homme.

    Thanks on the draw!

  9. This comment has been removed by the author.

  10. Tobacco and lavender appeal as masculine in most compositions. That's my border. Regarding men, I think they cross their gender borderline when they wear vanilla-sugar-fruity compositions.

    There is a perfume that I enjoy wearing, marketed to the males, that even contains my "par excellence" masculine ingredient tobacco, and that is Versace Dreamer!

  11. I happen to like scents that are spicy and woody so some men's fragrances appeal to me. I'm all woman but there are many woman's fragrances that are way too, "Girly." On the other hand I have a good male friend who smells divine in Shalimar and Mitsouko, (Okay who doesn't smell divine in vtg. Mitsouko?) and other "Women's" fragrances. Just wear what you like and don't pay any mind to who the bottle is marketed towards.
    Please enter me in the draw. Thank you.

  12. When I was working in perfume retail, I often crossed the 'sex divide' because there were many men's fragrances readily available to me! Now, I do it less so, because they're not readily accessible.

    The men's scents I would be most likely to purchase for myself are Gaultier's Le Male or anything from the John Varvatos line - at least the pillar fragrances, the signature EDT, Artisan, and Vintage.

  13. Maureen16:16

    I have never knowingly worn a man's fragrance, but I was sent a sample of Penhalion's English Fern, and tried it. I immediately thought...men's after shave, but I wore it for the day, and kinda liked it. I would love tot ry this fragrance, as Sapphire and Tonic was my new discovery this summer...YUM!

  14. I have tried to submit my comment 4 times and hope this will do the trick!

    I have been exploring men's fragrances for some time a and have several that I love: Heritage, Habit Rouge, Caron N. 3 and Pour un Homme. And of course Jicky and Bvlgari Black which are marketed as unisex.

  15. I prefer male fragrances, so I wear them. No one has ever told me I smelled like a man, must be the breasts.
    My favorite opposite sex marketed fragrance is Kouros.
    Smells great on me.

  16. Anonymous17:22

    Dear E,

    A juniper fragrance!!! Oh yes please enter me in the draw. One of the most sublime smells in the world is that of a gin and tonic, heavy on the gin.

    I don't really pay attention to whether a fragrance is meant for men or women; if I like it I wear it. I like sharing my better half's fragrance for all kinds of reasons and luckily he wears Guerlain Heritage; I find all the older "masculine" Guerlains are perfect for unisex wear.

    As for the fragrance I most love to borrow from the boys, that would be Cartier Declaration. Perfection on a woman.


  17. Anonymous18:10

    Since I am over the top now (I mean my fertile age ;-)), I somehow prefer more masculine scents or let's say no gourmand or sweet. I used to love Dior Homme. Very unusual and fitting to my taste. Thanks for entering me. Alica - alica@cleis.net

  18. As a young woman, I loved Men's fragrance (capitol "M"), and doused myself through several bottles of Ralph Lauren Polo Sport, though these days, I don't go for the sporty, aquatic, or fougere fragrances.

    My favorites these days are Chanel Egoiste, Dior Eau Noire, Dior Homme, Bulgari Black, Prada Homme Amber Intense, Hermes Terre d'Hermes... and more! But, as you can see, all my masculine favorites are in touch with their feminine side :)

  19. SniffingAround18:44

    I cross the gender line with rarely a second thought--though I don't think I can pull off Yatagan, as much as I love it on the guys! Two men's fragrances that I love and wear regularly: Annick Goutal's Sables and Serge Lutens' Borneo 1834. Oh, make that three: Caron's Troisiemme Homme.

  20. And I apologize for my insane rant. Apparently I wasn't thinking coherently. So, shortly and hopefully concisely:
    (1) I don't care about who is the aim of marketeers, I let my nose decide
    (2) Many. L'Ame d'un heros comes to my mind, or Basala, or Nemo, Encre Noire...

    And yes please, enter me in the draw.

  21. I wear Bulgari Black often, but I think that's considered unisex. I've been eyeing a bottle of Caron's Third Man for some time, but can never decide. And I have to admit a fondness for that drugstore mainstay - Old Spice! Comfort in a bottle. I'll wear anything that smells good, marketing category be damned. Please enter me in the draw, if possible!

  22. gautami21:50

    I can use any sandalwood, vetiver fragrance: Tam Dao, Guerlain Vetiver, TF Grey Vetiver, Encre Noire. I also use Dior Suavage.

  23. annemariec21:51

    Crude marine and ozonic notes are my deal breakers with masculine scents. The masculine scent I most wear and love is Geoffrey Beene's Grey Flannel. Violet leaf, oakmoss (still?). Lovely. I would love to try Juniper Sling.

  24. No boys/girls segregation for me (I'm wearing Portrait of a lady as I write). Just what I like and what I don't. I dislike both sweet fruity florals and fresh sporty chemicals, which excludes the vast majority of current mainstreams for either sex.

    Among favorites marketed to girls, Bandit. But I'd like to single out Anais Anais as well.


    PS Re: the sling. I like dry bitter, but your description has me very worried. Cresp has a Dr Jekyll (Angel) and Mr Hyde (Light Blue) personality; I wonder which of the two created JS.

  25. I love wood notes, so when i cross the gender line it's for very woody fragrances like CdG Hinoki and Caron Yatagan and LV Sandalo.

  26. isayah00:36

    I enjoy men's fragrances a lot, and let my nose tell me if it suits me or not. Nowadays, my favourite «men's» scent is Gucci pour Homme. I also enjoy Dior Homme and Frapin Caravelle épicée.

  27. I have no problem crossing that divide at any time, though I would probably steer clear of aquatics, which comprise so much of mainstream men's perfumery. But I steer clear of aquatics, period.

    I wear Habit Rouge, Imperiale, Bulgari Black...on the flip side, I have sprayed Fracas on a very MANLY MAN, to great effect. Nothing sexier than a big ol' poppa in a big white flower.


  28. I own several scents that are probably for men (Odin Nomad, Costes, Terre and I love several of the Heeleys, though I don't own them). As long as it's not a fougere, I'll cross the line (I don't love lavender-centric scents). Many years ago (high school) I wore RL Polo in the green bottle.

  29. Oh, this one sounds great, please put my name in the hat!

    1. Re: the sex divide - I will NOT wear "sporty" or aquatic/ozonic masculines. (Men should probably not wear them either!) I WILL wear oud, opoponax, and other deep, somber notes usually found in fragrances targeted at men.

    2. My favorite "masculine" scent to wear is Andy Tauer's L' Air du Desert Marocain - in fact it's in my top 10 of any perfumes. I also adore Montale Greyland, one of the best masculines ever, and the great classics Habit Rouge and Grey Flannel are very easy for women to wear.

  30. Kurt10:45

    I crossed the gender line by layering my dad's old-spice with Tatjana from Tatjana von Furstenberg or L'air du temps from my mum. I also loved her no. 19, which I still use but didn't dare wearing it without layering it with a man's cologne like Hugo Boss or something. Nowadays I don't care about pour femme our pour homme anymore, for me it's pour everybody. My favourites are no. 19, 24 feaubourg, Dali and Cabaret or to be honest anything that's on my wifes shelf.
    It also became a kind of sport, how feminine can a perfume before it becomes unwearbale for a men?

  31. 1) I guess nothing would at the getgo stop me from “crossing the sex divide,” but until now all the scents I tried were considered either feminine or unisex. I admit that when I smelled all the masculine Fragonards at a local store, none of them I would see myself wearing, but I miss the knowledge to pinpoint why, exactly... 2) Since I only tried feminine and unisex scents as of yet, I don't have a favorite masculine fragrance... But you remind me that I have to start looking! :)

  32. I never pay attention to the male/female divide; it has no meaning for me. An example of 'crossing the divide' is Jo Malone's French Lime Blossom, which is billed as female. I like to layer that with JM's Wild Fig and Cassis (unisex).

  33. I like woody scents for example so I wear some "masculine" scents. Wouldn't wear a sports fragrance though or aquatic like many others have commented before me. I own and enjoy Guerlain Vetivier, Terre d'Hermes and Ormonde Man. I'd love to be entered in the draw! (I love that commercial!).
    Eva S Sweden

  34. Eva H.18:36

    I haven´t found a male frag I like well enough to wear myself but if I found a scent I loved I´d wear it.
    I have a few unisex scents like Voyage d´Hermes or Bvlgari Black.
    Notes I like tend to be more easily found in unisex or masculine scents, true citrus scents, woodsy notes, tobacco...I am not big on overly fruity-sweet frags or true, full-blown florals.

  35. To me, marketing lines for gender are artificial, so I cross gender lines in fragrances. If something smells great and makes me want to try it on my skin, I would, no matter who it's marketed for.

    Recently, I crossed an uncomfortable line trying on not only a fragrance marketed for men (no problem with that) but also associated with Marquis de Sad. The result? I tried it on my skin and it was great! I'd certainly wear it again.

    My favorite men's scent is Blenheim Bouquet. In fact, when I tried it on, I was surprised that it is not a women's fragrance.

  36. I am a man who will wear anything and I don't care who it's marketed to as long as it smells good, with one exception, one mental block that I cannot seem to get past; I just can't get myself to wear Jolie Madame or Fille or Miss Balmain or anything that specifically has the word "woman" or some variant, in whatever language, in the name, and I know this is very stupid but there it is. (I loved CSP's Coeur de Raisin but wouldn't wear it under its new name, Princesse Muscat.) Otherwise, the sky's the limit.

  37. zeram108:34

    1)Tuberose is tends to stop me right in my tracks. 2)Unfortunately not that I know of.

  38. Morticia10:05

    20 years ago I loved Bill Blass, Farenheit,Grey Flannel and Zizzani. I'm not a fan of florals or girly scents. Then came Opium and Cliniques Elixer. These days I wear Bandit,Blv.Black and Jicky. When I first started wearing Bandit EDP my Mom loved the scent on me and she would tell me if it smelled bad.Men's scents smell better on me I think. I like spicy and leather. The most feminine EDP I've ever worn Is Boucheron de Boucheron. Please enter me in the draw.

  39. brigitte14:06

    I never had any qualms about crossing the line-fragrance is fragrance and if I like it I will wear it. My favorite male fragrance that I wore often when it first came out is Gray Flannel.

  40. The only mens fragrance I own is Bulgari Black and a tiny sample of Eau Savage. I love Jicky but I am not sure that is marketed as for men? I like woody, mossy leathery fragrances and chypres and pretty much wear what I like regardless of if it is marketed for man or woman. Most current offerings for men I am not to wild about to be honest.

  41. Barbara_I18:06

    This sounds delicious!

    1) I generally wear 'unisex' because scents marketed for women often turn cloyingly sweet on my skin. (Diorissimo is one exception.) Men's fragrances on the other hand can be too harsh. My favourite is a fresh and citrusy bigarade: Nina Ricci's Bigarade years ago before it was discontinued, Frederic Malle's Eau Bigarade now.

    2) I have fond memories of wearing Grey Flannel, and like a current sample of Dior Jules.

    Thanks for the chance to enter the draw!

  42. I "cross the line" if it's a chypre-ish or woodsy scent. I wore Creed's Mountain Water (is that it?) for a while and liked that. I love all vetivers and used to wear daily Comptoir Sud Pacifique Vetyver Haiti, which is unisex. Warm, spicy, woodsy-who needs flowers?

  43. Mimi G06:02

    Like Jennifer Edwards- I wear Silver Mountain Water by Creed. The funny thing- I get complimetns from women !
    I don't like a lot of cedar in scent so if anything I won't wear a male scent laden with cedar .
    But I subscribe to "If it smells good, wear it !

  44. Tamara H.14:15

    Great poll!

    1)I cross the divide based on notes/fragrance family. No fougeres, no lavender, but yes to woods.
    2)I love Egoist by Chanel.

    Thanks for including me in the draw.

  45. Anonymous19:15

    I love Creed's Irisia, though I know it's marketed to women. I don't know why, something just clicks for me.
    There is no specific rhyme or reason in what makes for crossing the boundaries of masculine-marketed fragrances. It's more of a haphazard thing, smelling something in the air, on someone, on a girlfriend...things like that.


  46. I love wearing fragrances aimed at men, particularly when it gets cooler and I'm less inclined towards florals. There's a comfort and warmth in most men's fragrances that I find particularly enjoyable.

    Currently, I'm loving a decant of Guerlain's Vetiver. The tobacco in the drydown is so nice and smoky in the fall weather.


  47. ElizabethC22:07

    If the scent makes me happy I wear it! Really enjoy Bulgari Black and Dior Eau Savage. Love the idea of a gin and tonic perfume!

  48. Thanna03:03

    I enjoy sharing perfumes with my SO so it was only a matter of time before I graduated from unisex scents to those marketed to men. I'm not a floral fan so often the men's scents suit my personality better.

    A few current favorites? M7, Gucci Pour Homme, Mugler Cologne, Le Labo Rose 31 and the wonderful Bois d'Argent.

  49. I don't think what people wear is actually indicating their gender. For clothing or perfume, they are the expression of the person's attitude, mood and the way the want to live. I believe a great fragrance, which would attract man and woman, is worth to take a risk to encounter a man with a same perfume.

    What I am using are Colonia, Orange Vert, Terre D' Hermes, Caron Pour Homme, Azzaro Pour Homme, Eau Savage,

  50. I love men's colognes. Not interested in marine-type fragrances, though.
    I always hesitate when it comes to buying them, because my husband makes faces when I wear them.
    But, you have conviced me--I'm off to find my Terre d'Hermes.
    Thanks so much for the drawing.

  51. I have a bottle but just wanted to say I really think gin and juniper are a great addition to the perfume cannon- it's such a clever twist

  52. Rachel12:54

    A quick check of my perfume wardrobe and it seems despite being a girly I have more 'guys' stuff than girls! I have worn Guerlain Vetiver for years and always get compliments. Today I'm wearing Heritage layered with Shalimar edp and parfum, and I smell divine. I love L'Instant de Guerlain, cologne 68, guess I'm a Guerlain girl.
    Also loving Terre d'Hermes, Cartier Declaration, Handel Pou Monsieur, Monsieur Balmain, Goutal Eau du sud, Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa....

    I realise more and more that big florals leave me slightly nauseous and I always gravitate to guys scents. They smell much sexier on a woman than some blowsy Indolic jasmine induced headache!


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