Why perfumers are hitting the bottle
Roula Khalaf, Editor of the FT, selects her favourite stories in this weekly newsletter.
The piny, peppery, zesty scent of juniper – gin’s signature botanical – is one of my favourites. I love its dry bite in a Martini and the edge that it brings to perfume: it’s a key note in the fragrance I wear the most, Frédéric Malle’s Angéliques Sous La Pluie (£145 for 50ml). And juniper is the star of Terre d’Hermès Eau Givrée – Hermès’ latest fragrance for men (£72 for 50ml); a scent designed to evoke an ice-glazed terra incognita burning with elemental energy.
“I chose the juniper for its icy effect,” says Christine Nagel, Hermès’ in-house perfumer. “Here I find it sharp, lively and incisive. It gives a crisp sensation, like footsteps on ice.” Timut pepper brings “a tangy flavour almost like grapefruit, it brings power and sparkle.” The addition of rare Calabrian citron adds a further refreshing twist – a thirst-quenching counterpoint to the arid, tundra-like woodiness that is the hallmark of Terre d’Hermès.
Nagel describes the world of drinks as “full of inspiring facets. In the past I have studied Lagavulin whisky a lot for its peaty and coppery aspect. Rum is also very interesting for its both feminine and masculine notes because it brings sensuality and a particular addictiveness. I also find that casks that have contained very good wines or spirits are interesting for their woody-alcohol combination.” She has a particular fascination with the French herbal liqueur Chartreuse: “a drink made from an incalculable number of plants to a secret recipe – I believe I am not the only perfumer who has studied the mysteries of this alcohol.”
The worlds of perfumery and drinks distilling have long been intertwined. Dark Rum by Malin + Goetz (£78 for 50ml) is an old-world cologne made from rum and leaves and berries of the West Indian bay tree. Givenchy’s latest creation, Givenchy Gentleman Reserve Privée (£71 for 60ml) was inspired by Glenmorangie master distiller Bill Lumsden and the aromas he finds in his whiskies. The fragrance’s more woody, amber notes are a nod to the casks in which the whisky is aged.
Limoncello was a key note on the mood board for Italian Kush (£105 for 65ml, cultbeauty.co.uk), the feelgood new scent from gender-neutral fragrance company Boys Smells. “To me, limoncello captures the essence of a hot Italian summer filled with friends, laughter and the chill of sweet lemon,” says the brand’s co-founder Matthew Herman. Layered with pomelo, basil and pistachio, it’s designed to create a longing for good times perhaps not yet had – a paradoxical feeling Herman describes as “futurist nostalgic”.
LA perfumer Capsule Parfums creates genderless fragrances ($125 for 50ml) inspired by the city’s social cliques and their signature bar-calls. Squad’s palette of citrus, pepper and indolic florals evokes a wild night out in Koreatown fuelled by “shots of citrus-infused soju” and “jasmine liqueur”. Covey, a scented sketch of “Santa Monica’s tech-savvy socialites” features a Mojito-like blend of “lime, fig leaves, muddled mint”. So you can hit the bottle as much as you like – and remain completely hangover-free.