Dear old, trusty Penhaligon’s-you can always rely on them for good quality and the kind of whimsical heritage packaging that would make a dressing table weep. However, despite Penhaligon’s image of grand tradition, many of the newer fragrances ( this one is 2003) are audacious and by no means old fashioned.
Take Malabah for instance: This is an oriental with a twist. When I hear oriental, I expect heavy, rich fragrance ideal for winter, but Malabah busts that idea out of the water. If anything, this is a summer oriental and despite ticking the spices box (amber, coriander, sandalwood ) the inclusion of green tea, lemon and ginger gives Malabah its edge.
This could open into creamy lemon pie, like Boucheron Trouble, or even Marks and Spencer’s Gabriella (which I find similar), but instead of going down the lemon syllabub route, it goes down the more astringent, lighter route. Think of this as a scent made from fresh lemon slices in lightly spiced ginger tea- there is a kind of transparency about it rather than a thickness, if that makes sense.
Malabah makes a perfect unisex scent which means you can innocently buy it for your partner and then just nick it all the time, whilst looking like a generous benefactor. Result.
Penhaligon’s Malabah is available from Penhaligon’s instore or online, and also from Perfume Click or Strawberry.net. Prices start at just over £50 for 50ml. Adorable box and delightful bottle included, of course.