I’ve said it many times before, but I’ll say it again: I’m a big fan of Jo Malone London. To me, they do what they do very well and what they do is create easy wearing fragrances that feel comfortable both on the skin and in the home. Sure, they’re not pushing the known boundaries of olfaction, but they often add a contemporary and eccentric twist to their fragrances, taking the familiar and making it novel. Most importantly though, Jo Malone London fragrances tick the box that should be first and foremost on every perfume lover’s priority list: they smell good.
Seeing as I enjoy the brand so much, it’s understandable that it was with both excitement and trepidation that I uncorked my sample of JML’s latest scent ‘Basil & Neroli‘. Why? Well, they’ve been on a bit of winning streak lately. Last year’s Mimosa & Cardamom was a triumph – one that has crept its way into my top ten fragrances of all time (quite an accolade, if I do say so myself), not to mention the fact their recent additions to the Cologne Intense series, specifically Incense & Cedrat and Orris & Sandalwood, have also been exceptionally good, and quite unique. So yes, I wondered whether Basil & Neroli would be the one to break this streak or whether it would be yet another success. You’ll have to read on to find out the answer…
Basil & Neroli was created by perfumer Anne Flipo, the nose behind L’Artisan Parfumeur’s La Chasse Aux Papillons and Jo Malone London’s Herb Garden Collection. She describes the fragrance as “a fresh, sophisticated, sensual floral with green facets” adding that it is “stunning in its simplicity”. The brand however, calls it a “London lark”, positioning Basil & Neroli as something much more fun, playful and quintessentially British. Whether it be refined or rowdy, what’s for sure is that Basil & Neroli is a fragrance created in the Jo Malone London school of thinking, meaning that it serves up an unusual twist on two familiar ingredients, juxtaposing the savoury & the sweet, and the green & the white.
Base: White Musk
How Does it Smell?
Basil & Neroli opens with a sharp smash of citrus and basil. Right off the bat it’s very juicy, but not in an overtly sweet way. There is a lemonade-like sparkle that feels as if it captures the zesty dew springing off the skin of lemons as they are gently squeezed in the hand. The sparkle and the juice are merely there to accent the tsunami of greenery that is unleashed by the basil note. I’d describe the basil as being jungly, because it gives the impression of giant leaves heavy with water in a humid environment. Sidebar: this is not the first time that JML have used basil in fragrance and the note is a central focus in their flagship scent, Lime, Basil & Mandarin, but it is used much more boldly in Basil & Neroli allowing for the truly green nature of the note to shine through in a haze of savoury and sweet tones. The basil here is crunchy, juicy and devoid of any anise or pesto-like characteristics.
Now for the neroli. I love neroli. There’s something so buoyant and pleasing about it that never fails to bring a smile to one’s face. This fragrance has a ton of the stuff and its perhaps as bright and smiley as neroli can be. As a contrast to the sharp and sweet greenery of the basil, the neroli brings nuances of warm hay and starchy clean flowers to the mix, elevating the greener notes to a warmer and more sunny disposition. Smelling these two notes in contrast, the basil and the neroli, is nothing but an enjoyable experience.
The clean, laundry-like vibe presented by the neroli is intensified by the breeze of musks in the base. Like many modern fragrances, these musks are not in place to provide any odour characteristics, instead they provide lift and space, affording the fragrance both elevation and diffusion. As it really dries down, Basil & Neroli allows these musks to blur the lines between its juxtapositions, melting them together in a gauzy daze that is clean and green. It’s a satisfying finish that allows Basil & Neroli to have a remarkable presence and impressive longevity.
I really like Basil & Neroli. It’s one of those fragrances that one can just throw on in a funk and whilst it may be simple, it doesn’t feel vapid or pointless. There are some real interesting twists within the composition and the clash between the jungly basil and the starchy neroli creates an entirely refreshing wear that is so much more than one’s standard fresh fragrance for summer. For me, Basil & Neroli is a satisfying fragrance because it present its two eponymous notes in both familiar and unfamiliar ways whilst simultaneously showcasing a character that feels like it could cut straight through the muggiest of days. So yes, to answer my earlier question, Basil & Neroli proves that Jo Malone London’s winning streak is still in top form. I for one cannot wait to see what they do next.
Basil & Neroli is available in 30ml (£43) and 100ml (£86) cologne. Other products within the collection include; a Body & Hand Wash (250ml/£28), a Body Crème (175ml/£50) and a Home Candle (200g/£42).
Sample, notes and quotes via Jo Malone London. Images are my own.