Jo Malone London are the mixologists of the scent world. They piece together a perfumed pantry’s worth of ingredients to make intriguing compositions that we, the fragrance lovers, can mix-up and combine in any way we see fit. Within their main line, the scents are usually light, easy-to-wear little ditties that manage to be complex and intriguing without being particularly demanding, whilst their Cologne Intense collections offers up richer and more substantial compositions. Personally, I’m a big fan of the brand and I love many of their scents for their effortless wearability and one of their fragrances (Mimosa & Cardamom) is easily in my top ten of all time, so yes, Jo Malone London definitely grabs my attention whenever they launch something new.
The latest scent to come from Jo Malone London’s Cologne Intense collections is Myrrh & Tonka, an oriental composed by Mathilde Bijaoui (Etat Libre d’Orange Like This). The brand rather evocatively describes it as “a nomad song of sand and smoke-threaded twilight” which paints the image of a fragrance that appears within a rich tapestry of colours. Unlike the last Cologne Intense fragrance Orris & Sandalwood, which played with polar opposites (soft vs hard), Myrrh & Tonka celebrates the complimentary relationship between its top billing ingredients. Let’s take a sniff…
“There is an atmosphere of addiction and carnal richness to this fragrance which appeals to both men and women. At the top there is a hint of lavender and a floral note, creating a comforting and voluptuous opening. The big, rich heart and base note of myrrh is sensual. And the tonka brings generosity. It’s captivating and mesmerising.”
– Mathilde Bijaoui, Perfumer
Heart: Omumbiri Myrhh
How Does it Smell?
Myrrh & Tonka opens up with an arid lavender note. Initially, the opening is so dry it feels almost as if someone has taken a match to a pile of dried lavender, igniting a flame and a smoke that burns in the greyest shade of purple. These lavender embers possess an anise-like quality that gives them a spicy twist, which adds a touch of darkness to the herbaceous warmth.
Myrrh, interestingly enough, isn’t the main event here and anyone expecting a thickly resinous dollop of sweetness is unlikely to get their fix. That said, there’s an underlying gauzy warmth that has an earthiness to it that’s unsettling amongst the smoother aspects within the dry down. In the base, Myrrh & Tonka offers up a milky tonka accord that would feel like a stark contrast to the dry, smoky aspects of the opening if it were not for the seamless transition that the scent takes from top to bottom. Milky, gauzy, lavender smoke – that’s how i’d describe Myrrh & Tonka, and the combination certainly satisfies.
I’ll come right out and say that Myrrh & Tonka isn’t my favourite in the Cologne Intense collection however, that doesn’t mean it’s without merit. What I think makes this fragrance interesting, and worthy of sniffing, is its transparency, which is a trait not often found within this oriental style. What could have been a heavy, oppressive and ‘thick’ oriental is actually a delightfully translucent and ethereal veil of silk. Smelling it I imagine a plume of auburn smoke softly swirling and tailing in the air. For that reason, Myrrh & Tonka is most definitely a scent to seek out.
Myrrh & Tonka is available in 50ml (£70) and 100ml (£105) Cologne Intense.
Sample, notes and quotes via Jo Malone London. Images are my own.