I love rose. Seriously, it might actually be my favourite perfume note/genre/ingredient. You may think of me as a white flower kind-of-a-guy but at heart, I’m a beautifully blooming rose (humour me here, people). I can’t get enough and my collection is ever-expanding with gorgeous roses across all olfactory families. So, when Penhaligon’s announced that they were relaunching their famous Elisabethan Rose, I must admit that they had me at ‘rose’. What can I say, I’m a creature of habit?
Elisabethan Rose was originally launched in 1984 and it was a perfectly pretty, if not a tad too light, rose with a prim attitude. I didn’t care for it particularly, nor did I hate it. This Elisabethan Rose however – the Elisabethan Rose of 2018 – is an entirely new fragrance and it would be fair to say that Penhaligon’s have brought it bang up to date with a very modern composition that plays with the classic idea of a rose but injects the sweetness and spaciousness demanded today. They call it a rose “fit for a Queen” with “a most commanding presence”. But is this a stoic rose fit for the pale-faced Elizabeth I or something softer and more corgi-friendly a la Elizabeth II? There’s only one way to find out…
Top: Hazelnut Leaf, Almond Oil and Cinnamon
Heart: Red Lily, Rose Centifolia Oil and Rose Absolute
Base: Vetiver, Musk and Wood
How Does it Smell?
Elisabethan Rose starts out quite spicy. It has a crispness that comes, not from citrus, but from greenery and pepper. Cinnamon adds a fiery warmth, creating a bridge between rich greenery and spice, and a beautiful rose accord. The rose is vivid, announcing itself in a glossy shade of ruby red. There’s a jammy quality to this rose – it feels juicy and sweet, almost as if the rose petals have been brushed with a thick glaze of strawberry jam (yum). It’s sticky and warm with the rose bringing a crisp bite that prevents things from becoming too sickly – it really is a nice balance. There is also a freshness to the rose which makes me think of scooping up a handful of freshly picked rosa centifolia petals and burying your nose right in them.
The longevity is impressive and Elisabethan Rose hums along, singing its rosy little song for many hours. As the petals slowly drop off, the fragrance reveals a base of dry woods with the suppleness of sandalwood folding gently into clear, rose-accented musks. I don’t get any of the promised vetiver, which would have perhaps added a nice green, earthy touch, but for the most part I enjoy the transition from full one rose jam to a simple breeze of rose droplets in the base. It’s incredibly satisfying.
Elisabethan Rose is a perfectly lovely rose and it has enough character to hold interest in a world filled to the brim with rose fragrances. I particularly enjoy its sticky, jammy quality, which feels quite enjoyable on a sunny day, almost as if one has turned themselves into a fresh jam roly-poly, which is pretty much a dream I’ve had since I was a kid (again, please humour me). Does it stand out as an amazing rose? No, but it has its merits and I find the tightrope walk between the garden rose and gourmand rose exhilarating at times. If, like me, your collection is already stocked with roses of all kinds then you may want to give this one a miss however, if you’re still looking for that perfect rose then I’d certainly recommend giving Elisabethan Rose a sniff. Especially if you demand a fragrance fit for royalty!
Elisabethan Rose is available in 100ml Eau de Parfum for £137.
Sample, notes and quotes via Penhaligon’s. Images are my own.