Penhaligon: A Unique Luxury Brand with a Fascinating Story

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The sense of smell has magical powers. It can open doors and unlock memories. Suddenly sensing a smell from our childhood can simply stop us in our tracks, dragging us in some other moment in time. Memories – sad or happy – are triggered with a simple whisper of iris, a burst of flavorful nectarine, a creamy lick of vanilla, or a smoky incense scent.

That’s what Penhaligon’s attempts to do with their exclusive perfumes. The luxury British perfume house Penhaligon names William Henry Penhaligon, a Cornish barber, as its founder in the late 1860s. Penhaligon’s story is quite fascinating – after he moved to London, he became Perfumer to Queen Victoria and Court Barber.

The founder of Penhaligon’s

Our fragrant adventure paints the picture of a decadent Victorian era and carries us back to those times of discovery, old values, and strong traditions. But the Penhaligon legacy also extends into the future of original scents. Bold ladies and dandy gentlemen were proud to wear the scents created by William Henry Penhaligon, an Englishman who lived in the famous age of flamboyance and excess.

According to history, Penhaligon was not just wildly creative, but also greatly inspired by the unusual. He moved from his hometown in Penzance, Cornwall, to London where he founded a barber’s shop in Jermyn Street, Piccadilly. Hammam Bouquet – the very first scent mixed by Penhaligon – was created after William had inhaled the steam and unpleasant aromas of the neighboring Turkish baths.

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Hamman Bouquet is not just Williams’ first fragrance, but also his lifelong personal favorite. Unsurprisingly, it continues to be one of the bestsellers of Penhaligon’s today. Amber, musk, and sandalwood make up the base notes, the middle notes are orris, roses, jasmine, and cedarwood, while the top notes are bergamot and lavender.

Soon after he opened his first store, Williams opened the second shop at 33 St James Street. It was attached to the store on Jermyn Street, at the rear. The Penhaligon business expanded so that in the late 1920s, it could move up on the Bury Street. The original buildings of the perfume shop were destroyed during The Blitz in 1941, but the store on Bury Street still stands.

In 1975, Sheila Pickles opened the doors of a new Penhaligon’s shop in Covent Garden. Italian film director Franco Zeffirelli aided in the launch. Pickles created new scents based on the formulas left by William Penhaligon himself. She also introduced a line of traditional floral scents for women; Bluebell is particularly notable and distinctive, which is why it’s still a bestseller today.

Keeping the Rich Heritage

Penhaligon’s wild ideas fit perfectly in these wild times, and its legacy is still carried on today. He believed inspiration can strike at any moment, and that the strangest moments and places ca trigger a creative spell – a stolen view, a magical split of a second, and the idea already crystallizes. Even though the Penhaligon’s barber shop opened more than 135 years ago, William’s precious archives continue to inspire the work of the perfume shop today.

The current leadership at Penhaligon considers their mission to carry on the incredible and creative legacy of innovative perfumery. At the same time, they are focused on continually challenging the traditions of the industry as well as seek out new ways to reiterate the elegance of scent. Each year, the master perfumers who work at Penhaligon conjure up new sensations that amaze customers.

Today, the Penhaligon scents are still created in England by mixing only the finest rare ingredients. The perfumes contain beautiful scents of hand squeezed bergamot, for example, or jasmine more expensive than gold. Williams’ original design has remained the signature Penhaligon’s fragrance bottle: crystal clear glass with a unique ribbon-wrapped stopper.

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Penhaligon Today

 

If you visit any of the Penhaligon’s boutiques today, you will find a distinctive portfolio of 38 special and unusual fragrances. Each of these has been designed to elicit a strong response in the perfume wearer. Soliflores, Orientals, and Chypres are just some of the scents offering intense experiences; there are even more upcoming, according to the company.

Anthology is Penhaligon’s archive scents that link past and future; some of the fragrances go as far back as 1927. However, the innovation comes as perfumers reinterpret them for the modern connoisseur, changing with the times. Puig is the company currently owning Penhaligon’s (it has also purchased the French perfume house L’Artisan Parfumeur).


There are many Penhaligon fragrances you can choose from. The make for great gifts for any occasion – weddings, engagements, birthdays – and their luxurious feel speaks of elegance and appreciation. If you’re undecided on what you should choose, scroll through our top picks. We hope our reviews help you buy the perfect perfume.

Penhaligon’s Juniper Sling Eau de Toilette

Juniper Sling is one of the most exquisite fragrances inspired by the most iconic of spirits: London Dry Gin. It was launched in 2011, created by the experienced nose of Oliver Crisp. For enigmatic men and women, the woody spicy fragrance of Juniper Sling introduces a crisp cocktail shot of gin. Combine that with the freshness of juniper, the intoxicating angelica and you have an elegant result. Black pepper, soft leather, cardamom, and orris are among the middle notes. The base notes are amber, brown sugar, and black cherry. Apply liberally and enjoy.

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Penhaligon’s Artemisia Eau de Parfum

An Oriental fragrance for women, Artemisia was manufactured in UK and launched in 2002. In spite of the fact that more than a decade has passed since, the perfume is still one of the bestsellers at Penhaligon’s. Among the top notes are green and nectarine notes; middle notes include lily-of-the-valley, violet, jasmine, green apple, tea, and vanilla. For the unique base notes, the perfumers have chosen sandalwood, oak moss, musk and amber.

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Penhaligon’s Halfeti

Spices, exotic flowers, precious fabrics, and soft leathers – these are the Turkish inspirations behind Halfeti. Named after the small Turkish village of Halfeti, the fragrance enchants with the scent of “black” roses growing on the banks of the Euphrates. Mysterious and dark, the roses are not exactly black, but an intense shade of crimson. Because they’re so dusky, however, they often appear to be black. Halfeti is a luxurious and opulent woody floral, mesmerizing with the glow of exquisite golden saffron. The unmistakable woody cypress, citrus, and green armoise are all part of the mix. In addition to the multifaceted rose – which sits on the throne of this scent – an overdose of dusky patchouli heart makes up the lavish drydown, leading into a plethora of decadent oud, resins, and amber.

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Penhaligon’s Quercus Cologne

Created in 1996, Quercus is recommended for romantic wear. It stands out with a light scent of citrus and basil, in addition to the heart accord of jasmine, muguet, and cardamom. The result is spiced, sweet, and ultimately delicate. The freshness of the basil is persistent and it overcomes the sandalwood and musk base notes. All of the scents combine perfectly to create an elegant and strong cologne. Quercus is the Latin term for British Oak, and the perfume is modern and invigorating. It can be worn by both men and women.

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Penhaligon’s Iris Prima Eau de Parfum Spray

A transparent and utterly fresh bergamot opens the play. Thanks to its citrus freshness, the bergamot feels like the prima ballerina as leaping for the first time into the spotlight. The green amber addition, on the other hand, softens the effect. The pink pepper then resonates like the on pointe steps of the ballerina. Iris takes center stage after a few seconds, surprising with its natural grace, dancing hand in hand with the potent jasmine sambac. In the base notes, you’ll sense alberto, musky leather, and touches of sandalwood, vanilla, vetiver, and benzoin.

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Penhaligon’s Bayolea Eau De Toilette for Men

Bayolea is a surprising Citrus Aromatic perfume for men. One of the newer fragrances of Penhaligon, Bayolea was launched only two years ago, in 2014. The top notes include tangerine, mandarin orange, and lemongrass; black pepper, cardamom, neroli and lavender for the middle notes; and the base notes are musk, moss, cedar, sandalwood, amber, and patchouli. This fragrance has been manufactured in UK.

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Penhaligon remains one of the luxury perfume houses with a strong tradition and a rich heritage. Their products though on the expensive side are worth every penny. The fragrances smell sublime on all skin tones and they make for generous gifts for friends and family.

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