If tasked with crafting a fragrance for Heathcliff, Emily Brontë’s foremost wanderer of blasted heaths, we’d reach for a fair few ingredients before sage. Leather, yes. Tobacco would probably get a look in. Perhaps the essence of a murdered springer spaniel, to offer a certain minerality when dabbed behind the ears. Because as last week’s fragrance proved, sanguine notes need be no barrier to olfactory excellence.
But this is arguably why we earn our keep with an appendage other than the one that sits front and centre on our face. Unlike Alberto Morillas, the nose whose accolades include Acqua di Parma’s Colonia Intensa, Calvin Klein’s CK One and, now, Penhaligon’s Blasted Heath.
Unlike our hypothetical scent, Morillas’ creation tends not towards shorthands for masculinity. He has crafted instead something brighter and, dare we say, lighter. Though the brand doesn’t tilt its latest fragrance overtly towards Wuthering Heights, there’s more than a sniff of Heathcliff in both the moniker and the scent.
In the opening explosion of salinity, which does the stated job of emulating the collision between sea and shore with aplomb, literary sorts will doubtless discover more than a hint of our hero’s equally tempestuous moods.
So while the fragrance lacks airs of canicide or Yorkshire misery, it wisely doubles down on freshness. There’s a soapiness to Blasted Heath that comes courtesy of first aquatic accord and seaweed absolute, then green leaves and patchouli, before manly notes stride in: whiskey accord, musks and tobacco absolute (well, we got one right).
Blasted Heath may lack the impact and longevity of Brontë’s novel, but it is also rather less challenging. Because for all the appeal of a tortured hero, really we all want something – and someone – we can enjoy everyday.
Available at penhaligons.com, priced £90 for 50ml.
Bottle: Penhaligon’s classic and – in this instance – oddly inappropriate ribbon-tied glass.
Head notes: aquatic accord, seaweed absolute, clary sage absolute;
Heart notes: green leaves, clearwood, tobacco absolute, whiskey accord;
Base notes: patchouli essence, Alaskan cedarwood essence, gaiac wood essence, vetiver, and musks.
Best for: leaving a lingering impression, which doesn’t develop into the tortures of unrequited love.