Thursday, 6 October 2011

Penhaligon's Juniper Sling: Thirst Aid For The Roaring Twenties - Or Hotter!

I like a drop of gin. Several drops indeed. Okay, one of those little 40ml metal measuring cup things is my usual portion. Yes, it is mother's milk to me since you are asking, though to my knowledge I have never been known to reek of the stuff. I take gin with lime for preference, though limes shrivel sooner than lemons, I find. Whatever citrus fruit I go for, I always wipe a few cells around the rim of the glass as a finishing touch. "Cells" being a technical term (that doesn't get out nearly enough) for the actual little fibrous globules of fruit.

I also drink Pimm's (another gin-based drink) very happily, though it is more labour-intensive with all that fruit chopping and dashing out to the garden to see if you have any mint, and the only other hard liquor I like is vodka. Well, "like" is overstating it, for what's to like in this most self-effacing and chameleon-like of spirits? No, gin is best, because it has a definite flinty taste of its own. Not unlike the measuring receptacle indeed.

If you are in any doubt about my penchant for gin, here is a statement of personal interests I posted in an Internet forum:

"Messing about on computers (obviously), trashy TV, improving fiction, gym, swimming, writing postcards, drinking gin."

The only thing that has changed there is the sports bit, which I have let lapse, plus I don't really read much improving fiction these days. But to my credit I have conscientiously kept up the gin drinking!

So when the nice people at Penhaligon's announced the launch of Juniper Sling:

"a playful, chilled and mysterious homage to the Bright Young Things of London’s roaring twenties..."

...I was very excited. I think Rose Beyond The Thames's review was the first one I read, right after she attended the launch back in July. Then in August Penhaligon's sent me a decant in a cute little Travalo (of which more later) just as I was leaving for my third trip of the summer to Central Europe; I wore it often over several weeks in the sweltering 35 C heatwave.

In finally getting down to reviewing Juniper Sling I am so late to the party (or "shindig", rather), that not only has everybody gone home, but someone has already painstakingly picked up the discarded cocktail parasols and hoovered up the canapé crumbs. I have to question whether the blogosphere really needs another review, as I did with Nuit de Tubéreuse that time. However, I will stick by my rule, which is that if I love a fragrance, no matter how many other reviews may have gone before me, I will add my own two pennyworth.

Because I do really love Juniper Sling. So much so that I tried to get my brother to let me buy him a bottle for his birthday at the weekend, with the aim of blagging a 5ml decant when I have finished my own samples, but sadly he didn't care for it. It is possibly too light for a man, granted. Partly in staying power (in the conditions in which I wore it, certainly), but also in style. If Chanel's classic cologne were a soprano, Juniper Sling would be a falsetto. Not an ear-piercing one (thought I think the opening of Voyage d'Hermès is that), but Charlotte Church singing Pie Jesu, say.

Juniper Sling belongs to my category of "prickly citrus fragrances" - "pétillant", as the French say - initially at least. Just like tonic water, frankly. It is also very, very cold, again like tonic water - assuming you remembered to put a few tins of Schweppes in the fridge first and also to freeze the ice cubes. So it has a foot in the "cryogenic perfume" camp too, along with other physically cooling scents like Chanel's La Pausa, Ava Luxe No 23 and L'Artisan's Timbuktu.

I was going to call this post: "My Go-To 'Oh My Gosh It Is So Incredibly Hot' Scent", but it seemed like even more of a mouthful than my usual titles, so I thought better of it. And there is also a parallel with Wimbledon I'd like to mention, namely with the incomparable thirst quencher that is Robinson's Barley Water. And just as tennis players need to repeatedly knock back pints of this iconic lemon squash, so I found myself frequently reapplying Juniper Sling in August. Every time the juice hit my skin, it was instantly and wonderfully cooling. As I said in a tweet somewhere from my travels, this stuff should be available on prescription - for headaches and general heat-induced malaise! It is the scent equivalent of 4Head, which is my constant companion and deserves a post in its own right sometime.

Without further ado, here are the notes:

Head Notes: Cinnamon, Orange Brandy, Angelica, Juniper Berry

Heart Notes: Cardamom, Leather, Black Pepper, Orris Wood

Base Notes: Brown Sugar, Black Cherry, Vetiver, Ambrox

I should explain that the icy opening is not really created by classic citrus notes as such, but more a mix of angelica, juniper and shedloads of pepper, which is fine by me. I also love the powdery iris heart and the gourmand notes in the drydown (Olivier Cresp was the nose behind Angel, so you would expect nothing less).

It was inspired of Cresp to team up this cooling tingling cologne with a warmer base, for it could have ended up a bit thin and one-dimensional, which is the beef I have with Voyage d'Hermès, sadly. The lime note there is also too sharp, but I do see similarities in "vibe" with Juniper Sling, not least the cool metallic bottle. Which neatly takes us back to our gin measuring cup - or jigger, as I believe it is properly known.

Now here's a funny thing...I have just reapplied Juniper Sling today, and the weather is downright wintry outside, some 20 degrees cooler than when I last wore it. I still get that cold gin-like blast in the opening, but it warms up much quicker and I am already at the muzzy iris and leather stage after a minute or two. Which is perfect for the prevailing conditions.

So is Juniper Sling also an "intelligent" perfume, like those windscreen wipers that come on automatically or washing machines that instinctively detect a small load? Does this perfume sense the ambient temperature and bypass the chilly stage to suit our suddenly dreary British weather?

In the time it has taken me to type the paragraph above, I have moved on to a phase that is boozy and liqueur-like. Not too sickly, mind, possibly thanks to the vetiver or the cool woody undertow of the ambroxan. All the facets of this scent are enjoyable in fact, and it is squarely in my "understated" camp, which is why I love it so much.

I shall be wearing Juniper Sling tonight and enjoying my usual G & T. I might just push the boat out with a small bowl of Twiglets and watch a bit of the Jackson trial on Sky News. Why, that almost qualifies as a little shindig of my own!

Below is Rose Beyond The Thames's review (complete with luscious photos), and some other reviews I have enjoyed over the summer.

Rose Beyond The Thames

Perfume Shrine

Nick's review - my evil gin twin!

G & T and That

The Candy Perfume Boy

Finally, though I am not very good at embedding things, here is a link to the Penhaligon's site and its whimsical promotional "mockumentary" for the scent:

Penhaligon's video

Photo of gin jigger from, roaring twenties poster from, photo of G & T from, photo of Robinson's Barley Water from google images, pack shot from Penhaligon's, photo of Hendrick's gin from, other photos my own.


Vanessa said...

Testing my new comments format - have gone for full screen and removed the word verification requirement for now.

Apparently the only other thing that might be blocking comments is readers' browser settings that disable third party cookies, especially on IE and Firefox, I believe. But I realise that some people prefer to have that extra level of security, and might not wish to change their settings to enable these cookies just so they can comment on blogs!

And maybe Blogger will sort it out by and by - it seems to move in mysterious ways...

Ines said...

Vanessa, I think I'm going to do this as well, as blogger is making commenting practically mission impossible.

Anyway, you're not late to the party as I haven't arrived yet, and would like to, because I like it very much (and I only sampled it once).

You know, I think G&T has been sorely missing from my life if your post and the perfume are to go by. ;)
But it sounds like a summer drink and we are definitely into cold times from today onward...

Vanessa said...

Hi Ines,

Well done for outsmarting Blogger and managing to leave a comment.

I can see why people might consider a G & T a summer tipple but I must confess to drinking it year round. If I could only have three alcoholic drinks (you know, like the mean questions we pose ourselves about paring back our perfume collections) it would be G & T, champagne (money being no object!) and dry white wine.

Ines said...

We share 2 out of 3. :)
I'm a huge whisky fan, but champagne will always come first. Always. :)

And I'm writing all this while sipping a glass of cool white wine (dry, of course).
Ok, so I'm nibbling on some cheese too (but that's not important). ;)

Vanessa said...

Whisky was my mother's favourite drink - every evening at 6 o'clock sharp...

I think it must be time for my G & T now - chin chin!

angie Cox said...

I never liked Gin as I always thought it was like drinking perfume .I am a Calvados fan with some cider added . It looks like this Penhaligons is getting good reviews . I might leave it until Spring to try it but I will .It was Elixir weather today . I just wish they'd still do those heavy glass bottles , I've started collecting them when I see them on ebay .

Unknown said...

I'm looking forward to trying this. I love the smell of gin. My favourite drink is G&T with lots of lime.

Vanessa said...

Hi Angie,

I never got into Calvados but have some friends who swear by it. Dry cider on the other hand is very nice, and used to be a standby before the days of decent wine in pubs. (Or the pubs anywhere I lived!)

I think Elixir is a very zen-like scent and I have also reviewed it on Bonkers, after my friend bought a full bottle and was raving about it. I love the colour scheme of that one.

Didn't know there was an issue to do with bottle weight - that has passed me by - not that I am particularly bottle-aware!

Vanessa said...

Hi kjanicki,

Well, I'd say that if a G & T is your favourite drink, Juniper Sling is a dead cert for you. It is light, but has more about it than Frapin L'Humaniste, say, which is the other gin-style scent I tried recently.

Undina said...

Yey!!! This version of commenting works for me from my laptop! (before I had to leave comments through iPad).

Love G&T as a drink. Love its smell. So I want to try this perfume - and will do that eventually (Penhaligon isn't the easiest brand to come around here for whatever reason, but I'll try).

Vanessa said...

Hi Undina,

Glad to meet another gin lover. A "friend in liquor" if you will.

Hope you can catch up with this where you live. I have given away my spare samples, though I am hoping my brother will send his back, as he wasn't a fan!

Cymbaline said...

Your review really makes me want to try Juniper Sling, but mostly I just want to see if I can leave a comment. I wrote a long, well thought-out comment on your last post and it got deleted when I hit the 'publish' bar - so discouraging : (

Well, here goes nothing...

Cymbaline said...

Woohoo! It worked : )

Vanessa said...

Hi Cymbaline,

Thanks for coming back to try again and I cannot apologise enough for the "Blogger ate my comment" issue, which I had also been having on Bonkers and several other blogs. On Katie Puckrik Smells I tried on three successive days to leave a comment about Prada Candy and eventually emailed her the text which she uploaded. Luckily it was only a short comment, but I know just how irritating it can be to lose a longer, more involved piece of writing.

Since these problems have reappeared I have been making sure I am signed into my Google account first and have also routinely copied my longer comments first as a precaution wherever I am posting. However, of course this really shouldn't be necessary, and it is just another layer of faff for people to have to deal with.

The bottom line seems to be something about cookie settings on people's browsers but I seem to have lit on some kind of a fix for the moment by changing to this full page format and removing the captcha requirement.

Fingers crossed and sorry again for the inconvenience!

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the new commenting version, I like that much better!!!

As for being late, never! It is always great to hear many opinions to one perfume, and I always review what I like, whether I'm the first or the 250th.

Your review makes me want to properly try Juniper Sling at last, something else always came first. But thanks to you I have a sample at hand now. :)

Vanessa said...

Hi Olfactoria,

I am glad I discovered this alternative comment format, though it took me a while rummaging in the settings to figure things out. This is the one favoured by Olfactarama and quite a few other Blogspot bloggers, so until it starts playing up I will stick with it!

Yes, we should review any perfume we love regardless of whether readers might be suffering from "simultaneous review overload" at the time.

Though saying that, I don't like the way charities persist in shoving five different plastic collection bags through your door every week. There are only so many unwanted paired shoes a person has to give away in a given week. ; - )