There is no perfumer for whom I have more nicknames for than Bertrand Duchaufour. His very profligacy almost demands he gets them. Because he is such perfumed gadfly moving from one project to another I have likened him to a freebooter and called him the Pirate of Perfume. The body of work he has produced for London brand Penhaligon’s has been one of his strongest collections for any brand he has worked for. The seventh perfume he has made for them is part of their Trade Routes Collection and it is called Lothair.
Lothair is named after the Tea Clipper ships which were the FedEx of their day even if it took more like weeks instead of days. A neat bit of synchronicity is Lothair was the last Tea Clipper ship to be built in Rotherhithe in 1870, the year Penhaligon’s was founded. M. Duchaufour wanted the perfume named after the ship to be a day at sea with a hold full of goods heading home. M. Duchaufour could have kept it simple by constructing a tea-centric fragrance. He does do that but he adds some inspired modern choices which make Lothair something similar to modern day Rotherhithe which has become part of the upscale Docklands area of London.
As the Lothair races through the waves you look over the lip of the hold and a whiff of cardamom arises as the crewman next to you eats his grapefruit. The smell of gin comes from somewhere in the scent of juniper berries. Finally you spy the bags of dark black tea in their canvas bags adjacent to other bags filled with figs. The heart of Lothair is the green version of fig and the black version of tea. M. Duchaufour swirls them together adroitly. He creates a floral contrast with geranium and lavender to further develop the heart accord. As the ship nears port you lean on the rail taking in the smell of the wood in the sun and the brine of the sea rushing by. This is accomplished by cedar, oakmoss, ambergris, and a few musks.
Lothair has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
I was thinking of the Jimmy Buffet song “A Pirate Looks at 40” while wearing Lothair. It almost feels like my modern Pirate of Perfume is looking back 145 years ago to make something relevant in 2015. Lothair is another fantastic perfume from M. Duchaufour; long may he sail the perfumed waves.
Disclosure: This review was based on a sample I purchased.