There are times brands can still throw a curveball at me. When I received the announcement of the Jo Malone Bloomsbury Collection I was expecting something completely in keeping with the brand aesthetic developed over twenty years. The creative team at Jo Malone asked perfumer Yann Vasnier to make a set of five perfumes to represent the early Twentieth Century collection of intellectuals known as the Bloomsbury Group. Based in the London section bearing the same name it has taken on mythological import in the hundred years since its founding. I can’t say the five fragrances do much to remind me of a Lost Generation salon. What they do display is M. Vasnier’s versatility on his first work for the brand.
One thing M. Vasnier manages to do throughout all five perfumes is to take a titular note that you expect to have some depth instead are presented in an opaquer form. Which for people who shy away from the hi-test version might find these to be at a different intensity allowing you to relax in to it. Blue Hyacinth is a dewy spring version of hyacinth planted in moist earth. Garden Lilies goes for a waterier effect as the lilies in the name are waterlilies instead of the ones found in floral arrangements. Leather & Artemesia matches a suede leather accord with a light licorice-like note. Tobacco & Mandarin also lives up to its name with little else around and made transparent. All the above is typical Jo Malone kind of perfumes. The one which stood out for me and feels like little else in the entire Jo Malone collection is Whisky & Cedarwood.
If you’ve ever visited a whisky distillery they will tell you during the aging in barrels there are two parts of what happens during that process. The amount of whisky that evaporates is called the Angel’s Share. The whisky that soaks in to the wood of the barrel is called The Devil’s Cut. Whisky & Cedarwood is a perfume of The Devil’s Cut.
M. Vasnier opens with allspice as the contrast for the whisky accord. I must complement M. Vasnier on employing a whisky accord which is not overwhelming in its booziness. Instead this is whisky almost as smelled from the person next to you at the bar. The cedar comes next completing the whisky soaked wood milieu. This is where the Devil gets his due. It is also where Whisky & Cedarwood lingers for quite a while until late in the development. That is where a truly odd high gloss waxed wood accord transforms the wood from barrel to bookcase. It works well but it feels so edgy for a line which does not usually willingly come close to that.
Whisky & Cedarwood has 8-10 hour longevity and moderate sillage.
If you are a Jo Malone fan I think the Bloomsbury Collection is worth seeking out to see if there is one which grabs you. Overall, I liked all five but Whisky & Cedarwood is the one I wanted to belly up to the bar with and share a drink with the Devil.
Disclosure: This review was based on samples provided by Jo Malone.