In these days between New Year’s and the Epiphany I always think about The Three Wise Men. Following a star to Bethlehem to behold the newborn Savior bearing gifts. The gifts are well-known; frankincense, gold, and myrrh. Each king carried one. What has captured my attention as I’ve written about perfume is two of the three are classic components of perfumery. What we know of ancient perfume making is they were also important ingredients there. I’m not sure if it is my inner Magi but resins, woods, and spices are my preferred fare in January. Thankfully I am not out searching for a prophecy. I am on the search for another perfume for this time of year. In Carner Barcelona Megalium I found it.
Creative director Sara Carner was inspired by the ancient perfume of the ancient Greeks and Romans. The Greeks called it Megaleion while the Romans called it Megalium. According to The Perfume Handbook by Nigel Bloom it consisted of “cinnamon, cassia, and myrrh” in the Greek version while the recipe for the Roman version was, “balanos oil, balsam, calamus, sweet-rush, xylobalsam, cassia, and resins”. Sra Carner asked perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux to make a modern reformulation of this ancient recipe. Sr. Flores-Roux takes inspiration from both Greek and Roman versions to form the framework of this new Megalium.
Sr. Flores-Roux opens with the cinnamon. He uses calamus as the source of the spiciness which he deepens by using cinnamon leaves adding a shade of green. The spices broaden out with pimento, nutmeg, and white pepper adding some zest to the cinnamon. Sr. Flores-Roux then provides a thoroughly modern riff as a spicy Bulgarian rose finds some space among the cinnamon accord. The base accord arrives with styrax providing the connective ingredient before the sweetness of myrrh and the austere frankincense come forward. The resinous foundation is given additional oomph with olibanum and opoponax.
Megalium has 12-14 hour longevity and average sillage.
It is easy to see back to ancient times while wearing Megalium. I can even imagine Balthazar and Gaspar; the Magi with myrrh and frankincense gifts wearing the ancient form while on their travels. This new version is a perfume of kings made from the gifts of the Magi.
Disclosure: this review is based on a sample provided by Carner Barcelona.