I have a dear friend who has a unique way of eating cupcakes. He drags his finger through the frosting licking it off his finger. Once all the frosting is gone, he throws the remaining cake away. I’ve jokingly asked him why he doesn’t eat birthday cake the same way. His reply, “that would be weird.” While I enjoy the full cupcake experience I kind of get his enjoyment. Sometimes it is what’s on top is the best. In perfumery you don’t really get the same effect because there does have to be something after the top accord. Although Heeley Zeste de Gingembre seems to be trying.
Independent perfumer James Heeley has constructed one of the great collections of fragrance over the last sixteen years. His Heeley brand has been endlessly inventive. It is one of those which I own almost all of them. When I received the press release for Zeste de Gingembre based on the name I was hoping for his take on one of my favorite scents, gingerbread. Instead it is a more literal interpretation of “ginger zest”. He composes almost entirely of ingredients you typically find in the top accord of many perfumes. It is a fascinating experiment which I enjoyed a lot.
It begins with the citrus of lime given a greener tint though the use of the rind of lemon and orange. It is the kind of tart you get when you bite into a wedge of lime and you smell the rind underneath your nose. Mr. Heeley makes it as breezy as that sounds. The ginger comes next. This is the smell of the root as you grate it for cooking. There is a bit of liquidity as the energy of the ginger is released. Many times when ginger appears in a perfume it adds a near-manic kinetic component. To temper that Mr. Heeley uses a dose of black pepper. That could make things too heavy, so he counterbalances it with baie rose and cardamom. As those come together with the previous ingredients you get a fragrance of exquisite balance and energy. There is one, or more, of the synthetic musky woods to add some longevity and lift but most of the perfume is what I just described.
Zeste de Gingembre has 8-10 hour longevity and average sillage.
This is a perfume where you revel in the interplay between the ingredients Mr. Heeley brings together. It is all frosting, so good you don’t mind there isn’t any cake beneath.
Disclosure: This review is based on a sample provided by Heeley.