Blog post by Gwen

26 Isparta – rich and dark and jammy

A while back, I was helping my youngest niece with a school project on Shakespeare’s "Love Labour’s Lost." I hadn’t read the play since my student days, but reading now, I was struck by the imagery, the language and just the beauty of the poetry. Just as I was marvelling at the genius of Shakespeare, I came across this:

‘At Christmas I no more desire a rose,
Than wish a snow in May’s new-fangled mirth;
But like of each thing that in season grows.’

Lord Berowne is arguing for enjoying everything in good time, and I generally agree, but Lady Gwendolyn desires a rose at Christmas: 26 Isparta.

Part of Pierre Guillaume Paris’ Numbered Collection, 26 Isparta was named after Isparta, the city in western Turkey famous for growing Damascus roses and producing so much of the world’s rose oil that it’s called ‘Rose City.’

The rose harvest in Isparta is short - usually between late May and early June. These summer roses are harvested at the crack of dawn before the flowers are completely open and at their most fragrant. Then they’re distilled right away to preserve their rich fragrance in oil.

26 Isparta was launched in January 2014, and while winter might seem a like an odd time to launch a fragrance based on a summer rose, to me, it makes perfect sense because 26 Isparta is the essence of summer roses preserved so they can be enjoyed in the dark of winter, like the thick, jammy rose marmalade sold at the markets at the Rose Festival held every year at harvest time in Isparta.

26 Isparta opens with a gorgeous note of rose that is fruity, thick and jammy from the type of damascones (the chemical compound that gives roses their distinctive scent) used. I smell raspberries, which amplify the fruity jamminess of the rose. As it blooms, it gets resinous from Peru balsam. Peru balsam also has vanilla and cinnamon facets, making the rose sweet and spicy.  A note of calamus strengthens the spiciness with its soft, cinnamon aspect, while vanilla-scented benzoin and sweet, earthy ambroxan sweeten it. Then patchouli and incense take 26 Isparta to the dark side. The rose is still there, but now it’s surrounded by rich, sticky resins and sweet, earthy ambroxan. At the base, agarwood gives sit a rich woodiness that balances the sweetness, while musk gives it a warm sensuality.

The drydown is rich, lush and sexy. Instead of the delicate floral aspect of summer rose, nose Pierre Guillaume has gone for the darker, preserved one – and created a perfect winter rose, so thick, rich and sticky I half expected to find a small spoon in the box it came in.

My niece got an A on her project, and I’ve got a rose fragrance that would take the discontent out of anyone’s winter.

Check out 26 Isparta in our Shop.