Blog post by Gwen

Néroli Outrenoir – luminous and dark and textured

Photo: Courtesy Guerlain

My people are tea drinkers. Growing up, there was always a pot of tea on the go. My mother used to say that tea was the solution to everything. Sad? Worried? Anxious? Have a hot cuppa. Got news? Gossip? A tale or two? Come on over, and we’ll put the kettle on. Every family gathering for births, baptisms, engagements, marriages and deaths included tea.

The thing is, I do not like the taste of tea; even after years of cajoling, teasing and gentle bullying from friends and family, but I do love the smell of tea because it smells like home. It’s why I’m drawn to fragrances that feature tea, like Two for Tea, Skive, NANBAN, Bulgari Black and Eau du Fier and a new crush:Néroli Outrenoir from Guerlain.

Part of their L'Art & la Matière collection, the word ‘Outrenoir’, comes from a term French artist Pierre Soulages, coined to describe his work. Wikipedia says: Naming his own practice 'Outrenoir', (Beyond Black) the paintings he produces are known for their endless black depth, created by playing with the light reflected off of the texture of the paint.”

In a similar way, Néroli Outrenoir goes beyond black tea, but let’s start at the beginning.

The white blossoms of the Bigaradier tree are used to produce orange blossom absolute and neroli, while its leaves and twigs give us petitgrain. The difference between the scent profiles of neroli and orange blossom is in their method of extraction: neroli is extracted using steam distillation, while orange blossom is extracted by enfleurage. Both are beautifully showcased in Néroli Outrenoir.

It opens elegantly with a soft, floral note of petitgrain and crisp, sparkling bergamot. Their citrusy freshness contrasts with a note of smoked tea that’s smoky, dry, deep, dark and haylike. Bergamot here suggests Earl Gray tea to me, which is not surprising, really, as Earl Gray is flavoured with bergamot. As it blooms, neroli comes forward. Its delicate freshness and floralcy are light and airy and always make me pause. It’s the perfect counterpoint to the animalic, lush, honeyed orange blossom that joins it. The orange blossom links the luminous citrus notes to the smoky dark tea notes so that they play off the deep, dark tea dancing around it and running through it, creating a layered texture and sense of excitement - that ‘Outrenoir’.

As it moves to the base, it gets musky and mossy from ambrette seed and oakmoss, balsamy and resinous from myrrh and smoky and woody from Guaiac wood. There is a slight bitterness and smokiness that runs right through to the base. And, of course, it wouldn’t be a Guerlain fragrance if there wasn’t a detectable note of vanilla in it.

Néroli Outrenoir dries down to a tenacious skin scent that is woody, aromatic and gorgeous. A true piece of olfactory art and a beautiful fragrance to wear.

Now that’s my kind of tea.

Check out Néroli Outrenoir in our Shop.