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Black Cedarwood & Juniper – woody and fresh and gorgeous

Juniper -

I remember smelling Lime Basil & Mandarin cologne from UK niche fragrance line Jo Malone, just after it was launched in 1999. A lifelong friend who lives in London discovered the Jo Malone shop on Sloane Street in London and quickly became a devotee of the florist come beautician's skincare products.  A decant of Lime Basil & Mandarin came with a purchase she'd made and was passed along to me. Lime Basil & Mandarin was like nothing else I had ever smelled. To this day, I always have a bottle on hand.

And so, my interest in Jo Malone fragrances was born. I tried to find out all I could about the brand. I read that Jo Malone was born in London in 1963 and that she was fascinated with scent from a young age. Malone worked as a florist while supplementing her income working as a beautician on the side. A self-taught perfumer, she created a scented lotion and body oil for her loyal clients, which proved so popular that she opened her first boutique in 1994, where she sold home scents, beauty products and fragrances. She quickly gained a reputation for creating unisex fragrances built around just a few notes, often from unlikely-sounding combinations, like English Pear & Freesia and have straight forward names, that describe what's in them, like Lime Basil & Mandarin.

As the line became more well-known and distribution grew, it became easier to follow Malone's fragrance launches and access them.

I fell in love with more than a few, like Patchouli Noir, but once Estee Lauder Companies took over the creative directorship of the brand in 2006, I felt overwhelmed with all the new launches. Did you know that there are over 143 fragrances in the Jo Malone line as of this writing? That's a lotta juice to keep up with, and I found myself losing interest in them over time.

I felt the way my son did when he moved up from Beaver Scouts to Cub Scouts. He joined Beavers when he was six. He loved meeting up with his friends every Wednesday evening to play games and make crafts and earn badges. After he moved up to Cubs when he was 8, he lost interest and didn't want to go. When I asked him why, he said they gave him assignments to do at home, like a project on flags of the world. 'What's wrong with that?' I asked. 'It's just more homework,' he said.

Perfume is my hobby. It gives me pleasure to explore, discover, learn about and share fragrances, but all these new Jo Malone launches made it feel like, well, like homework.

That changed the day I was at an airport in Munich. Wandering around Duty-Free, I came upon a Jo Malone shop. Well, I had a couple of hours to kill, so I took the time to catch up on my homework, and that's when I smelled Black Cedarwood & Juniper for the first time. I took a sample with me and was bewitched by it every time I wore it. I bought a bottle as soon as I could.

Black Cedarwood & Juniper is one of four fragrances in Malone's 2014 London Rain Collection. Each one represents rain at different times of the day. Black Cedarwood & Juniper Cologne evokes midnight showers in London.

It opens with a pungent combo of cumin and chili pepper leaves. The cumin is earthy, warm and animalic. It can easily overtake a fragrance, but the chili pepper leaves add a botanical dimension that smooths and checks the 'sweaty' aspect of cumin. This stage smells like rain-soaked skin at the end of a long day, making the fragrance slyly seductive. As it blooms, juniper appears and adds a balsamy, sharp freshness that contrasts the top notes' earthiness. Cedarwood is right behind the juniper, at the base, it's woody and slightly sweet. This isn't the smell of wood in a forest. This is the smell of wood that's been cut to make trim in windows and doorways. A note of tree moss evokes a feeling of humidity in the air after a summer shower. It's just a gorgeous scent.

The drydown is woody, balsamy and elegant. I wear it and love it, but I think it does skew more to the masculine side of unisex.  

So, what have I learned? That Black Cedarwood & Juniper is a fragrance, I'm glad I didn't miss out on, that it's smart to shop while you're waiting at the airport and that 'homework' can be turned into fun work if it's perfume related.

I give myself an A+.

Black Cedarwood & Juniper is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.