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Penhaligon’s No. 33 – A beautiful olfactory tribute… - July 20, 2015


I love the jaunty bowtie! Photo: Courtesy of Penhaligon's


Cruising around the internet a while back, I came across Badger & Blade, the blog about personal care for men:

“Thread: Mens Essentials - Toronto
Howdy all!
This morning the wife and I were walking along the Danforth when we stumbled across this store. I took a quick peak in and I was very impressed. They had a huge selections of soaps and creams and colognes. Anything I could ever ask for was available…..Anyone in Toronto should check them out!”

Soaps? Meh. Creams? Not interested. Colognes? Bingo. And, since I live near the Danforth, I strolled over to Men Essentials to sniff it out.

Men Essentials is, as their website says, the “ultimate source for Men's Grooming, Shaving, Beard Care, Skin Care & Cologne - everything from Straight Razors and Shaving Brushes to Men's Gifts.” It’s a spacious little store with well-displayed products and a knowledgeable and attentive staff. It took me no time to find the frags - brands like the Vagabond Prince, Floris, Il Profumo and Penhaligon’s. I spent the better part of an afternoon at Men Essentials and came away with a new-found love and respect for Penhaligon’s. Looking back on it now, I don’t think I ever really spent a lot of time exploring the line until that day. So, when No. 33, the frag launched to commemorate the 145th anniversary of the founding of the line came out earlier this month, I didn’t hesitate to get a bottle.

William Penhaligon was a Cornish barber who moved to London in the 1860s. Along with his son Walter, he created and sold skin treatments, tonics, and scents for men and in 1870 he founded his eponymous fragrance house. In 1874, he opened his first boutique on Jermyn Street. A little while later he opened his second shop at 33 St James Street. No. 33 is named for that shop.

It opens fresh and citrusy with orange, grapefruit and bergamot. The bitterness of the bergamot is echoed by bitter, herbal artemsia. Coriander and clary sage heightened the herbal aspect of the opening. I am a sucker for herbal openings, so I am happy to drift here for a while until a note of aromatic lavender appears, its floral aspect enriched by violet, jasmine, rose, geranium and lily of the valley. Black pepper, ginger, saffron and cardamom gently warms it up. The lavender gently dominates a heart that is smooth, seamless and smells gorgeous – just gorgeous. The base is dry and woody from vetiver and cedar, tempered with a light sweetness from Tonka bean, amber and vanilla with a rich note of tobacco threading through it. Moss gives it a whiff of the forest, while musk keeps it warm and sensuous.

On me, this aromatic fougère is a skin scent with a drydown that is smooth, clean and refined as a gentleman’s scent should be.

No. 33 isn’t a big, brash, celebration of a birthday so much as it is a distinguished marking of an event and a beautiful olfactory tribute to William Penhaligon’s legacy.

Now I make regular visits to Men Essentials just to smell the air, check out new scents and see if any frags are on sale. You can do the same just by visiting their website. Well, not the smelling the air part, but still….

No. 33 is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.