1805 Tonnerre is part of the ‘Come Hell or High Water’ series from indie niche line BeauFort London, which was started in 2015 by writer/performer and The Prodigy drummer Leo Crabtree.
Crabtree was born in London. Though studied music and history, the call of the sea is in his DNA. “Tonnerre” means thunder in French, and the inspiration for the fragrance was the naval Battle of Trafalgar in 1805, when Admiral Lord Nelson defeated French and Spanish navies. During the battle, Nelson was fatally wounded and died at sea, and his body was preserved in a barrel of brandy for the trip back to England and a hero's funeral.
I find all of this background and history exciting, and I understand Leo Crabtree’s desire to create this scent, but it’s the smell of it that grabs me.
1805 Tonnerre opens with a bright, citrusy note of lime – a nod to ‘limey’, the slang term for sailors in the British Navy – with curls of smoke winding through it, creating a stunning smoky/fresh accord. There’s a sharp tartness here too, which must be the gunpowder listed in the notes. It gives depth to the lime and smoke combo so that the opening is bold yet refined. As it blooms, I smell the metallic tang of blood winding through the rich, boozy, sweet smell of brandy. It’s another striking combination that works. This pairing is smoothed with a note of salty seawater. At the base, amber carries over the sweetness of the brandy, while balsam fir makes it fresh and piney. Cedarwood, used in shipbuilding, adds its distinctive woody scent.
For all of the talk of thunder, battle, guns and blood, 1805 Tonnerre dries down to a darkly romantic scent that is more ethereal and ghostly than it is heavy and forceful. It’s like getting a whiff of the smell of the Battle of Trafalgar two hundred and thirteen years after it happened.
1805 Tonnerre is that rare thing: original, exciting and gorgeous.
Notes: lime, smoke, gunpowder, blood, brandy, seawater, amber, balsam fir, and cedar.