Esprit du Roi
Esprit du Roi
First introduced by Penhaligon’s in 1983, Esprit du Roi was reformulated and updated by Bertrand Duchaufour in 2011 and released as part of the Anthology Collection.
I was introduced to this little jewel of a men’s fragrance by an English uncle at a family reunion a couple of years ago. As always, I greeted him with a hug and in that moment, I smelled something fresh and floral and woody. I smelled something gorgeous. So, I asked him what he was wearing: “It’s Esprit du Roi, he said. It means King’s spirit in English”. He was so cute and so pleased that he knew the English translation of Esprit du Roi.
The opening is fresh and citrusy from bergamot, mandarin, cedrat. The citrus accord isn’t bracing or mouth-puckering, but refined and elegant. It gives Esprit du Roi a certain British composure. The citrus is followed by a trio of herbs: cool, refreshing mint, astringent, herbaceous tomato leaf and davana – that sweet, jammy-fruit chameleon note that smells differently on different people. It gives the frgcen a kind of ‘custom-made’ feel. The greens complement the citrus fruits perfectly, and when cardamom appears and adds a hint of spicy warmth, I get a strong scent memory: I am a child again, helping my mother gather herbs from the garden on a warm summer’s day. As the fragrance develops, aldehydes bloom adding a gentle soapiness that’s a nod to Penhaligon’s barbershop beginnings, along with a floral aspect that ushers in a heart of exotic, rich, lush ylang ylang, jasmine and honeysuckle. These are big flowers that could easily highjack the whole fragrance, but harnessed by geranium leaf and clove, they become quietly elegant and, well, gentlemanly. The base is earthy and woody from patchouli, vetiver, cedar and sandalwood, with raspberry adding a hint of tartness that brightens the earthiness.
The drydown refined and sophisticated yet surprisingly refreshing and light. Esprit du Roi isn’t groundbreaking, and I’m pretty sure it wasn’t mean to be. But it’s not conventional either. What it is, is a beautifully crafted, discreetly elegant men’s summer scent and that’s what makes it exceptional.
Notes: bergamot, mandarin, cedrat, mint, tomato leaf, davana, aldehydes, cardamom, clove, Egyptian geranium, Madagascan ylang ylang, jasmine, honeysuckle, vetiver, cedar, sandalwood, patchouli, raspberry, white musk, ambergris, oakmoss, Africa stone.