“What’s the point of that, Miss?” the waiter said.
“Tomorrow morning,” Mabel said.
The Diviners (2012) by Libba Bray
The anonymous waiter in Libba Bray’s novel was right: what’s the point of drinking a gin-based cocktail if there’s no gin in it? Gin, my favourite liquor, has a festive meaning to me: its juniper notes are sparkling and scorching. In particular, the union of gin and vermouth has a sacred importance, which I started appreciating in the late 1990s. At the time, drinking Martini made me feel incredibly classy (indeed), but bear with me: I was a grunge-looking university student who liked drinking à la James Bond, I guess. Nowadays I rarely drink alcohol, but you can be sure gin would definitely be on top of my drinking list, if I had one.
You can understand my excitement when, in 2011, I learnt about the creation of a gin-inspired perfume by Penhaligon’s – Juniper Sling. I just loved the idea of the peculiar notes of my favourite liquor turned into a fragrance, so Juniper Sling quickly hopped into my busy perfume wish-list. Since I first heard about it, many things have happened: I’ve bought other perfumes which I’ve fallen in love with, yet that intriguing gin scent was still there, waiting in my list. Last June I wanted to celebrate in style the end of a ghastly school year: after reading two lovely posts about gin-inspired and cocktail-inspired perfumes, I knew the time for my eager hands to grab a bottle of Juniper Sling had finally come.
The classic Penhaligon’s bottle has undergone a restyling here: the front sticker has a metallic look and embossed lettering, while the trademark tiny grosgrain bow has been replaced by a silver metal version.
The box has the same sticker; it’s square (and not rectangular like most of Penhaligon’s perfume boxes), embellished by a silver and aqua pattern. The Roaring Twenties inspiration can be found in the pattern and in the perfume itself, a unique blend of very different notes created by Olivier Cresp. The olfactory pyramid includes cinnamon, orange brandy, angelica and juniper berry as head notes; cardamom, leather, black pepper and orris wood as heart notes; brown sugar, black cherry, vetiver and ambrox as base notes. It’s definitely an aromatic perfume, where the aforementioned sparkling notes of juniper (echoing the London Dry gin which served as source of inspiration) emerge – strangely enough – with the boisée touch of vetiver. I personally can’t smell the leather nor the cardamom, but the drydown beautifully introduces the warm heart of the perfume, where I can smell sugar, cinnamon and a touch of orange.
On me, Juniper Sling is a scent with a soft/moderate sillage, but with a pretty good longevity. One of my main complaints about most perfumes is that they don’t last long on me; well, this is not the case. I’ve always thought it to be a summery scent, bubbly and fresh like a cologne, but it’s much more complex than that and probably its longevity proves it. This is what I love of Penhaligon’s perfumes : they look simple, but their heart and base notes often hide a warm secret, a combination of notes which never fails to knock me off.
When I bought it, a long and supposedly hot summer was ahead and I couldn’t wait spending it “applying liberally and drinking in” my new perfume. The gods have probably intended to punish me by sending the most rainy and coolest summer ever, but that is not enough to stop me: the irresistible warm heart of Juniper Sling is comforting in this strange weather, reassuring as a memory to treasure.