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Basil and Neroli – A brilliant pair – September 24, 2016

Basil Growing in the Sun by Paul Wittal, Wikimedia Commons

I think the universe sends very clear signals, if you pay attention.

 For example, earlier this week I bump into an old acquaintance from the dog-park on my walk home from the subway. She has her new dog on a leash, a handsome setter whose name is Basil. I’m a sucker for dogs, especially big friendly ones, so Basil and I quickly realize we love each other, a feeling so intense that we decide we have probably been soul mates in a past life. Dogs have that effect on me. We promise to get together for a walk on the weekend.

Thursday evening, a friend stops by so we can meet her parents who are visiting from England. Her father’s name is Basil. We’ve just finished dinner, a fresh basil and plum tomato pasta, so the house smells awfully delicious. There’s a big bunch of basil I’ve just cut laying on the kitchen counter waiting to become pesto, so Basil starts to tell me how he loves to cook and is fascinated by herbs, the smell, the taste, and the ways in which different cultures use them. It turns out that he built a small greenhouse in his back garden in Surrey just to grow herbs. He has over twenty kinds of herbs, including five varieties of, you guessed it, BASIL.

Friday, I buy the new Vanity Fair with Bruce Springsteen on the cover, and in my haste to read all about his newly-published memoir, I open up to an ad for Jo Malone fragrance. The page has a smell strip, which I rip open and rub on my wrists. For the second time in four days, I instantly fall in love with Basil, only this time it’s Basil and Neroli, the newest launch from the London perfume house. Two hours later, I own a bottle.

Basil and Neroli was created by perfumer Anne Flipo, the nose behind Jo Malone’s Herb Garden Collection – two of which are in our Decant Store, Nasturtium and Clover, and Lavender and Coriander, in addition to her world-wide best-seller for L’Artisan Parfumeur, La Chasse aux Papillons. Anne’s unique skill with diaphanous white florals is well known in the perfume world, and this newest pairing of the delicious basil note and delicate orange blossom is superb. Basil and neroli, savoury and sweet, green and white, what a brilliant pair.

On the Jo Malone website, Anne Flipo perfectly describes this pairing:

“…the concept came to life as fresh, vegetal and sap-like, like a botanical garden…the top notes sing with basil’s freshness and generosity; sparkling and joyous. We used two varieties of basil; an overdose of both Basil Grand Vert and Basil Verbena, for a modern interpretation. We added an invigorating cedar needle note while the heart notes of neroli and orange bigarade create the glow of warm sunlight, and a floral aspect that balances well with the basil. Then the lasting notes of white musk and vetiver feel enveloping and grounding. It’s a game of colours between the green and the orange. They are welcoming ingredients that you want to touch.”

How does it smell? At first green, shimmery green basil with a fresh-as-all-outdoors garden waft, then slightly sweet with the addition of the orange-lemony neroli note. Neroli is the steam-distilled blosssoms from the bitter-orange tree, with green and spicy facets, less sweet and honeyed and ighter than orange blossom. The basil is there throughout, in perfect harmony with the warm floral, no surprises or twists, just a no-holds-barred joyous scent.

I fell in love fifteen years ago with Jo Malone’s first fragrance, the herbal-citrus Lime Basil & Mandarin, now considered a benchmark for non-gendered urban-chic scents, and still one of my favourite scents which I wear frequently. Basil and Neroli is different, less resinous and more floral, a little sweeter and more playful and flirty, but like Lime Basil and Mandarin it hits all the right buttons, it goes right to my core and makes me feel good.  

And that, after all, is exactly what a beautiful fragrance should do, and why I pay attention to signals from the universe. I could have missed this one altogether.

Basil and Neroli is listed in our Decant Store. Decants are $5.00 for 1 ml.