Blenheim Bouquet 
Penhaligon's (1902)

Average Rating:  89 User Reviews

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Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon's

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About Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon's

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The setting is Blenheim.  Imposing, immutable, indeed a national treasure, we are at the home of the Duke of Marlborough.  He for whom this bespoke scent was first made.  Just like the most refined British humour, it is dry. (Churchill was a fan.)

Fragrance notes.

  1. Top Notes

  2. Heart Notes

  3. Base Notes

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Reviews of Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon's

There are 89 reviews of Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon's.

In honor of Her Royal Majesty, I have chosen to profile the iconic house of Penhaligon's, specifically Blenheim Bouquet, a charming, noble aromatic. No, this is not modern one bit, its citruses perhaps too lemony and limey (no pun intended, I assure you) for 21st century nares with nary a rogue hair to suggest maturity. Well-groomed and well-heeled sensibilities are so out of place in this age of sweatpants as fashion statements and wearing white trainers after Labor Day. As the youth of today blaspheme while either smelling of nothing (clean living, yo!) or reeking of too much (beast mode!), Blenheim Bouquet is lost in time.

Penhaligon's was, at least until desperation and Christian Provenzano walked through the door, the epitome of aristocratic fragrance. Princess Diana's Bluebell was set aside for sensory assaults such as Halfeti and tepid mainstream in sheep's clothing such as Brilliantly British. More recent masterpieces such as Ostara, Tra La La, and Elixir were discontinued before they barely could be discovered by a larger population because the bean counters are breathing down necks. Don't even get me started on those ghastly decapitated menagerie bottles. Yet, Blenheim remains (for now), pine needle-y, peppery, fresh, yet musky enough to be a bit fleshy. Simple, classic, and not overly adorned. Proper.

I do fear that we may be in the sunset of this age in perfumery and personal accoutrements, and while it all still holds on by a thread, why not relish it? Corporate conglomerate whales may well swallow us all whole, so why not go out in style...

RIP Queen Elizabeth II

I didn't think I was going to like Blenheim Bouquet, but it has quickly become one of my favourite fragrances:

For the first few hours on my skin it smells very similar to Monsieur Balmain, and eventually settles into a gorgeous warm, musky fragrance, I can only liken to Yankee Candle's "Nature's Paintbrush"; it smells more complex than the fragrance pyramid, and I can't identify many individual notes.

Very distinguished and elegant.

This has lemon and lavender, and an old-school Eau de Cologne feel.

A touch of pepper
And a wee bit of moss made
For a quaint cologne.

I am a fan of old-school citrus based fragrances so I was looking forward to this cologne with a rich history. What a disappointment... It is rather linear citrus and pine scent, which on paper is fine to me. However, Blenheim Bouquet is very harsh. Honestly, a modern air freshener or even a toilet cleaner smells more pleasant to me. I guess it must be a British thing, why this scent was and is still popular over there.

If you are looking for classic timeless citrusy fragrance, there are many elegant choices like Dior Eau Sauvage, Armani Eau pour Homme or Acqua di Parma Colonia. Blenheim Bouquet was a big mistake but I had to try it due to its history. Do not blind buy this even if you are into classic citrus colognes.

Penhaligon's of London is a beloved and time-honored name in the UK, yet in the world abroad, is little more than a niche perfumer with a rich backstory. It's to be expected, as they never grew into a multinational cosmetics conglomerate like America's Avon or France's Coty, and instead focused on serving their local clientele, among which included members of British royalty, earning them royal warrants that they still possess. This is all relevant to Blenheim Bouquet by Penhaligon's (1902) because it is with these warrants that the scent was created, originally as a bespoke fragrance commissioned by the Duke of Marlborough in 1902, its official date of release. At some point, Winston Churchill himself began to wear it too, lending me to believe that its sale became relaxed enough that royal affiliates could acquire it at very least until it was made publicly available. The same sort of bespoke-to-market story also follows a large portion of Creed scents, but they allegedly left the UK behind for Napoleon's courts long before Penhaligon's emerged with warrants, and maintained much more focus on a portfolio of elite clients rather than serving the public outright (a convenient way to refuse providing evidence), so for them it's a more common tale to tell, and a bit more suspicious. Blenheim Bouquet in the modern era is one of Penhaligon's biggest sellers, becoming something of an upper-class toiletry staple for guys once it saw release publicly, even after Penhaligon's stopped being an actual barbershop and started focusing solely on the take-home products.

The 1900's also saw shift away from single-subject fragrances, since Fougère Royale(1882) and Jicky (1889) set new standards for abstract perfumery, which directly translates to more diversity through experimentation. Bay rum was popular in the Americas and the staple "barbershop" style of fougere was also coming about in France, but this is really nothing like those. There's no tonka here, no ambergris of any kind in the base, with only six notes listed overall and no detectable heart notes. Blenheim Bouquet must have been a really specific and targeted creation based on what the Duke of Marlborough liked, because there really wasn't anything else quite like it outside of Geo F. Trumper's Wellington Cologne (1876) which it somewhat copies. The scent almost starts like a classic unisex eau de cologne, but with both lemon and lime singing together alongside a blast of dry English lavender. From there, it's just pine, oakmoss for a fixative, and a strong pepper note in the base. That's literally it, making Blenheim Bouquet seem like Lemon Pepper: The Fragrance, but really the beauty here is in the ratios of ingredients and blending. I find this stuff to be a distant cousin to the traditional eau de cologne, just without all the herbs and neroli treatment of Wellington, being much more "forthright masculine" due to it's staunchly dry and assertive feel. Blenheim Bouquet is very structured but still refreshing enough to do what it was likely made to do, which was to be The Duke of Marborough's "me too" version of the Duke of Wellington's honorary scent. In the modern era, Blenheim is likely a bit more recognizable even if less interesting.

Wearing Blenheim Bouquet is surprisingly easy even well over a century after it's creation, which is in stark contrast to The Hammam Bouquet (1872) and it's quite literal "Victorian Ponce in a Bottle" vibe. It's either a nod to the Duke's good taste in paring down the style of Wellington, or the skill of Penhaligon's in doing so; maybe a bit of both makes this so timeless. Yeah, it's a very dry composition that will make it hard to relate for trend-seeking fragrance users, since Blenheim doesn't have that chemical burn or roundness modern male scents possess, but it's so fresh and peppery that it's almost impossible to not like unless you just can't do without that sugar. The only things that really compare to this are later italian pine colognes or Avons Windjammer (1968), but I think that's just due to the black pepper and/or pine in each. This a less green scent than Wellington Cologne, and the pine is very much in full effect alongside that much-sung pepper, making Blenheim, the better morning splash and after-shave fragrance. I'm not sure why Mr. Churchill favored it, but for anyone today thinking of giving this centenarian a go, all they need know is that Blenheim Bouquet is quite literally a distillation of the kind of masculine austerity Victorians and Edwardians favored. Very pleasant and unique, but due to the vast shift in both tastes and paradigms of what's considered masculine, Blenheim Bouquet not for everyone. Long before aquatics brought the "freshness" on a hot day, we had British barbers doing it for the upper-class like this. Thumbs up

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