Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose: Fragrance Review


The queen of flowers, the single most important important flower in perfumery. Without this majestic flower, perfumery would be impossible. It lends sweetness and complexity to a perfume, and there are so many ways to highlight its different facets – green, tart, sweet, fruity, powdery, earthy.

Elisabethan Rose

English rose garden. No drama or opulence, just a slightly tart, prim and proper garden rose

While rose is often used to add complexity to a fragrance, in Penhaligon’s Elisabethan Rose, rose is the main star of the show. This is a prim and proper Victorian rose, evoking an English rose garden conjured into existence at every spray. Imagine breathing in the scent of fresh flowers with that slight green-ness in the crisp morning air…

The perfumer has chosen to highlight the innocence of roses in a garden by pairing it with geranium, accenting its green, slightly tart and herbal quality. Rose and geranium is a classic combination as geranium (rose geranium, Pelargonium Graveolens) does smell a little bit like rose — the latter smells a little more green and tart, lemony rose.

Elisabethan Rose does not smell particularly dated for a fragrance that dates back to 1984. Afterall, this is a simple and almost evergreen composition, perfect for days when you do not wish to have a dramatic and complex perfume. It also develops in a rather linear way, concluding in a slightly powdery finish with clean musky notes. Light and strangely refreshing for a floral composition, this is the perfume to go for when you just need something a bit more “perfumey” than rose water… Which means that tenancity is only average at best. Although sillage is excellent in the beginning, after about 30 minutes this starts to wane. On my skin I got about 4 hours, which is to be expected from an eau de toilette.

Who should try this fragrance? If you like your roses simple and clean like fresh roses plucked from the garden, and you want roses to lighten and brighten your day, then give this jewel a try. Do not expect an opulent bombshell like Frederic Malle’s Portrait of a Lady, or a radiant fruity chypre rose like the classic Guerlain Nahema. Neither is it a middle eastern rose/oud composition that have become so popular in recent years.

No, this rose is a simple rose, and sometimes, that’s all you need.