Despite its age, Penhaligon’s is one of Britain’s most active fragrance houses with already a dozen fragrances launched over the past twelve months. The inspirations behind these new scents continue to be broad and the brand utilises some of the industry’s most revered perfumers as well as emerging talent. For one of its latest releases called Savoy Steam, Penhaligon’s looked internally for inspiration and it revisited Hammam Bouquet, a fragrance William Penhaligon’s launched in 1872. At the time the Cornishman had recently opened his barbershop on Jermyn Street in Mayfair, London. He was inspired by the surrounding sights and smells and Hammam Bouquet referenced the aromas which came from the Turkish Baths that adjoined his barbershop. In the Victorian era, Turkish baths and saunas were highly fashionable.
Savoy Steam isn’t a direct descendent of Hammam Bouquet when you compare the notes. The former smells as exotic as the name suggests where as Savoy Steam is fastidiously clean and appeals to the contemporary Western ideal of cleanliness. The bottle’s neck features the iconic Penhaligon’s bow but Savoy Steam’s bow is made to look like a Turkish cotton towel and the name refers to the famous Savoy Turkish Baths that operated out of 92 Jermyn Street, a popular inner-city health retreat up until the mid-20th century.
Savoy Steam eau de parfum is not an overly complicated fragrance, but it didn’t need to be. The eau de parfum opens with a wash of watery rose petals. IFF perfumer Juliette Karagueuzoglou takes advantage of the innovative natural ingredients produced in-house at IFF’s Laboratoire Monique Remy in Grasse. Rose Essential is one of Savoy Steam’s key ingredients. The patented ingredient is produced naturally from Turkish rose petals. After steam distillation, additional fragrant molecules are removed from the rose water distillate then blended back into the essential oil. This process results is a more true-to-life rose petal aroma compared to traditional rose essential oil. With pink pepper notes and geranium absolute, Savoy Steam smells of rose water and Turkish delight. Tunisian rosemary brings an aromatic note into the mix and there is a subtle green, spicy note towards the top. This spiciness turns resinous at the back end of the fragrance with incense resinoid. This incense note isn’t smoky. It is the fresh, green resinous note of frankincense gum. Towards the end the rose develops a hint of raspberry. There is not a lot more to say about it except I love this short, succinctly executed fragrance. Penhaligon’s also launched an eau de cologne called Savoy Steam, Hammam Friction. I haven’t smelled it yet but I am keen to try this version. The eau de cologne includes citrus and eucalyptus notes and there is less focus on the rose accord that dominates the eau de parfum.
Savoy Steam is a shared fragrance for all genders. I think fans of Penhaligon’s Vaara might also enjoy Savoy Steam. Both have a watery, transparent quality and the lychee-effect of rose water plays out in both fragrances. It’s also a great choice for men who are struggling to find a good rose fragrance outside of the current trend of masculine oriental scents where the rose is inseparable from notes of leather, amber-woods and oud. If mindfulness and mental wellbeing could be expressed in a fragrance, Savoy Steam would be a good contender.
Olfactive direction: Thomas James
Perfumer: Juliette Karagueuzoglou (IFF)
Release Date: 2017
Typology (via Fragrances of the World): Aromatic fougére
Notes: Rosemary, pink pepper, rose, geranium, benzoin, incense
Australian stockist: www.agencedeparfum.com.au