Is ‘fresh oriental’ an oxymoron? Penhaligon’s Malabah

Dear Scent Diary,

I received a scented package from the lovely Mag at the other day – an RAOK (random act of kindness) that affirms my belief in bloggerkind. One of the samples she sent was of Penhaligon’s Malabah, a fragrance I’ve heard mentioned a lot as a favourite feminine of the line, so I made a beeline for it.

Unknown-3Malabah opens as a sparkling ginger, lemon tea concoction that intrigued me right away. Chic smelling ginger ale? Hmmm, tell me more.  The spicy yet fresh and sparkling juxtaposition had me hooked. Soon, the aldehydes die down and a rose note adds dimension to create a fresh ginger, cardamom tea with smooth rose backup singers. Some sweet amber joins in at the end to add some harmonies and make things even more appealing. It doesn’t project very much but continues to hum for a good eight hours close to the skin.

I’m generally a fan of dense, lush orientals but sometimes they can be too thick for my mood, especially in the coming spring and summer months. Malabah may just be my answer. The contrast of oriental spiciness and lightweight freshness seems to be exactly what I’m craving this time of year.

I can see how those looking for, or expecting a powerhouse oriental would be disappointed by Malabah. But for me, a scent that’s not too intense, but not too light and squeaky clean can be ‘just right’. Perhaps that’s why I consider Penhaligon’s Malabah to be the perfect fresh, oriental oxymoron for spring.