Iconic Scents: Lime, Basil & Mandarin
When you've even a hint of passion for perfume or curiosity for candles, we believe the more you know, the more you want to know. That's why we like to get our geek on and take a deep dive into some of the most iconic scents of all time.
Exploring the history of these fragrances and revealing the fascinating facts behind their ingredients, we'll also be helping you find which scents you should seek out next. Here, we're delving deeper to discover the scented secrets of Lime, Basil & Mandarin...
In 1991, a new Cologne was launched by a then relatively unknown brand. Its overwhelming success changed not only their fortunes but the fragrance world at large. Suddenly, it created a frenzy for freshness: in stark contrast to the swaggering, shoulder-pads-in-a-bottle type perfumes that had dominated the previous eras. Somehow it captured the zeitgeist and fed the need for feel-good fragrances that instantly lifted your mood, and continues to be one of the best-selling scents in the world.
In her autobiography, 'My Story', Jo Malone explains the inspiration for what remains their most famous fragrance, which was entirely based on important smell memories throughout her life. The initial idea, she explains, came from "sucking on a lime-chocolate sweet as a kid", of remembering smelling basil "...with its aniseed twists" and fondly recalling the "orange and cinnamon wreaths" she'd regularly purchased to fragrance her flat.
In those early days, Jo reveals she hadn't much experience of creating fine fragrances herself, though a Nutmeg & Ginger body lotion and matching bath oil had already received great acclaim in the beauty industry. The supplier of her oils, Lautier Florasynth, included an in-house team of perfumers, one of whom happened to be Lucien Piguet, a 'nose' who'd made his name previously by creating fragrances for Oscar de la Renta and Jil Sander. Collaborating with Jo Malone, together they worked on a scent that took the wake-up ZING! of a traditional Cologne but gave it a juicier feel by incorporating an almost edible mandarin note along with the more usual citrus ingredients of lime and bergamot.
You might not realise it at first sniff, but in the heart, they used lilac and iris - the lilac adding the feel of woodland walk, iris smoothing the edges of the sharpness with its delicate, powdery veil. The middle section of the Jo Malone London fragrance contains herbal notes of basil and white thyme. "Some may think that basil is a leftfield choice for a modern-day fragrance," their website suggests, "but basil has a story that echoes through the centuries; across distant lands, via ancient cures, loved by monarchs and pets alike. A past rooted in romance and remedies. It's the unconventional hero of our modern classic..."
This citrus smell is more intense than lemon, with a scent that literally makes the mouth water through its juiciness. It's used in top notes to awaken, energise, and shock the senses. in aromatherapy its prized for its ability to positively affect mood, promote well-being and emotional balance.
Botanically known as Citrus Aurantifolia, lime is native to India, where it's traditionally been used in Tantric rituals to ward off evil spirits from the body. It was brought to Europe in trade by the Persians, but rather confusingly, in Britain and Ireland, Linden trees are commonly called 'lime trees' though they're not actually related to the tree that produces the citrus fruit. Today limes are farmed in many places (South Asia, Florida, Italy, Cuba, and Mexico, which has the most significant production); and in perfumery, a process of expression (squeezing) or distillation is used to capture their luscious fragrant bounty.
With a green, herbal, partly sweet, partly spicy smell, this most aromatic of herbs also possesses a warm woody nuance when used in fragrance. Basil is used in aromatherapy to clarify, calm nerves, fortify the spirit and uplift the mind.
A member of the mint family, in ancient Arabic perfumery, basil was known as 'the king of fragrant plants', and the Greek word for the herb means 'royal' or 'kingly'. In fact, the herb got its name from Ancient Greek mythology, after the basilisk - a legendary half-lizard, half-dragon creature. The basil plant was considered a magical talisman to protect you against its fatal, piercing stare or deadly breath. Happily, it also protects against humans' bad breath, as basil contains chlorophyll, which neutralises volatile sulphur compounds in the mouth. The Victorians embraced basil as a symbol of love in their complex 'language of flowers', including it in bouquets to convey a message of good wishes. The Hindu tradition, meanwhile, associates holy basil with purification, protection, love and eternal life.
The mildest of citrus fruits, mandarin smells sweet, juicy, and tangy with notes of candied orange and a delicate floral, neroli-like undertone. Its scent is said to have warming, soothing qualities in aromatherapy treatments, which Neal's Yard tells us "Is great for soothing grouchy, overtired children."
Mandarins are one of the three oldest citrus species on earth but didn't arrive on European shores until the 19th Century. Along with citrons and pummelos, they predate all other citrus fruits including lemons, limes, oranges, and grapefruit. Thought to descend from the wild oranges in northeast India, mandarins then made their way from China to Europe. Interestingly, the fruit got its nickname from England - Mandarin was the Chinese dialect spoken by officials in China who wore deep, orange-coloured robes. So, when the English first saw the citrus, they named it 'Mandarin'. The fruit is traditionally an auspicious symbol, because when spoken in mandarin, the word "orange" sounds similar to "wealth". Exchanged as gifts during the Lunar New Year, mandarins represent respect, good fortune, and a wish for your happiness.
"You never forget your first love" Says the Jo Malone London Website. "Ours was Lime, Basil & Mandarin."
It remains a favourite of ours, too, and we kjnow many devotees who are never without the exhilarating scent wafting throughout their homes. But if you already adore Parks Lime, Basil & Mandarin candles and diffusers, you might like to explore these notes further for even more hits of happiness...
No2 Bergamot & Mandarin Candle - Combined with Calabrian bergamot and lemon, the mandarin is infused with extra sunshine, to brighten the dullest of days.
Vetiver, Basil, Lavender & Mint Candle - A coastal breeze pierced by peppermint cools as lavender increases basil's herbaceous side and vetiver enhances its grounding woodiness.
Lemongrass & Mint Diffuser - Make it mojito time, as a burst of lemongrass lends its unmistakable dry zing to mouth-watering lime and instantly cooling mint on sweltering days.