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Penhaligon’s perfumes review | World’s most comprehensive guide

Penhaligon’s perfumes review | World’s most comprehensive guide

Penhaligons perfume woman applying fragrance

Last Updated on December 27, 2023 by Eve Dawes

Penhaligon’s perfumes have been on my radar for a while so when I finally got to their store in London I wanted to try all of their fragrances I’d heard of like Halfeti. As well as others I hadn’t. As I was really hoping to find a new luxury cruelty-free perfume and to find something a bit different to what everyone else is wearing. Penhaligon’s is a luxury brand known for their Fragrance Profiling, quality and royal connections but does it live up to the hype and hefty price tag. Here’s a deeper look at this luxury fragrance brand, a review of their shopping experience and 16 of their female, male and unisex fragrances.

Penhaligon's fragrance review woman smelling perfume

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Penhaligons History

Penhaligon’s was founded in 1872 by William Penhaligon with his 1st scent being Hammam Bouquet. The brand has had a royal background almost since their very beginning with their families 1st royal commission being to create the Blenheim Bouquet for the 9th Duke of Marlborough.

Penhaligon's London Covent Garden store

Penhaligon’s perfume review

I’d been wanting to try Penhaligon for a while as I love the British heritage and the fact not many people I know in America wear it. I’m always looking for something a bit different and so many other luxury perfume brands aren’t cruelty free. 

Here’s everything you need to know about their history, in store shopping experience, fragrance profiling, personalization, fragrances and where to get them.

pehaliigons fragrances

I’m reviewing all of the mens, womens and unisex perfumes and eau de toilettes in the Trade Routes and Best Sellers Penhaligon’s scent libraries. There’s 17 Penhaligon’s fragrances in total as 2 of the scents, Halfeti and Empressa, are in both of these sets.

Penhaligon’s fragrances review | 16 best selling scents

Are Penhaligon’s fragrances unisex?

They’re a mix of mens, womens and unisex fragrances but you can really wear whatever you want. As their website doesn’t say who each perfume is designed for in their product descriptions. You really have to go by what the scents used in the fragrance are and what you like.

If you are searching by gender, I personally prefer really feminine perfumes to unisex, you can just click these Ladies or Gents or go to ‘Shop’ in the top menu bar, then fragrance, then Ladies or Gents on Penhaligon’s website. Their unisex perfumes will appear under both categories.

Penhaligon Fragrance profiling 

Pehanligon’s fragrance profiling is their online and in store experience where they ask you a series of questions to help narrow down the ones they feel will be best suited to you and that they think you’ll like.

I actually found the online fragrance profiling more thorough and accurate than in store. As in store the lady only asked what smells I usually like and actually misheard me and was giving me all the scents I said I didn’t like! Whereas their online fragrance profiling takes you through a series of fun personality questions which takes about 3 minutes and leaves you with 3 suggestions.

penhaligons fragrances covent garden market store

From Penhaligon’s online fragrance profiling you can select 2 free samples. However, you do have to pay for shipping or spend enough to get free shipping.

The staff weren’t the friendliest in the 1st Covent Garden store we went into and seemed inconvenienced by me coming in. It felt a bit like the scene in ‘Pretty Women’ where she’s snubbed shopping on Rodeo Drive. However, the second store in Covent Garden Market Piazza was much friendlier and more helpful.

penhaligons covent garden shopping

They recommend not trying too many of their perfumes as it can get overwhelming and confusing. I think I tried 5 in total before ending up with Empressa. More on that below.

My Penhaligon’s shopping haul included a full size Empressa, 3 sets of the Trade Routes scent library and 3 sets of Penhaligon’s Best Sellers scent libraries. I’d wanted to buy their Portraits scent library as they’re the prettiest bottles in my opinion but unfortunately they were sold out. So it’s going on my Christmas list as it’s available online.

Penhaligon’s perfume personalization options

Once you’ve decided on your perfume(s) there’s the option online and in person to pay to personalize it with a leather sleeve which comes in 5-8 colors depending on the perfume and charm and/or have it engraved.

Penhaligons personalization leather sleeve charm

Unfortunately neither of the 2 stores we visited was able to do the engraving but luckily 1 was able to do the embossing. It was a shame about the engraving as that makes the bottle so personal and special. Versus the sleeve which covers the pretty bottles.

I choose the pink Spanish leather sleeve from the 8 leather colors available for this style of bottle. The next step is to have the leather sleeve embossed with up to 3 characters in either silver or gold. 

Then you get to choose your charm designed by Kristjana Williams. ​ I chose the motor car charm as it’s limited edition and no longer available. Also because F1 is coming to Vegas this year. Perfumes always evoke memories for me. So now I’ll always have something to remember it and this Summer in London by.

Penhaligon’s perfumes and fragrances review

I’ve been trying Penhaligon perfumes over the last month so here’s my honest thoughts and comprehensive Penhaligon’s review including a little of this luxury cruelty-free perfume brands history and which fragrances the Royals wear.

Along with what each fragrance smells like to me. Including Empressa, Halfeti and Luna, my personal hits and misses, whether they’re worth the price and my very favorite. Bearing in mind perfumes wear differently on everyone due to how they react with your skin and body chemistry.

Penhaligon’s Trade Routes scent library

The Trade Routes scent library contains 8 x 2ml Penhaligon’s miniatures (aka samples). Many of the Trade Routes eau de parfums are unisex fragrances so they’re fun to try together and share:

  • Halfeti
  • Halfeti leather
  • Halfeti Cedar
  • Empressa
  • Legacy of Petra
  • Babylon
  • Cairo
  • Constantinople
Penhaligons Trade Routes scent library

Top selling Penhaligon’s Halfeti Eau De Parfum

This unisex eau de parfum will now forever remind me of Ibiza. As I was using my 10ml travel size Halfeti every evening there. It’s Penhaligon’s best seller with all 5 star reviews on their website. My husband, parents and I all agreed it’s more feminine than unisex and both Lewis and my Dad said they wouldn’t wear it.

penhaligons halfeti perfume review
Penhaligon’s Halfeti 100ml eau de parfum

What does Penhaligon’s Halfeti smell like?

Halfeti is one of Penhaligon’s most popular and famous scents so what does it actually smell like? I normally prefer more feminine perfumes but am actually really loving this scent. It’s quite heavy on amber and musky incense notes but I find it well balanced between the florals and warmth and quite a feminine, sensual scent.

It’s not overwhelming, as long as you’re not too heavy with it and it’s strength and complexity makes me feel more confident, sexy and powerful. Halfeti is towards the top of my favorites list for a Winter, going out/evening perfume.

  • Head Notes: Bergamot, Cardamom, Citrus, Saffron
  • Heart Notes: Rose, Plum, Pepper
  • Base Notes: Incense, Leather, Musk, Amber

Shop Halfeti perfume.

Penhaligon’s Halfeti Leather (unisex)

My Mum and I said this is more masculine and much heavier than the original Halfeti and that neither of us would wear it. Whereas my Dad said it was more unisex, liked it and would wear it.

Halfeti Leather started as a warm and predominantly plum scent that’s suited more for the Winter. He actually liked it more after it had time to warm up on his skin and the leather smell developed more which you don’t get when you first spray it.

  • Head Notes: Bergamot
  • Heart Notes: Plum
  • Base Notes: Incense

Halfeti Leather 100ml.

Penhaligon’s Halfeti Cedar (unisex fragrance)

Halfeti Cedar Eau de Parfum was very citrusy to start with. The cedar develops the longer it’s on your skin and balances out. However, we liked it the least out of all of Penhaligon’s Halfeti perfumes. I found it too masculine and wouldn’t consider it a unisex but a men’s perfume.

  • Head: Rum, Peach, Cardamom, Saffron
  • Heart: Mineral Accord, Immortelle, Dried Fruits, Cinnamon, Cedarwood Virginia
  • Base notes: Cedarwood Atlas, Vanilla, Labdanum, Patchouli, Tonka Bean

Empressa Eau de Toilette (women’s perfume)

Empressa was released in 2014 as part of the Trade Roots collection. All of Penhaligon’s perfumes are quite pricey and this one’s $275 for 100ml/3.4oz.

Empressa is supposed to smell of bergamot (head note), peach (heart note) and patchouli (base). Along with vanilla and blood orange to be bright, warm, lustrous, and unforgettable! I told them I don’t like vanilla and like florals so I’m not sure how we ended up with this one but here we go:

Penhaligons Empressa 100l bottle review

I find Empressa to be summery but complex and quite addictive. With most of Penhaligon’s I feel like I normally only need 2 spritzes. With Empressa it’s more like 6-8 so I’m definitely going to plough through the bottle quickly.

Someone said it’s reminiscent of Coco Mademoiselle in their review which I hadn’t noticed until they said it. Now they’ve said it, I can see where they’re coming from. I’d said to the store I liked that Coco and Chanel No. 5 but didn’t want to wear Chanel any more as they’re not cruelty-free.

I find Empressa to be more peachy and slightly less sweet and muskier with more warmth than Coco Mademoiselle. As well as more addictive (you know when you just want to keep sniffing a perfume) and sensual. Versus Coco Mademoiselle which I find more youthful.

Thankfully I don’t smell the vanilla notes and the citrus doesn’t make it smell like cleaning products. The longer I wear it, the more smells I discover. It’s actually quite complex. Empressa is a great perfume if you’re looking for something floral that works for both the day and night but to me it’s definitely more of a Summer than Winter fragrance.

  • Head Notes: Blood Orange, Bergamot, Mandarin
  • Heart Notes: Peach, Cassis, Dewberry, Rose, Neroli, Geranium, Cardamom, Pink Pepper, Black Pepper
  • Base Notes: Vanilla Pod, Cocoa, Frankincense, Amber, Musk, Woods, Patchouli, Sandalwood, Maltol.
Penhaligon’s Empressa & a peek inside their London store

Penhaligon’s Legacy of Petra | Unisex fragrance

Legacy of Petra is one of Penhaligon’s newer unisex fragrances and was released in 2022. It’s warm, spicy, sweet and the vanilla’s not overpowering.

However, because it’s on the sweeter side I find it more of a feminine women’s perfume than a unisex scent. I actually really like Legacy of Petra and it’s on my Penhaligon’s fragrances favorites list for Winter perfumes.

Bracing desert winds. A riddle of bergamot and balsam. Dusk greets a convoy of fragrant woody amber – and just in time for tea. Warm myrrh makes tarrying tempting. But is it all a façade? Surely not.

Penhaligon’s Est. London 1870
  • Head note: Fennel seeds.
  • Heart note: Myrrh.
  • Base note: Vanilla.

Penhaligon’s Babylon Eau de Parfum | Unisex fragrance.

Babylon eau de parfum is another unisex fragrance from Penhaligon’s Trade Routes collection. I had a feeling this would be too masculine, spicy and woody for me and it was. It’s a warm, wintery scent that you may like it you like perfumes that are heavy on the spice and wood.

  • Head note: Saffron
  • Heart note: Cypriol
  • Base note: Sandalwood

I had to look up Cypriol as I hadn’t heard of it before. Cypriol is a plant is mentioned in ancient Ayurvedic medicine with an earthy, and woody that’s a fusion of patchouli, cedar and vetiver, along with herbal (Bay leaf) and spicy (black pepper) notes.

Shop Babylon eau de parfum.

penhaligons review babylon eau de parfum

Cairo Eau De Parfum (unisex fragrance)

Penhaligon’s Cairo Eau de Parfum is another Penhaligon’s favorite for me. It’s sexy, warm and perfect for an evening perfume for the Winter. I personally find it more of a woman’s perfume than unisex as it is on the sweeter, floral side.

  • Head note: Saffron
  • Heart note: Rose
  • Base note: Vanilla

Shop Cairo.

Penhaligon’s Constantinople Eau De Parfum (unisex)

Constantinople unisex scent started sweet and floral as the Orris (a type of Iris) stood out the most. However, it became musky and almost had a dated smell as it developed. For me the muskiness made this too unisex and overpowering for me.

  • Head note: pink pepper
  • Heart note: Orris
  • Base note: Patchouli

Shop Constantinople eau de parfum.

Penhaligon’s Best Sellers Scent Library

Penhaligon’s Best Sellers Scent Library contains 10 x 2ml Penhaligon’s miniatures (aka samples) which are a mix of women’s, mens and unisex fragrances.

  • Luna Eau de Toilette, 2 mL
  • Empressa Eau de Toilette, 2 mL (reviewed above)
  • Endymion Concentre, 2 mL
  • Halfeti Eau de Parfum, 2 mL (reviewed above)
  • The Favourite Eau de Parfum, 2 ml
  • The Coveted Duchess Rose Eau de Parfum, 2 mL
  • Lord George Eau de Parfum, 2 mL
  • Blenheim Bouquet Eau de Toilette, 2 mL
  • Juniper Sling Eau de Toilette, 2 mL
  • Quercus Eau de Cologne, 2 mL
Penhaligon’s Best Sellers Scent Library

Penhaligon’s Luna Eau de Toilette (women’s perfume)

I was worried this would be too citrusy but the florals and woodiness balance it out. To me this Penhaligon’s perfume is predominantly Jasmine and reminds me of hot Mediterranean nights. It’s bright with a little bit of muskiness. Luna eau de toilette is definitely on my favorites list.

  • Head Notes: Bergamot, Lemon, Orange
  • Heart Notes: Rose Accord, Jasmine Petal Accord, Juniper Berry Oil
  • Base Notes: Fir Balsam, Musk, Ambergris
Penhaligon’s Luna review

Endymion Concentre Eau de Parfum (men’s eau de cologne)

Endymion sounds intense and musky from it’s notes. This scent starts soapy, fresh, light and summery. However, the more it develops the more intense and unisex, almost masculine it gets. You can smell the florals but it’s well balanced. I didn’t like it to start with but it grew on me. I won’t be buying it but I don’t dislike it.

  • Head Notes: Bergamot, Lavender, Sage.
  • Heart Notes: Suede Accord, Geranium.
  • Base Notes: Leather, Incense, Nutmeg.

Penhaligon’s The Favourite Eau de Parfum (women’s fragrance)

The Favourite women’s perfume was way too strong for me and definitely not one that I’d personally buy. I liked it initially as it started as strong Jasmine which I love but then as it developed it got more musky and old fashioned. I’ll finish this sample size of The Favorite but wouldn’t repurchase it.

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  • Head Notes: Mandarin, Violet Leaf, Bergamot
  • Heart Notes: Jasmine, Mimosa, Orris
  • Base Notes: Indian Sandalwood, Musk, Ambroxan

Penhaligon’s womens fragrance | The Coveted Duchess Rose Eau de Parfum

Whenever I see vanilla or rose in a perfumes primary scent profile I’m normally hesitant to try it. I find vanilla so sickly and kid like and Rose can often smell too mature. However, this is a hit for me and an absolutely beautiful perfume but it should be for this price point.

At $310 for 75ml it’s definitely up there in luxury perfume prices. A little does go a long way though and the scent lasted from the morning until I washed it off before I went to bed.

penhaligons perfume womens fragrance coveted duchess rose

It’s not sickly sweet from the rose and vanilla but balanced with the woodiness. It’s an elegant, ultra feminine perfume I’d wear in the Summer for both the day and night. Making it great to travel with.

I also love the bottle the Duchess Rose Portraits Collection perfume comes in so it’s definitely on my Penhaligon favorites list.

  • Head Notes: Mandarin 
  • Heart Notes: Rose Centifolia, Damascene Rose
  • Base Notes: Vanilla, Wood

Lord George Eau de Parfum (men’s perfume)

I had my husband review this one as Lord George is a men’s fragrance (although some reviews say it can be unisex) and he didn’t like this at all. He found it a bit sweet and floral and didn’t think it was worth the price in comparison to his current favorite men’s fragrances.

  • Head Notes: Lavender, Rum
  • Heart Notes: Tonka Bean
  • Base Notes: Ambrox, Vetiver, Cedarwood

Blenheim Bouquet Eau de Toilette (Penhaligon’s men’s fragrance)

Blenheim Bouquet is a another Penhaligon’s mens fragrance steeped in the houses history. This Eau de Toilette was created 120 years ago by Water Penhaligon for the 9th Duke of Marlborough. Lewis felt it was a summery fragrance but didn’t love this one either as he found it the citrus too overpowering.

  • Head Notes: Lemon, Lime, Lavender
  • Heart Notes: Lavender
  • Base Notes: Black Pepper, Pine, Musk

Unisex Penhaligon’s perfume: Juniper Sling Eau de Toilette

This is quite peppery, strong and obviously has juniper berry. I personally think it’s more on the masculine side than feminine and quite a strong fragrance. A little Juniper Sling goes a long way to spritz lightly! It’s on my miss list and not one I’ll try again.

Whereas, it was Lewis’s favorite of the 3 he tried but he said he still wouldn’t buy it as he still prefers the one’s he has.

  • Head Notes: Cinnamon, Orange Brandy, Angelica, Juniper Berry
  • Heart Notes: Cardamom, Black Pepper, Leather, Orris 
  • Base Notes: Brown Sugar, Black Cherry, Vetiver, Ambrox

Men’s Penhaligon’s perfume: Quercus Eau de Cologne

Quercus is supposed to be a men’s perfume but we found it too sweet to be a mens’ fragrance. The citrus was overpowering and made it smell like furniture polish. Quercus is on our miss list and not something any one in my family would wear.

  • Head Notes: Lemon, Lime, Mandarin, Bergamot.
  • Heart Notes: Jasmine, Lily Of The Valley, Cardamom.
  • Base Notes: Oakmoss, Sandalwood, Galbanum, Musk, Amber.

How to apply Penhaligon’s perfume

To get the best results from your eau de parfum, eau de toilette and colognes:

  • Spritz a light mist of Penhaligon’s perfume or Eau De Toilette on your pulse points. 
  • Avoid spraying onto clothing as the essential oils can cause stains or discoloration.
  • Avoid contact with eyes, open wounds, dry or cracked skin to avoid irritation.
Penhaluigons store london applying testing perfume

Penhaligon’s Olfactive Society

The Olfactive Society is just a fancy name for those on their email list. Is it worth joining Penhaligon’s email list? Since it doesn’t cost anything to join the Olfactive Society and benefits include latest news, offers, welcome gifts and birthday treats it’s worth signing up.

How much are Penhaligon’s perfumes

They vary in price from $42/£25 to around $320/£259 for their most expensive gift set. Full size fragrance bottles range from about $170-310.

Is Penhaligon a luxury fragrance brand

Absolutely, Penhaligon’s is considered a luxury fragrance brand with 2 Royal Warrants and superior quality. It’s earned it’s place as one of the world’s most esteemed fragrance houses and the price point reflects that.

With a Royal Warrant and a robust reputation as one of England’s most iconic perfumeries, Penhaligon’s is world-renowned for its selection of luxury perfumes, bath, body and men’s grooming products.

Harrods
Penhaligons review luxury fragrance perfumes

Shop Penhaligon’s Perfume

Here are all of the perfumes I reviewed, including the best seller ‘Penhaligon’s Halfeti’ and Lady Diana’s favorite ‘Penhaligon’s Bluebell’. As well as direct links to my favorites and gift ideas. Including their brand new Penhaligons Advent Calendar for 2023 ‘The Toy Chest’.

If you’re new to Penhaligon’s perfumes I highly suggest starting with their scent libraries to be able to try them without such a hefty investment.

My Penhaligon’s perfume favorites and misses

My favorite Penhaligon’s perfumes for the Summer are:

  • Empressa
  • Luna
  • The Coveted Duchess Rose

My favorite Penhaligon’s perfumes for the Winter are:

  • Halfeti
  • Legacy of Petra
  • Cairo

My least favorite Penhaligon’s perfumes are:

  • Blenheim Bouquet
  • Babylon
  • Quercus
penhaligons perfume empressa

Is Penhaligons worth the money?

That depends on how much you want to spend on your perfume, how much you’re going to wear it and how much you like it. I have to really like a fragrance to spend this much on it.

Does the Royal family wear Penhaligon’s perfume

Yes, lots of royals throughout history and to the present day wear Penhaligon’s. Including:

  • Princess Diana Penhaligon’s Bluebell
  • Prince William Prince of Wales Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet (Hello Magazine).
  • Duke of Marlborough Penhaligon’s Blenheim Bouquet

What Penhaligon’s perfume did Princess Diana wear?

Princess Diana’s favorite perfume is said to have been Penhaligon’s Bluebell according to various reliable sources. Shop Bluebell Eau De Toilette.

Who owns Penhaligon’s

Penhaligon’s is owned entirely by the Spanish fashion and fragrance company Puig International SA. Due to the Penhaligon’s heritage, they’ve really elevated the fragrance house as a luxury brand internationally.

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