Perfume brand Union launched with four fragrances in 2012. Their concept is to produce fragrances using raw materials from across the British Isles. For example, there is violet leaf from Devon, England, wild thyme from Snowdonia, Wales, bracken from the Scottish Borders and moss from Ireland. The collection is meant to be “an olfactory celebration of the British countryside”. Apparently a lot of time and effort went into sourcing the necessary ingredients.
On trying the first four perfumes, it’s clear that perfumer Anastasia Brozler has created a small collection of modern, distinctive and well crafted fragrances. While they do contain a significant amount of naturals, they also include some synthetics in order to give them “lift”. They are labelled as EDTs but the lasting power is extremely good.
Holy Thistle – The Spiky Green
Notes: Thistle, heather, bay, bracken and pine resin.
Holy Thistle is an aromatic green fragrance with a zingy facet. It’s like a denser, and darker version of Trefle Pur by Atelier Cologne. Unlike some green fragrances, it’s not too bitter, soapy or reminiscent of pine air freshener. I find it the least interesting of the four, but it really does reflect the unkempt landscape of the Scottish Highlands. It’s definitely the prickly greenery of thistles and bracken rather than the lush greenery of grass and leaves. Worth checking out if you’re a dedicated Green Fiend.
Celtic Fire – The Smoky Leather
Notes: Pine needles, fir balsam, Marmite, birch tar, peat and bog myrtle.
This one really packs a punch. It succeeds well at replicating the aroma of a peat fire on a misty autumn morning. Putting Marmite in the notes list was a clever idea. This polarising savoury spread is one of those foodstuffs that ex-pats miss when they emigrate. I can’t pick it out of the mix except for a noticeable saltiness. Smoky and earthy, it’s a must for fans of hefty birch tar leathers such as Patchouli 24 by Le Labo or smouldering fragrances such as CB I Hate Perfumes, Burning Leaves.
Gothic Bluebell – The Dappled Floral
Notes: Bluebell, narcissus, hyacinth, violet leaf, ground ivy, willow bark, oak bark, oakmoss and musk.
This is a clever one. Far from being a wan floral, it has surprising depth. One sniff of the deep amber liquid brings a whole bluebell wood to life. It’s the scent of delicate spring flowers growing in the shadow of tall trees. It has the same tension between light and shade as Perle de Mousse by Ann Gerard. This makes Gothic Bluebell the most intriguing of the four. It’s the perfect perfume to wear while reading Emily Brontë’s darkly romantic novel Wuthering Heights.
Quince, Mint & Moss – The Invigorating Cologne
Notes: Quince, juniper berries, garden mint, thyme, sage, watercress, lime leaves, rhubarb leaf, moss, mountain ash and oak bark.
I’m not very familiar with quince but apparently it’s a rather sour fruit that is best cooked before being eaten. I know it from the wonderful children’s poem, The Owl and the Pussycat by Edward Lear:
“They dined on mince and slices of quince. Which they ate with a runcible spoon…”
It’s good to come across a perfume with a unique starring note.
Quince, Mint & Moss opens quite strong and tart, giving it a bracing edge. It makes for a pleasantly refreshing wake-up call. I’m not much of a fan of mint in perfume but along with the other green notes, it provides a nice herbaceous backdrop to the bright, zesty, quince. It’s the sort of thing that probably wouldn’t feel out of place in the new Jo Loves fragrance line.
Newest Release: Gunpowder Rose
Notes: Rose, charcoal, sulphur, lovage, meadowsweet, blackcurrant, violet leaf, oakmoss and oak bark.
I haven’t had the opportunity to try this one but it sounds good. Here’s an extract from the blurb on the Henri Bendel website:
“Rose oils and extracts from Lincolnshire and the Stour Valley distil the scented velvet-softness of the petals and zesty-green stems of this romantic and exalted bloom. In a dramatic twist, the delicate flowers dance over spicy embers of charcoal and the piquant fizz of sulfur – the thunderstorm notes of gunpowder!”
Union perfumes are available at Selfridges in London and Henri Bendel in New York, currently priced at £125/$185 for a 100ml EDT. Henri Bendel also offer a Roller Ball Miniature Set of the original four fragrances for $75.
What do you think of the Union concept? Do any of them appeal to you?