I’ve never had much luck with Jo Malone fragrances but last year’s Wood Sage & Sea Salt got a fair amount of positive attention, so I thought I’d give it a try.
It contains notes of ambrette seed, sea salt, sage, red algae and grapefruit. Composed by Christine Nagel, the scent was inspired by “the unique character and quality of British beaches”.
Well, the girl in the advertising campaign is wearing a cardigan with her summer dress, so they’ve got that part right. I grew up spending day trips and family holidays at the English seaside, therefore I can attest to this being more than just a fashion statement. Our weather is nothing if not changeable. To modify a Mark Twain quote “If you don’t like the weather in England now, just wait a few minutes”.
In keeping with this, Wood Sage & Sea Salt isn’t a tropical white floral or a coconut laden sun-lotion fragrance. It’s all about a bracing walk along an empty beach on an overcast day, leaning into the sea breeze. Think of that strain of northern hemisphere seashore fragrances such as Heeley’s Sel Marin and The Different Company’s Sel de Vetiver.
Wood Sage & Sea Salt bursts forth with sparkling grapefruit, gradually dying down to a combination of dry, lightly salted woods and soft green notes. There’s just a hint of something mineral in the air, while a little of the citric zingy-ness lingers on.
The effect is outdoorsy; portraying fresh air, sea-salt speckled driftwood and marram grass.
The traces of citrus are all but gone as we move into the heart of the fragrance. Now an unexpected haze of salty/sweet amber moves in: like a piece of ambergris washing up on the shore.
From here, rather than evolving into a base, it slowly fades away.
I find it wears close to the body and lasts well considering it’s lightweight and (like most Jo Malones) is referred to as a cologne.
Wood Sage & Sea Salt is nowhere near as substantial or striking as Sel Marin but then it’s arguably a lot more wearable. There is no marine life lurking in the rock pools here.
It’s gender neutral but I suspect the guys would wear it particularly well. Wood Sage & Sea Salt is clean, fresh and subtly salty.
While you couldn’t call it a complex or exciting fragrance, it has an enjoyable carefree vibe about it. It does a good job of evoking the liberating feeling of escaping to the windswept British coast outside of high season.
Wood Sage & Sea Salt could work well as a casual fragrance to wear when it’s just a little too early – or too late – in the year for those hot and sunny beach perfumes.
Alternatively, simply spray any time you fancy a trip to our shores.
Does Wood Sage & Sea Salt appeal to you? What’s your experience of Jo Malone fragrances?