Wood Sage and Sea Salt by Jo Malone

This review is going to start off on a slightly negative note, but bear with us…

Here at The Sniff, we have issues with the whole Jo Malone London concept. The reasons being are twofold.

Firstly, it just seems a bit lazy. Instead of presenting the customer with a fully rounded and balanced perfume that tells a story, and takes you on a journey, they present us with linear, incomplete fragrances that we are then supposed to mix or layer ourselves with what they term “fragrance combining“. If they truly were interested in fragrance combining, they would present their products in a way that would allow the consumer more control over that mixing. At the moment the only control you have is “one squirt or two” which is just not accurate enough.

Secondly, selling this whole idea of fragrance layering just seems like a way to get people to buy more because their fragrances don’t always stand up on their own and precisely because they don’t take you on a journey like some of the more interesting fragrances do.

That said, however, we are great fans of wearing what you like and it not mattering if that is niche or mass produced, supermarket or boutique bought. It doesn’t matter at all if you love it so we would always encourage you to go out there, test and experiment and find what sets your nose a quivering!

The brand

Jo Malone London has been around for a while now – since 1994 – and was founded by, funnily enough, Jo Malone. Malone left the company in 2006 when she sold it to Estee Lauder. There’s a great article about her career trajectory and new ventures here.

Top notes

Many of the Jo Malone London fragrances, including this one are fairly liner and don’t change all that much from first spray to base notes. Some people enjoy that fairly static fragrance journey. Here at The Sniff we think something has to be pretty sensational to get room in our perfume cupboards, doubly so if the fragrance doesn’t change very much as you wear it.

The Jo Malone website lists only one top note for this fragrance: ambrette seeds. Ambrette seeds come from a medicinal and aromatic plant native to India. They are often described as smelling musky or woody.

What I get from spraying this perfume initially is a burst of salty sea air, fresh linen and a mineral type scent associated with the salty sea air. That sort of smell which is almost a taste on the back of your tongue rather than a smell. Like the vaguest hint of the tang of blood from brushing your teeth too hard.

Despite reservations about this perfume, I have to say that the initial notes are very pleasant indeed. To me they smell like taking a big lungful of cold sea air on a deserted and windswept Scottish beach with the pine trees up on the bluff adding a bit of weight to the air. It smells of that blueish grass that grows on sand dunes, the stuff that’s really spiky and sharp, and sand blasted greenery. It’s initial notes are uplifting and invigorating.

Heart notes

Again, only one listed on the website: sea salt.

I don’t really get this in the heart, for me it comes out earlier than that. The heart notes I get are woody, slightly soothing. A pine forest with a thick carpet of needles on the floor. It’s a slightly heady scent which hits right at the back of your nose.

Base notes

Guess what, only one listed here too: sage.

There is a sage smell in this perfume, but it’s not the sort of sage you get with your roast chicken. It’s greener smelling than that and again, I get it much earlier in the mix than the base notes which to me smell more like pine and musk, a sort of green musky licheny type smell. A bit like if you went and sniffed a wet pine tree right on the edge of the forest, where the sea meets the land. That to me is essentially what this perfume is all about.

The other stuff

All in all this perfume does smell like a blustery day on the beach and that is nice. Very nice in fact. It manages to be quite uplifting and yet earthy, especially early on. The first couple of hours of wearing this perfume are definitely the best. After that it becomes a little disappointing as it doesn’t develop, nor does it offer any real surprises as it warms and settles.

The longevity of this perfume is poor to average. It lasts to lunch (just about) but disappears soon after. I don’t get much silage from this perfume either, as in the scent that comes off your body when you wear it, which is also a shame.

Jo Malone London’s packaging is beautiful and sumptuous. I can’t fault them there at all.

Wood sage and sea salt (I think maybe it would be more accurate if they inserted a comma there so it would have been “wood, sage and sea salt”. According to The Wildlife Trusts wood sage itself has very little scent.) is available from Jo Malone London stores in various countries, see their Boutique finder for more details. It’s also available online from Jo Malone London direct.

This fragrance is currently priced at £86 for 100ml or £43 for 30ml on their website. Whilst I do like, own and wear this fragrance, I have to say I think it’s overpriced due to the lack of longevity and the fact it is so linear but like we said, if you love it then damn well wear it!




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