Perfume in place: Wales Perfumery capture the essence of the Welsh landscape in fragrance.
Sometimes brands that centre too heavily on a specific place as their inspiration can become trite and touristy, the sort of souvenir that holiday makers will pick up whilst away, take home and then stick in the drawer or at the back of a cupboard never to see the light of day again. As a result, brands who do want to sit within a specific landscape have to work extra hard to not be perceived as a disposable or low-quality. This is what Wales Perfumery are attempting to do with their inaugural collection of three fragrances: Coast, Forest and Country.
Wales Perfumery claim to be the only perfumery in Wales, and so their name is quite appropriate. Based in beautiful Monmouthshire, their HQ sits in a walled garden and founder, Louise, has been obsessed with scents from a young age. There’s something a little cottagecore about the set up, but firstly, cottagecore is cool and secondly, don’t let that fool you into thinking that there isn’t backbone here to back it up as well. The best things come in un-ostentatious packages.
Wales Perfumery launched three scents to start off with; Coast, Country and Forest. The fragrances have a pared back aesthetic and this is a good way to go for a small indie brand; overly adorning the bottles and labels would likely have detracted from the scents themselves. Make no mistake though, these fragrances are small batch, hand made, artisanal and perfect for those who like that hand crafted aesthetic and vibe. You’re buying a piece of someone’s craft with these scents.
Listed notes: Lemon, mandarin, bergamot, lime, seaweed, ozone, water, amber and driftwood.
Fresh, bracing and ozonic, Coast does precisely what you would expect a scent of this name to do. Yes it opens with cold citrus tones (and we might think of citruses as being more Mediterranean than Welsh), but the effect of wearing it is that you are transported to a lonely, cold beach, icy waves lapping the shore and the tang of salt in the air. Here and there are tendrils of green seaweed, mineral and almost metallic.
At first starkly beautiful, Coast warms as it ages, becoming a touch lighter in character and woodier as it goes along. Coast isn’t a complicated fragrance, but it delivers on the promise held in the name. This is a fragrance that will appeal to anyone who has enjoyed a solitary stroll on the shoreline as a storm brews in the distance, or who has braved paddling their toes in the sea in less than ideal weather conditions!
Listed notes: ambrette seed, fir needle, saffron, sandalwood, cedar, vetiver and patchouli.
Of the trio, Forest is my favourite, as it is deep, dark, earthy and contemplative whilst retaining an easy-to-wear feel. This conjuring of a forest is a warm one, and it’s a forest in which there are no bogeymen or monsters lurking behind the trees. This is the sort of forest that you can feel at home in, safe, cosy even.
The scent opens with a sweet and warm earthiness which is scattered with green, sappy pine needles. There’s a really crumbly, loam-like quality to the fragrance which makes you feel as if you have grasped handfuls of leaf litter and sniffed it. There is greenery there in Forest, but the woody, earthy and damp qualities tend to come to the front – on my skin at least – but that was a positive. There are plenty of woody green foresty scents about, but one that goes more loamy undergrowth is welcome.
At times, Forest goes a little nutty and spicy (from the vetiver), but the sweetness connects throughout taking the scent through all the different parts of a wear nicely.
Listed notes: petitgrain, neroli, narcissus, water, cut grass, vetiver and soft woods.
If Forest talks about those large plants, the trees, then Country takes on smaller vegetation on the form of grass and violets. Whilst there are no violets listed, the start of the fragrance reminds me very much of a lawn studded with little violet flowers. The scent matures quickly, taking on a stem-like tone, green and juicy with sap. Over the top of this, a dusting of yellow flowers and pollen sits to give that heady buzz.
Once the scent is in full flight, Country smells like sticking your face in a vase full of daffodils, it’s joyful and bright, and if you love yellow florals with a stem-like undertone then you are going to love this.
Wales Perfumery have come out swinging with three scents which encapsulate the Welsh landscape in a way which is both beautiful and yet has a gentle touch. The scents are good, balanced and yet holding on to that artisanal feel and vibe which is so homely and satisfying. The brand manages to sidestep the tourist traps of scents from specific places, but that is going to be something they will need to continually be aware of and guard against. Abstracting the scents further would allow them to ensure that these pretty perfumes don’t get mistaken for something throw-away. The start they have made though is solid, and it’s exciting to see where they will go next.
Forest, Coast and Country are all available from the Wales Perfumery web boutique where they are all priced at £54 for 30ml of EdP, or £81 for 50ml.
Wales Perfumery kindly gifted us samples of the fragrances, with no strings attached.