Welcome to the families

Fragrance classification can be confusing. There are some standard industry descriptions and even these can vary from brand to brand, country to country and mainstream to niche. For example, the classic chypré fragrance category can be subdivided down further to floral chypré, woody chypré, leather chypré etc. This is not really necessary, basic sell-defined blocks of simple description allow our trained fragrance experts to explore the fragrance choices with a particular family and find something that compliments a customer perfectly.

As the fragrance technologies develop, more and more subtleties in fragrance classification emerge. Aromachemistry is giving us new olfactory perspectives every day. The gourmand and marine families are relatively new. Mugler’s Angel exploded the gourmand facet into the industry, carving a candyfloss and patchouli shaped hole for itself. Gourmand or foody scents are arguably one of the most successful tastes in modern perfumery. Pierre Bourdon’s influential Cool Water for Davidoff and Issey Miyake’s classic eponymous scent may be all conquering but for their time were revolutionary and introduced the world to ozonic or marine notes, fresh air and the craving for clean detergent-like fragrances.

Fragrance classification can be confusing. There are some standard industry descriptions and even these can vary from brand to brand, country to country and mainstream to niche.

Fragrance Families

The eight families we use at Penhaligon’s are Citrus, Aromatic, Chypré, Fougère, Floral, OrientalOud and Woody.


Citrus fragrances are characterized by sharp, fresh tangy notes. They are a classic family of fragrances, containing lemon, lime, mandarin, grapefruit, orange and bergamot. Other notes such as pomelo, yuzu and cedrat can be used and complimented by the beautiful elements of the bitter orange tree such as neroli, petitgrain and orange blossom. Floral facets and chypré elements are sometimes dropped in along with a touch of spice or woods. But generally speaking, citrus fragrances are light, clean, classic in style and discreet.

Our citrus fragrances include our hero scent Blenheim Bouquet from 1902 and Castile, a fabulously sunny bergamot and neroli mix from 1998.

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Aromatic fragrances are more herbaceous and green in tone. Usually a blend of woods, lavender, herbs and warm citrus notes; aromatic scents are blended with care and attention to subtlety and wearablity. They make wonderful everyday fragrances and wear close to the skin. They have tremendous warmth and finesse.

Our aromatic fragrances include the luxurious and surprising Lavandula, the chilled, stylish Juniper Sling and our classic Douro Eau de Portugal from 1910.

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Chypré fragrances are one of the truly great fragrances styles of all time. Chypré is French for Cyprus where much of the oakmoss was originally sourced from. The benchmark scent is François Coty’s Chypre de Coty from 1917. Real oakmoss is a vital component in chypré fragrances and is a defining note along with ciste-labdanum (a rock rose), patchouli, bergamot and the addition of jasmine and rose.

We have two chypré fragrances, Empressa, inspired by the Trade Routes into London and the sparkling raspberry rush of Eau sans Pareil, part of our Anthology collection, re-issued in 2011.

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Fougère fragrances are the masculine counterpart of the chypré. They are one of the oldest and most distinctive families in perfumery. Many of the world’s biggest masculine scents are fougère or fougère influenced: Antaeus by Chanel, Polo by Ralph Lauren, Geoffrey Beene’s Grey Flannel, and the much maligned Brut by Fabergé.

Penhaligon’s have two very distinctive fougère fragrances; the hunting green English Fern from 1910 and the award winning Sartorial, created by master perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour, inspired by the cutting rooms of Savile Row.

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The floral family is a large and diverse family of fragrances including soliflores; single note florals such as Violetta, Elisabethan Rose, Gardenia and Night Scented Stock and floral bouquets, fragrances created from several floral sources such as Ellenisia and the decadent tropical floral Amaranthine, created by Bertrand Duchaufour.

This family also contains our cult scent Bluebell, one of the most unique fragrances in our portfolio, a dazzling portrait of British Spring woods; earth, moss and rain, a sublime mix of sweet, green and spicy eccentricity.

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The woody category is self explanatory, woody in tone, dry and fresh. Woods are beautiful notes in fragrance, elegant and distinctive, lending the wearer a touch of class and sophistication.

Our woody fragrances include the bestselling Endymion, with its wonderful, swirling black coffee note, Espirit de Roi with its leafy notes of mint, tomato leaf and raspberry leaf and Opus 1870, built around a blend of cedar wood, incense and sandalwood.

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Oriental fragrances are some of the deepest, richest and most sensual fragrances in perfumery’s canon. They are defined by warm notes of vanilla, amber, balsams, incense, precious woods and musks. They are statement scents, bold and personal.

Penhaligon’s have a eclectic range of oriental fragrances, from the soft nectarine blushed Artemisia and Malabah with its juicy ginger, rose and earl grey tea note to the smoky expanses of Elixir by Olivia Giacobetti and the vintage dandyism of our original fragrance Hammam Bouquet from 1872.

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