Three orange blossom perfumes

Bitter Orange

Orange blossom is one of my favorite perfume notes. Here are three I tried recently that were not included in earlier posts (see Italian Orange Blossom fragrances and Back to Orange Blossoms):

Bourbon French Orange Blossom: Bourbon French is a 160 year old perfumery located in the French Quarter in New Orleans. I have only tried a few of their products, but they seem to tend towards a sweet, Southern style, rather like Lagniappe Oaks and Hové, two other local perfume houses. The Bourbon French Orange Blossom is sweet and feminine with a spicy kick. I tried the cologne ($17.50 for 4 oz) and the parfum ($44 for 1 oz), and actually preferred the cologne, which is light and refreshing, if not terribly long lasting, and only slightly sweet once it calms.

Jo Malone Orange Blossom: The notes are clementine leaves, orange blossom, and water lily. This starts with fresh orange juice and possibly some orange zest, and dries down to a crisp, lightly sweet white floral blend. I don't really smell any water lily, or anything leafy or green, but there are certainly other floral notes here, and it stays citrusy straight through to the end. It is a pleasant enough fragrance, but there is something a little brash about it. It doesn't captivate me.

Fragonard Fleur d’Oranger: This is one of the newer fragrances in the Naturals line, and features bergamot, jasmine & musk. I gave this a quick try awhile back and thought it was nice, but now that I have paid it some serious attention, my reaction is: meh. It starts out nicely dry and sparkling, but as it dries down, the orange blossom fades into the other notes, leaving a flat, rather nondescript musky floral.

Of the three, I prefer the Bourbon French, but I would not sell a kidney for any of these. Please comment if you have a favorite orange blossom that I haven't covered yet.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    I have a vial of Jo Malone Orange Blossom and I swear it smells just like Jessica McClintock, only that the JC is lilly-of-the-valley. I was so confused about this I went to the mall and sniffed the JC to confirm that I am indeed not suffering an olfactory sort of senility. Thoughts?

  2. Anonymous says:

    I haven't smelled Jessica McClintock, but it is also a blended white floral with citrus, right? I would guess that the JM also has some jasmine, and maybe even some honeysuckle or lily of the valley.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Unfortunateley I had exactly the same Experience with the Fragonard scent…. Liked it when I first tried it (not much time and in a hurry) and now I have to agree with “flat”. Unfortunaltely I had already bought it (since I first tried it in the Paris Boutique). At least it wasn't expensive… Anyone any layering suggestions – to give it some depth and take advantage of the fresh topnotes+floral base?

  4. Anonymous says:

    My favorite is the Serge Lutens. Did you cover that one? I forgot. By the way, does anyone remember the difference between neroli and orange blossom?

  5. Anonymous says:

    The Jo Malone Orange Blossom smells a little too “frozen” for me, and I wish it evolved to something mossy, softer and green. I still have some left, and like to layer it with the Henri Bendel Mimosa lotion, as I agree it's too harsh to wear on its own. I now have that nice Johnny Cash song, “Orange Blossom Special” running through my head.

  6. Anonymous says:

    Orange blossom is not one of my favorite notes as it always reminds me of scented soap. That said, I recently fell in love with Hermes 24 Faubourg. Orange blossom is one of the dominant notes. I like that Faubourg is a perfume version of orange blossoms, rather than a reproduction of the natural scent. It is not light and flowery like typical modern scents. It is Perfume. Faubourg is everything I want fine French perfume to be without being aldehydic.

  7. Anonymous says:

    Hello R! I adore orange blossom and like it any which way. My favourites include Prada FdO and SL FdO (the only thing I do not care for it the cumin thing that goes on in SL).

    Hope you are well and enjoying a great summer.


  8. Anonymous says:

    If Neroli and orange blossom are related, I'd like to put in a plug for l'Occitane's Neroli, which is powerful, unsubtle, but very satisfying!

  9. Anonymous says:

    I believe that Neroli and Orange Blossom are one and the same, especially because Guerlain Flora Nerolia in the Aqua Allegoria line is a lovely very “pure” smelling OB scent to me, whick I liberally spray on as a base for lots of other things. One of the things I love is the scent of the OB on trees here in LA, and I have yet to smell anything that really captures them!

  10. Anonymous says:

    I have no ideas off the top of my head, sorry! I have never been very successful in improving a fragrance I don't like by layering. Let me know if you come up with anything, and good luck!

  11. Anonymous says:

    Wouldn't have thought of it, but “frozen” is a good description.

    Just looked up those lyrics — great song, I didn't know it.

  12. Anonymous says:

    Haven't done the SL yet, need to get on the ball.

    Neroli is the oil that is steam distilled from the orange blossom. I have seen perfumes that list both neroli and orange blossom as ingredients, and I'm not sure what that means. I have a feeling the terms are used interchangeably in many perfume descriptions.

  13. Anonymous says:

    Hey I! 24 Faubourg did not grab me the first time I tried it, but that was some time ago & I should revisit. But I would honestly be shocked if it didn't have aldehydes.

  14. Anonymous says:

    N, long time no see! Hope you are well.

    I like the lighter orange blossoms I guess. The SL is wonderful but I don't wear it.

  15. Anonymous says:

    Hi N! Going to L'Occitane this weekend and will check it out.

  16. Anonymous says:

    Jo Malone was supposedly inspired by the smell of the OB trees in LA. There were lots of the trees in San Diego when I lived there, and it is a lovely smell. Agree that nothing in perfumery matches it.

  17. Anonymous says:

    You know, I was in Saks in Santa Barbara recently, and a scent in the air made my head whip around, and it was JM OB, but on my skin it doesn't have the same quality that it had in the air, darn!

  18. Anonymous says:

    I second 24 Faubourg. I tried a quick spritz while walking through Sephora bc I didn't have any fragrance with me on vacation– That was almost a week ago, and I can't stop thinking about it. Delicious!

  19. Anonymous says:

    That happens to me all the time. Also find that someone walks by, smells great, and when I ask them what they are wearing, it turns out to be something I can't stand on my own skin.

  20. Anonymous says:

    The Prada one is a gorgeous OB. Do try this when you can.

    Things are well and am back home.


  21. Anonymous says:

    The only orange blossom scent I like is The Different Co. Divine Bergamote. It's more of an orange scent than an orange blossom scent, but it does have a pronounced orange blossom note mingling in there with the orange peel. I once got into an argument with an MUAer over whether orange blossom smells bitter. To me it smells bitter (to her it does not) and needs to be tempered with softer, sweeter notes. Then its bitterness can actually balance a composition that would otherwise be too sweet or fruity. IMO, this is the role it plays in Divine Bergamote.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Interesting. I don't remember the smell of orange groves as bitter, but then, in nature the blossoms are mixed with other smells, and of course, my memory is poor anyway. Certainly many of my favorite orange blossom fragrances are bitter, and I like them that way. I have always assumed that “real” neroli is bitter.

    And Divine Bergamote is wonderful, of course :-)

  23. Anonymous says:

    You're probably right that it contains aldehydes. While it smells like “perfume” it doesn't have that “jumps-out-at-you” perfuminess that I dislike.

  24. Anonymous says:

    This is what Lucia wrote last month: “I finally was able to figure it out–neroli is a steam distillation of bitter orange blossoms Citrus aurantium var. amara. Orange blossom is an absolute solvent extracted from the blossoms of the same tree. They differ in terms of scent due to different extraction processes. Absolutes (anything solvent extracted) tend to be truer to the real flower, whereas steam distillations have a different nature. So, that is the main difference. HTH

  25. Anonymous says:

    I don't seem to have the discerning nose that you all do, but I have found that Gap's Orange Blossom is very similar to J.M.'s and a little longer lasting. The J.M. lasts about 20 minutes on me.

  26. Anonymous says:

    Does anyone remember L'Artisan's Princess Neroli? I've searched for that for years, but at this point, would be wary of Ebay or any source, actually, as the delicate topnotes would probably be feh by now.

    Neroli and orange blossom are from the same tree, as earlier stated — C. aurantium var. Amara, although I learned in school, and actually harvested from, the C. aurantium var. Fleurs des Bouquets. The best quality neroli or absolute of orange blossom comes from Tunisia. France does process much absolute, but I think that is from the concrete they have shipped from Tunisia (and other regions.)

    There are two extraction methods, as mentioned: the flowers can be mixed with a solvent, and a concrete, and then an absolute can be exracted. This may smell closer to the real flower, the concrete more than the absolute. I buy the concrete and absolute and tincture and infuse it out myself.

    The term neroli comes from the simple distillation process of the blossoms. The term actaully comes from Princess Neroli of Italy, who was famed for her love of the scent (16th C, IIRC.) This also results in the “waste” water from the product, orange blossom water, used for beauty and culinary purposes.

    Not all nerolis are the same. Depending upon the skill of the harvesters, and the care taken by the distiller, if they are sloppy or lazy, many bits of twigs and leaves can be mixed with the blossoms. This may result in a much greener, woodier scent to the neroli. Petitgrain is the term for the distilled twigs and leaf bits, and that is a nice oil on its own, but definitely adulterates neroli to its detriment.

    A product I have become aware of in the past few years, and which is glorious, is – get this – absolute of the orange flower water. After the distillation process is done for the neroli, they “wash” the hydrosol and get an absolute. It is gorgeous, beyond belief. I can't bring myself to blend with it because I like it straight!

    And for the life of me I can't figure out why sweet orange, lemon and other citrus blossoms never made it into the perfume world. There is no production of them, no market for them, just lovely creations in a bottle from them (in my dreams.) Well, some artisanal distillers may make a citrus blossom EO occasionally, but it's rare.

    There is also a floral wax, a product left after the concrete/absolute process. It is lovely, and I use it in my solid perfumes. They used to throw this away, but the cottage natural perfumers started to ask for it, and now we pay for it through the now (or by the nose :-) It can also make its way into candles, body balms and the like.

    That said, anybody have an unopened, well-stored bottle of Princess Neroli they'd let go? LOL.

  27. Anonymous says:

    Now I finally understand why dif OB scents smell so different, thank you for the excellent elucidation. Anya, where do you practice scentmaking, would you mind emailing me privately about it – – as I am on a quest for an orange blossom based scent and it sounds like this is something you really understand! Wendy

  28. Anonymous says:

    I have read that (on L's blog maybe??). I am dubious as to whether that is meaningful when reading a list of notes though…I truly doubt that the people who write the ad copy always use the term that correctly indicates the extraction method.

  29. Anonymous says:

    I did try it from a test strip. It was pretty, but too expensive and of course they don't provide samples :-(

  30. Anonymous says:

    I have heard that several of the Gap scents are very well done. I need to check them out.

  31. Anonymous says:

    Anya, thank you for the detailed description! Very informative. As I said in another comment, I am dubious as to whether it is helpful when reading fragrance notes, that is, I doubt that the people who write the ad copy always use the term which correctly describes the extraction process. But what do I know.

    Now I will be dreaming of the L'Artisan too. I had never heard of it. Was it one of the summer limited editions?

  32. Anonymous says:

    Probably not. I didn't think we were talking about ad copy, but about genuine lists of ingredients (as far as those can be believed). It explains to me, though, why some so-called orange blossom scents make me nauseated and others don't.

  33. Anonymous says:

    You are right J. I just never can tell what it is I'm smelling — orange blossom, or neroli. And see Anya's comment below as well, which adds new wrinkles to the mix (country of origin, quality, etc).

  34. Anonymous says:

    The Gap has just come out with a whole line of new scents both in perfume oils & sprays. Worth checking out if you're not a perfume snob – many of them smell great, & can be mixed & matched. These seem to be of higher quality than the other Gap scents (i.e. the alcohol isn't overpowering).

    The orange blossom is really nice, but I resisted buying it because I already have Jo Malone's orange blossom (which I really like).

    My other favorites were Peony, Cassis, and Moss (the Moss was really soft and lovely). Try 'em out!

  35. Anonymous says:

    I am a citrus blossom freak, so thanks for the descriptions of some fragrances I haven't tried!

    I think the Bourbon sounds particularly intriguing – not just because of the orange scent, but because of where it comes from – anything to do with New Orleans fires up my imagination!

  36. Anonymous says:

    Moss sounds lovely. Will have to make another trip to the mall :-)

  37. Anonymous says:

    I am going to try the Bourbon French one again. It really is a pretty scent, and the prices are very reasonable. There are links to Bourbon French, Hove, and Lagniappe Oaks under “perfume houses” on the navigation bar at the top of the page. In general, all 3 brands are more classic & less “wild” than you might expect from New Orleans.

  38. Anonymous says:

    Hi R

    Ad copy people are given to flights of fancy, and sometimes just plain innacuracies. they sell the sizzle, not necessarily the real juice. I saw one the other day — oak wood. If anyone is distilling oak wood, well, good for them, but it seems so weird to see that as n ingredient.

    I don't know of Princess Neroliwas a summer limited edition, it was so long ago – maybe 20 years?

  39. Anonymous says:

    Qwendy — if you're in a perfume guerilla mode, and if the median trees are still there…

    Go to the University of California Riverside campus. Ask in the plant sciences department where the C. aurantium var. Fleurs des Bouquets trees are that are in the median of the road. Check it's the right time of year for the big bloom (spring, IIRC.) There are dozens of the trees there. Get a pail. Strip the flowers shortly after dawn. Put blossoms into container with air-tight lid. Fill container with vodka to cover blossoms plus a few inches to spare. Let steep one week, shaking occasionally to mix. Decant. Fabulous!

    Oh, have a lookout for the campus police.

  40. Anonymous says:

    Nola, eh, Cheezwiz — then you'll appreciate this quote I lifted from my favorite perfume novel. Had to get this for my webpage, love those obsessed NO parfumiers:

    “Now fetch me some more alcohol, cher. We must dilute this boof before it starts a chain reaction and blows New Orleans into the Gulf. We have a jasmine Nagasaki cooking here!”

    – Madame Lily Devalier in Jitterbug Perfume, a novel by Tom Robbins

    That book cracks me up because I'm involved with so many amateur-to=professional level natural perfumers, many of us brewing and stewing and confluing (made that word up) a lot of homemade stuff for our 'fumes, and we get some explosive incidents happening, LOL.

  41. Anonymous says:

    20 years, well, then it is a lost cause, no?

    Oak wood: isn't this probably another headspace technology thing? Or just some random synthetic?

  42. Anonymous says:

    Hee! Must check that book out. Haven't read any Tom Robbins before.

    I've always longed to visit the South, so that combined with my perfume obsession is kind of the ultimate for me.

  43. Anonymous says:

    I am searching for the “ultimate orange blossom scent.”

    Where may one obtain the absolute of the orange flower water?

  44. Anonymous says:

    I'm afraid I have no idea. Hopefully Anya will see your message and reply.

  45. Anonymous says:

    Orange flower *water* absolute, which is created by flushing a solven through the hydrosol left after production of neroli, is rare, and only sold at the wholesale level, AFAIK. It's around $2000/kg, with a 500g minimum.

  46. Anonymous says:

    After reading this article and comments, I went searching for Orange Blossom Absolute Water and found a company called Eden Botanicals. They do offer it. A tiny sample for $2.00, and 1/16 oz. for $18.00. There is no minimum order. I haven't ordered yet, so I have no experience with the company. But if I can just make up my mind…

    Thanks for all the comments on orange blossom perfumes. I'm off to the Perfumed Court to look for samples.

  47. Anonymous says:

    Eden Botanicals is a reputable company. Do check — some of the essences may need to be diluted before you can try on skin.

  48. Anonymous says:

    Happy to hear Eden Botanicals is reputable, –since I'm so fascinated by the scents they offer. (I'm in need of nose-training.) Thanks for that. And also for the warning about phototoxicity.

  49. Anonymous says:

    Reposted as the long link in the original stretched the page:
    On February 3, 2008 ebweir said:
    Has anyone tried “Ancient Orange Blossom” From Seville Cologne?
    Here's a picture:
    I want something really simple, and I tend to wear men's scents, so this might be perfect for me … but I'd love to hear from anyone's experience before I buy!
    Reply to this comment

  50. Anonymous says:

    Sorry, I've not heard of it. For a really simple unisex orange blossom, I do like Cote Bastide Fleurs d'Oranger or Parfums de Nicolai Cologne Sologne.

  51. Anonymous says:

    has anyone tried Annick Goutal's Bonpoint? I had heard it smells of orange blossoms, but I would have to order it on line.

  52. Anonymous says:

    I have not, sorry! Her Neroli is lovely, although short-lived.

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