Jo Malone's new Sweet Lime & Cedar cologne was reportedly inspired by Thai food — the notes include sweet lime, jasmine, ylang ylang, coconut, tonka bean, pandanus leaf, tamarind, cardamom and cedar — and that's fine with me: I love Thai food.
The opening is strong citrus with lots of greenery, and for a few seconds, it reminded me very much of Jo Malone's Lime Basil & Mandarin, a popular scent that I understand is one of their bestsellers, but which I find unforgivably brash (apologies to its fans). Happily, Sweet Lime & Cedar softens rapidly, and then it's just right: a mild, summer-y blend of citrus and woods. It isn't a spice-fest and I don't think I would have thought of Thai food on my own: the coconut is hardly noticeable, and the overall character isn't really foody anyway. Still, the pandanus leaf (not a note I am familiar with, but it's said to have nutty and hay-like accents, and both are present here) and tamarind add slightly exotic elements.
Sweet Lime & Cedar is not, perhaps, so interesting as the recent Kohdo Wood duo, but it's nicely done, and not counting the Kohdo Woods, I like it better than anything else Jo Malone has done in recent memory. It is heavy on the cedar, so some women might perhaps find it a bit masculine for their taste, but I'd call it a unisex and I believe that is how Jo Malone is marketing it.
I did not have time to try any layering combinations other than Sweet Lime & Cedar + Vintage Gardenia (I'm always trying to layer that darned Vintage Gardenia); that was surprisingly successful. The pairing brings Vintage Gardenia's sweetness down to acceptable levels and amps up the spicy notes from both scents. Nice.
Jo Malone Sweet Lime & Cedar is available in 30 and 100 ml Cologne.
Update: I forgot to mention another "inspired by Thailand" citrus fragrance, Cinq Mondes' Rituel du Siam. That one is spicier, and the citrus notes are longer lasting, although as is often the case, that means the citrus starts to feel brash after a time. Still, very much worth a try.