Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay ~ fragrance review

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay

The latest release from Jo Malone is Blackberry & Bay, which the company describes as...

Inspired by childhood memories of blackberry picking. A burst of deep, tart blackberry juice, blending with the freshness of just-gathered bay and brambly woods. A scent of innocence.

Blackberry & Bay was developed for Jo Malone by perfumer Fabrice Pellegrin.

My favorite Jo Malone fragrances include Lime Basil & Mandarin, Nectarine Blossom & Honey and Pomegranate Noir. However, I'm not a fan of the higher-priced limited editions, nor of several recent releases, such as English Pear & Freesia and Wild Bluebell. In fact, I haven't really understood the brand's recent direction — I'm still scratching my head over those Wild Bluebell visuals — so I wasn't sure what to expect from Blackberry & Bay. I ended up liking it very much; it seems to be a return to form for Jo Malone.

This fragrance claims to evoke "childhood memories of blackberry picking… stained lips, sticky palms"; I could do without the "stained lips" and "sticky palms" — ugh — but I like the general idea of berry-picking and woods-wandering. Blackberry & Bay does feel like a berry-picking outing on a sunny afternoon, and it's ideal for the summer-into-fall transition. The opening accord of crushed blackberries is nicely tart, not like the syrupy canned-fruit effect in so many fragrances that are being marketed to teen girls these days. (It's much more like a Kir cocktail than a Jolly Rancher candy, in fact.) The berry notes turn a bit more dry as they settle down and make way for a leafy green note, some clean vetiver, and perhaps just a trace of very quiet, dusty vanilla.

Overall, Blackberry & Bay is nicely done and easy to wear, especially on a day when you might not feel like putting on a Perfume with a capital "P." I like the various Green Tea fragrances that Pellegrin has developed for L'Occitane, because I find them light and crisp but not sanitized; Blueberry & Bay has a similar effect. It doesn't last more than a few hours on my skin, but that's pretty typical for Jo Malone's signature "colognes," which are often daytime-appropriate and office-safe.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay fragrance bottles

Blackberry & Bay doesn't have the depth and vibrancy of L'Artisan Parfumeur's Mûre et Musc, for example, but that's fine; it's offering a fresher, sunnier interpretation of blackberry, which is more fitting to the Jo Malone style. I remember when Jo Malone was a new fragrance line being sold at Bergdorf Goodman in the 1990s, and how direct yet intriguing its scents seemed to me: Amber & Lavender, French Lime Blossom. That approach was unusual, even ahead of its time, so I'm happy to see Jo Malone doing what it does best with Blackberry & Bay.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay Cologne is offered in 30 ml ($60) and 100 ml ($110) sizes. Matching Body Crème, Body & Hand Wash and a "Home Candle" are also available. For purchasing information, see the listing for Jo Malone under Perfume Houses.

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34 Comments

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  1. lucasai says:

    I should be able to try it soon. Jo Malone fragrances are not available in Poland but I got few samples from friends living abroad and Blackberry & Bay should arrive soon. I was not impressed so far and like you I liked Lime Basil & Mandarin.

    • Jessica says:

      They’re very different from the classic French (or French-inspired) floral fragrances that I usually wear, but sometimes I like a change of pace! They tend to be streamlined and straightforward, at their best. It’s a good line to recommend to people who are just starting to explore niche fragrance, I’ve found. Oh, and their body products are expensive, but quite nice. I love the Orange Blossom shower gel!

  2. Omega says:

    I just sampled this. It really is a nice, tart blackberry. Citrus+berry and blackcurrant..and I thought I got vanilla in it too! I didn’t see it listed but was pretty sure it was in there. It’s very clean and I find it to be unisex. I like the woody notes in this. Thought of this more as a splash than a perfume.

    Robin, what floral notes did you pick up? I got jasmine, not sure about the other florals though.

    • Jessica says:

      You know, I think there *is* a while floral note in the heart. I’m not absolutely certain, and I noticed more on one day than I did on another day, but I wouldn’t rule it out!

      And I agree, a man could easily wear this, especially once the blackberry quiets down (which doesn’t take long).

      • minty95 says:

        A man can , I have tried it already and find it an interesting perfume, even for men, but then I wear quite a few Jo Malones perfumes, especially wild fig which I like or pomegranite noir for the evenings, which my wife doesn’t like to much …

      • Jo Malone’s base is frequently a white flower, which is a disappointment for me. Her Grapefruit fragrance, which I loved when I tried it on, faded to white flower within minutes. So do most of the others, at least on me. i like the idea of this one, but my tester gave me 10 minutes of blackberry and then . . . .bay and white flower.

  3. Omega says:

    Or I am sorry! Jessica not Robin, lol sorry!

  4. Abyss says:

    Oh, interesting, thank you, Jessica. I was disappointed with so many of their resent releases that I wasn’t tempted to try this despite walking past JM counters several times recently. Perhaps I ought to give it a go after all.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Abyss — it wasn’t true *love* for me, but I did think it was a good/lively/easy-to-wear Jo Malone fragrance, and not boring/bland/watery scent like some of the recent ones!

      • Abyss says:

        boring/bland/watery is the perfect description of what I disliked about several (most?) of their more recent releases. If this is livelier then I’ll happily give it a sniff.

  5. Omega says:

    Oh and I agree about with your choices in Jo Malone. Really didn’t care for English Pear..and Wild Bluebell I was very underwhelmed by. I have some samples of Nec. Blossom and Honey..very nice! I have yet to smell Pomeg. Noir..I want to though! Also liked the London Blossoms offerings esp. White Lilac & Rhubarb. Oh, and a total, complete LOVE is Vanilla and Anise. Love that scent!

    • Jessica says:

      I have and love a decant of Pomegranate Noir. And I heard the Tea series was nice, but they disappeared quickly!

  6. Erin says:

    Jessica, is there very much *bay*? I assume that means bay leaf. Perhaps this is the “crisp” angle you mention. Or is it mostly a berry sweet fragrance? I quite like the ad: the colours of the clothing on the kids, the grey sky, the brambles and wind-swept moors feel of the thing — very British! I tend to ignore Jo Malone now, but this sounds worth a look.

    • Jessica says:

      Erin, I’m enjoying the visuals for this one, too. I think they suit the JM brand image much better than those pastel-Juicy Couture-ish images for Wild Bluebell.

      I’m not sure what fresh bay leaves smell like, and I was a bit worried about that element of the fragrance, because the whole thing could have ended up very Yankee Candles. Fortunately, the bay must be the dry, green-leafy part of the scent. The opening is very berryish, but not overly sweet, and nost of the drydown is leaves and light woods rather than fruit.

      • 50_Roses says:

        I have two bay trees in my backyard, and I find the smell of the fresh leaves to be quite subtle, much less pungent than, say, rosemary, which I also have in my garden. Every time I pick some bay leaves to use in a soup or stew or whatever, I find myself wondering if they will be strong enough, but they always are. It seems as if the heat of cooking intensifies the flavor.

  7. mals86 says:

    Ari at Scents of Self liked this one, and I put it on my “if I run across it” to-test list at the time. And then you post that lovely ad and a positive review… I think I’ll see if I can hunt down a sample.

    I did really like Peony & Moss. Not enough to buy that big LE bottle, but it was wonderful.

    • Jessica says:

      Those bottles were pretty! Peony & Moss was sold out by the time I finally got around to visiting a JM counter to try them. I didn’t love the Iris one.

  8. Jill says:

    Thanks for the review of this! Sounds like I’ll like it. I haven’t been thrilled with JM’s recent stuff either. How does this compare to AG Eau de Charlotte? It’s one of my favorites.

    • Jessica says:

      Hi, Jill! I’m really fond of Eau de Charlotte, which I think of as a jammy-powdery-mimosa-cocoa scent. This one is really different — more of a clear, tart berry with green-woody notes and a *very* subtle floral note. Sorry!!

      • Jill says:

        Thanks for explaining the difference between the two, Jessica! This still sounds really good to me, just a different sort of blackberry for a different mood!

  9. bluepinegrove says:

    I love the nostalgia that the ad image conveys. It’s earthy and whimsical, a far cry from the usual opulence-and-sex-potion advertising. In my area the blackberries perfume the air this time of year–I may have to try this one.

    • annemarie says:

      Yes, good point about the ad. I like it too. JM seems to be moving away from ‘still life with mandarin’ ads and into ads with people in them. Those Bluebell ads were very silly tho’. Wonder if anyone got sacked over that?

  10. annemarie says:

    I will check this out of I can. Sadly, in Australia, JM is much more expensive. I’d be paying $90 to your $60. So far I’ve not found one that is worth it. Occasionally I buy a few samples on eBay.

    • Jessica says:

      Ouch. Yes, part of the appeal of this line (in the USA, at least!) is that it’s not as ridiculously overpriced as many niche-type lines. (I know it’s not strictly niche, being owned by Estee Lauder, but it does have limited distribution and a very non-Sephora style.)

  11. Marjorie Rose says:

    I have tried several JM scents, liking the *idea* of them, but I think this is gonna be a house that just won’t ever be me! Lasting only a few hours, “office friendly,” and “clean,” are not attributes I look for in most of my scents! So, while blackberry catches my attention, I think I’ll go check out Mure et Musc instead! :)

    • Jessica says:

      I’m really more of a Mure et Musc girl, myself, because I like my perfumes a bit lush and shadowy — but sometimes I just want a simple-yet-not-stupid orange blossom or citrus cologne or berry, and JM fits the bill. :)

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        Lush and shadowy, huh? Mure et Musc is sounding better and better!

  12. Carolyn says:

    Fragrances notwithstanding, & I obviously don ‘t know the legal ins & outs, but I really do have a problem with Jo Malone purporting to be the original Jo Malone when in fact the lady herself has nothing to do with this brand – & I think the general fragrance buying public isn’t aware of this, which is a travesty.

    • Jessica says:

      Well, she herself did sell the business, name included — and I have no idea what the terms were, except that she probably signed a non-compete clause that kept her from producing her own fragrance line for X number of years (and now she does Jo Loves) — but it’s not as if most fashion lines are created by their original designers any longer, either, right?

  13. eminere says:

    Can’t wait to smell this!

  14. eminere says:

    Le sigh. I really, really wanted to like this but all I can think is synthetic perfumed body wash. Perhaps a bit more vetiver would’ve tightened it up a bit.

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