Union Gothic Bluebell ~ fragrance review


Spring is literally “in the air” where I live. Being outdoors is like walking in a fairy tale perfume land — I breathe in the scents of viburnum, hyacinth, scented tulips, clematis, magnolia (several species are in bloom), narcissus, lilac, English laurel (hey, perfumers, do make a perfume smelling of this beautiful floral note…I’m begging!) Frankly, I’d rather be outside than writing a perfume review!

Since Robin is living it up in Barcelona this week, I’ll take a mini-vacation myself by writing a short review of a perfume that’s perfect for this moment: Union Gothic Bluebell.

Union describes Gothic Bluebell in romantic fashion:

The dark oak forest opens onto a sun-dappled clearing, revealing a castellated, Victorian folly, surrounded by a sea of fragrant bluebells — this Arcadian idyll conjures the essence of Gothic Bluebell. Here, its simple but potent beauty has been blended with narcissus absolute and (a close sister) the hyacinth — both garnered from the Scilly Isles. These rest delicately upon a soft, forest floor of deep green violet leaf from Devon and ground ivy from the enchanted woodlands of Dorset. Dark and Dreamy!

Gothic Bluebell (named after Hyacinthoides non-scripta) presents a heavy hyacinth scent combined with hints of, dare I say, mothball (camphor). It’s a combination that’s evocative for me, reminding me of chilly spring days back in Virginia at my grandmother's house, days punctuated by sun…then rain…then sun again — and a springtime cottage garden in “insane” bloom (oh, and the aroma of my grandmother's medicated knee ointment). The green notes of Gothic Bluebell are in the background, small and distant compared to the flowers. The base notes of Gothic Bluebell bring to mind Molinard Patchouli Intense, with its old-fashioned patchouli-camphor-vanilla accord (better than white musk blandness, yes?)

Gothic Bluebell is heady stuff: liqueur-y, sweet and bold…just like the scent of hyacinths. Gothic Bluebell’s intensity makes me think “purple”…this is an over-the-top floral, simple, but potent, that probably will appeal to perfume lovers who appreciate non-fresh, non-contemporary fragrances. 

Union Gothic Bluebell

Union Gothic Bluebell has good sillage and lasting power; it skews more feminine than unisex to my nose. Gothic Bluebell's juice is a dark amber-orange color and it does stain fabrics (I got some on a white T-shirt); let the perfume dry on your skin before getting dressed. 

Union Gothic Bluebell is available in 100 ml Eau de Toilette, $185. A rollerball coffret of Gothic Bluebell; Celtic Fire; Holy Thistle; and Quince, Mint & Moss (four 5 ml bottles) is $75. For buying information, see the listing for Union under Perfume Houses.

Now back to the garden. Weeds need plucking and flowers need sniffing. Happy spring to all.

Note: top image [altered] via Wikimedia Commons.

Shop for perfume

Parfums Raffy


Leave a comment, or read more about commenting at Now Smell This. Here's a handy emoticon chart.

  1. jirish says:

    I am seriously jealous of your springtime. It snowed here Sunday, and it’s still cold now. You are making Gothic Bluebell sound extremely tempting right now, especially since I feel I need a ‘purple’ scent, but I usually don’t focus much on spring scents since the season is so fleeting in Chicago. Do you think this could work in the summer as well or would the patchouli smother the florals in the heat?

    • Kevin says:

      Jirish…I think summer would be the only season this would be “too much.”

  2. mals86 says:

    Hmm. I am attracted by hyacinth and narcissus, but put off a bit by the patchouli. Loved your description of your granny’s garden… and her knee rub!

    I’d still love to try Holy Thistle – wish the Union scents were available for testing somewhere near me.

    • Kevin says:

      Mals…I know…my samples came from England! Ha!

  3. nozknoz says:

    I hadn’t paid any attention to this brand, but this sounds really interesting. I am so disgusted with most of the new perfumes – so boring – even brands I’ve liked in the past are just phoning it in. There is a small Bendels in a mall near me; I should call to see if they have these perfumes here.

    • Kevin says:

      noz: hope they have them…an easy way to sniff.

  4. Lani says:

    I really love the scent of bluebells, so this sounds intriguing. Unfortunately, there’s no where near me to get a sample… :(

    • Kevin says:

      Lani: maybe distribution will get better…it seems the perfect line for niche boutiques.

  5. thegoddessrena says:

    This scent broke my heart–one of the most perfect spring scents ever on paper but didn’t work on my skin. If it was cheaper or came in a smaller size I’d still consider it just to scent my place

    • Kevin says:

      goddess…or a CANDLE in this scent, right?

  6. scentfromabove says:

    Hi Kevin! Have you ever thought about a second career in advertising?
    Your description of this fragrance is amazing. I also loved the comment you made about your granny’s ointment (as I rub my knee because I am recovering from a full knee replacement surgery) – LOL!
    That made me smile.
    Just FYI for all to know if you haven’t already heard: get ready for a long, unbearable, hot summer! Since we all have had an extended winter, they say this summer will be a bad one. Yikes! And I live in Texas.
    Kevin, please let us know how we can score a sample of this fragrance in the U.S. Even though I probably wouldn’t be able to wear it, I would love to blow people’s minds by explaining to them what notes were used to create it. Thanks for the fabulous article!

    • Kevin says:

      Scentfromabove…hush yer mouth! Don’t even mention a scalding summer! Haha! If you want cool summers move to Seattle! You could look for samples of this on ebay or the usual places…Perfumed Court…or if you know someone going to London. Stay cool…Texas summers…I am sweating just thinking about it.

  7. Marjorie Rose says:

    Oh, sign me up for a laurel scent, too!!! LOVE them this time of year! I always forget that they aren’t just waxy leaves year ’round, and then poof! Thos wonderful sprays of white flowers and SO fragrant! :)

    Your notes of knee ointment and patchouli recall a period in my life when I worked up at Mt. Rainier. I had to wait tables to pay for college, and so I worked at Paradise lodge. . . anyway, I would wear a little dollup of patchouli oil rubbed into my scalp (as my hippie father used to do) for fragrance. And one of the older waitresses, without fail it seemed, would ask me if I was “really hurtin'” that day! It took me a while to realize that she thought she was smelling Bengay every time I walked by!

    • Kevin says:

      MR: HA! And the laurels are going strong now…such a semi-tropical smell this time of year…love them.

  8. Carolyn says:

    Great review, Kevin – although I’m in the UK I wasn’t aware of this company – Selfridge’s is 500 miles south of where I live but I do visit London each year in early December, so this is on my ‘to do’ list for this year’s trip. Penhaligon’s Bluebell has been my signature fragrance for many years, although I have strayed when tempted by a few others, but am intrigued by another take on the scent of bluebells.

    • Kevin says:

      Carolyn: I need to sniff the Penhaligon’s again…had a gorgeous bottle of the bath oil eons ago…but never tried the perfume.

Leave a reply