Penhaligon’s Much Ado About the Duke EDP Perfume Review

Penhaligon's The Duke


Penhaligon’s Portraits Week

Penhaligon’s has launched a new collection of perfumes, Portraits. This is basically a concept collection/olfactory comedy-drama inspired by a fictional, wealthy and totally dysfunctional aristocratic British family. This entire collection is like if Wes Anderson decided he wanted to be a creative director for a line of perfumes. The tongue-in-cheek stories feel like they’re pulled from an early 00’s era screenplay based on the early 1900’s (or maybe even some sort of popular TV series). The art is whimsy in a British way. Each bottle has a golden animal head cap, like a trophy for the flawed.

Today we’re introduced to a character that has married into this dysfunctional family – Much Ado About the Duke.

The Portrait (taken from the site):

Conforming to the expectations of his class, Duke Nelson married the most coveted girl in London: the Duchess Rose. Yet the Duke is eccentric and unusual, his whimsical airs set society tongues wagging. Rumours abound that his marriage is yet to be consummated! His perfume is as ambivalent as he is: a floral yet masculine woody fragrance. – Fancy that”

Oh lawd, I can’t believe they went there! So yeah, here’s a perfume inspired by a rich young man trapped in the closet and married to The Coveted Duchess Rose. 

When we’re told we’re getting a dandy fragrance, we expect violets or carnations. The Duke doesn’t go in that predictable direction; instead, The Duke is a contrast of warm and cool/dirty and clean. The perfume opens like juniper berries, freshly ground black pepper and a faint hint of new leather goods in the background. Honestly, this opening reminds me very much of the brand’s Juniper Sling (like gin and tonic with citrus). Expect this one is crisper and with more tea-like notes. To my surprise, The Duke wears as this laundry white musk, sharp rose and green tea. If that wasn’t confusing enough, this fragrance completely changes. It’s like cedar chips, chest hair and worn leather BUT if all of that has been scrubbed with fancy French soap. Who knew a cumin note could smell so clean? As the fragrance dries down, it totally embraces the dirty notes of cumin, cedar and animalic leather. The dry-down is a mix of this “dirty” with sharper “modern” woods.

Out of these four Portraits, The Duke is my favorite. I love the contrast of soapy/dirty. I’ve always been the sort of person that like a fragrance that smells like functional fragrances on a sweaty body. In my opinion, the best soapy fragrances have a human element (scents like Malle Dans Tes Bras).

Ivor Novello

Notes listed include rose, leather, gin, pepper, cumin and woody notes. Launched in 2016. PERFUMER – Daphne Bugey

Give The Duke a try if you like clean leathers or updated “masculines”. Or perfumes like Hermès Eau d’Hermès, Atelier Philtre Ceylan, Diptyque L’Autre, Cartier Declaration, Givenchy Insensé, Penhaligon’s Sartorial and/or Tom Ford Private Blend London. 

Projection and longevity is above average. The trophy is that of a hound.

The 2.5 oz bottle retails for $240 at Saks.

Victoria’s Final EauPINIONCumin green tea. This complicated dandy is my favorite from the Portraits Collection. It may not be something I’d wear that often but I do want to smell it on the people around me.

Read more of the First Chapter and get to know this family here.

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*Disclaimer – Sample provided by the brand. I am not financially compensated for my reviews. My opinions are my own. Product pic from the brand. Ivor Novello pic from Post contains an affiliate link. Thanks!

4 thoughts on “Penhaligon’s Much Ado About the Duke EDP Perfume Review

  1. Now i want this.

    I wish there was a way i could sample this one. It sounds wonderful. Gin and Tonics are my go-to drink

    1. Well, if you take your g&t with a lot of cumin, this may be it 😉

      The g&t accord in this is really, really short-lived. If you’re looking for a g&t, I suggest Art de Parfum Gin and Tonic parfum. It’s great!

  2. I’ve tried G&T in the Penhaligon shop in SIngapore. In the heat and humidity of SIN the scent did not last more than a few minutes on my skin. Even the clerk/assistant was surprised at how quickly the scent disappeared on me. However, for the few minutes it lasted I liked it so if The Duke lasts longer (insert double entrendre here) I’m looking forward to trying it!

    1. Haha, you know that’s why they went with such a name!

      Hopefully, this one will last longer on your skin (that is if you like it!) Their gin one didn’t last long on my skin either. In cool weather, I got about 3-4 hours of wear 🙁

      I actually saw this bottle in person last weekend and it’s even cuter than the picture.

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