Scandalous Absinthe

Scandalous Absinthe

scandalous absinthe
scandalous absinthe

One of the biggest global fragrance trends of the last decade has been the introduction of ‘scandalous’ ingredients in scents for her and him. With upwards of 1,000 new eau de parfums launching each year, designer brands need to stand out from the competition. One of the ways they do this is to feature an edgy ingredient or note. 19-69’s Johan Bergelin and Tom Ford both added a cocaine accord to their fragrances. Bois 1920 designed an entire collection around cannabis. Yves Saint Laurent caused a sensation by formulating a perfume that was said to include an opium accord.


The latest buzz-worthy note for rebel perfumers is a vibrant green liquor with a storied history. It’s called absinthe and it is an anise-flavoured spirit distilled from several plants including green anise, sweet fennel, artemisia absinthium (grand wormwood) and other medicinal plants. It was the brainchild of French doctor Pierre Ordinaire who formulated the drink in the late 18th century in Switzerland. It quickly gained the name ‘the green fairy’ in historical literature. It rose to great popularity as an alcoholic drink in the late 19th and early 20th century France particularly with French artists and writers who said it spurred grand inspiration and creativity. Fans of the drink included Ernest Hemingway, James Joyce, Lewis Carroll and Paul Verlaine.

Over the years, absinthe was portrayed as a dangerously addictive psychoactive drug and was subsequently banned in the United States in 1915 and much of Europe. (Later studies proved that the beverage was no more dangerous than other alcoholic drinks.) Yet, the drink retained an aura of counter culture. It was a drink of the creatives and the rebels. A revival of absinthe appeared in the 1990s and today you will find more than 200 brands of absinthe being produced throughout Europe.

Absinthe was considered so potent it could cause men and women to do outrageous things.

So what does absinthe smell like? Perfumers describe it as fresh, invigorating and slightly mysterious. It has a green character that is similar to galbanum, mint and violet leaf. The leaves and flowers are harvested from May to October when they are distilled. It is still referred to as the “elixir of creative inspiration”.

Here are a handful of our favourite fragrances containing absinthe.

19-69 Rainbow Bar fragrance containing absinthe
19-69 Rainbow Bar fragrance containing absinthe

19-69 Rainbow Bar

Eau de parfum

Fragrance Description: This rich, sexy scent for him or her is evocative of the 1980s glamrock era in L.A. and the music scent and lifestyle of the U.S. West Coast during the 1960s and 1970s. It reflects elements of sun, blue skies and the warm glow that is L.A. 19-69 is a buzzworthy niche luxury fragrance brand created by Swedish artist and product developer Johan Bergelin

Made in Italy.

Scent Style: a sexy aromatic-woody scent for him or her

Key ingredients: davana, bergamot, cypress, warwood, cardamom, marine breeze, fresh basil, elemi, artemisia, grape seed, hints of bourbon, nutmeg, vetiver, clove, guaiac wood, cedarwood, pimento seed

Scent fact: . “Each scent is inspired by a different era, culture or setting from Africa, Europe, the United States and Asia,” says Johan. “All raw ingredients are carefully considered and selected to ensure the finest quality. For each scent there is a unique fragrance journey.” What is special about 19-69 is Johan’s selection of unexpected ingredients and pairings. He has a true talent for balance and blending notes into something very special. This is a must-try brand for any fragrance lover.

Coach Blue

Coach Blue

Eau de toilette

Fragrance Description: Coach Blue is a spicy-aromatic fragrance for him that blends notes of lime, ozonic ingredients, black pepper, amber and cedar. But it is a hint of absinthe that gives this scent character. It has a sense of adventure to it.

Scent Style: a spicy-aromatic fragrance for him

Key ingredients: lime, absinthe, ozonic ingredients, black pepper, amber, cedar

Scent fact: Perfumers use an ozonic accord when they want to create a sense of fresh air in a fragrance.

Atkinsons Gold in Mayfair

Atkinsons Gold In Mayfair

Eau de parfum

Fragrance Description: Atkinsons Gold In Mayfair is a stylish amber-floral fragrance for her or him created by acclaimed perfumer Philippine Courtiere who starts with a rich mint-themed absinthe accord with a dash of nutmeg. The then layers in delicious cocoa, powdery iris and aromatic sage. Warm vetiver and ambroxan complete the scent.

Scent Style: a stylish amber-floral scent for her

Key ingredients: absinthe, nutmeg, cacao, sage, iris, ambroxan, styrax, vetiver

How to use: Hold the bottle 12 inches from your skin and spray twice.

Scent fact: Absinthe is a highly concentrated liquor that has a minty flavour. It was once outlawed as royal leaders believed it to cause men and women to do outrageous things.

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  • Brenda Elkins
    March 4, 2024 at 10:23 am

    Very interesting. I have not yet tried the above listed fragrances. Now I can do so, armed with this detailed knowledge.

  • Linda L
    March 1, 2024 at 1:08 pm

    Here’s to the “elixir of creative inspiration! “ Hoping absinthe is used for more fragrances.

  • Brenda Cremer
    March 1, 2024 at 9:53 am

    I love the back stories of fragrances. The only problem is I want all of them!

    • September Dee
      March 1, 2024 at 9:01 pm

      The addition of a controversial or naughty/scandalous ingredient make these fragrances all the more alluring to me. They sound interesting and complex and I really appreciate that.

  • Angela Citrigno
    February 29, 2024 at 11:29 pm

    Atkinsons Gold in Mayfair 💛💛💛💛💛 it’s unique and beautiful and the packaging is so classy. 19-69 Rainbow Bar sounds like the perfect summer fragrance. The unique scent notes sound intriguing . I want every fragrance that you have mentioned in this newsletter.