Who hasn’t helped themselves to Molton Brown products when staying at the right kind of hotel? But the British brand doesn’t only just produce top-notch amenity, bath and body products; their fragrance offering is equally impressive.
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Founded by Caroline Burstein and Michael Collis in 1971, the company started out as a hair salon on South Molton Street, London, and has come to represent the best of British over the years (all products are made in England).
Molton Brown made its scent debut in 1984 with Orange Grove (now known as Orange & Bergamot).
In recent years, it has increasingly focused on these releases and offers them in both EDT (the transparent glass bottles) and EDP (the fancier bottles with resin caps) concentrations as part of its broader ranges.
A clever way to get us to want even more of their goodies.
The brand’s sophisticated but ultra-wearable fragrances are clearly made with quality ingredients and also score points for their cruelty-free, 100% vegetarian credentials.
We’ve featured a mix of EDT and EDP formats here. While the concentration is obviously one of the main differences between the two, they also have varied note emphases.
We take you through their best releases.
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the name of the fragrance.
Our Shortlist For Best Molton Brown Fragrances
Molton Brown Re-Charge Black Pepper EDT (Jacques Chabert)
We love fragrances that live up to their names, and this 2015 release does just that with gusto.
The title note is at its warm and spicy best in the intro. It’s contrasted with the freshness of lemon and ginger.
There’s more freshness, of the herbal variety, from notes of coriander and basil.
The drydown is on the earthy side, with notes of vetiver and oakmoss adding the finishing touches.
If you want a softer take on spice, we recommend Molton Brown Fiery Pink Pepper in either the EDT or EDP formats.
Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold EDT (Sylvie Fischer)
Every brand has their take on oud, so we were expecting Mesmerising Oudh Accord & Gold to just be another one. We were wrong.
This 2015 release opens with the distinctive warmth of cinnamon leaf oil, without the overdone sweetness. There’s a hint of earthy nutmeg in the background. The spicy warmth continues with notes of myrrh and elemi.
Okay, so the headline oud is almost certainly not the real thing (hence the use of the word “accord”), but a quality synthetic version is blended oh so smoothly with honey, tobacco and vetiver to produce an enchanting effect.
Molton Brown Heavenly Gingerlily EDT (Jacques Chabert)
We’re nowhere near Tahiti, the inspiration for this 2015 release, but this Jacques Chabert creation provides the exotic escapist goods in abundance.
Zesty ginger takes the lead in the intro, with additional spiciness from notes of cardamom and clove.
Notes of lily and tagetes pick up on the spice of the opening, while tuberose, animalic and creamy, also contributes to the island life ambience.
After all that floralcy, the drydown is toned down but still appealing, with clean white musk blended with aromatic cedarwood and milky sandalwood.
This is strong stuff for an EDT, so only a spray or two is required.
Molton Brown Tobacco Absolute EDT (Elsa Chabert)
This 2015 release will tell you, in no uncertain terms, why we rate Molton Brown fragrances so highly.
The citric freshness of bergamot and grapefruit is given a spicy balsamic twist with elemi in the intro.
The rich warmth of tobacco meets the sensual softness of cedarwood and powderiness of orris and violet.
It gathers depth in the drydown with the spicy complexity of Peru balsam supported by the earthiness of patchouli.
It’s cosy, distinctive stuff and we love how this EDT contrasts fresh and warm facets with seemingly effortless flair.
Molton Brown Coastal Cypress & Sea Fennel EDT (Carla Chabert)
This 2017 release was one of the first Molton Brown fragrances we tried. We loved it so much, we had to try more releases from the brand. That’s how good it is.
It opens with a spicy sprinkle of cardamom, while notes of sea fennel and bergamot add to the freshness.
It’s not long before the sea notes come through. Together with the notes of cypress, cedarwood and musk, they create the effect of a salty and aromatic breeze on skin.
Energising and uplifting, it has more than enough character to stand out in the well-worn aquatics genre.
Russian leather is a sub-category of the broader leather fragrance category and takes its inspiration from the birch oil-treated skins that were originally exported from the country until the early 20th century.
While Molton Brown’s 2017 contribution to the genre doesn’t quite scale the heights of the standard-bearer Chanel Cuir de Russie, it’s still darn good stuff and significantly cheaper than the classic from the French brand.
It’s deep and rich from the opening, with notes of black tea and elemi at the fore. That gathers momentum with the green aromatics of pine.
When the leather accord comes through, it’s infused with the smokiness of notes of tobacco, birch, vetiver and cade. It’s animalic but very wearable at the same time.
Molton Brown Milk Musk EDT (Maïa Lernout)
Comforting and enveloping… we can’t think of a better way to conclude a rough week than with this 2020 release.
It opens with the subtle fruity notes of pear and peach.
Perfumer Maïa Lernout (who also created the beautiful floral tropicana of Flora Luminare for the company) adroitly builds a milky accord around musk, Ambroxan, vanilla, white cedarwood and tonka bean.
It’s sweet, powdery, nostalgic, sensual and soothing. Just what we need when we’re feeling somewhat frazzled.
Molton Brown Suede Orris EDP (Jérôme Di Marino)
A while ago, we presented our best powdery fragrances and didn’t include this wonderful 2020 release in that round-up. So this is our way of making up for that glaring omission.
Mandarin orange makes a bright statement in the opening, with the warm spiciness of black pepper and olibanum in the background.
Orris absolute, the precious raw material obtained from the rhizomes of the iris, is showcased with powdery perfection. Rose and jasmine absolutes accentuate the floral ambience, while a suede accord and the vanilla-ish tones of benzoin define the smooth drydown.
As with many Molton Browns, it’s not a loud, broadcast-to-all scent but has heaps of refinement.
Molton Brown Labdanum Dusk EDP (Nathalie Koobus)
This 2021 release is every bit as mysterious as it sounds.
The opening is all about the woody aromatics of cedar, with the leathery spice of saffron in support.
There’s spicy earthiness from notes of cypriol and patchouli.
Labdanum, an integral part of an amber accord, dominates the drydown with its deep muskiness.
Touches of oud (sustainably sourced from Dubai, according to the company website) and vanilla complete the composition with elegant finesse.
It’s seriously good stuff that strikes a deft balance between its Middle Eastern inspiration and accessible Western wearability.
Molton Brown Delicious Rhubarb & Rose EDP (Vanessa Prudent)
The name of this 2022 release says it all.
There’s lots of juicy fruit in the opening, thanks to notes of litchi and raspberry, with a note of grapefruit balancing all the sweetness. The rhubarb is just how we love it: fruity and spicy.
Notes of peony and rose keep the freshness going, with the subtle rosy spiciness of pink pepper in the background.
The drydown belongs to the softness of cedarwood and musk. It’s shot through with the creaminess of vanilla.
It’s one of the best fruity-florals we’ve tried in recent years, and that says something.
Molton Brown Rose Dunes EDP (Philippe Paparella-Paris)
The brand’s most release presents a more opulent and oriental take on the queen of florals.
That vibe is evident from the first spray with its intriguing combo of spicy saffron and green cassis.
The rose, woody and powdery, is paired with the green aromatics of geranium for extra effect.
Patchouli, sustainably sourced from Salawesi island, Indonesia, is known for its earthy spiciness, and gives the composition sensual depth together with an oud accord, creamy sandalwood and musk.
Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.