In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Blackberry

 

I was in my late 20s when I tried blackberries for the first time. Before than I knew of them but where I lived they weren’t grown commercially so I wasn’t even sure how blackberry looked or smelled.

Blackberries

I still do not know how blackberries smell. I checked just yesterday: at least those that I buy have almost no detectable scent. Are there any other varieties that actually have a smell?

So it’s fair to say that I wasn’t really looking for a perfect blackberry scent. What I was (and actually still am) looking for was a limited edition bottle of L’Artisan Mure et Musc Extreme that looked like a blackberry.

I wanted this bottle. I found a special bottle of Premier Figuier Extreme but for the last year I’ve been stalking eBay for that blueberry bottle without much success. But to be ready to jump on a bidding game if a bottle is offered for sale I wanted to try the perfume: at least to know what to expect.

Mure et Musc Extreme by L’Artisan Parfumeur, created by Karine Dubreuil in 1993, includes notes of … all sources agree on blackberries and musk, and some type of citrus. But then I saw “red berries”, “black currant”, “hint of raspberries”, etc. I don’t smell any of those. I can smell some citrus in the opening; I can smell something that I classify as musk. If you want, I can say it has a blackberry note – but only to the extent of it’s not smelling of anything distinctive, same as those blackberries I buy to eat. Mure et Musc Extreme isn’t unpleasant but I do not see any reason to buy and wear it. Not unless I find that cute bottle.

Mure Et Musc

I still wasn’t looking for a blackberry perfume when an SA at Nordstrom almost forced a Trish McEvoy No 9 Blackberry & Vanilla Musk sample on me. Created in 2000, Blackberry & Vanilla Musk includes notes of blackberry, vanilla, rose, musk and Cashmeran. I can’t believe how much I disliked that perfume! Of course, I rarely test mainstream offerings nowadays so I lost my immunity towards that type of perfumes so I should have expected that could happen. But I didn’t. And I wanted to test different perfumes for this post. Blackberry & Vanilla Musk is sickly sweet on my skin. Once I applied it I did not want to smell any nuances or trace changing notes. All I wanted was for it to go away. Right… You know how persistent those synthetic musks are. Never again.

Still not looking for a blackberry-centric perfume I unexpectedly got one. It was a gift from a friend who got persuaded by an SA at Heathrow airport that this perfume wasn’t available in the U.S. It wasn’t true: by that time I’ve already tested and liked Blackberry & Bay by Jo Malone. But I don’t complain: it was a great gift.

Jo Malone Blueberry & Bay

Blackberry & Bay by Jo Malone, created by Fabrice Pellegrin in 2012, includes notes of blackberry, grapefruit, bay leaf, floral accord, vetiver and cedar wood. Fruity perfumes are not widely represented in my collection but Blackberry & Bay is one of a few that I truly enjoy. I like the sweet and tart mixture of this perfume on my skin. It’s fruity, bright and dark, deep and playful at the same time.

 

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Images: my own (all but L’Artisan blueberry bottle)

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51 thoughts on “In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Blackberry

  1. That bottle is da bomb! In fact it even looks a bit like one, come to think of it.

    I have smelt Blackberry & Bay on the friend of a friend and it was terrific on her and I will seek out a sample at some point.

    Didn’t we try one featuring blackberry in Paris or was that blackcurrant? The sort of ‘fairytale one in the woods’ – what was it called now?

    And did you never pick blackberries as a kid in the hedgerows, because they’re just everywhere in the British countryside? It was a regular pre-going back to school ritual in my youth!

    • Vanessa,
      As Jackie correctly mentioned above, we tried Enchanted Forest with “main” berry being black currant. I’ll write about it in the next installment.

      As to picking berries, first of all, I lived in a huge city ;) and spent my summers in a smaller city (but in a house with a big garden). Then, the only berries I’ve ever seen in a wild were raspberries and wild strawberries.

      • Where I live now I only have to turn down the next street and in the access lane to it is a hedge of blackberries, right in the middle of a built up area. I even have a bramble or two in my garden. I think they must just get around more in Britain, in both rural and urban locations. Like foxes, maybe!

  2. Hey U,

    About the scent of blckb, you are on the right trace, they do smell very citrusy and sweet at the same time. In Croatia we still have many fields that are not commercialised and not producing industrial fruits (with sprays, etc.). I hope those people will survive that. As a boy I was always eating them by the road when I was on countryside.
    I didn’t try Jo Malone nor Trish, but did L’Artisan and I like it. It’s not for me because I love to wear ‘heavier’ scents, but it’s ok…

    J.

  3. I see what you mean about the bottle. It was on e-Bay a minute ago, o, gone again. Have you ever seen (on e-Bay) the Gravel bottle that Christos reviewed? That would be my equivalent of your Mure et Musc Extreme. And Rusty has a slideshow!

    • The problem is: it wasn’t one Bay! I haven’t missed it a single time – nobody has ever offered it since I started looking for it.
      As to Rusty, I just couldn’t choose one of the three pictures but the story wasn’t long enough to put all three.

  4. I can’t believe i haven’t got round to trying Mure et Musc. I thought it would be my perfect berry scent but after reading your and Thomas’s thoughts I’m more doubtful. Blackberry and Bay was very nice but not full bottle worthy for me. A great gift to receive though.

    Oh how I love the pads of Rusty’s paws!

    • I would have bought Blackberry & Bay – I liked it that much. But then, I’m a Jo Malone fan. I would be wearing Mure et Musc had it landed on my lap (or if I finally find that bottle).

      Those pads look funny, that was one of the reasons I liked these pictures.

  5. I’m not very fond of perfumes that are berry-centric. Speaking of blackberries and other berries – I’m not sure but I think that maybe crushing/macerating them with a fork will release some juice and smell as well. You might want to check it out.
    I got a sample of Blackberry & Bay from a friend but I wasn’t impressed by it. Jo Malone simply doesn’t speak to me.
    But still, it’s a nice article and Rysty had a good time. Purr!

  6. I like Blackberry & Bay a lot, it is the best blackberry out there for me.
    Rusty is so attractive, and I’m not just saying that, he really is the most elegant and intelligent looking cat I’ve ever seen. Cuddle him for me please!

    • Thank you, Birgit. Rusty just got his portion of cuddling, then his treat – and decided that he needed more steady support than my lap as I’m trying to type these responses – so he relocated to a pillow.

  7. I smelled mure et musc many years ago and it smelled empty.. In the sense that I don’t remember it smelling like anything. Then later when I read about it and all the blackberry references I had no idea what they were referring to. Maybe I should try sniffing it now – maybe I’ll get some of the nuances that I missed.. Of course unfortunately I swapped away my sample..

    • Oh and that bottle is beyond cute. And I did enjoy my first spritz of blackberry and bay from the sample you sent. I need to test it and wear it some more. I predict it will be wonderful in the heat we are experiencing..

      • Blackberry & Bay does wear good in heat.

        I stopped giving away samples after a couple of times I regretted that I couldn’t try them again to compare to something else.

  8. I’m not so sure about the scent of blackberries either, but have you tried cooking them, just to see if anything new emerges then? I was flabbergasted about the way so called cherry flavored candy tastes for a long while, until I made a cherry pie for the first time. Cooking bought out aromas that I had not detected in the raw berries.

    I don’t know if anyone else agrees on this, but I find Mure et Musc Extreme very fecal for the first half hour or so. Thankfully it goes away, leaving a clean mush in a barely detectable shade of berries, but considering that start, it’s not a scent I’d call wimpy…

    • Not every time but once in a while Mure et Musc has some dirty aspect to it on my skin. On other occasions it was just fine.

      I’m not much of a cook so I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to prove/disprove your theory. But I ate a lot of fresh cherries from a tree and was present during many of my grandmother’s cherries cooking sessions to know exactly what you mean.

  9. Where I grew up blackberries grew up on the edges of fields… I remember stuffing my mouth with them. If you were lucky, there was not a junebug inside the one you were stuffing in your mouth at that moment! I love the smell and taste of blackberries. Citrusy, sweet…. mmmm. I enjoy Blackberry & Bay quite a lot, but have actually not tried Mure et Musc if you can believe it!

    • Ok… So there is hope to smell blackberries if I try those wild ones. Actually, those on the first picture I found in the field but I don’t remember whether they smelled of anything.
      There are many L’Artisan’s perfumes that I haven’t tried.

  10. That Mure et Musc Extreme bottle looks so special – I can see why you continue to stalk it :-)

    Now as to the pictures of Rusty with Blackberry and Bay (which is also one of my favorites), his TAIL kills me – it is so fluffy and I love it. He is such a handsome boy!

  11. I love Mure et Musc but have the vintage version and I love that one vs. the newer version which falls flat on my skin, not much depth at all.
    I really enjoy the limited perfume, Douchaufour added Turkish rose, iris absolute, kumquat, bergamot, basil, pink and black pepper, patchouli, oak moss, vanilla and leather. The Extrait de Parfum is an extremely well blended and balanced fragrance, the oakmoss and patchouli bring out the pulpy fruit notes beautifully.

    • I read about that extrait version but haven’t had a chance to try. I thought it was a limited edition for the scent’s 30th (?) anniversary.

      And. of course, the same – so familiar – song about the original/vintage version. And I’m fearful that with new regulations we’ll hear it more and more often.

  12. If you want a beautiful perfume with berry or cassis, try Amazone by Hermes in vintage form, there is more oakmoss and vetiver, it brings out the beauty of the berry/cassis notes beautifully. I’ve tried the new version and it’s very disappointing.

    Love your kitty cat, he looks like a Maine coon.

    • Thank you for the recommendation: if I get a chance, I’ll try it. Especially since I’m working on the next Single Note Exploration post – black currant.

      We call Rusty “a secret Maine Coon.” He has many resemblances with that breed so I think one of his ancestors was a Maine Coon.

  13. Mure et Musc is not my kind of thing. I tried it many years ago and thought it smelled like cute, pink-fuzzy nothingness – but I was not really keen on musk back then, so perhaps my feelings about it would be quite different now.

    Rusty – thoroughly magnificent, as always, and it’s amazing how he really knows how to adapt his poses to whatever you need him to do. Be playful? Yes, got it down. Be sexy cat? Oh yeah baby, always. :D

    • Rusty? Adapt?! Have you ever tried to make a cat to do anything you wanted when you wanted? ;)

      Rusty just (sometimes) allows me enough time to take pictures of him doing whatever amuses him at the moment. Too bad if I’m not quick enough or cannot find a good position to take a picture – he’s done with that not-new-any-more thing and goes away :)

  14. I don’t know what compels some SA’s to tell us certain products are exclusives to their store or location. I’ve had SA’s tell me Chanel No.5 Eau Premiere couldn’t be found anywhere EXCEPT in their store. Silliness.

    If I could get that bottle, it’d look pretty good next to Lolita Lempicka. Then they’ll just have to make an orange, peach and banana shaped-bottle.

    • Well, in my friend’s case since that was happening in the airport, the SA knew she wouldn’t be called on that and she obviously wanted to make a sale. Since I was on a receiving side of that sales technique I didn’t mind terribly but, in general, I don’t like when it happens. Less than a month ago an SA at SF Saks tried telling me that they were the only store in the city to carry Penhaligon’s. I didn’t want to argue with her (she was giving me samples ;) ) but I know for a fact that at least one more big and known store – Gump’s – carries some of Penhaligon’s perfumes for at least a couple of years now.

      Tomato bottle might also look cool!

  15. Awe, look at Rusty!
    Visit Seattle in August and we’ll go blackberry picking :) It’s one of my favorite things to do just for the smell. It’s oddly musky, like natural musk and fruity.
    I’m always searching for a good blackberry perfume. So far I like Mistral Wild Blackberry. I just review Opus Oils Charm and it has a blackberry but more like a blackberry tea. I still need to try that Jo Malone one.

    • Well, let’s talk next year :) Both my vSO and I loved Seattle.

      You should try Blackberry & Bay: based on our other perfume preferences there’s a good chance you’ll like it.

  16. Pingback: In the Search for the Perfect Blackberry: P.S. | Undina's Looking Glass

  17. Carrying on from my comment on the ubiquity of blackberries over here, a colleague was telling me about her walk to the train station and happened to volunteer the fact that there was a huge wild blackberry bush by a Shell garage on the way. She planned to go back and raid the fruit on her return, which would be ample for all the things she planned to make with it. ;-)

  18. I like to eat blackberries more than I like to smell them. :) Not that I dislike the scent, but it never seems to get made into a perfume that I think is really special or amazing. I have not worn Blackberry and Bay a lot though. Now that I’ve read your endorsement, I will give it more of a chance!

  19. I really enjoyed Blackberry and Bay too and wouldn’t mind owning some. But the absolute best blackberry scent I’ve tried is Blackbird by Olympic Orchids. You must give it a try! It has this great way of being both a nostalgic childhood scent memory and a very sensual, adult take on blackberry. It has a dry grassy, cedar wood and fir presence as well that gives it complexity.

  20. Pingback: In the Search for the Perfect Berry: Black Currant | Undina's Looking Glass

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