“Here’s a photo I’ve been looking for…”: Sweet Milk by Jo Malone

… the sense of smell can be extraordinarily evocative, bringing back pictures as sharp as photographs of scenes that had left the conscious mind.
Thalassa Cruso

I like Jo Malone‘s colognes. I own more full bottles of this brand than of any other. And then some decants and sample sprays. One way or another there are fourteen scents by Jo Malone in my collection. Not being familiar with the limited edition concept in the past, I’ve missed some of the perfumes I wish I haven’t. So this time I went to a store as soon as I read the new limited edition Tea Collection by Jo Malone became available.

Sweet Milk by Jo MaloneIt was an interesting idea – tea party components in a bottle. I concentrated on two “main” scents – Assam & Grapefruit (bought it) and Earl Grey & Cucumber (still thinking about getting it); I dismissed Fresh Mint Leaf and Sweet Lemon as nice but too simple; as to the Sweet Milk scent, it piqued my curiosity because it smelled … differently but I didn’t think I would like it. I sprayed it on my wrist just to see how it developed on the skin. And as I was sniffing it repeatedly, not only the scent but also my childhood memories started developing. And in no time my mind conjured vivid pictures from the past.

As a child I usually spent my summer school breaks at my grandparents. Those were wonderful summer months filled with great things: I could read long after a midnight and then sleep as late as I wanted; I could eat endless cherries off a tree and pick the best strawberries from my grandmother’s garden; I spent most of my days with friends who lived nearby – running around, playing games, swimming in a river or going to movies. One of the “great things” was a special treat, which we all were getting from time to time: a can of a sweetened condensed milk. Even though condensed milk wasn’t too expensive, it was really hard to come by in stores; and usually adults tried to save those cans for baking (there were a lot of recipes that used it) – that’s why a whole can of a condensed milk, which you could eat all by yourself, was a special treat. What made it even better, with two small holes made in its top part (one – to drink from, another – to help the flow) the can would become a perfect portable dessert container. It was easy to eat (drink) from it, carry around and find where to put it to free one’s hands.

Turning several pages of the imaginary album, I’m fifteen. My school choir group arrives from a two-week seaside vacation trip that we won in some competition. It’s late and because of that usually busy railway station is much less crowded. Everybody’s parents are there to meet their kids. Everybody’s but mine. I don’t remember exactly what happened – my mother either forgot the date I was to come back or couldn’t get tickets for the right date, – but they returned from visiting my grandmother only the next day. That night my friend’s parents gave me a ride home. At that age I was very independent and emancipated already, but being alone in the empty apartment with nobody waiting for you, preparing your favorite food and listening to all your vacation stories felt very depressing and sad. I felt lonely and abandoned. In a kitchen cabinet I found a can of a condensed milk, brewed a large cup of black tea and spent most of the night reading, drinking tea and eating sweet milk. It was very comforting and consoling. And, as it usually happens with night fears and concerns, in the morning everything seemed fine (as it was).

Sweet Milk by Jo Malone smells exactly how I remember the scent of that condensed milk from my childhood. I bought my bottle long before it became the most popular cologne in the Tea Collection and was sold out everywhere. Notes for that perfume created in 2011 by Christine Nagel include anise, bergamot, heliotrope, caramel, milk, almond, musk and vanilla. It’s not a perfume you want to wear with an evening dress or to the important business meeting but it’s suitable for the most other occasions. It’s warm and comforting and … sweet.

Carol from WAFT and I have decided to do a joint/parallel post about Sweet Milk cologne so check out her review.

As always, feel free to post a link to your blog’s post(s) related to the topic.

Image: my own
“Here’s a photo I’ve been looking for…” © Vonda Shepard , Neighborhood.


35 thoughts on ““Here’s a photo I’ve been looking for…”: Sweet Milk by Jo Malone

  1. I just adore your memory associations for this scent. They’re so vivid and I can really understand why you’re partial to this perfume. I think the notes sound incredible, I hope to find a sample someday. Maybe TPC will have it. Thanks for such a great review!


  2. Undina, thank you for sharing these lovely memories with us!

    I sniffed many Jo Malones when I was in Houston in February, and Sweet Milk was my favorite, the only one that I was tempted to purchase… alas, I did not. They seem to be sold out, but I’ve heard it may be re-issued at a later date. Here’s to hoping! :)


    • I’ll hope with you because I want a back-up bottle :) But I don’t know… I’ve been waiting for the rumored re-issue of Lotus Blossom & Water Lily and Dark Amber & Ginger Lily for months… and then gave up and bought the first one on eBay and swapped for the decant of the second one.
      But we’ll see.


  3. Undina,
    a can of sweet condensed milk was one of the rare and special treats from my childhood as well, and I have a bottle of Sweet Milk as well. It does not “smell like” condensed milk — the smell of the actual stuff is a whole lot more sugary and sweet — but it most certainly _invokes_ that smell. Hence, a perfect epigraph to your post! Thanks for your great review.

    Olga, a fellow fan :)


    • Olga,
      I haven’t tried “fresh” (not boiled) condensed milk in, I think, fifteen years so all I have is a memory of the scent. When I figure out what to do with my photo prop can, I’ll see how far off my memories were from the actual smell. Though I can always claim it has been reformulated ;)


      • You know what, I think it might have been (reformulated ;)

        Somehow, my experience with condensed milk was very similar to yours, the fresh one. Do you bake? If you have a gala occasion for making a cake and a bunch of people who would eat it, I can point you to a recipe that calls for condensed milk, evaporated milk and cream over a fluffy airy cake that a kid who grew up in the USSR would call a “bisquit”.


  4. This is such a wonderful review to go along with good memories from childhood. I agree that you paint such a vivid picture. Thanks for sharing this story.


  5. Undina, this post about Sweet Tea is gorgeous. When you talk about condensed sweetened milk being a dessert for you, I am reminded of a couple things: first, a homemade spice cake that a young girl sold to my husband and I when we were vacationing in Belize, and it was fresh out of the oven and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk as the icing; second, passages in The English Patient in which the young Indian sapper, Kip, and the English patient indulge their love of condensed milk, sucking it right out of the can. (In the book, it doesn’t mention if it was sweetened, but that’s how I imagine it when I read those lovely passages.) :)


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  7. I love reading about your scent memories. They’re so honest, human, many of use can relate.

    Sweet Milk sounds like a very comforting and easy to wear fragrance. I tend to like those.


    • Thank you, Victoria, I’m touched.

      You should definitely try Sweet Milk. If for nothing else, it’s one of the most unusual but still very simple Jo Malone’s colognes.


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  9. This was such a beautiful story…it brought tears to my eyes….

    As you already know I love Sweet Milk and finished up my bottle a while ago…I have high hopes that Jo Malone will bring it back so I am not going to lament its demise…

    however, quick question…have you found a substitute for it? What are your thoughts on Philosophy’s Sweet Cream? To my untrained nose I see some similarities…..also, Dame’s Black Flower Mexican Vanilla can often fill the Sweet Milk void for me….have you tried either of those two?


    • I haven’t tried Sweet Cream yet – just haven’t come across this brand… I need to see who carries it. But I know that hajusuuri likes it – and we have similar tastes. I still have some left but it’s a good idea to start conditioning JM’s SAs :) I have a sample of Dame’s perfume but it’s too sweet for me. I could wear it but I like other vanillas more.


      • Sweet Cream is by Philosophy and most Sephoras carry it…next time you are in a Sephora ask an SA to make you a sample of it….in my experience most SAs in Sephora are quite generous about making samples.

        Liked by 1 person

        • oh and while on the subject of Philosophy if you do get to a Sephora I would also suggest you try Inner Grace (beautiful skin scent..love to wear this one to bed) and Love is Sweet (blackberry and vanilla, although now I am wondering if I am confusing the name with another perfume….off to research…..)


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