I can't compare to the original as I never encountered it, but I found ESP to be the nicest of the anthologie series -- the top notes are a really wonderfu melange of peppers, fruits and citrus, which are surprisingly mellow. The floral notes are mixed nicely with the woody base. Not sure how the mossy ambience is achieved, probably due to the musks used, so not strictly a chypre. I don't get the reference to Hypnotic Poison, i.e. I can't detect any mimosa/heliotropin at all. I am pleased to see it isn't categorised as 'feminine' as it does veer that way slightly and I have already purchased.
I don't like to write negative reviews. But this scent it isn't original at all. And for a parfum called "without comparison" it is a paradox! Sorry but it strongly reminds me of Hypnotic Poison. I never tried the vintage version, but this modernized version is really too fruity and sweet to be smart. Strange for Penhaligons that is such a brave company.
The original Eau Sans Pareil is an absolutely beautiful fragrance, truly elegant and evocative, combining a vague barbershop feel with a beautiful perfumed air of distinction. Woody and aromatic in feel and a very slight powderiness giving it a dry but sweet edge.
The Anthology series version is nothing at all like the original.
I am really quite shocked that Penhaligon's would issue what you would expect to be a "re-release" edition of a former scent, that bears no resemblance to it's forebearer at all. Don't get me wrong, it's pleasant enough, just not exceptional, which the original most certainly is.
So, thumbs most definitely up for the original but only a neutral for the Anthology release and a thumbs down for Penhaligon's for what I feel is a piece of commercial sleight of hand.
This is an old school complex woody-chypre with a coniferous green aromatic temperament, a fruity-floral vintage backbone (citrus, raspberry, pineapple, ylang-ylang, rose, jasmine) and a soul of rooty patchouli and earthy vetiver finally civilized by musk and balsams. Yes, there are herbaceous, bitter-sweet (licorice) and almost mentholated elements around and we are talking about artemesia, cloves and sage (may be rosemary, angelica, mint?). Some lavender, in its link with herbs, oakmoss and bergamot produces by the first whiff a sort of traditional laundry-barber shop feel (Foetidus talks about geranium- a key element in the barber-shop kind of juices- and i see the association). This feel is finally tamed by balsams and amber. The dry down is warm, woody and incensey because of a dusty-woodsy chord of musk, olibanum and labdanum in the way you finally inhale a green-rooty-incensed breath that tends to soften towards musk and balsams and that is featured by a sort of almost dissonant orangy-rosey-creamy kind of flavour. The dissonance produces a sort of slightly viney and rosey effect that enhances the retro and royal atmosphere. Another great Penhaligon's.
10th November, 2011 (last edited: 20th December, 2011)
The 2011 Anthology re-issue of ESP is pleasant enough, but there really isn't anything to distinguish it from the endless stream of washed-out florals that seem designed specifically to serve as gifts for those characterless nieces you see only once a year. The official notes call it a chypre and perhaps there is a drop of oakmoss somewhere in the deepest recesses of its construction, but I can't see any Mitsouko-lovers clamouring to get their hands on this one.