Perfume Directory

Opus 1870 (2005)
by Penhaligon's

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Opus 1870 information

Year of Launch2005
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 240 votes)

People and companies

HousePenhaligon's
Parent CompanyPuig Beauty & Fashion Group
Parent Company at launchFox Paine & Company > Cradle Holdings

About Opus 1870

Opus 1870 is a masculine fragrance by Penhaligon's. The scent was launched in 2005

Reviews of Opus 1870

Soft spiced pepper sparks
Echoed as Blenheim Bouquet
Bottled as Opus.
23rd August, 2018
If William Penhaligon had decided to mix parts of Hammam Bouquet (1876) and Blenheim Bouquet (1902) into something that met halfway between, but still felt more barbershop than Turkish bathhouse, he might end up with this. I know that's an overly unfair simplification of what's presented here, but as it stands, this stuff proclaims to be an opus to the birth year of the company anyway so I might as well. Fragrance aficionados that know anything about Penhaligon's will realize within moments of trying their most popular selections that they are something of an undying zombie barbershop perfumer that has shed it's skin multiple times over the 140+ years it's been around, with the latest dead skin mask being that of a niche house. All the early stuff still made is quite indicative of their roots, as it is all for better or worse the smells from the mind of a renowned Victorian barber who earned royal warrants in the UK for his goods when alive. Penhaligon's has always beaten it's pedigrees to death (real or forged), much like Creed, and makes new creations based on inspiration from it's legacy. Penhaligon's has a bit more documentation than most old houses claiming such legacies, so it gets a pass from many, but that doesn't make it any less cheesy when they bank roll on it repeatedly. Opus 1870 (2005) is such a bank rolling attempt; it isn't a revived "vaulted" anthology piece, or a lost unused formula from William Penhaligon himself, just a new scent trying to recapture (again) the glories of Penhaligon's past, with a few new ingredients that would not have been available to William Penhaligon back in 1870, like yuzu. Ever since Geo F Trumper bought them from the Penhaligon family then cast them to the wind in the mid 20th Century, Penhaligon's has seemed obsessed with repeating it's original success through Shiela Pickles' ownership, The Limited, Glynn Manson and Peter Kedge, Fox Paine & Company, or now Puig Beauty. Opus 1870 achieves its goal of feeling like an authentic 19th century Penhaligon's fragrance, but the real question is, how many more of them do we need? Luckily, it seems Puig has been steering the Penhaligon's ship away from it's course of perpetual retreads, with focuses on capturing scents from other regions of the globe, and the addition of super-premium lines such as the Hidden London and Portraits collections, which plays into an entirely different stereotype concerning niche houses, but let's not lose track here.

Opus 1870 opens with Yuzu, bergamot, coriander black pepper, and a slight bourbon note. The citrus and pepper instantly make the link to the aforementioned Blenheim Bouquet, as those were the signature facets of that venerated scent outside of the pine note, but Opus 1870 makes it exotic and modern (I guess) with yuzu in place of lemon and lime, plus a slightly woodsy bourbon accord that blends well with the pepper so it's less jarring. The whiskey note definitely is too fleeting to be considered "boozy" like in something such as Aramis Havana (1994), and Penhaligon's is just too prim and proper for that anyway. Clove, cardamom, and a really dainty English rose note emerge here, like a white rose as opposed to the more vivid Turkish rose in Hammam Bouquet, but this more pallid rose gets cozy with sandalwood in much the same way, just minus the animalic civet in the base. After the tart and dry citrus merge with the rose spice and sandalwood, a stinging incense note creeps on, which removes some of the creamier facets of the sandalwood, and allows the cedar and gaiac wood to bring the yuzu and rose into their dry fold. There is white musk in the base, clean and laundry-like, another modern touch that differs from the dirty musks that would have been used had this actually been composed in 1870, leaving us with a neutered, apologetic, and even more inoffensive take on the already conservative and emotionless English barbershop style, which wasn't exactly known for being racy even back in the 19th century. Opus 1870 is nice, but that's just it... nice. I can't really say one other meaningful thing about the way it smells than that. This is purely a work or casual at-home scent, because just like so many other modern but purposefully antiquated barbershop recollections from the house, Opus 1870 is almost completely emotionless to wear. Projection and longevity are good for Penhaligon's, which means just plain fair for everyone else, but you wouldn't want something smelling like a yuzu-based eau de cologne with dashes of pepper and woods to be nuclear sillage anyway, or it would just be like the commercial ozonic stuff that was still floating around in the mid 2000's.

Getting stuck in a rut is a dangerous thing. Calvin Klein did it with their synthetic freshies throughout the 90's and 2000's, Avon did it with their constantly anachronistic and bizarre half-hearted masculines throughout the 80's and 90's, and Claiborne did it by unleashing endless waves of Curve (1996) flankers until they practically were "the house of Curve". Penhaligon's has more at stake however since they don't make the kind of volume and variety of choice that could be more forgiving of stylistic doldrums that bigger and more commercial houses face, so when they face similar creative stagnation, it's that much bigger of a threat, especially from a house that wants you to pay upwards of $150 for their full-size bottles. That's why I loved scents like Endymion (2003), Juniper Sling (2011), and Bayolea (2014), because they showcase what classic barbershop ingredients could be like if combined in ways that create accords that appeal to modern tastes, rather than the ass-backwards way of using modern ingredients to try and retrofit classic accords with newfangled swagger like Opus 1870 does. Now I'm not saying this makes Opus 1870 horrible, because at the end of it all, this is a fairly nice if staid citric barbershop toilet water, just using yuzu or gaiac woods makes not one bit of difference to the style, it just doesn't. Despite it's pleasantness, Opus 1870 just showcases everything that is, or at least was wrong with Penhaligon's in modern times, and is what you get when an old house has an identity crisis after moving upmarket, wanting to be seen as a new and exciting prestige brand, but also a dependable old symbol of an aristocratic past. Can't have your cake and eat it too. If you're a die-hard fan of the house's "English Gentleman" shtick, then you'll probably like this too, but the best I can give it fairly is a neutral, which puts it a step up from the abominable Quercus (1996), but not as interesting as something like Zizonia (2001). Definitely sample these if you can, and wait out the development too, since Penhaligon's has had a century and a half worth of experience making nice top notes, but it's the dry down that always reveals the beauty, mediocrity, or ugly truth with this house.
20th August, 2018
This is really not nice. Citrus opening, maybe there IS some Bergamotte, but the rest seems to be pure synthetic spicy dry sandalwood/oud derivative with musk and too much cheap soap plus a hint of plastic bag.
11th December, 2017
A definite thumbs down.
A fellow basenoter commented on the Heeley Yuzu thread that this is easily a flyer and should satisfy any Yuzu cravings.
Wrong.
There is a slightly fresh citrusy opening but from then on its a sickly dry powdery barbershoppy Lemon rose with hint of Yuzu straight up the nose -that would be the pepper- annoyance.
Heeley's Yuzu outclasses it by a country mile and achieves its goal of being fresh and enjoyable metromasculine justifying its place above Heeley's similar product Sel Marine.

Phew. Washed it off.
But if you like dry powdery barber shop smells fair enough.

Fragrance: 2.5/5
Projection: 3.5/5
Longevity: 3.5/5
06th December, 2017
Desperately wanted to love this as it was recommended as a pepper-dominant fragrance, but the notes above are accurate: The pepper is only a top note which doesn't linger for more than 30 enjoyable minutes. Then it's a combination of woody straw and a sweet sweat fragrance which bizarrely was very reminiscent of a teenage crush - but I'd be very surprised if she was wearing a relatively expensive men's fragrance in those days!

A grown-up fragrance, certainly, but a little sweet for me. It puts me in mind of a friendly English professor; winsome, but a bit fusty and asexual.
15th May, 2017
Nice scent with a fruity berry blast.
29th January, 2017

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Opus 1870 by Penhaligon's Eau De Toilette Spray (Unisex) 3.4 oz For Men

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