I have a certain fascination with Jo Malone scents. They are often described here as linear and maybe that's what I like: a clear statement with fairly simple suppporting or contrasting accords. Like a strong melody accompanied by transparent orchestration.
But what's wrong with me? When I tried this in the shop I was completely enamoured of the tart lime contrasted with warm, aromatic cedar. Waited to buy it from JM's airport shop and now I can't find the tartness anywhere! Not even on the very first sniff. To be fair it is called "sweet lime" and the sweetness is definitely there but seems more associated with the gardenia than anything citrus. And that lack of tartness has completely destroyed the balance of the scent for me. I find what remains a bit too diffuse and although it's not unpleasant I can't relax with it because it keeps hinting that something will break through but ultimately just cloys somewhat.
The good news is that it makes a nice base with a strong citrus scent (Lime Basil Mandarin works without getting too weird) overlaid on it.
I tried this based on name alone and on a first wearing it was rather disappointing. The opening struck me as plasticky and floral; I really didn't catch the lime or cedar and washed it off before I could develop a full impression of the drydown. Subsequently I went to Jo Malone's website and read that the designer's inspiration for Sweet Lime and Cedar was Thai cuisine. With that, I gave it another shot. Again, I found the opening to be plasticky and floral, but I could detect the lime and the heat and the suggestion of Thai cuisine was helpful. Now I would still say the opening was cluttered by florals. The lime stays a good while, the florals dissipate and I get the cedar clearly. At this point the scent matches what my olfactory imagination hoped for: a pleasant base with cedar, touched by lime still. So the opening gets a thumbs down, the base a thumbs up and I will score the fragrance overall with a neutral rating. Definitely not worth it to me to endure the opening, but perhaps it will work on others.
An additional observation: per the current Jo Malone web page, spearmint and nutmeg are not listed in the notes.
10th September, 2009 (last edited: 19th September, 2009)
A modern twist in the cologne genre, Sweet Lime and Cedar uses kaffir lime leaf (aka Thai lime), tamarind and cedarwood as the theme. It may have the coolness of a tamarind drink in the alleyways of the souk, but it is more leafy than citrusy and I canít say that Iím smelling the unmistakable kaffir lime note on its own. Rather, it seems like a Westernized version for those who donít really care for that particular lime or perhaps find it too weird. The overall impression is of fresh leaves rubbed between the palms, and not particularly citrusy though possessing that type of invigorating freshness. A few moments later, I can sense a foreign note attempting to rise above the others Ė a gardenia and coconut accord, but a very artificial kind as the one you smell in every-other-celebrity-fragrance and the next one coming up. Thankfully, this phase is very short living and is quickly replaced by a dry pomelo note and a tad of coriander that lead to the longer lasting cedarwood that lingers on and on.
Colognes usually lose my interest nearly as fast as the initial blast of fresh juicy citrus top notes evaporates from the skin. But those that have cedarwood base seem to not only work well on my skin but also keep my brain stimulated longer without feeling irritated (the synthetic longer living citrus notes do that to me and turn on my skin). I had a similar infatuation with Miller Harrisí Citron Citron and could see myself quenching thirst for an entire summer with one of these at hand. At the same time, I am not particularly convinced that this perfume delivers its Thai cuisine premise and think that if it was carried out more boldly it would have made a truly fascinating perfume.
The lime note here is wonderful and hangs on tenaciously right through to the end (inhale deeply and you will find it after 8 hours) -- in fact I don't get much spice at all, it seems to me a full on citrus fragrance, but with a nice woody bottom. This doesn't sound all that groundbreaking, but wearing it is a different matter -- on my skin it purrs. I also prefer it to the Basil and Lime fragrance. Linear as usual from JM, but with this it's of no account. Really nice.
Jo Malone Sweet Lime and Cedar
Truth in Advertising is a concept we believe in and one thing I can say for the Jo Malone scents I have worn, the notes that are on the label are the notes that are prominent. No Le Labo bait and switch here. This 2008 release combines two of my favorite notes and executes a typical Jo Malone style beautifully. The top is the fresh blast of lime full of tart energy. The sweet is provided by a mix of jasmine and ylang ylang. The floral character is there to add a little contrast to the tartness of the lime but not to be an equal partner. Therefore the top comes off very much as a full-on citrus. The transition to the titular partner of cedar goes through a layer of spices that are light and fresh. The most prominent of which is cardamom. This is a quick transition and it gets you right to the very clean lines that cedar affords a scent and here the cedar just lasts and lasts on me leaving me with the epitome of a fresh and clean feeling. Sweet Lime and Cedar is one of my favorites of the Jo Malone line and it wears better on me than the flagship Lime, Basil and Mandarin, while sharing some of the same thoughts in composition. Its nice when you get what you asked for.