"I say, Jeeves, I was just about to slap on some of the jolly old lotion, but I can't seem to lay my digits on my Signoricci or my Bowling Green, my Marlborough or my Blenheim Bouquet. Have you seen them?"
"Indeed I have, sir. I last saw them when I placed them in the rubbish, where I thought it best to deposit them."
"But, dash it all, Jeeves, those are all deucedly fine scents - essence of the Englishman, skylarks and summer, flannelled fools, country house japes, sauntering through Mayfair with Biffy Montague-Evans, etc."
"Fine scents indeed, sir, but I fear they all rather fade into insignificance compared with the discontinued and virtually unattainable Cotswold by Dukes of Pall Mall, a bottle of which I have just placed on your dressing table."
"Cotswold? Dukes of Pall Mall? Never heard of it. Where did you get it, Jeeves?"
"Well, sir, I believe we owe thanks to the estimable Mr. Good-Life for making it known to Basenotes and for writing a first and excellent review. It so happens that I have managed to secrete a few bottles of this elixir away for my personal use and so it seemed a tad churlish to deny my employer a taste of this olfactory delight. It really does constitute a zenith of unpretentious citrus perfection - pure, unalloyed, simultaneously soothing and uplifting, a veritable epitome of skylarks and summer, flannelled fools, and rolling English hills. And yet there is more. Through some extraordinary artistry, Dukes of Pall Mall succeeded in giving to Cotswold an intricate developing theme that would make most niche perfumiers gnash their teeth with envy. For, melting into the citrus, in the most natural and unassuming way, are ' a jasmine base - it contains Yland and other fleur blanche, whilst a hint of woods binds a fragrance that is both embracing and aromatic.' Yet this added dimension - which would surely make Mr. Oscar Wilde blanch with the beauty of it - is blended so perfectly with the dominant citrus tone that it does not jar in the slightest but remains at all times clean, light, and fresh. Thus it achieves the rare feat of pleasing both aesthetes and sportsmen, eccentricity and convention, Mr. Wilde and the Marquis of Queensbury."
"It sounds fairly spiffing, Jeeves, but what if my Aunt Agatha doesn't like it? You know how particular she is. If she doesn't like it, she might cut my allowance."
"I assure you, sir, one whiff of Cotswold and your Aunt Agatha is certain to double your allowance."
Despite sporting the patina of a venerable gentlemen's establishment in the style of Trumper's or DR Harris it seems that Dukes of Pall Mall actually came into being in the early 1980s, perhaps in response to the revival of Penhaligon's and the success of Czech & Speake some years prior. What is verified by journalistic evidence is that Belgravia and Cotswold were launched as a "town and country" pair of fragrances in 1983, but they clearly evoke the traditional style of English perfumery. This applies to Cotswold in particular which is a quintessential old-fashioned citrus-floral that blows most of the other "traditional English" survivors out of the water due to the incredible quality of its ingredients - a problematic issue with houses such as Floris, Penhaligon's or Taylors of Old Bond Street (of which only the latter commensurately sell their products at a bargain price). A lovely citrus top is followed up by an utterly beautiful accord of white florals, notably jasmine and ylang, that never fails to entirely captivate my senses - particularly, for some reason, in the Aftershave version. It is so stunning that the light woody-musky base remains a mere afterthought, though it nicely wraps up things. This is truly a sublime fragrance which could not possibly be bested as the fragrant complement to a fine country suit, or even a blue chalk-stripe city outfit, but in today's perfume context it would equally well adorn a dandy, for its beauty stands out extravagantly amid all the IFRA-regulated mediocrity of censored citrus and fake florals. If Cotswold should ever happen to cross your path, do not hesitate to jump at this rare opportunity to enrich your life with an unsung treasure of English perfumery.
I should add, that rather than wasting her time passing out and revoking knighthoods to modern-day robber barons in the finance industry, the Queen should elevate the creator of this masterpiece of English culture. It appears to be John Stephen, who has a number of other such British fragrance greats under his belt. In fact, if you ask me, they should cast him in bronze and put him right up next to Lord Nelson on Trafalgar Square (or even better, somewhere nice in Belgravia)
10th August, 2011 (last edited: 09th October, 2012)