Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Malabah by Penhaligon's

Total Reviews: 14
Several have called this a "light oriental" and I agree. This is a mild-mannered, shy sort of scent. Pretty, but not too sweet and not heavy at all. Could be unisex.
A hint of bergamot at the beginning, and a light tea note. Dusky ginger and mild spices pair with a soapy rose. Sweetens a bit in the dry-down with the amber. Grainy sandalwood and occasionally a celery leaf note -- don't know what causes that.
A pleasant, somewhat innocuous scent.
13th March, 2016
A light, lovely Oriental

I've sampled Penhaligon's fragrances a handful of times. At first sampling, their compositions seem deceptively simple and less than stellar in sillage. But I'm drawn back again and again, and the more I wear them, the more I enjoy the careful artistry at work here.

Malabah is no exception to this rule. A subtle, evocative fragrance that gently announces its presence, it's certainly no statement frag. It is extraordinarily harmonious and lovely, though, and this makes it a stand-out to me.

The opening notes, zingy and refreshing, smell of Earl Grey tea and lemon slices. The warm, spicy heart notes begin to play out early on me, particularly the ginger, nutmeg and the slightly powdery iris. I can't tease out the rose or the jasmine, but they must be there, for sweetness is part of Malabah's charm. Not over-the-top sugary sweetness, but a moderate sweetness that's very appealing. A soft sandalwood note begins to unfold within less than an hour, which adds a wonderfully earthy note to the florals and spices. The woodiness continues to develop throughout the wearing.

Due to the sweetness, this leans feminine rather than unisex. Sillage is fair (again, a subtle fragrance here) and longevity good, 5-6 hours on me. A good choice for any time of the year, especially those dog days of summer when you crave something lighter than the average Oriental. Two thumbs up for this beauty.

Pros: Sheer and fresh but complex, long lasting
Cons: none"

19th September, 2013
Malabah is such a beautiful name for a fragrance. Here I was captivated by its name and imagining a rich, spicy tea scent with an element of exotic sensuality.

This fragrance, to put it nicely, is too polite and refined in my opinion. It's simplistic, inoffensive and rather plain.

Malabah opened with some interesting accords which had me hoping this fragrance would develop into something magical. The lemony tea opening was about as interesting as it gets.

The heart is a combination of sweet and spicy, with such weak sillage that one may wonder if they're wearing a perfume at all. I've had my fair share of spicy rose scents, and Malabah has left me underwhelmed in that department.

For my spiced tea fix I usually turn to the beautiful L'Artisan's Tea for Two, not Malabah. I like strong, in-your-face kind of fragrances, and this Penhaligon's offering is far too lady-like and quiet for my personal tastes. I find it very British.

The lasting strength is pretty poor, struggling to last half the day on my skin. It was far too discreet and lacked serious warmth and distinction. It's pleasant, I'll say that much, but exotic is not a word that comes to mind when describing Malabah unfortunately.
14th April, 2012
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I have loved this fragrance fiercely ever since I found it years ago after accidentally wandering in Penhaligon's shop in London on my holiday. It opens with fresh ginger and lemon, spicy cardamon and earl grey tea mix wonderfully with them when the frangrance matures on skin and at last rose and woody notes warm this to a unique scent that lingers close to skin for ages.

Defintely worth trying if you're looking for a crisper, lighter oriental perfume.
08th February, 2012
All penhaligon's scents have the same traits that distinguish them: a hint of alchool and a sort of "Enghlish" allure. Malabah is an oriental version of these traits, too weak to be appreciable. A nuissance, as the opening notes are really pretty good.
25th January, 2012
Altough Luca Turin compares this one to a cheap version of Nicolai`s New York, it reminded me of a relaxed version of YSL Nu EDP. That`s certainly the exotic spicy incensed aura of NU EDP here, but less dark and misterious. It evokes an oriental aura but balancing it with some citruses and some floral aspects. What intrigues me is that the combination of rose and ginger reminds me somehow of the pomenagrate peel mixed with incense and citrus aromas. While i like it, i don`t know if i would have a bottle. But this and Artemisia made me reconsider my tantrum with Penhaligon`s fragrances.
19th January, 2012
cello Show all reviews
United States
This opened with Penhaligon's usual clear citrus notes, mostly lemon. The earl tea note wraps itself around the lemon to produce a very authentic lemon tea accord. This was wonderful and fresh. Great opening!
There was not really a clear mid section for me. A subtle rose, a hint of spice, but really just the remainder of the opening. The fragrance became much less present during this time, but the opening was so bright that it probably just got lost in the comparison.
Sandalwood presents itself for the base, and it is a smooth pleasant sandalwood. I didn't really smell the amber, but it's likely contributing to the smoothness and adding just a touch of weight, although this stayed light on it's feet. Oriental in classification maybe, but I would almost consider this a warm weather option. Spring would be perfect.
Malabah is subtle, with an amazing blast of an opening. And while it lost it's punch a bit midway, it was fresh and pleasant throughout. Enjoyable!
01st April, 2011
This isn't quite a scrubber, but it outstays its welcome very quickly and adds fuel to the argument made by several critics that Penhaligon's scents aren't nearly weighty and meaningful enough to justify their high price tags.

The opening is far more fresh than it needs to be: a simple, linear citrus that's so clean, you're bored within seconds. Then the spices start bobbing their heads up and down with a giggly bashfulness that makes you want to slap them across the face and yell at them to stop being so silly. And then things get a little bit floral, a little bit woody, a little bit oriental... and everything cancels out everything else and you're left with the worst sort of English pleasantness: cheap, spineless and yawn-inducing, it tries to please everyone and fails in irritatingly underwhelming fashion.

[Review based on a sample of eau de parfum obtained in 2010; fragrance tested on skin.]
01st April, 2010
Its a great shame that the strength of this fragrance isn't more powerful, as its deliciously sweet and spicy notes fade so quickly and this is even more disappointing when you consider it is an Eau de Parfum. On first application it appears very citrusy, with the mandarin coming through with a lemonade-like quality. What follows is a very pleasantly sweet mix of ginger and tea, and before you know it its gone!

This could be one of their modern bests, yet it just doesn't last the distance I'm afraid.
18th November, 2009
An enjoyable romp through the Penhaligon's condiment rack. The diverse yet subtle array of sensuary phases within Malabah ensure that one is continually delighted and surprised in equal measure. The opening is lightly citric, with its simple lemon and tea accord offering a brief, yet cleansing experience. With its spiced core and lightly sweetened base, there is a fluidity and confidence that remain enchanting until the end. This is unquestionably a unisex fragrance, and a damn fine one at that.
04th July, 2009
I have this and am wearing it today. I had been a bit disappointed in it, as I get too much of the citrus top notes - but have just realised (late afternoon) that I can now smell the sandalwood base note. I still seem to miss the middle spicy notes though.... I like Malabah but I just wish it was heavier and more "oriental".
20th February, 2009

I get the sandalwood from the base immediately upon application, and that means that I don’t get the citrus. The sandalwood is soft and rich and complements beautifully the Earl Grey Tea. It gets quite spicy and a bit exotic for several minutes. Exotic in the sense of creative combination of ingredients, but the sillage strength is discreet and Malabah is uncommonly fetching and sensitive. The spices dissolve into a nutmegy rose and light powder as the fragrance temporarily moves from exotic to gentle and feminine. It’s difficult to tell when these heart notes change to base notes because the movement is so smooth. The base retains the sandalwood in combination with other woods, musk, and amber in another dry, gentle accord. This is a lovely fragrance and I admire the rustic notes and accords that are rendered with such clarity, sensitivity, and delicacy. I think it’s suitable for men as well as perfect for women.

22nd November, 2008
This is not the oriental they describe it as, this is in fact a very delightful, lightly spiced tea scent. The first thing I thought was "Five O'Clock Au Gingembre Light!" It's like the cologne version of the Lutens, with the ginger replaced with citrus and the woody/musky basenotes removed. Since I already love and own the Lutens I don't really see any need for an extremely watered down version that vanishes within an hour, but if you find the Lutens too heavy or cloying it might be a good alternative. Thumbs up for the topnotes, neutral thumb for the longevity.
23rd May, 2008
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Like Penhaligon's Opus 1870, this is another non-scent for me. Even with generous applications, I can hardly detect a scent at all. What I get for Malabah is a very light floral mix, drying down to cedar, although there is no cedar in the listed ingredients. Neither Malabah nor Opus 1870 seem concentrated enough to truly do their jobs as colognes.

13 notes:

Top: Lemon, Earl Grey Tea, Cilantro
Middle: Ginger, Nutmeg, Cardamom, Rose, Orris, Jasmine, Violet
Base: Amber, Sandalwood, Musk
11th January, 2008 (last edited: 13th July, 2011)