Perfume Reviews

Positive Reviews of Elixir by Penhaligon's

Subtle sensuality

What a lovely line-up of exotic Eastern notes. A beautiful fragrance; warm, spicy, woody incense, sheer and subtle. My first few wearings left me feeling slightly disappointed, I hadn't read many reviews before I sampled, and I thought the fragrance was too soft and light. But with each wearing, I grew more impressed with the quality of the ingredients and the diaphanous nature of the fragrance. I bought a full bottle. Just beautiful.

Sillage is on the low side, longevity over 9 hours.

Pros: Warm, spicy
Cons: Low sillage"

04th October, 2013
Cyn Show all reviews
United States
I own the female version of Elixer, which is in a different colored bottle than the one shown. A lovely, spicy scent which wears on all day long.
16th September, 2012
Tried it in London when I was in search for something strong and spicy with a hint of (beloved) incense, got myself a travalo to test it. Few months later I was very happy to receive it as Xmas gift from my fiancé. Elixir gives its best during winter season, warming up the senses. On me it is quite long lasting, maybe because my scarves and coats still carry the scent within the fibers... I know it's a masculine frag but I would suggest it to any woman looking for a spicy oriental envelopping experience. I'd say it's a deeply relaxing fragrance inviting to meditation and calmness.
04th September, 2012
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cello Show all reviews
United States
The opening, and heart, remind me of a specific scent memory. On a visit to California, I was fortunate enough to enjoy a convertible drive from Sonoma to the coast on a beautiful, sunny spring day. We traveled along a two lane back road, and found ourselves driving between two rows of eucalyptus trees lining the road. It was a wonderful smell that I remember to this day.

Elixir brings that smell alive. It opens with an airy, rough bark smell of eucalyptus! It is the smell of the peeling bark, and not like any other fragrance that I have smelled. There is a small shift towards the heart by introducing the cinnamon aroma of the bark spice. This is not ground cinnamon, and certainly not the sweet candy smell. It is rough, barky, woody cinnamon. This is a beautiful transition that keeps the faint woody trend alive, but adds the spiciness that keeps this novel. The theme is continued throughout the heart as a rosewood note is introduced.

Now, this is the only fault I see in the composition. The rosewood stands out too much, and there is not another note to play off of. It is pleasant, but I think could have been used to better effect by being used as a basis for lifting another note. In any event, it didn't really detract from the scent, but was just possibly a lost opportunity to raise the bar even higher.

The base adds the faintest of vanilla to this rosewood note, but does not transition after this point.

This is a soft, somewhat faint, fragrance. It never overwhelms, as many "orientals" can do. Some will find it too faint, but if you allow the fragrance to envelope you with it's breezy, airy mood, you will find a novel tale of oriental opulence tamed, and with unique notes. Let it take you where you will, or let it remind you of a great drive to the coast. Either way, it is worth a sniff!
26th May, 2011
A very nice spicy oriental fragrance. Warm and cozy, perfect for autumn and winter. This is the refined "niche" version of Gucci pour homme. Highly recommended if you like unique spicy orientals.
17th May, 2011

I love both the softness and the Orientalism of Elixir. It is a refined and complex Oriental delivered in a translucent disguise… That an Oriental (which I enjoy but usually can’t carry off) works for me tells me that Elixir is quite an accomplishment.

Elixir’s softness belies its complexity. The opening is a wonderfully non-aggressive amorphous accord of aromatic woods, floral, and spice; it comes off a sophisticated, non-synthetic intricate abstraction. I particularly enjoy the slightly impressionistic feeling to the accord where the balanced notes of usually dramatic wood / spice notes take on a soft, pastel texture. The opening has good longevity, which is an unexpected bonus. The fragrance moves to a floral heart grounded by some non-aggressive cinnamon and rosewood in the background, and I find it a successful exercise in delivering depth, sophistication, and discretion while still presenting it as an identifiable Oriental. For the base I get primarily sandalwood and guaic wood; the two woods center the base in a warm softness: …another pastel texture accomplished beautifully. I get no incense, and I get just barely enough Tonka / vanilla to legitimize Elixir’s Oriental claim and persona. I think Olivia Giacobetti has done yet another remarkable job of creating a sophisticated, complex-but-translucent Oriental that is genuinely unisex and highly wearable… Soft sillage and good longevity and a definite purchase for me.

13th May, 2011
I bought this for my girlfriend when she was in Penhaligon's in Covent Garden with me. I loved the smell of it on her, and started wearing it myself. It's a strangely comforting scent, oriental without the pagodas and opium dens. It reminds you of a better place you visited once but have since forgotten, a place you think you'd like to go back to.
03rd March, 2011
kbe Show all reviews
United States
The opening eucalyptus/mint reminds me of the nose of a particular wine I once tasted. It was a bottle of 1974 Heitz Martha's Vineyard Cabernet, but Elixir is without the fruit of the wine. I detect a bit of mace also. The overall opening effect is one of a well crafted fragrance in the Penhaligon tradition, not totally unlike their Hamman Bouquet, and invites continuous sniffing..it is that good!.

Middle notes continue the eucalyptus/mint framework adding a rose floral note with a muted cinnamon present as if braided skillfully throughout.

Basenotes include a gentle slide into Tonka, Sandalwood and an intriguing background of incense. Again, all notes are carried along by the opening Eucalyptus/mint. Strangely now the captivating Eucalyptus/mint radiance that carries all the other notes is experienced as much in memory as in the fragrance itself and I have to re-sniff closely to distinguish it.

Beautiful. Enchanting. Mesmerizing. I fell in love with this scent a few seconds after I spritzed it for the first time this morning. The love story is continuing as I continue to sniff its development. Definitely Bottle Worthy. This is one Penhaligon fragrance I will be adding to my wardrobe in the future.
22nd January, 2011 (last edited: 08th May, 2014)
Light oriental. Those two words aren't mentioned that often when talking about mens' frags. Contrary to some of the negative reviews here, I find this lightness very bearable and even refreshing. In fact, I think that Giacobetti did an excellent job to meld the spices, florals and sweet notes into a very interesting fragrance. Could Lutens or Malle ever put something like this out? I think not!
04th December, 2010
Upon application I am instantly transported back to the Thai beaches that I used to visit every year in my youth. The eucalyptus towers over this fragrance like a genie from a lamp and doesnt disappear for a remarkable length of time after application. When he does drift off he leaves a spicy trail in his wake, allowing cinnamon and cardamom to interact on the skin as if they where being cracked open open from their pods. The first time I tried Elixir I was caught off guard as the heart notes begin to beat through the mixture, a trio of jasmine,orange blossom and rose performing together in perfect harmony . Not an unusual heart on its own but I simply wasnt expecting such a lovely floral heart in this spiced nirvana fragrance. The most impressive part of this fragrance has to be the base, a Giacobetti masterpiece. Tonka and vanilla alongside benzoin and incense reinforced by sandalwood, cedar and guaiac woods. A masterful blend that becomes fuller and creamier with time.

My first thoughts were tiger balm, with its menthol medicinal characteristics linking me back to the orient. Do not get me wrong this scent smells nothing like the smell of tiger balm it is simply a personal memory. This is one of my pensive scents. One that I wear in the comfort of my own home, in my own company when I need space and meditative silence to think. Elixir always reminds me of fine mature scotch whisky, warming, alcoholic, spicy and only getting better with time and age. This certainly is the fragrance for any young Bodhisattva. Would be the perfect partner whilst sitting under a bondi tree waiting for enlightenment.
27th April, 2010
I tried this in our local Penhaligons shop and was amazed. It seemed to smell of lots of things at once but all in accord with one another. The stand out note for me was a ginger beer like smell which I absolutely love. This is a scent for day wear but you could get away with it at night depending on the occasion. Like I have said before I am useless at describing the different notes so I won't try in this case as to me its very complex. I received a bottle for Christmas and have been liberally dousing myself with it ever since. I love Penhaligons scents, my wife and I are both great fans. They all have an understated dignity to them. An ace scent and its just occurred to me that it is a fun scent thanks to that gingery note.
18th January, 2010
Of the newest fragrances by the house this is arguably the most interesting and wearable. It does share the same kind of woody base as Opus 1870 yet it is far more exotic and in the same realm as Malabah. What it has that these two sadly lack however is strength and more staying power, for it develops wonderfully on the skin having many layers and being obviously well structured by Giacobetti. It is still quite light however and has a watery quality to it, not like the full bodied Hammam or Cornubia.

Initially what you first get is a very obvious note of incense that smells remarkably similar to an orthodox (and indeed any) church. Of course there's nothing wrong with that, its nostalgic and interesting, yet there is more to come. It then settles into a wonderful marriage of spicy cinnamon and woods, with a warm sweetness that perhaps comes from the decadent floral heart of jasmine absolute and rose otto, or maybe the orange?

This is apparently a contemporary take on their first creation Hammam Bouquet, and it certainly works as a more modern, less obtrusive version that still captures a certain exotic mystery and likeness. The packaging could however have been a little more traditional in style, but the scent is pleasing enough-definitely worth trying other products in the range as well!
19th November, 2009
One of the best offerings from this house, and significantly different to anything else that they have produced thus far. The balance of ingredients in the opening is expertly done, the very spicy blend of cardammon,cinnamon and mace produce an accord so smooth and edgy that one fears that this might be a one note wonder. Thankfully, this is merely the taste of further treasures to come. Added to this opening are the sweet, yet restrained rose and jasmine notes which elevate and augment the fragrance in a seemless and effortless manner. The drydown phase is perhaps the most accomplished,with the slowly fading top and middle notes, elevated by the presence of incense and woods. Finally one is afforded the luxurious splendour of the late introduction of vanilla and tonka bean. This really is a very special creation, and I will look forward to its company on many cool days in the future.
14th May, 2009
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Elixir was a pleasant surprise for me. I'd ordered a sample as a bit of an afterthought, really, and wasn't expecting much after so many negative reviews. It's a bit quiet, it's true, but not much more so than Giacobetti's other work. Those expecting a voluptuous oriental will find this spare, etiolated and thin - it's subtle, subtle, subtle. Just a will-o-the-wisp of steam off of hot apple-cider dregs.

The top notes come on warm, almost hot, a cinnamon note married to clove, cardamon, and frankincense. The rose note is warm, tart and lively, but isn't fruity.

From the very start Elixir has a certain seamlessness I find attractive. It's as though the spices have been grafted organically on to a core of cinnamon, and despite it ostensibly being a rose soliflore, the rose isn't the star; it's the stage on which the other notes perform their magic.

After the warmth of the top notes subside, an intriguing woodiness emerges and mingles with the persistent spices. The "official" notes mention eucalyptus, but this note is the opposite of a cough drop. What it reminds me of is birch.

About a decade ago I was staying with some friends in Prince Edward Island. It was late March, but as is typical in that part of the world, there was still several feet of snow on the ground. Each night we'd have big roaring fires, fed by birch logs that were freshly cut and lying frozen in the yard. These logs would bubble and hiss on the fire, the sap fleeing the heat and bubbling out the top end of the logs in a syrupy stream. Elixir takes me right back to that moment in time. That smell is its smell.

There is a faintly vanillic oriental base, but it's just a ghostly presence; a touch of velvety roundness to an otherwise sheer fragrance.

Describing the sillage is difficult. It's very soft, but it also has a reasonable amount of spread. It's something you don't notice until it you think about it and realize you're surrounded by this faint haze of delicate spicy something.

Longevity is decent, about eight hours, becoming more of a skin scent as it progresses.

This is about as pared down an oriental as you're going to find, and I think Olivia Giacobetti did a wonderful, minimalist take on an opulent genre.
05th May, 2009
Penhaligon's Elixir

Olivia Giacobetti is one of the most reliable noses out there, for me. On my personal scoreboard she has always scored a hit but for Idole de Lubin. It was with high anticipation that I sprayed on her latest creation Penhaligon's Elixir. This is a beautiful composition that on me feels just right for a winter morning. The top hits high C with a spicy mixture of cardamom, cinnamon and clove. These three notes are skillfully combined but it is the next note into the mix that elevates the beginning; as a vaporous eucalyptus joins the 3C's and give this the feel of a sauna where someone spilled a spice basket on the hot rocks. This beginning is so good I want to keep spritzing myself so I can keep experiencing it. That would be bad because the heart of this is tonka, incense and vanilla. Another trio of notes that pulls this one into a softer place from the spicy beginning. The incense keps the transition from being jarring and as the tonka and vanilla arise the transition into the heart is complete. The base is the yin and yang of sandalwood and guaiac which brings this to a woody close. Penhaligon's Elixir is easily my favorite Penhaligon's to date and Giacobetti has another hit on my scorecard.
28th February, 2009
Fifteen ingredients go into this "oriental," but I can only detect six. Immediately the three spices are most evident (Cardamom, Cinnamon, Mace). These are supported by Rose. Affter a half hour the spices begin to fade and we are left with a lovely, warm mixture of White Cedar and Rosewood. A very nice oriental which my nose is surprised to find is actually quite light, although I am used to this mix as "heavy." Very much recommended, but I would think it more suitable for a woman than a man.

Top Notes: Eucalyptus Steam; Cardamom; Orange Blossom; White Cedar
Middle Notes: Red Turkish Rose; Egyptian Jasmine; Cinnamon Leaves; Mac; Rosewood
Base Notes: Benzoin; Tonka Beans; Vanilla; Incense; Red Sandalwood; Guaicum Wood
21st January, 2009 (last edited: 13th July, 2011)
HDS1963 Show all reviews
United Kingdom
I am going to fly in the face of the previous reviews by disagreeing completely with them.

I've lived with this fragrance since way before it was released and have grown to love it.

It's not thin by any stretch of the imagination, nor is particularly peppery. Take the richness of Gucci Homme I and mix it with Hammam Bouquet and you get a close approximation of Elixir.

It has a rich woods and incense body to it sweetened by the Turkish Rose notes of HB, which is where it eventually dries down to. A fine rose based scent which a touch of incense. The far drydown on this is beautiful.

No one fragrance on the market directly equates to this. A fine fragrance which I will continue to enjoy greatly. When my current bottle runs out will I get another? Oh yes.
15th December, 2008
a very nice scent from Penhaligons. It gives Creed's Bois de Portugal and Montale's Damascus Rose stiff competition
I quite agree with somerville macho man
07th December, 2008 (last edited: 11th August, 2009)