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Bombay Duck London

Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne

And now for something completely and utterly different.  At first cosy sniff, Sweet Milk – the last in the Jo Malone Tea Collection – is exactly as it sounds.  Sweet.  And Milky.  Think: condensed milk.  Think:  that smell you get when milk has almost boiled over on the stove:  a tiny bit burned (in a caramelised way).  Think:  just-fed baby.  No, I mean it;  I spent last weekend around a particularly cute Rugrat and he smelled deliciously like this.  (There’s a touch of ‘baby’s head’ about this, too:  that perfect scent that you get when you nuzzle the warm, gently pulsing crown…)  I’m also getting Milky Bar Kid, twirling his toy Colt-45s.  Or Green & Black’s White Chocolate, with its real vanilla particles, to which I have a guilty affinity…

Part of me finds the sweetness overwhelming.  Part of me can’t stop sniffing my wrist, compulsively.  (That’s the part that’s winning.)  Interestingly, of all the Jo Malones that I’ve been wearing (and wearing), this is the one that got most compliments.  It’s a fact:  we’re drawn to comforting, vanilla-y smells, and with its eau de custard warmth, this seems to have a wide allure.  It’s very gourmand – reminds me a bit, in fact, of Laura Mercier’s foodie fragrances, yet is somehow more intriguing and multi-dimensional, less synthetic.  There’s a caramel underbelly, meanwhile, that would appeal to anyone who’s wanting a fling on the side, to cheat their beloved Angel.  (But if you’re not an Angel fan, don’t let that put you off Sweet Milk, please.  It really is worth a nose.) 

This quirky creation is probably the best interpretation of milky creaminess in a perfume The Scent Critic has ever encountered.  And as time goes by – as the Palm Court Orchestra playing in the Tea Collection’s background segues smoothly from Glenn Miller classics to smoochy ballads, the crockery is cleared away and the apron-ed waiting staff start to look impatiently at their Timexes – it barely fades.  In fact, Sweet Milk was still clearly, milkily discernible a full 24 hours after first application.  Not something you can say about most Jo Malones.  Unisex, though?  I’m less convinced than with the others in the Tea Collection.

It gets a wee bit coconutty, at one point:  the surprisingly  tropical smell of gorse that grows on the cliffs near my house.  And during its lazy dry-down, Sweet Milk also has an almost wheat-y phase – like cracked wheat grain, or even bread (there’s a new Serge Lutens bread scent that would layer wonderfully with this, if you dared to stray far from Malone).  A little bit brioche-y, actually, as the vanilla swirls in ever-more-powerfully.  Or maybe almond croissant:  nestling in the base is a true almond note – not at all cyanide-bitter, like some;  more mmmm, ‘macaroon’.  After a while, it fuses with the skin, becoming – well, skin-like.  There’s a subtle, sexy muskiness, at this point, that stops Sweet Milk tipping over into ickiness.  (And still I can’t stop sniffing my flipping wrist…)

I’ve been learning quite a bit about tea, since the Tea Collection launch, where we were guided through teas to match the fragrances by The Rare Tea Lady, a woman ‘on a mission to de-bag Britain’ and reintroduce us to the joys of real camellia Sinensis, not the supermarket stuff, and who’s since become a jolly good friend.  The drinking pleasure of many of her teas, says Henrietta (save the special RAF black tea, as close to a builder’s mugful as you’ll find in the Rare Tea Collection), is enhanced by pairing with a cucumber sandwich: the thick butter of the crust adding a creaminess to the brew.

Think of this Sweet Milk as the butter in the cucumber sandwich, perfect for pairing.  Because in the style of Jo Malone this is designed for layering with the other tea scents.  You know:  a dash of milk in with Assam, or the Earl Grey.  (Probably less good with the Fresh Mint Cologne, NB.)  There are, in fact, endless permutations with this collection.  I confess:  I haven’t really explored them yet, but The Scent Critic will Tweet if I stumble upon the perfect combo.  You can explore the other Tea Collection, meanwhile, at, and – as with the Jo Malone scents – I heartily recommend you indulge your senses and do just that.

Personally, the only thing that’s lacking for me in JM’s tea-inspired range is something mysteriously Lapsang-esque and smoky – but the Tea Collection’s been such a runaway global success that I wouldn’t in the least be surprised if Christine Nagel’s working on just such a treat, en ce moment.

I’m pretty blown away by all that I’ve smelled (and worn) so far.  But that really would be The Scent Critic’s cup of tea…



2 comments to Jo Malone Sweet Milk Cologne

  • Irene

    I just tried sweet milk with white jamine and mint, surprisingly, the sweet and milky scent just merged into the latter, so match!! I just love it.

  • Cathy

    Didn’t know about these. They have done away with my preferred Jo Malone fragrance, the Honeysuckle and Jasmine, sob. Haven’t been in there in ages. Must remedy.

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