Conjuring up the scent of an English summer

Ruth MastenbroekOur perfumer, Ruth Mastenbroek, has been developing unique perfumes for more than 30 years. Even with those decades of experience, it still took weeks to create a scent that encapsulated an English summer.

“It did take several weeks to get the right balance. You are highlighting certain aspects but not squashing other notes. You have to modify and tweak the balances and that can take weeks,” she says.

Ruth was called in by our boss, Sir Michael Colman, to celebrate Summerdown’s mint oils in a new fragrance for our body, bath and home range.

“You’ve got to listen to your customer and he and Summerdown fragrance’s Jan Kern were very clear. Summerdown Farms produces also other oils and it’s in a beautiful part of England, the rolling Hampshire Downs. I went there to experience it and I came up with something that expresses the landscape,” says Ruth.

“I based the scent on peppermint and spearmint oils and the process was about getting an accord of the fragrance that is robust enough to compete with the mints. They are forceful and you need something that is not going to simper. We needed citrus notes that were not going to conflict with the mints or be overpowered by them. It was the same story with the woody notes we added. It’s all about translating an image into a scent and the ingredients I can use to create the effect.

“First, you get the core right and we showed Sir Michael and Jan a couple of ideas, decided on one and worked on it until we’d got it exactly right. I’ve very pleased with the result.”

So are we.

Ruth started out with a chemistry degree from Oxford University and then trained with the largest fragrance company in the world, working for them in the UK and the Netherlands. She then moved on to another famous name in perfume in Japan before returning to England and setting up her own company in 2004. She’s a past president of the British Society of Perfumers and one of the world’s leading exponents of the art.

Ruth’s bespoke fragrance is based around our distinctive, single estate, Black Mitcham mint. Bright notes of lemongrass and zesty lemon blend with the greenness of galbanum, while natural oils of blackcurrant, clove, cinnamon and cedarwood add depth and long-lasting qualities to this individual, contemporary scent.

When you buy any individual item from the body, bath and home range – from lotions and washes to candles, diffusers and soap – you’ll experience the scent in a slightly different way, as Ruth explains.

“Each product takes up the fragrance in a different way,” she says. “For example, the washes throw out the mint – the top notes – to be refreshing and vibrant. In the lotions and the soap, the scent is more held in, so less of the mint comes through. It’s more delicate.

“Both the candle and diffuser fill a room but in entirely different ways, so what you experience is entirely different. You experience the scent in a noticeably different way, depending on which of the products you use.”

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