Eau de Cologne: A History

  • Posted on 7th May 2015 by Nick


  • Not just referring to a concentration of fragrance, Eau de Cologne in fact refers to an entire style of perfumery - based on the aromatic materials available in the region of Cologne in Germany. But Eau de Cologne started its life as the first alcohol based fragrance: Hungary Water, the personal fragrance of Queen Elisabeth of Hungary. A blend of neroli, citrus oils and rosemary, Hungary Water set the the tone for refreshing "eaux".

    Acqua Mirabilis was a recipe for a tonic of botanical extracts to be taken internally and as an external ameliorative scent. The recipe was gifted to an Italian gentleman named Jean Maria Farina, who travelled around Europe and settled in Cologne.

    Many different versions of "Kölnischwasser" were created - and the most famous is still produced in Cologne to this day. Colognes typically contain lavender, rosemary, neroli, petitgrain (the trees of the bitter orange tree) and citrus fruits - and are therefore incredibly fleeting in style.

    Penhaligon's Eau de Cologne was originally known to have been available in the early 1900s, created in the labs above our store at No. 33 St James Street, as documented in the 1907 Royal Warrant Review.

    Eau de Colognes have maintained their popularity throughout the years, but with advancement in perfumery have been modernised - such as Quercus, with its refreshing citrus and herbal notes, and surprising longevity from an oak-like blend of sandalwood, patchouli and oakmoss.