Lavender has been an essential component of numerous Penhaligon’s scents since 1870 and continues to play a key role in several of the perfume house’s creations to this day.
Where does it come from?
Part of the Mint family, Lavender is native to the Old World, and has been used since antiquity as a fragrant material: in combinations of incenses. The Ancient Greeks discovered the unparalleled ability of lavender to help with relaxation. Its antiseptic properties were known (but not understood), and lavender has been used as a cure-all throughout history.
Lavender gives its oil easily through steam distillation of the flowers and leaves, but an absolute can also be obtained with a slightly different odour profile. The essential oil from lavender grown at high altitudes is more prized, as it contains a higher percentage of certain "fresh" molecules than those grown at sea level.
How does it smell?
The essential oil of lavender smells fresh, sweet, green, herbal, floral - lavender is one of the most unmistakable and familiar perfumery materials.
The absolute imparts a slightly more mineral, more green facet, smelling less fresh than the essential oil.
Why is it used in a perfume?
Lavender imparts a clean, green association to a fragrance. One of the most versatile materials in perfumery, especially useful for its linalool content - a molecule that smells of sweet citrus, lavender and woods which is naturally present in many flowers and woods, but found at a higher percentage in lavender - which has a smoothing effect on other materials in the fragrance.