EAUX DE COLOGNE
ASKETT & ENGLISH
We are told that the olfactory sense is enormously important to our sense of well-being. This is one message from the ‘experts’ which I am ready to believe. After all, it is clearly true that, unless we smell a good wine, the pleasure of drinking it is immeasurably reduced. And nasty smells are at least as significant as good ones. It seems therefore incumbent upon me to address the sensitive subject of a gentleman’s aroma. Mercifully, I need not concern myself with the more delicate areas of a gentleman’s toilet. But I have been asked more than once to offer advice about his eau de Cologne. Its importance is without question. The wrong choice of eau de Cologne, and the consequent suggestion of vulgarity and bad taste, will have a most deleterious effect upon the impression a gentleman makes in his everyday encounters. It is therefore with relief, dear Reader, that I am able to recommend to you the Eaux de Cologne of Askett & English, which I first encountered in the emporia of the excellent shirt-makers, Harvie & Hudson (hence the photograph).
A few words of history are in order. Eau de Cologne was invented by an Italian gentleman, Giovanni Maria Farina. He wrote to his brother about his invention thus: "I have found a scent that reminds me of an Italian spring morning, of mountain daffodils, orange blossom shortly after the rain. It refreshes me, strengthens my senses and imagination”. Thereafter Mr Farina moved from Italy to Germany, to join his brother in Cologne. His fragrance was subsequently launched in 1709, and acquired its name - eau de Cologne. Initially, it was far too expensive to be purchased by anyone who was not wealthy. But eau de Cologne certainly soon became popular among the nobility and royalty of Europe. Today that popularity has spread widely, and there are numerous eaux de Cologne available – all of them variations on the citrus theme.
Askett & English is an English fragrance house. It seems to have made a discreet but significant impact among discerning gentlemen. (I am informed that its products are known in Clarence House.) Two colognes are offered – Askett Essential and Askett Absolute. I have tried both, and both are refreshing and cheering to the spirit. But it is the Essential which I prefer. I am told it is the more traditional of the two, and that must surely be true, for it stirs within me memories of fine gentlemen I knew in my youth. Indeed, when I first encountered Essential I was taken aback that its particular fragrance could awaken within me the most intense remembrance of happy times past. I am therefore prepared to pronounce Essential by Askett & English the perfect scent for a gentleman. Its invocation of an Italian Spring morning seems entirely appropriate for an Englishman of civilized tastes.
This eau de Cologne can be obtained from Harvie & Hudson. The price is £60 for 100mls. A list of other stockists can be found on the Askett & English website.