Sunday, 5 October 2014

Review: Penhaligon's Tralala - Whiskey Fudge For Grown Ups

I enjoy a drink. Not in vast liver pickling quantities, but I do get rather excited about a good bottle of prosecco or an earthily lush Scottish whiskey. On the rare occasions where I’ve meekly stumbled into work with a ‘wasn’t expecting that sort of night’ hangover, I’ve worried about projecting an eau de latent-booze sillage. Which makes me wonder…

Why do we like boozy perfumes?

Aldi's gin. Tastes brilliant. Smells brilliant. 

There’s loads of them. Ancient Cognac house Frapin market some of the most favoured booze fumes, with Frapin 1697 and Speakeasy issuing a more powerful rum whiff than a Jamaican theme bar. Guerlain’s latest Aqua Allegoria release, Limon Verde, is an acidicly sunny homage to the Caipairinha cocktail that stirs joyful memories of moonlit dancing somewhat pissed-up on a beach in Portugal. Penhaligon’s and Lubin both created an ode to gin and tonic in Juniper Sling and Gin Fizz respectively. Each echoing the bracing and aromatic refreshment of my favourite pre-dinner tipple.

All of these scents use the booze in a subtly blended manner. Neither will provoke a raised eyebrow and a ‘has she been drinking?’ query. However, one that might do is the utterly bonkers Bertrand Duchaufour creation for Penhaligon’s - Tralala.

Tralala, is the latest fragrance from Penhaligon's inspired by the fantastical universe of Edward Meadham and Benjamin Kirchhoff. An opulent, hedonistic blend created by Master Perfumer Bertrand Duchaufour.” (

Meadham Kirchhoff are an offbeat fashion design duo who paired up with Penhaligon’s to create a scent to echo their spirit – in essence a quirky ‘designer scent’ for this historic perfume house. Their designs are brilliantly weird with all sorts of hyper-references to the glamour of the past. I’m not talking about Hollywood glamour here, unless the film is Tod Browning’s 1932 ‘Freaks’ - a disturbing tale of what happens when the ‘normals’ (not my term) try to diddle the circus ‘freaks’ out of their share of the money. They feel exotically ‘children’s dressing up box’.

Meadham Kirchhoff designs on the catwalk

Tralala is somewhat ‘trashy’, in a rather superb way. It’s odd booze and confectionary vibe feels glamourous yet childish. The stuff of ‘cheap glamour’, i.e. feather trims, sequins, kaleidoscopic colour, frills, bows and lace, that appeal to the young girl. Give an eight year old girl a feather boa and some sparkly jewelry to play with and she’ll be absorbed in a fantasy world, no matter how much of a tomboy she may be. I had one, and I climbed trees and built dens. It even has a (creepy) dolls head for a lid, no doubt to reawaken a sense of playfulness in our adult lives.

When I first smelt Tralala I was very confused. It smelt both splendid and rancid in equal measures. I loved it, then I hated it, then I loved it again. It seems that with this scent there’s a requirement for a specific mood. I can’t get up and spray it after my morning shower, it would be like quaffing a box of pralines, washed down with a double Laphroiag alongside my Cornflakes. Likewise, it doesn’t work for me as a bed scent, being a little too aldehyde perky for soporific effect. What it does do however, it augment those times when you delve into your grown up dressing up box. It’s a whopping great night out accessory for the times you feel the need to wear something grandly outrageous. Encased within it's own lavish wardrobe, you can literally reach inside and bring Tralala out to play with you.

Essentially, it smells of whiskey fudge. So much so that (if donned in a limited edition tartan bow) it would sell marvelously well in the Edinburgh Woollen Mill shops where tourist folk fork out much moollah for cosy cashmere jumpers and kitsch tins of shortbread decorated with rampantly masculine looking stags in a misty glen.

I rather like the smell of whiskey fudge.

This isn’t a completely gourmand scent though. An aldehyde reigns through the opening, which smells most beguilingly peculiar alongside the sweetness.  I’m used to the sparkling aldehydes of No. 5 and Arpege where the effect is dryly ‘grown-up’. The aldehyde in Tralala serves to freshen what would otherwise be a syrupy sweet opening. Add to this a hint of leather and an edge ‘not actually for children’ appears. It’s a bit like the image of an adult female wearing ankle socks with stiletto heels, slightly kinky.

Ultimately, I prefer Duchaufor’s earlier perfume – Skin on Skin, created for sister company L’ Artisan Parfumeur, due to it’s all occasions wearability. This whiskey and leather scent possesses great similarities to Tralala but replaces the confectionary overload with lavender. It is much more suitable for one who tends to dislike gourmands. However, on the occasions when I dust off the Mac emerald coloured eye shadow and gold flecked body oil, then wobble onto my scarlet platform heels, I’ll be reaching for Tralala to complement the dressing up box excess.

I had my encounter with Tralala courtesy of the lovely Alex Musgrave (AKA The Silver Fox). If you have not yet discovered his scent blog, here is a link. It’s a literary delight.

If you enjoyed this post, you might like to read about Union Fragrance - Celtic Fire, another fine whiskey bomb perfect for Autumn.


  1. I haven't tried this one yet but I will when I get a chance: I don't mind boozy perfumes and I like this bottle.

    Speaking about Skin on Skin, for my nose it smells a lot like BD's earlier creation for the same brand - Traversee du Bosphore, now discontinued, for what I'm mad at L'Artisan because I suspect they did it to repackage it with a slight change into the new, more expensive line under the new name.

    1. Undina, yup, you're right that there are similarities. I was on the 'meh' fence with Traversee but I really love Skin on Skin. I have a teeny meagre bit left of my sample that is in the 'sniff from the vial' stage rather than use it up on my skin. Not sure I'm up for paying £115 for it though.

  2. Undina, that time is nigh...;)

    Sarah, loved your take on Tralala, and I must say right off the bat that I have that very same Aldi gin - my brother got me onto it and he is fussy too, so I knew it would be pukka.

    Re the perfume itself, I do see where you are coming from with the whisky fudge thing - fizzy whisky fudge maybe? And the scent does escape all conventional categories as you say, so you just have to wear it for its own sake in the end, rather than a recognised 'occasion'.

    1. That's a lovely picture of you with Aldi's finest gin, btw! ;)

    2. I have just replenished my stock of Aldi gin. I wholeheartedly agree with it's greatness, in fact I think you can see my adoration in the facial expression!