Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay : Perfume Review

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The latest Jo Malone fragrance—Blackberry & Bay—is categorized by the maker as “fruity,” but on my skin it’s far more interesting than that.  Blackberry & Bay fully succeeds in conjuring a fantasy English countryside and more precisely a rambling walk down a country lane, with healthy flush to the cheeks and solid walking shoes for skirting muddy patches. Somewhere along this dream excursion there is naturally a hedgerow from which appear fat black berries, their juice tart and edging on sour, their leaves green and sharp.  Just when I found a hole in my fragrance wardrobe, just when I lamented finding a fragrance that would uncannily recreate a specific holiday sensation, up pops this beauty from Jo Malone.

blackberry-bay

I will confess that I don’t pay all that much attention to the Jo Malone line.  While I love the Red Roses bath oil, I often find the colognes to have standout notes that don’t do much for me, whether that be the smell of stables in Pomegranate Noir or the strong citronella (mosquito candle) in the aforementioned Red Roses.  I wondered if Blackberry & Bay would not be a sweet and musky thing but hearty and possibly “masculine” thanks to a dose of bay leaves.

From such deductions are sniffing expeditions made.  I had to travel all the way to Orlando to try it, and I’m pointing that out so that you get a picture of the fragrant void that is Northern Florida.  One hundred and twenty miles later, I was happily but politely spritzing myself with Blackberry & Bay and begging for samples.  Florida has made me reject tiare and frangipani or anything tropical with coconut.  Blackberry & Bay was the exact opposite.

The blackberry note smells pungent and citrus-like, as if not quite ripe.  This pucker-y opening, which would be ideal on one of those stagnant summer days, contains the same element of surprise as the blackberry note in L’Artisan Mûre et Musc.  It’s closer to lemon than it is to a plump, sweet berry. Bay leaf gives a zesty freshness that is invigorating  and bright.  It soon nestles itself into a cradle of smooth cedar.  And that is where it stays, as a woody aromatic that will likely please people who like a forefront herbal note like basil or bay rum.

The lasting power of the Malone colognes is always impressive.  Cologne gives the idea that it should be used with abandon, but a couple of spritzes lasts throughout the day on me. I don’t find Blackberry & Bay to be especially complex, with only three notes in the main theme, but it’s so very satisfying.

Jo Malone Blackberry & Bay includes notes of grapefruit, grapefruit blossom, bay leaves, blackberries, jasmine, lily of the valley, cedarwood, sandalwood, vetiver, and musk. Available at Jo Malone boutiques and department store counters.

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61 Comments

  • Andy: I’ve never tried any from the Jo Malone line, but this one sounds promising. I was wondering, is the bay note in this one more like bay laurel or West Indies bay (bay rum)? Both sound like an intriguing touch! March 5, 2013 at 8:08am Reply

    • Suzanna: It’s more like bay laurel, Andy, and I do think you would enjoy it. Let me know what you think if you do try it. March 5, 2013 at 9:14am Reply

  • Jan Last: As a Jo Malone fan, I completely agree with the settling down into a lovely aromatic. Like you in Florida, I want what isn’t in Colorado, so I am gearing up for summer with sharp, bright citrus, even a touch of ginger and possibly a tiny bit of coconut. So, Jo Malone Lime Basil & Mandarin is a go to for me also. March 5, 2013 at 9:19am Reply

    • Suzanna: Lime Basil & Mandarin certainly sounds right for any climate! March 5, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

  • Lorraine: This sounds so much more citrusy/aromatic/woody than I imagined. Thank you for describing it so well. March 5, 2013 at 9:44am Reply

    • Suzanna: That’s what I was trying to depict, Lorraine. It isn’t like Trish #9. It is more like Mure et Musc, but woody instead of musky. March 5, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Anne Sheffield: Sounds lovely! Shame i don t have a jo malone neae by. I was wondering what is your take on Iris and White musc by Jo Malone? X March 5, 2013 at 9:47am Reply

    • Suzanna: That one I have not smelled, but will try to next time I venture far afield! March 5, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Jillie: A lovely description, S, and you’ve put into words what I felt about it. I used to like the LAP Mure et Musc, but it doesn’t seem to suit me so much now, or my taste (or it) has changed, and I found the Malone more of what I craved. In fact, I would rather like to get my husband to wear it too, as I think it will smell delicious (literally) on him! March 5, 2013 at 10:03am Reply

    • Suzanna: It would be fantastic on men, since it does have a ruggedness and outdoorsy quality to it. March 5, 2013 at 11:43am Reply

  • Anni: Hi Suzanna. I’m a quiet lurker on this blog but I had to comment as I am wearing Blackberry & Bay today. I chose it because I was having a bad start to the day and wanted to smell gorgeous and uncomplicated and it’s perfect. Sadly, it doesn’t last very long on me but it’s a pleasure to reapply and experience it all over again. Thanks for the lovely review. March 5, 2013 at 10:14am Reply

    • Suzanna: It lasted a long time on me, which leads me always to marvel at how different fragrance reacts on different people. As you say, though, it is “gorgeous and uncomplicated.” March 5, 2013 at 11:44am Reply

  • Lucas: Lovely review Suzanna. Most Jo Malone scents don’t work for me in terms of longevity. Their concentration is not really high, right?
    I tried Blackberry & Bay few months ago and I though it was nice but nothing I would like to wear daily. March 5, 2013 at 10:36am Reply

    • Suzanna: I wouldn’t wear it daily either, Lucas. I save that designation for only a few of my enormous perfume collection. Still, when the time is right, it satisifies. March 5, 2013 at 11:45am Reply

    • Joan: That’s pretty much how I felt about it. Lime Basil and Mandarin is the only one I’d love enough to spend money on, but maybe not at list price. March 5, 2013 at 8:38pm Reply

  • Maureen: I tried a sample of this in the fall, and I liked it very much, and a friend told me I smelled delicious when I hugged her. I would like to try it again in the warmer weather to see if I liked it as much, but for a fall scent, big thumbs up. March 5, 2013 at 10:53am Reply

    • Suzanna: It’s a marvelous autumn fragrance, and if we had autumn here in boggy old Florida I would buy the small bottle to use during that time. March 5, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

  • Claire: Thanks for the lovely review, Victoria! Do you know about the history/evolution of Jo Malone brand? I am quite fond of the earlier releases (Amber Lavender, Nutmeg Ginger), but it seems the company has hired different perfumers over the years? I wonder if Jo Malone herself composed the earlier fragrances. Any insight? Just interested to know about this a bit more, if you happen to have the info. Thanks in advance. March 5, 2013 at 11:08am Reply

    • Suzanna: We will let Victoria answer that one, Claire! March 5, 2013 at 11:46am Reply

      • Claire: Suzanna, I apologize!! It is your review, I hastily read it and thought it was by Victoria. Thank you for the lovely review as always, I enjoyed reading them. March 5, 2013 at 2:39pm Reply

        • Andrea: Susanna, that was a complement to your writing style if I ever heard it!:-) March 5, 2013 at 4:48pm Reply

          • Claire: I agree with Andrea! I’m still not recovering for making such a faux pas :-) March 5, 2013 at 10:56pm Reply

          • Andrea: Compliment, rather! March 6, 2013 at 4:13pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Claire, no problem. It happens all the time and has no emotional impact with me to be taken for someone else. Let me share something with you: I have a very visible job with a regional magazine, and I’m always out in public. Well, guess what? People thank me for attending an event that I’ve never attended, or tell me I’ve taken the best photo of them they ever had, but I’ve never seen them before, or they say that my coverage of a charity function resulted in a greater donation level…but I was never there.

          It’s because there’s another woman who works for a rival mag, who holds an analogous position. But she looks nothing like me except for having blonde hair.

          In other words, it comes with the territory, and I either say, Oh, that wasn’t me, or I say, Thanks, I’m glad you enjoyed it. :–) March 6, 2013 at 8:17pm Reply

          • Claire: Hi Suzanna, I apologise for the late reply. Thank you for so graciously acknowledging my mistake. Regardless, I think both you and Victoria are excellent reviewers of your own right and credit should be given when credit is due. Thank you again for the lovely review. Have you tried the new Sugar & Spice collection from Jo Malone? March 15, 2013 at 2:42pm Reply

            • Suzanna: Thanks, Claire! And, no, I haven’t tried the Sugar & Spice, but I will be sure to check it out next time I am in Orlando! March 16, 2013 at 10:08am Reply

    • mough: Claire,

      Perhaps I am speaking out of turn, or out my rear end, but my understanding, being a former JM freak, was that the earlier perfumes, the Nutmeg and Ginger and Lavender and Amber WERE of Jo’s own creation. 184 she did for her husband, for example. The Ginger I believe started out as an oil, when her clients went nuts about it and asking for a sample. The company, again, I believe, was bought by Estee Lauder some years ago. Jo had a bad time with cancer, and backed off for a while, but I think she recovered nicely and now has started her OWN business, called Jo Loves, where she does her own designing. If any of you know otherwise, please correct me. I agree, this is one of the better scents in the collection, and for sheer FUN, I really recommend Bitter Orange and Chocolate! It’s a blast in the bath, on the sheets, in the air, as it’s just warming and delicious this cold, icy time of year. March 5, 2013 at 11:50am Reply

      • Suzanna: Thanks so much for adding this info, mough! Very helpful to know all of this.

        Would’ve liked to smell that ginger oil. March 5, 2013 at 1:14pm Reply

      • Claire: Thank you, Mough. I have no idea that Jo herself went through cancer and now has a new company. An informative post! March 5, 2013 at 2:40pm Reply

      • Claudia: You are right, Mough, Jo sold her company to Estee Lauder in 1999 but stayed on as creative director till 2006. In 2011 she started her own company, Jo Loves. She creates perfumes and scented candles. March 6, 2013 at 4:14am Reply

  • shaney: I didn’t love this. I thought the bay leaves would dirty up the fruit enough for me to like, but alas, I just don’t love fruits! When will I ever learn?!?!?! March 5, 2013 at 11:42am Reply

    • Suzanna: One can only keep testing and trying, Shaney! March 5, 2013 at 11:47am Reply

  • Daisy: Great review, Suzanna! I also don’t pay much attention to Jo Malone. In general, I find their scents too fresh for my taste and unfortunately too fleeting on my skin. That being said, Blackberry and Bay was one of my favorite releases last year. I found myself wearing it a lot last summer when I wanted something uncomplicated yet interesting. I’m not the biggest fan of blackberries, I felt like it was more about the brambly bushes in this case than the fruit itself. But yes, it is very evocative! March 5, 2013 at 12:28pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Definitely more about the bramble than about the berry, Daisy! This is accentuated by the bay leaf note. March 5, 2013 at 1:15pm Reply

  • Annikky: Thanks for the review, Suzanna! I am really glad you like it.

    This was one of very few full bottles (admittedly, 30 ml) I bought last year. I actually felt a little guilty as I bought it in an airport after a very brief trial on skin and also because my collection is very small (I am still mostly sampling) and I thought I should invest in something more worthy. 

    But it has turned out to be a really good purchase. I originally bought this as a motivator to get out and do some of those Austenesque autumn walks. And it does work brilliantly for that – in this case, the concept and advertising really fit the scent. But I have been reaching for it even in the cold months when I need something easy and uplifting, but non-stupid to wear. I am generally not a fruity kind of girl, but I love the zesty fruit in this and how herbs and woods keep it from being boring. March 5, 2013 at 12:35pm Reply

    • Suzanna: The way you use it sounds perfect to me, as a motivator! Perhaps I need to buy that small bottle, really…those not-gone-on walks! March 5, 2013 at 1:15pm Reply

      • Susan: Thanks for the lovely review, Suzanna.
        I haven’t tried any of the JM perfumes, but I do love the Wild Bluebell body creme. It is a glorious breath of spring. March 5, 2013 at 4:22pm Reply

        • Suzanna: That’s a nice rec; thanks for making it! I do think the Malone body products are superb. March 5, 2013 at 5:28pm Reply

  • Leah: Hi Suzanna!

    Fantastic review – I am your partner here in the fragrance wasteland that is Florida, though I am lucky to be further south closer to potential fragrance sources. Like you, living down here has turned me off to many tropical scents. I have tried a few fragrances in this line but this sounds more promising than many I have sampled, and I have been really digging odd savory notes lately. Time to head to the mall! March 5, 2013 at 1:34pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I found it at Saks at the Florida Mall, and also International in Tampa would have it.

      Glad to know someone else can appreciate the wasteland! Where are you? I’m just outside G’ville. March 5, 2013 at 5:29pm Reply

  • Nancy A.: Hi Suzanna,

    I’ve always been on the fence with Jo Malone fragrances until combining,which I believe is the sucess of some of their fragrances for me. And, in particular with Blackberry & Bay and surprisingly it stands alone (for me) and was worth the interest of testing. Coincidentally, I attended a closed invitation event this past Saturday for the limited edition fragrance launches, which stresses the gourmand. Each bottle cap was robed in pastel color codes corresponding to the notes contained therein. JM didn’t skimp on this launch with the cocktails and nibbles either. Light and airy macaroons: cassis, pistachio, and orange blossom (my fav) and most wrapped in chocolate. Also, corresponding to the colors & composition of the newly created fragrances was Cassis and Prosecco or Elderflower and Prosecco and as it turns out to my own surprise the Elderflower and Gooseberry were my pick either as a stand alone or combination. The balance was: Chocolate & Orange, Lemon Tart, Elderberry & Gooseberry, Cassis and if memory serves another fruity note. Hopefully, I’m giving all the credit. The most fun was a baking lesson starting with a “naked” cupcake and a step-by-step demo of buttercream icing, lemon curd interior with rosette and a black bow of fondant that we created and took home! Curious to know how you react when these new fragrances reach the boutiques and stores. Thanks for the review! March 5, 2013 at 2:40pm Reply

    • silverdust: I really need to get out more. March 5, 2013 at 3:15pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Since I like all of those notes and like even better the idea of these frags, no doubt they willl be on my “to try” list. March 5, 2013 at 5:30pm Reply

  • Julie: I love this one! I almost used up a large sample and went back to Neiman Marcus the other day to sniff the new gourmand line. None of those appealed (Ginger Biscuit was nice, but not anything I need), and I thought about picking up a bottle of B&B. The lovely JM rep gave me another sample, so I’ve put off the purchase for now, but I’m sure I’ll get a bottle soon. March 5, 2013 at 4:41pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I think I will, as well, for summer. I dislike sweet in the heat! March 5, 2013 at 5:31pm Reply

  • Andrea: Hi Susanna, I find it interesting that you dislike coconut, tiare, frangipani… I was born and reared in Miami and find that I LOVE these scents! Perhaps not daily or on most cold days, but I am drawn to these and Mango/Orange/Grapefruit. I had not seen the connection, but as I have mentioned before, I used to pick frangipani to weave into necklaces. I do not recall that they had a smell, but somehow I must have good associations with the scent. When I first moved away to college, I wore Hawaiian Tropic as fragrance! Where did you grow up? I wonder if your “likes” are associated with your youth as well… I love learning about how preferences are formed!

    PS: I also like the Elderberry, to my surprise. My three top JM faves: Honeysuckle and Jasmine (I have a large bottle, but it is discontinued; I like it mixed with Nectarine Blossom and Honey). Also love White Jasmine and Mint. I think I will use Nectarine wash and body butter tonight, I have not remembered that I had it until now! March 5, 2013 at 5:01pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Andrea, I really dislike coconut note and did so when I lived in NYC and LA, so it doesn’t fare any better here in FL. But again, this is a personal preference only, nothing against the notes themsevles. I often find those florals to be mixed with coconut, or to have an odd, mint-y vibe that I dislike! March 5, 2013 at 5:33pm Reply

  • Amer: The ad is simply photographic genius! I love it! Conveys the idea behind the perfume so well, is optically pleasing and appeals to the fashion conscious eye without resorting to sexuality. Now I have to go to the Jo Malone boutique with the snob SAs and try this! (they never give samples though) March 5, 2013 at 6:03pm Reply

    • Suzanna: I agree about the ad–pure genius. The background is especially well rendered and supports the lighting of the subjects so nicely.

      Yes, I guess you must go to the boutique to try. Keep the ad in mind, not the snob SAs. March 6, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

    • Julie: Do no department stores carry it in your area? Here, Nordstrom, Bloomingdales, and Nieman Marcus all carry it and the reps at all these stores are very free with the samples. Good luck! March 6, 2013 at 12:21pm Reply

      • Amer: Hehe, thanks! I live in Greece. No JM in department stores here. In fact there is only one point of sales for the JM line “near” me and it is the boutique in a town more than 2 hours away from where I live (some planning is needed). SAs in those places always make me feel like I’m underdressed or something. -FLASHBACK- Just remembered another horrible experience in boutique Hermes… March 6, 2013 at 5:22pm Reply

  • solanace: Sounds intriguing, I like woody. Never tried any Jo Malone, the aesthetics of the line does not appeal very much to me, but I love laurel, and if the berry is very tart, this is something I want to try.
    I feel the same about cocnut. :-) The uninspired baker nearby makes those heavy, overly sweet coconut braids. And I wash the dog with coconut soap! March 6, 2013 at 4:33am Reply

    • Suzanna: solanace, I think it’s worth a try if you like the laurel note.

      Coconut in perfume always smells plastic and flat to me. March 6, 2013 at 8:26am Reply

      • solanace: To me, coconut smells too ordinary. It’s one of my favorite foods, I drink coconut water every day, but I want something more exotic in my perfume. :-) As for laurel, I actually don’t think I know any perfume featuring it as a note, but I like the smell of the leaves I grow in my garden to use in the kitchen, and since I’m a sucker for Roman culture, I like the idea of spreading a laurel sillage. March 6, 2013 at 2:37pm Reply

        • Suzanna: Go forth and spread the laurel, then! Wear it in good health! March 6, 2013 at 8:24pm Reply

  • george: Someone recommended the film ‘The best exotic marigold hotel’ to me; I thought I was likely to be bored watching it, based on the fact I was bored reading the title. That’s kind of how I feel about Jo Malone scents, and nothing I have smelled has convinced me otherwise. It’s nice to have a recommendation for one of the range to focus in on, so I thank you for that, and will give the range another go………. March 6, 2013 at 2:19pm Reply

    • Suzanna: Well, as I said earlier, I often feel the same way, even as I want to find much to adore in the line. Either there’s a note up front that I really don’t care for, and it’s usually herbal and therefore to my nose too aromatic (masculine in my vocabulary) or the whole composition is pretty but not specific. March 6, 2013 at 8:23pm Reply

  • Domestic Goblin: I love blackberry picking in the autumn and this review really intrigued me. Does anyone have any samples or decants? March 6, 2013 at 4:13pm Reply

    • Suzanna: One of the decanters probably will, or try eBay. It’s been on the counters for a bit so someone might. March 6, 2013 at 8:19pm Reply

  • Christi F: I also live in north Florida…northwest Florida, so even more of a perfume wasteland. When I was last in Tampa I did my usual 4 skin areas per arm spritzing at Saks. On the top of one hand I tried Blackberry and Bay, on the wrist I tried Shalimar in the perfume concentration. Something smelled divine. Bought the Shalimar, but when I got home I realized it wasn’t just Shalimar I’d been loving, but the combination. I order the Blackberry and Bay and have worn it virtually every day. When I want it a little more complex, I add a drop of the Shalimar. March 7, 2013 at 12:38am Reply

    • Suzanna: That’s fantastic! What an unexpected combination, but I can see where the Shalimar might soften the herbal note a bit and add to the fruit note with its own bergamot.

      Tampa–I love the International Mall, but it is easier for me to go to Orlando (105 miles vs. 135). I wish the Saks were in that mall instead of on the other side of the highway. Still, a great trip! In Orlando, I go to Millenia and Florida Mall. March 7, 2013 at 10:54am Reply

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