Roses and Honey

Poltava, in central Ukraine, is famous for its honey. Every year the city and its environs host fairs celebrating honey in all its forms, and whenever I visit my grandmother, who is a Poltava native, I enjoy this sweet treat in gingerbreads, cakes, drinks and even savory dishes. One of the most beloved local pairings is first-of-the-season honey drizzled over cucumbers.

On a recent visit, I discovered yet another way to eat honey – infused with roses. It was heaven. So, for my recent FT column, The Fragrance of Honey and Roses, I’ve decided to recreate this combination and to find fragrances that are build around the rose-honey accord.

Please click here to read the full article, and of course, please share any of your favorite fragrances with honey notes. Honey can be a complicated accord to build, and some people find its animalic intensity too much. Others, however, are beguiled by it. You only need to read comments on fragrances like Serge Lutens Miel de Bois or The Different Company Rose Poivrée to see what I mean.

Photography by Bois de Jasmin, when I was making rose jam in Poltava.

 

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52 Comments

  • Lema: Have you tried Hiram Green’s Slowdive? Beeswax, honey, lots of thick warm languid honey in a backdrop of tobacco May 27, 2019 at 9:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Not yet, but I would like to. May 27, 2019 at 1:37pm Reply

  • StellaDiverFlynn: I’d never thought that honey can be combined with cucumber! This seems such an interesting and unexpected combination and I’d love to experiment with it. What type of honey would you suggest to be more suitable for this dish?

    Rose petals macerated in honey, only typing it makes me drool. 😛 I’ve yet had the opportunity to try a treat like this, but this reminds me of a rose de mai jam that I tried, which has a suave sweetness almost like honey besides the rose flavour. I’ve been quite happy to find it in perfume forme recently, namely Hiram Green Lustre, which replicates this bright, savoury happiness very well. I also find similar olfactory effects in the opening of Lancôme Parfait de Rôses and Diptyque Essences Insensées 2016, but sadly they kind of fall apart in their dry down phase on my skin.

    As for honey note in perfumes, I prefer those with its animalic tonality such as Miel de Bois and Anatole Lebreton Bois Lumière. I also enjoy when it provides more sensuality to florals such as in DelRae Amoureuse. I also quite enjoy Hiram Green’s Slowdive for its bright, optimistic vibe. It can be a bit too sweet for me in the opening, but its dry down with dried fruits and tobacco is like golden glow surrounding the skin. May 27, 2019 at 9:27am Reply

    • Victoria: Any delicate honey will do, such as acacia or linden blossom.

      I love your list of honey perfumes! May 27, 2019 at 1:37pm Reply

  • Matty: Honey and cucumber…intriguing X May 27, 2019 at 10:11am Reply

    • Victoria: I love this combo, especially with baby cucumbers that don’t have seeds. May 27, 2019 at 1:36pm Reply

  • Dee Dee: Do you think rose essence mixed with honey would work to flavor the honey? Not too much, of course. May 27, 2019 at 12:22pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think so. It would be even more perfumed. May 27, 2019 at 1:35pm Reply

  • Silvermoon: Victoria, as I read this article, I immediately thought of Ilha do Mel (Memo), because of the honey. It doesn’t have roses, instead hyacinth and jasmine. And another interesting honey is Honey and Crocus (Jo Malone), but this is a rather sweet one. Again, no roses.

    I was fascinated with the idea of soaking rose petals in honey. Ooh, it must be wonderful. I imagine it over a vanilla or clotted cream ice cream (not necessarily bread/toast) or even fresh Greek yogurt. May 27, 2019 at 12:49pm Reply

    • Victoria: I like best of all on thick yogurt, so your ideas appeal to me too. May 27, 2019 at 1:38pm Reply

  • Karen A: Oooh, everything sounds wonderful! Will give the roses in honey a try, I’ve made plenty of rose jam already and have been looking for other ideas.

    Jumping on the Slowdive bandwagon, but lately I’ve been wearing Nahema nonstop. No honey note but the plush rose makes me quite happy! May 27, 2019 at 2:02pm Reply

    • Silvermoon: Hi Karen A!

      As you might remember, I am a great fan of rose perfumes. I love Nahema. I don’t dare wear mine too often, because it’s discontinued (and not sure if I could find more). May 27, 2019 at 2:33pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s a good alternative to jam, and the two make for such a great duo.
      And yes, Nahema is among the best abstract roses you can find. June 2, 2019 at 3:29am Reply

      • Karen A: Rose infused honey is sitting on the shelf, a few more days then I will strain out the roses. Am looking forward to it! June 2, 2019 at 4:33am Reply

        • Victoria: Yay! I hope that you like it. June 9, 2019 at 10:23am Reply

          • Karen A: It’s delicious! Interesting how over yogurt or lebnah it mellows out really nicely. June 9, 2019 at 12:17pm Reply

            • Victoria: Yes, isn’t it. I love that combination. June 11, 2019 at 11:10am Reply

  • Karen A: Yes of course I remember a fellow rose lover! I’ve been using the EdP (or is it EdT?). My extrait is like liquid gold but I do use it after reading horror tales of scents going bad and people not enjoying them.

    I’d say wear it and enjoy! Maybe Guerlain will bring it back! We can dream, right! May 27, 2019 at 2:42pm Reply

    • Victoria: Do use it! Extraits do not last forever, and it’s too beautiful to be saved for special occasions. June 2, 2019 at 3:30am Reply

  • Debby: Zoologist Moth is the most honey-drenched perfume I know, it does have rose in it, but it’s not that apparent. Gorgeous stuff though, so rich, warm and comforting.
    I loved Ombre Rose in the 80s, but I don’t think I could revisit it as I’ve become very sensitive to the aldehydes in powdery type scents so it would probably be a disaster unfortunately. Damn my menopausal nose, it’s ruining old favourites! May 27, 2019 at 3:48pm Reply

    • Victoria: It’s definitely a powdery perfume, and I have a feeling that the reformulations didn’t improve it. Still beautiful, of course, but I notice a difference. June 2, 2019 at 3:31am Reply

  • Tourmaline: Dear Victoria,

    I have a suggestion for you. I strongly recommend that, if you have not done so already, you collect together all your grandmother’s recipes into a “book”. In 2015, I did this with the recipes of my late mother, who was a very good cook. Mum had died four years earlier. The task was made easier by the fact that I had Mum’s old, red recipe book, in which she had written most of her recipes. I basically transcribed it, and added an introduction, a contents page, a section on the abbreviations she used, several appendices and 31 colour photographs.

    The photos included ones of a few of Mum’s cakes that I had photographed over the years, the Gripstand Mixing Bowl she mainly used, her remaining collection of bottles of food colouring and flavouring that I had appropriated, her large Zenith food thermometer that I still use for making fudge, her favourite pots and pans, the family together, and, of course, the recipe book itself. There was a total of 241 recipes, divided into the following sections: Meat; Poultry; Fish; Eggs; Vegetables & Rice; Butter, Sauce and Seasonings; Desserts; Large Cakes; Fruit Cakes & Christmas Cakes; Patty Cakes; Biscuits & Slices; Batter & Scones; Pastries; Icings & Fillings; and Confectionery.

    I also included a section titled “Notes”, which had information about various terms that might not have been familiar to the average Australian reader, e.g. “As regards Eggs Muscovy, the only information that I could find was about Muscovy ducks.” Clearly, it would have been easier, and more informative for future readers, had I compiled the book while my mother had still been alive and able to explain various terms, before she developed dementia. This is why I recommend that you compile any recipes you don’t as yet have while your grandmother is still with you.

    I typed up all of the pages, printed them out, and assembled them in a four-ring binder. I made several of these and gave one to each of my younger brother, my niece and my nephew. Admittedly, the whole enterprise took a lot of time (several months), effort and printer ink, however the finished book was worth it. It is a relief to know that my mother’s recipes will not die with her, so to speak, but will live on. It has been gratifying to hear from my niece about recipes that she has already tried and enjoyed.

    With kind regards,
    Tourmaline May 27, 2019 at 7:14pm Reply

    • Asta: A Lovely and thoughtful tribute to your mother. My mom’s recipes were verbal and the idea of putting them to print for our family is a wonderful gift for the family. Kudos to you for your labor of LOVE PASSED ON! May 30, 2019 at 9:44pm Reply

      • Tourmaline: Hi Asta,

        Many thanks for your lovely words. Perhaps you can record your mom’s recipes as well.

        I forgot to mention that, later on, I put all the contents of the book onto flash drives, and gave one to each of the book recipients. However, I find the book itself (with plastic page holders for the most-used recipes and all of the photos) is of most use when in the kitchen.

        Best wishes.

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline May 31, 2019 at 1:02am Reply

    • Victoria: What a great idea! I would like to do something like this at some point.

      You always suggest such inspiring projects! June 2, 2019 at 3:31am Reply

      • Tourmaline: Thanks, Victoria; you are very kind.

        I’m sure your family members would be eternally grateful if you left them a record of all the wonderful recipes you have gathered over the years!

        With kind regards,
        Tourmaline June 5, 2019 at 2:47am Reply

  • limegreen: DSH Chinchilla is a honey leather syrupy concoction that I wear in tiny tiny doses. Honey’s not usually my perfume style but when I tested it in Dawn’s boutique, it bloomed on my skin. Didn’t hurt my perfume ego that Dawn herself thought it was gorgeous on my skin. 🙂 May 28, 2019 at 10:37am Reply

  • Cristiane Vilar: Beaultiful photo!
    Bergamote Boisée is an interesting fragrance with honey, as well.
    Best regards May 28, 2019 at 12:54pm Reply

  • Eric Brandon: I love honey, and when someone travels and offers a souvenir back, I tell them some local honey wouldbe perfect. I love to eat it atop dark toast with some vegan butter (my poor tummy reviles dairy). A heavenly breakfast!

    I do love Rose Ikebana but my favorite honey rose is Absolue pour le Soir, which rather smells to me like… Well, you know! Carnal goodness. May 28, 2019 at 6:34pm Reply

    • Victoria: Honey is the best of souvenirs, and different places and flowers make for such different tasting honeys. June 2, 2019 at 3:33am Reply

      • Eric Brandon: Absolutely! I still remember a bottle of buckwheat honey I had years ago. Unctuous and roasted like caramel. June 3, 2019 at 2:47am Reply

        • Victoria: One of my favorites, but it’s getting so hard to find it. Most of the time the honey passing for buckwheat honey is just honey boiled down till it starts to caramelize. June 9, 2019 at 10:24am Reply

  • OnWingsofSaffron: In the spirit of this post, I layered Serge Lutens‘ Miel de Bois with Parfum d’Empire‘s Eau Suave: I rather like it! May 29, 2019 at 2:09am Reply

    • Victoria: Oh, that sounds like a great combo. June 2, 2019 at 3:32am Reply

  • Eolo: Hi, the first Comme Des Garçons perfume, launched in 1994, on my skin reminds me of the smell of a Damask rose “Quatre Saisons” (probably the ancient roman rose) covered with honey and spices, with some volutes of incense floating around. It is an almost sacred and archaic scent, quite far from the more romantic or nocturnal roses (like “Une Rose” or “La Fille de Berlin”) or the powdery ones. May 29, 2019 at 8:19am Reply

  • Andy: A very timely post, as the roses are coming into bloom. One bush in particular, right when I step out of work, looks like it’s somewhere in between a Rosa damascena and a desi gulab type rose (which I think is a Rosa moschata). It smells exactly like Bulgarian rosewater, though is somewhat delicately perfumed (the scent perhaps reduced due to our milder climate, too). I may collect some petals today and crush them with honey to make a sort of no-cook jam as others have described, which sounds exquisite. May 29, 2019 at 10:22am Reply

    • Victoria: Did you end up making it? June 2, 2019 at 3:34am Reply

      • Andy: I didn’t! Heavy rain drenched the roses and they seemed worse for the wear, less fragrant too. I’m sure I’ll find other roses that I could try this with soon. June 2, 2019 at 10:09pm Reply

  • Amy M.: Lovely article! Honey is one of my most favored notes. I love both Cologne and Absolue Pour le Soir by MFK, Diptyque’s Volutes (the edp), Serge’s Chergui, Ginestret Botrytis, and Chanel Beige. May 30, 2019 at 10:40pm Reply

    • Victoria: Absolue Pour le Soir is one of my favorites too. June 2, 2019 at 3:34am Reply

  • Aurora: What a great article, love the idea of cucumber and honey.
    Vintage Ombre Rose is a perfume I wear when I want a powdery perfume.
    For honey, I get a lot of it from Amouage Journey. June 2, 2019 at 4:24am Reply

    • Victoria: Journey is one of my favorites! June 9, 2019 at 10:22am Reply

  • Gemma: Dear Victoria, I reccomend you to smell one of the newest Aqua Allegoria’s: Ginger Piccante.
    … and then let me know your thoughts 😉
    It’s surprisingly honeyed rose with a bit of cedar touch… Full of contrasts (fresh and warm at once).

    Like drinking a cup of hot ginger tea near a summer campfire in the coolness of the northern evenings, while some wiffs of a rose scented tea leaves are coming from the canister.
    Indulge yourself in! June 8, 2019 at 7:03pm Reply

    • Victoria: Thank you very much! I’ll be sure to look for it. June 9, 2019 at 10:21am Reply

      • Gemma: The very slight honey effect is due to its resemblance to the candied gingers that it conjures. That said, it’s more about a prominent lemony rose-geranium take on ginger that it lasts the longest on me of all Allegorias. Discretly enveloping as it dries down, it’s a wellness kind of scent. Along with Pamplelune and Lys Soleia, this is probably the best AA I’ve ever tried, a little gem at a decent price that is absolutely spot-on. It cannot be taken lightly so it grows up through its olfactive life cycle while fading slowly, and the scent cloud enhances the light herbaceous-sweet. As a tea & spice gourmet I think you’ll appreciate it 🙂

        (pitty there’s no cucumber, though!)

        kind regards June 10, 2019 at 11:56am Reply

  • Constance Lowe: I never thought of myself as someone who would wear anything with rose or honey in it very well, but I absolutely love Jo Malone’s Honeycomb Accord! It is a shame that it was a limited release (part of the Chronicle of Roses, I believe). If anyone knows where I can get more of this particular scent, please let me know. June 11, 2019 at 8:21pm Reply

    • Victoria: I think that it’s gone already. I didn’t even have a chance to try it. June 12, 2019 at 8:47am Reply

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