Soapy Goodness: Penhaligon Castile

And here he is again-

So I guess I will be popping in on Wednesdays for the foreseeable (sorry for the late post)

One of the things about Covid and all the lock-down for me has been that I have not set foot in a retail store since the beginning (even during the short time they were open.) So I have (gasp!) not been to Scentbar in years.

Let’s say that one again: NOT BEEN TO SCENTBAR IN YEARS.

Yes, I, who practically prefaced every review, if not every waking thought, with “I was in ScentBar the other day and…” The combination of closures and Covid paranoia kept (and still sometimes keeps) me out of places: my job requires that I interface with at least some of the public, so I try to keep my time out limited. It’s to be hoped that after Omicron (and Theta, Gamma, Epsilon, espadrille, or extinction) come and go we can get back to normal.

But anyhoo..

I had of course been aware of Penhaligon as a house, you would have had to have been living on the rings of Saturn not to. Weren’t a few of them the listed favorite of several Royals? Weren’t they the default gift soap of a certain set? The kind that you see in the better powder rooms across the world, smelling of orange blossoms and old money? The ones that you dared not touch when washing your hands?

So one day out of the blue I got an email that there was a winter sale at Penhaligon’s online store and I could get a two-fer on Castile the perfume and even a discount. Having been starved for retail more than oxygen during the long lockdown I went for it.

So, what does it smell like? Well orange blossoms and old money. (NST had a great take on it and a wonderful story about Bella the Bulldog) Penhaligon’s own site blathers on about “A warm Mediterranean breeze bears the scent of orange blossom down a hillside. Neroli spills sun-born freshness; a smile spreads involuntarily across one’s face. Spanish summer, in an eau de toilette.” Okay, well my exposure to a Spanish summer has been limited to lunch at the Super Rica in Santa Barbara, but we’ll take your word for it. I get simple, clean smelling blossoms, slightly sweet. I do think that over-application would be a bad thing- you don’t want to be coshed over the head with a sock full of soap, and there could be the possibility of this being the Axe Body Spray of the overbred (“I don’t need a bath, Mumsy, I used your spray!” said Chad after riding..)

Do I like it? Yes, totally. It’s a lovely (and probably original) version of a “no brainer” scent: fresh, clean, but without the cheap air freshener aspect you can sometimes find in “clean” scents. Were I appearing in front of a judge I think it would be the first thing I reached for. Will I buy again? I don’t know that I will outlive the two bottles I have, but sure. Should you? You tell me..

Castile is available at the Penhaligon website, $165 for 100ML. I didn’t pay that.

Image: Stolen from Penhaligon

  • alityke says:

    I am just back from a Spanish holiday. Island not mainland. A waitress at our favourite restaurant smelt wonderful. It was Penhaligon’s Castile!
    She let me into a local secret, it smells just like Alvarez Gomez Agua de Colonia, a Spanish family staple, but lasts longer!
    Agua de Colonia is cheap as chips in Europe & the UK. I’m guessing in the US it will be in Latino supermarkets & drug stores

  • Dina C. says:

    Soapy, clean orange blossom sounds very appealing right now, especially since it has a bit of gentle sensuality and a hint of floral to it. I like this idea. Thanks for a nice review!

  • cinnamon says:

    Nice read. Alas, I don’t go for soapy — even if it’s Penhaligon. Someone I worked with decades ago brought me, from a trip to London, this little ‘dresser’ of Penhaligon soaps (ie, cardboard 3-drawer thing with 3 soaps). I think I gave them away. The only Penhaligon which really floated my boat was Amaranthine, which really wasn’t their usual thing and disappeared pretty quickly.

    • Tom says:

      I am usually not at all into soapy, even in soap. But this is the exception that proves the rule. If I am ever to be sentenced this is what I would wear.

  • Maggiecat says:

    Welcome back, Tom! I have a sample of this I need to dig out: on first sniff, it seemed too aggressively soapy to me (and I LOVE soapy). However, I’ve been crabby lately as I recover from back surgery, so I need to give things second ( and sometimes third and fourth) chances.

    • Tom says:


      I’ve been crabby lately (“Lately? Like since 1977?” some would say) and for some reason this one is making me smile.

  • Musette says:

    Oh, my darling man! I have missed you so, your snark is giving me LIFE!

    The thing I love most about Penhaligons is the bottle. I have Violets – and I like it – but I really LOVE the bottle!!!

    • Tom says:

      Yes, the whole packaging- the box and the bottles with the little riband; so cute! Of course being a two-fer and on sale they came in a plain cardboard box but at that price I can’t complain. For $20 more off each I might have caught them from the passing delivery truck with a Jai-Alai stick..

  • Gina T says:

    One of my fave houses. I own a bunch from them. My first was Bluebell.

  • March says:

    Squeeeeee!!!!! I’ve missed you! Also hahahaha so many quotable lines! I’ll take espadrille and extinction, and this scent, although I don’t think I’ve tried it? It sounds lovely when you need a low-key scent. You’re making me want to dig out my orange blossom from Italy. Welcome back!

    • Tom says:

      Thanks! Missed this!

      For a house that seems quintessentially English to me there is something a little Euro Vacation about this. In a good, old fashioned English way- like a pressed Spanish bloom kept by a repressed English rose in her diary of that mad summer when she was 16..