Review: Hermès Eau de Pamplemousse Rose — 3.5 points

Grapefruit is a popular note in perfumes. It gives novelty to the freshness of top notes and eaux de cologne. However, few compositions interpret its odour profile well. My grapefruit gold standard is the fiercely brilliant burst of grapefruit on a hot trail of patchouli in Pamplelune (Guerlain, 1999). Other than that, I can hardly recall any other grapefruit-centric perfumes because they suddenly seem like fleeting head notes. It is a challenge to interpret this ever-popular theme without being all too mundane. But with Eau de Pamplemousse Rose (Hermès, 2009), perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena gives us a dynamic portrait of this citrus theme.


The bitter and fizzy grapefruit accord feels like a sip of champagne, and when rounded with the sweetness of rose, it has a vibrant quality. Bitter and sweet, it is refreshing. This well-loved exuberance can also be found in Rose Ikebana (Hermès, 2004). But unusually, it does not turn all sweet and musky, as would most citrus colognes.

Instead, the juicy citrus finds harmony with sheer woods. These possess a mineral, flint-like quality similar to that in Terre d’Hermès (2006), and together with their green and piquant facets, fill the dry down with complexity. The result is a nice contrast of bitter-sweet citrus and light woods. It is simple and fresh, and it has a dimension.

The only complaint I have against Eau de Pamplemousse Rose is that it is short-lived. The end at three hours is a little too short even for a fleeting eau de cologne. But in terms of composition, it is a lively citrus cologne with an interesting edge. It is also easy to wear and will not offend. These should be enough a reason to like it.



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