Review: Álvarez Gómez Agua de Colonia Concentrada — 4.0 points

The weather here has been unkind as of late, with frequent rains and chilly draughts, but I am determined to douse myself in my favourite eaux de cologne. After all, it is still summer, and the cheerful tone of citrus never fails to brighten the greyest of days. This time I pick a Spanish wardrobe staple, so to speak.

Agua de Colonia Concentrada, literally ‘concentrated eau de cologne’, was first produced by Álvarez Gómez in 1912, and it has since been a household name in Spain. It comes in a vintage-looking flacon with an easily recognisable yellow plastic cap and label. This iconic canary is perhaps a clue to the exuberance of the juice.


And rightly so. Its debut is a huge burst of lemon, and this is exactly the sunny disposition I look for. Still, it can also be a little sharp, and if you have used lemon-scented household products, you might not appreciate that. As the effervescence of lemon subsides, agrestic herbs continue to underpin its bright character. There is a camphoraceous side that recalls lavander and rosemary as well as an anisic accent throughout that reminds me of basil. The impression is simply zesty and aromatic. Agua de Colonia Concentrada is all about scintillating lemons and bright herbs.

Of course, there are many more elaborate or novel eaux de cologne, from the baroque Eau de Cologne Impériale (Guerlain, 1853) to the modern bitterness of Eau de Gentiane Blanche (Hermès, 2009), but I sometimes crave for something as simple as vats of lemons and herbs. The lack of sweet florals and opaque musks in Agua de Colonia Concentrada also means that it is never cloying. The brew is one of bright rustic charm, and such simplicity is its winning quality.

And, the carrot of such an affordably priced concoction — at 9.00€ for 80 ml – will surely give you the perfect juice with which to douse yourself. It lasts reasonably well enough as an eau de cologne intended to refresh. Simply put, it is one of those old-school classics. It suits just about any occasion, season, and time of day. Just spritz away!



Review: Carthusia Mediterraneo — 3.5 points

A summer in Campania is, by and large, what many would consider a paradise. The heat, however, can present quite a challenge to that notion even on the most beautiful escape such as Capri, an island off the Gulf of Naples. The scorching sun not only made the journey up to the town with other tourists via the funicolare steamy and funky, but it also started to present some serious threats of sunburns. So, I decided to take refuge in the many shops along the dainty Via Camerelle alley.

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The little shops of Via Camerelle in Capri

Impressed by the Mediterranean idylls, I was looking also for a token to remind me of that beautiful summer, a piece of Capri. There were so many affordable touristy products: I LOVE CAPRI T-shirts, cups, bags, refrigerator magnets et cetera, but they would remind me more of cheap cookie-cutter productions than the bucolic Mediterranean island. I finally stumbled upon Mediterraneo (Carthusia, 2003), a perfume from the local niche house.


Mediterraneo by perfumer Laura Tonatto gives the impression of a very good iced lemon tea, especially generous with the lemons. It opens with a firework of citrus: zesty lemon, bergamot, and sweet mandarin accented by aromatic herbs. Once the effervescence calms, there is a jasminic overtone to the composition.

As the rustic herbs gain their grounds, the sum is now a balance of tangy lemon, jasminic sweetness, and soothing iced tea. This continues for a decent three to four hours on skin and fabric, which is more than many other citrus-based eaux de toilette. And, while it lasts, it stays close, like a personal glass of cool refreshment.

Mediterraneo does not set out to be a grand parfum, but is meant as a refreshing touch. It is imbued with the exuberance of Sorrento lemons and agrestic herbs that hark back to that summer in Campania. It may not merit the exemplary status amongst its counterparts, but Mediterraneo has its own charm. To me, it brings back the rough charms of Naples, the picturesque ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum, and the sun-drenched villas of Capri.