The fragrant history of a botanical garden – bottled
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It was while working for Scottish whisky brand Glenmorangie that former PR Imogen Russon-Taylor decided to delve into another form of distillation. In 2018 she launched Kingdom, the first fragrance house to create a range of scents from start to finish in Scotland. They all begin with the land around them, and have so far been based around metamorphic rock, Caledonian pine forests and the snow and ice associated with the country’s ancient name, Alba. But her fourth scent, Kingdom Botanica, traces the rich history of Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, which celebrates its 350th anniversary this year.
The woody, floral oriental fragrance has been two years in the making and uses more than 35 ingredients, all inspired by people, plants and places associated with the Garden’s past. A top note of spiced plum blossom, for instance, reflects the institution’s ongoing collaboration with China – it has built up one of the largest living collections of Chinese plants outside their native habitat. Fresh pink pepper, meanwhile, is drawn from the evergreen tree found in Peru, where the Botanic Garden carries out major research.
Other ingredients nod to the samples that Russon-Taylor and archivist Leonie Patterson discovered in the Botanic Garden’s historical collections – such as blackcurrant stem and bud, which can be traced to the original physic garden and was recorded in a 1683 plant catalogue. It brings a fresh, verdant note that Russon-Taylor likens to walking into the warmth of the Garden’s glasshouses. “We delved into the amazing collection of plant discoveries from prolific Scottish botanists such as George Forrest, Robert Sibbald, John Hutton Balfour, James Sutherland and Robert Fortune,” she says. “Then we took to the Herbarium and Garden, investigating the preserved and living collections with botanist Gregory Kenicer.”
The result is a complex and spicy unisex scent that combines white florals such as ginger lily and jasmine with the woody depth of sandalwood, cedar and amber. The scent summons up a warm, cosy evening by the fire at the Gleneagles hotel in Perthshire, which was one of Kingdom Scotland’s first stockists. All profits from Kingdom Botantica will go to the Royal Botanic Garden’s research into biodiversity in the face of climate change.
£120 for 50ml eau de parfum; kingdomscotland.com