What Does a 150-Year-Old Fragrance Smell Like?

What Does a 150-Year-Old Fragrance Smell Like?
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Sure, we've all smelled a fragrance that manages to evoke nostalgic memories, but the latest scent launch by Lili Bermuda is really sending us on a time-travel adventure---by 150 years, to be exact.

In 1864, a Civil War blockade runner called the Mary Celestia sank just off the coast of Bermuda, which, unbeknownst to most, contained a hidden stash of luxury perfume bottles in the ship's bow. Fast-forward to 2011; A storm hit the area and shifted the wrecked ship, which uncovered the still-intact vials, and prompted the pros at Drom fragrances and Lili Bermuda perfumery to spring into action. The bottles were hand-carried to the Drom fragrances laboratories in New Jersey, where they were cracked open and chemically analyzed so the scent could be recreated for modern-day use. "Opening the bottles was like going back 150 years into life," says Jean-Claude Delville, who led the team that recreated the scent. "I was shocked at how fresh and floral it was, and the amount of citrus in it."

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Surprisingly, the 150 year-old scent proves to be anything but old school. While we were prepared to take a whiff of a powdery concoction better suited for our grandmothers, the lively opening of grapefruit, rose, and orange flower get tempered by a rosewood and amber base, and smell even more modern than you'd expect. This could be due to the pros behind the original juice---the bottles that went down with the ship were from the now-defunct Piesse and Lubin fragrance house on Bond Street in London, and its lead perfumer G.W. Septimus Piesse actually penned the first book on the creation of modern fragrances in 1857 called The Art of Perfumery. "Opportunities like this don't come along too often," Delville adds. "We analyzed and captured the unique spirit of the original fragrance, and thus recreated a lost treasure." The scent is available now for $225 at lilibermuda.com---only 1,864 bottles have been produced as a nod to the year the Mary Celestia sank, so pick up your piece of fragrance history while you still can.

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