Cream of the Crop

In the light of late summer, England’s green and pleasant land is swathed in rippling, ripening fields of golden barley. In Britain grain fields grow the whole year with each season welcoming its own distinctive palette marking the way points of the growing year, and each anticipates that season of fullness and abundance when the crops are gathered in and the cycle begins anew.


Since around 10,000 BC, when Barley first grew on the banks of the Nile, this ancient grain has sustained both man and beast. The ancient Egyptians used its malty goodness to make bread and beer, and Roman philosopher Pliny the Elder wrote of how it was the favoured food of gladiators, (who were nicknamed hordearii or barleymen). Tibet, too, is said to have raised powerful armies on a diet of barley. During the Second World War, coffee-loving Italians even substituted a barley-based drink for their espressos – an alternative that’s enjoying something of a renaissance now, thanks to its notable absence of caffeine.


Barley has been so integral to our lives that it formed the basis of a new measurement system introduced during the reign of Edward I in the 14th century. Three barleycorns denoted one inch, 36 made a foot and 108 a yard. In fact, it’s still rather charmingly used as the basis for shoe measurements today, so feel free to ask if you can try on a pair in size nine barleycorns!

‘We have used this serene cereal king to create a scent that
encapsulates all the warmth and wonder of rural England

Even the straw that’s left over after the barley is harvested has proved useful, being woven into mats for people to sleep on, piled into barns for animals to get cosy in, and bound into bundles to create thatched roofs. In all its forms, barley only knows how to nurture.


At Jo Malone London, we have used this serene cereal king to create a scent that encapsulates all the warmth and wonder of rural England. Blended with its natural dance partner, the vibrant poppy, Barley brings a wholesome and succulent texture and it’s paired in the back with the comfort from white musk and bran.Poppy is brought into focus with rose, violet and blackcurrant notes to create Poppy & Barley Cologne. This cotton-soft grain cocoons the light floral notes in a gentle sunny glow that’s floral, fruity and inviting. 

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