You never forget your first love. Ours was Basil. Aromatic, sprightly, piquant. A leftfield choice for a modern day fragrance, some might think. But basil has a story that echoes through the centuries; across distant lands, via ancient cures, loved by monarchs and poets alike. A past rooted in romance and remedies.
If asked to formally introduce itself, basil would tell you its full name is Ocimum Basilicum (meaning
‘fragrant king’) – a herb so fragile and precious, it was believed only kings should be allowed to harvest it using a golden sickle. Pliny the Elder claimed it was an aphrodisiac. 15th Century herbalist John Gerard advised eating it to ease the pain of scorpion stings. Italians consider it a love token, while some Hindus sleep with it on their chests, believing its protective powers will give them safe passage to paradise. Dreamy on the one hand, medicinal on the other.
And it has a host of eccentric relations. Cinnamon Basil comes from Mexico; sweet in flavour and the proud owner of pink flowers and purple leaves. Holy Basil is said to be good for the immune system, while Christmas basil is fruity and fragrant. African Blue Basil is spicy and a little bit minty and then there’s the lime variety that’s zesty and vivid.
We’re particularly fond of basil. It’s the unconventional hero of Jo Malone London’s contemporary classic, Lime Basil & Mandarin. We were the first to spotlight its bright citrusy pepperiness. We revisited the herb twice over by creating Basil & Neroli. Fresh, playful and young, underpinned with a combination of Basil ingredients. That hint of warmth with Basil Grand Vert and Basil Verbena for a herbaceous freshness. As you know, we remain fond of arranging unconventional marriages between our ingredients. And so far, we have nothing to report but bliss.