best bergamot fragrances

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Best bergamot fragrances for a fresh, citrus scent

By Adrian Clark and Jessica Punter18 October 2021

Josephine Judd

We break down the best bergamot fragrances for men, from Acqua Di Parma to Byredo

It might look more like a lime, but bergamot is actually an inedible, bitter orange, predominantly grown in Calabria, Southern Italy. The name, confusingly, is derived from the Turkish bey armudu or “the Lords pear”. It first came into fashion in perfumery in the 16th century around the time of Louis XIV. The essence comes from the rind of the fruit – the same rind that gives Earl Grey tea its distinctive smell and flavour – this is pressed by hand into a sea sponge to collect the essence.

Hermès perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena talks of his trip to the bergamot orchards in Messina in his book, The Diary of a Nose. He explains that production commonly runs from October to February. The October harvest typically has a higher content of linalool, whereas by February this is replaced with higher linalyl acetate. This means the season begins with a floral aspect that gradually becomes fresher: technical details that are of crucial importance to any fragrance composer. Those zesty molecules you smell at first spritz are unstable, so they can be a little fleeting on the skin.

“Bergamot is considered to be the finest of the citrus notes,” says perfumer, Roja Dove, “whilst it is very fresh, it is much richer and more rounded, making it a highly prized ingredient.” A key component in any cologne, bergamot is a common bedfellow with its relations: neroli and petitgrain. It is also the headline act in his scent, Risqué, and also in the latest offerings from Tom Ford and Ermenegildo Zegna, plus a host of modern classics.

GQ loves bergamot – just don’t try eating one. And if you want our pick of all the best scents around? Check out our guide to men’s aftershaves and fragrances.

  • Molton Brown Orange  Bergamot eau de parfum1/17MOLTON BROWN ORANGE & BERGAMOT EAU DE PARFUMSeville is the setting for this re-creation of a Molton Brown stalwart, now available in a concentrated eau de parfum formula. Described by its makers as a “new guard perfume collective” the line-up comprises 27 fragrances created by a cooperative of ten different perfumers. As well as being higher in concentration, the eau de parfum formulations differ from their eau de toilette counterparts by benefitting from one extra key ingredient. In the case of Orange & Bergamot, that extra note is petit grain. Formulated by perfumer Beverley Bayne, fresh bitter orange, sweet orange, bergamot and galbanum make up its top notes, with orange blossom, ylang ylang, rose petals and clove, followed by musk, Peruvian balsam, sandalwood and vetiver in its dry down. It comes in a refillable glass bottle with a one-of-a-kind resin cap. £110 for 100ml. moltonbrown.co.uk
  • Acqua di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria La Spugnatura2/17ACQUA DI PARMA BLU MEDITERRANEO BERGAMOTTO DI CALABRIA LA SPUGNATURAUsing an ancient and extremely fiddly artisan extraction technique, La Spugnatura, an elevated spin on the original Bergamotto Di Calabria EDT, brings something very celebratory and unique to Acqua Di Parma’s Blu Mediterraneo portfolio of sunny destination and hero ingredient-inspired fragrances. An ode to the rare and precious essence of bergamot, it is a rich, yet luminous, summer-ready scent that is bursting with vitality. A limited-edition eau de toilette, it is intensified by way of extracting the bergamot oil entirely by hand with the peel being pressed into sea sponges using a precise technique. In short, it’s the result of the artisanship of human hands and the very best that nature has to offer. Formulated with bergamot (it takes 200kg of fruit to make just 1kg of essential oil by this time-honoured extraction process), bitter orange, mandarin and grapefruit in its top, green notes of galbanum and geranium in its heart, it dries down to a very calm base of cedarwood and vetiver. Presented in a unique porcelain bottle (a first of its kind for ADP), manually decorated with an abstract bergamot pattern in white and gold, it has all the promise to be a citrus/aromatic bestseller for the Italian brand. £124 for 100ml. At John Lewis.johnlewis.com
  • Herms Le Jardin De Monsieur Li eau de toilette3/17HERMÈS LE JARDIN DE MONSIEUR LI EAU DE TOILETTEThis aromatic citrus classic, created in 2015, is a showstopper of a scent, from the popular “Garden” collection of fragrances (the original being, Un Jardin En Mediterranee from 2003) by stealth-luxury label Hermès. In-house perfumer Jean-Claude Ellena imagined a garden of awakening and harmony (there is no real Monsieur Li, nor is it based on any specific garden. Ellena travelled around China for inspiration, taking in the smell of wet stones, vegetal jasmine and kumquat before coming to this unique conclusion. Plum trees, mint and bamboo are all in the mix, lifted with the unmistakeable sparkle and spirit of bergamot. £87 for 100ml. At John Lewis. johnlewis.com

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  • Miller Harris Reverie de Bergamote eau de parfum4/17MILLER HARRIS RÊVERIE DE BERGAMOTE EAU DE PARFUMThe latest addition to the Editions Collection, and the first new fragrance in 18 months from this British perfumery brand, Rêverie De Bergamote elegantly showboats the full-bodied freshness of the bergamot fruit and was purposefully designed to help us get over the lockdown blues. A bright, soulful scent, made for slow Sunday mornings, perfumer Emilie Bouge took inspiration from listening to music while she created the scent, to capture the memory of a blissful period of reverie. The signature bergamot ingredient, from the Calabria region of Italy, is initially supported by a blend of energetic tangerine, summer basil, orange and artemisia. Lavender, rosemary, geranium and leather then kick in, giving it some gravitas, before resting on a bed of sandalwood, patchouli, moss and vetiver. The dry down is particularly special, gently warming up on the skin as the fragrance develops. All housed in a joyful yellow bottle, it is the sunshine-filled and cheery antidote to dreary autumn weather. £115 for 100ml. At Selfridges. selfridges.com
  • Experimental Perfume Club Bergamot Incense eau de parfum5/17EXPERIMENTAL PERFUME CLUB BERGAMOT INCENSE EAU DE PARFUMThis London-based artisanal fragrance house, founded in 2016 by classically trained French perfumer Emmanuelle Moeglin, invites visitors to get creative at its working lab-boutique in Covent Garden. Wanting to promote greater understanding of the art of perfumery, Moeglin’s concept – luxury fragrances, purposefully formulated to be blended together – allows the consumer license to create their own unique combination. Made up of six Essentials formulations, alongside limited-edition seasonal Signature blends, Bergamot Incense is one of the brand’s bestsellers. Understanding that citrus fruits and exotic spices sit so well together, Moeglin exploits the versatile freshness of bergamot essential oil. Aromatic, herbaceous and with woody facets, warm notes of frankincense and iris absolute bolster the smokiness of the fragrance, which is full of eastern promise. Bright and zingy juniper berry sits up top, while tea notes calm and soothe the senses. A “top” fragrance that can be blended with any of the other mid and/or base scents, it is a fragrance of contrasts when worn on its own: bright but with some shadows. Vegan and cruelty-free with eco-conscious credentials, Experimental Perfume Club will even refill a full-size bottle for half the price of buying a new one. £98 for 50ml. At Selfridges.selfridges.com
  • Acqua Di Parma Blu Mediterraneo Bergamotto di Calabria eau de toilette6/17ACQUA DI PARMA BLU MEDITERRANEO BERGAMOTTO DI CALABRIA EAU DE TOILETTECitrus-fresh, soft and light, this easy-to-wear eau de toilette has an almost sparkling effervescence. One of ADP’s Blu Mediterraneo pillar of fragrances, inspired by the olfactory scent of an iconic Italian region (Calabria, in this case), it has a dry down that is both woody and aromatic. A major dose of bergamot (Calabria is home to the best bergamot crops, just so you know), enhanced with the freshness of lemon, is the scent’s opening gambit, followed by a kick of red ginger and cedarwood at its heart. Benzoin, vetiver and musk make up its base notes. £79 for 75ml. At John Lewis. johnlewis.com

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  • Malin  Goetz Bergamot eau de parfum7/17MALIN + GOETZ BERGAMOT EAU DE PARFUMLauded for its pH-balancing, botanical-infused skincare, Malin & Goetz also makes some pretty special scents; fine fragrances which hero and reimagine a single ingredient such as vetiver, cannabis and the most invigorating of the bunch, bergamot. Best described as a citrus aromatic, it has a sophisticated, sun-drenched serenity about it and is unique in that it has a very uncharacteristic softness for a bergamot-based elixir. Conjuring the warmth and elegance of a Tuscan landscape and with the complexity of a citrus orchard in bloom, the idea to showcase bergamot in a fine fragrance was originally inspired by the success of the brand’s most popular selling body care products, which were scented with bergamot oil. A timeless aroma that is multifaceted, it opens with hints of fresh green mint, bell pepper and grapefruit, which complements the bergamot element and adds an intoxicating energy. Ginger, black pepper, cardamom and lily of the valley give it a spicy edge, finishing with a dry down of sophisticated woods. Effervescent and bright, with a delicate twang of earl grey tea, it brings understated sensuality which develops on the skin and is Vegan-friendly and cruelty-free. £75 for 50ml. Atspacenk.com
  • Jo Malone London Oud  Bergamot cologne intense8/17JO MALONE LONDON OUD & BERGAMOT COLOGNE INTENSEHypnotic, mysterious and smoky, Oud & Bergamot is one of the finest moments in JML’s highly concentrated collection of Cologne Intense formulas. Opening with crisp bergamot and orange and contrasting with the headiness of a rare oud wood or resin, which is central to Middle Eastern fragrance traditions, it is irrevocably masculine and packs a serious punch – thus better suited to evening in our opinion. It’s formulated by celebrated perfumer Christine Nagel and presented in a black glass bottle (unique to the Cologne Intense line) and if you have a nose for identifying ingredients you might also detect the dash of cedar and lemon. £122 for 100ml. At John Lewis. johnlewis.com
  • Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Bergamote Calabria eau de toilette9/17GUERLAIN AQUA ALLEGORIA BERGAMOTE CALABRIA EAU DE TOILETTEGuerlain’s Aqua Allegoria collection, launched in 1999, is a poetic line of eau de toilette, which is inspired by the joys of nature and, more specifically, gardens, both imagined and real. All designed by one passionate perfumer and explorer, Thierry Wasser, working closely with his associate Delphine Jelk, the entire portfolio of fragrances share one common trait: the freshness of a cologne but with the gravitas of a Guerlain perfume. A stalwart with the collection since launch, Bergamote Calabria really is a love letter to the golden fruit, exploring and championing its finest assets. The noble fruit is combined with majestic cardamom spice, pink peppercorn and ginger – which give it a sparkling quality that is almost fizzy – elevated with radiant notes of petitgrain, lemon and overlapping hints of white musk. Vibrant and sunny, but with a masculine woody dry down, it captures the heart and soul of a Mediterranean orchard. £69 for 75ml. At Selfridges. selfridges.com

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  • Le Labo Bergamote 22 eau de parfum10/17LE LABO BERGAMOTE 22 EAU DE PARFUMCofounded by Eddie Roschi and Fabrice Penot in New York in 2006, Le Labo has become a major player in the world of fragrance. All handmade and using only the finest of raw materials (most of them naturally derived), Bergamote 22, as the name would suggest, is the brand’s sentimental love letter to the ingredient. The ’22’ pertains to the number of ingredients used in the formula and, as suggested by its development codename “Fire Cologne”, it has an invigorating kick from an abundance of bitter grapefruit, with floral petit grain, amber, musk and vetiver also present. Another nice touch is that all Le Labo fragrances are offered with a personalised label, with your name and the date it was formulated. £184 for 100ml. At Selfridges. selfridges.com
  • Louis Vuitton Afternoon Swim cologne perfume11/17LOUIS VUITTON AFTERNOON SWIM COLOGNE/PERFUMEThe most addictive of a triptych of fragrances inspired by the balmy West Coast of America, launched in 2019, Afternoon Swim is like a wave of wellbeing. With a mandate to prolong the feeling of summer, the unisex cologne/perfume (which, incidentally, is a new category of concentration, an alliance between a light veil of citrus with the integrity of rare ingredients common to fine eau de parfums) is a celebration of zesty fruits and aromatic botanicals. Formulated by renowned perfumer Jacques Cavallier-Belletrud, orange from Sicily, bergamot and mandarin are the frontliners, highlighted with accents of ginger and ambergris. LA-based artist Alex Israel created the packaging, having been inspired by the Pacific Ocean. £185 for 100ml. louisvuitton.com
  • Byredo Palermo12/17BYREDO PALERMOWhile it might be named after an Italian city, the nuts and bolts that make this fragrance so special are deeply rooted in the East. Bergamot sits front-and-centre as an anchor while spice notes such as saffron and blond woods, leather and rose moot back to a time before Garibaldi’s redshirts galloped through the region and Italy was born. It’s an eclectic and very interesting mix of the Mediterranean we know today and exotic Byzantine. One better reserved for evening. £160 for 100ml. At Liberty London. libertylondon.com

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  • Tom Ford Private Blend Venetian Bergamot13/17TOM FORD PRIVATE BLEND VENETIAN BERGAMOTWhile it isn’t that easy to ‘sex-up’ a citrus summer fruit, Tom Ford’s Private Blend Venetian Bergamot does a pretty good job. This scent talks more of sensual summer nights than picnics on the Amalfi coast. Obviously the sparkling bergamot is there…in abundance, but as an intro to an intoxicating cocktail of balsamic, spicy, woody and luxurious complimentary supporting characters, like black peppercorn from Madagascar, ginger essence, hypnotic ylang ylang, and silky sandalwood. Roasted tonka and amber add the signature TF, after-dark pulse to this seducer. £238 for 100ml. At John Lewis. johnlewis.com
  • Atelier Cologne Bergamote Soleil Cologne Absolue14/17ATELIER COLOGNE BERGAMOTE SOLEIL COLOGNE ABSOLUEThis is the quintessential summer fragrance, and perfect to take away on holiday. Its 15% pure perfume concentration means it will last all day without ever being overpowering. You can almost feel the heat beating down on the rind of the Calabrian bergamot fruit while notes of jasmine, vetiver, oak moss, cardamom and lavender from Provence create some well-balanced shade. £95 for 100ml. At John Lewis. johnlewis.com
  • Tom Daxon Laconia15/17TOM DAXON LACONIAThis is a Mediterranean bolthole in a bottle. Inspired by “real lemonade” that new-generation perfumer, Tom Daxon, drank while holidaying in the Laconia region of Greece it initially bursts with zesty citrus notes like lemon, orange, mandarin and bergamot (naturally) complemented with muddled mint. This is so much more than just an explosion of sharp summer fruits however, as it is layered with green violet leaves, jasmine, and sea salt unlocking the door to an authentically laid-back touch of ‘beside-the–seaside Hellenic pleasure. £155 for 100ml. At Liberty London. libertylondon.com

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  • Maison Francis Kurkdjian Aqua Universalis16/17MAISON FRANCIS KURKDJIAN AQUA UNIVERSALISWhile some bergamot heavy based scents tend to (understandably) swing towards the fruity side, Aqua Universalis’ oh so clever combination of ingredients simply uplift you to a higher plane. It is one of the most sophisticated, unimposing and delicate fragrances that just make you feel ‘clean’. Described by its maker kurkdjian as ‘luminous’ floral notes of lily combine with musky tones from the woody base. A stellar appropriate-any-time-of-day elixir. £140 for 70ml. At Selfridges.selfridges.com
  • LOfficine Universelle Buly Eau Triple Calabrian Bergamot17/17L’OFFICINE UNIVERSELLE BULY EAU TRIPLE CALABRIAN BERGAMOTBuly believes “Good perfume adapts to the person and the personality. It must neither precede nor follow the wearer too intensely” Wise words, and ones that they stick to by refusing to make their fragrances with any alcohol or ethanol. Originator of the first ever water-based fragrances (don’t be fooled into thinking they don’t last), this one combines bitter orange with earl grey and gaiac wood. Footnote: This scent, as much as anything, is worth owning just because it will look great on your bathroom shelf. €130 for 75ml. buly1803.com

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