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Anatomy of a Scent: Pony Boy

Perfumer in white lab coat overlaid with abstract image of rhubarb stalks

Welcome to Anatomy of a Scent, a series where in-house master perfumer Euan McCall dissects much-loved scents from our collection of unique, niche Scottish fragrances to reveal their inner workings. This time we're looking at Pony Boy Extrait de Parfum, the fresh take on temptation from our Scottish Odyssey collection with addictive green rhubarb, cedarwood, vetiver and pink lotus notes.



Rhubarb, Coriander seed, Fig, Pink Grapefruit, Champaca Absolute, Pink Pepper, Beetroot.



Pink Lotus Absolute, Vetiver, Ambrette seed, Atlas Cedarwood, Raspberry Leaf, Red Cedarwood, Calamus.


Champaca absolute + Pink Lotus Absolute = steamy floral sauna 

Pony Boy presents the wearer with a highly original aquatic perfume sensation produced by two key (and perhaps surprising) aromatic extracts – champaca absolute and pink lotus absolute. 

Champaca possesses a steamy floral quality where pink lotus has a stewed floral fruitiness that registers as unconventionally watery as it develops. The combination creates a sensation reminiscent of exotic flowers wilting beside a hot spring. When storyboarding Pony Boy we had images of hot springs with billowing clouds of pink steam, technicolour flowers and mercurial waters – the combination of champaca and pink lotus faithfully creates this fantasy scene.

Champaca and pink lotus are prized materials in perfumery, and the high cost associated with them limits their use. Pink lotus is the more specialised of the two and isn’t used too often. Champaca is easier to find uses for, however the cost is a major consideration for the niche perfumer. I often dilute both materials and wear them directly on the skin, as I find them to be alluring and their development over time is both enjoyable and interesting. 


Vetiver Oil + Rhubofix® + Paradisamide™ = Rooty rhubarb  

There is a sizeable slug of Haitian vetiver in Pony Boy that may surprise many, as Pony Boy does not register as a vetiver-centric perfume. There is, in fact, over 11% vetiver oil in Pony Boy – a fairly large concentration by any account. This large amount of vetiver is used to help make Pony Boy a long lasting fresh perfume, providing a great foundation to build upon. Vetiver helps to create a fermented and thus organic feel as Pony Boy develops – it brings life to the structure over time. By handling this vetiver dose carefully and with some choice supplementary materials, the profile is not overly coloured by vetiver as I didn’t want Pony Boy to be a vetiver forward experience.

To suppress the vetiver character somewhat, aromatics such as Rhubofix® and Paradisamide™ are used for their complementary, bright, tart and fruity rhubarb characters. Both materials possess vetiver traits and vice-versa however by placing significant and specific dosages of them alongside vetiver oil, the profile can be manipulated, masking the characteristic vetiver facets in favour of a rhubarb-laced-with-vetiver sensation.

There is unique synergy between vetiver, rhubarb, grapefruit and galbanum, and Pony Boy makes good use of this olfactory game of smoke and mirrors. The end result is a rhubarb note that is perceived from initial spray, becoming more rooty with wear. For anyone that is a fan of rhubarb, Pony Boy displays rhubarb from leaf, stem to root.  


Coriander seed + Rose Oxide + Damascenone + Norlimbanol® = lightly brewed tea leaves 

Many of the materials used in Pony Boy infer a facet of tea however the tea profile was lacking some definition and fidelity. Admittedly, it was not the initial plan to include or exaggerate a tea note within Pony Boy however when testing, the sympathetic tea connotation produced by the materials in the initial formulations demanded to be amplified a touch.

To reinforce the tea element within Pony Boy I supplemented the structure with materials that, in isolation, bear only a small resemblance to tea however when combined produce a vivid brewing tea-like experience. Coriander seed is zingy and smells alive with subtle fermented green nuances similar to fresh tea that’s just been drenched with fresh warm water. Rose oxide and damascenone are two sides of a rose note: rose oxide has impact and minerality with a fresh fruity body note whereas damascenone is stewed, dark fruits, tobacco and fermented floral (I like to think of damascenone as the heart of the rose!) Both are useful in creating tea perfumes and adding an authentic naturalness.

Norlimbanol® is a powerful amber and mineral material with an elegant perfumed character. Norlimbanol® is perhaps more uncommon in tea sensations however I find a woody, warm-leafy clarity is imparted when using large amounts of the material in combination other wood and leaf materials such as cedarwood, cinnamon leaf, laurel leaf and geranium leaf (all found in Pony Boy). For me there is a shallow clary sage facet with Norlimbanol® and clary sage is key to making tea-forward accords. Using Norlimbanol® as a substitute for clary sage within Pony Boy helps us to infer the tea note without dominating the profile and the result is arguably more contemporary and refined. Modifications that I created using clary sage were too tea-like and just not Pony Boy! 

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