Jo Loves Pomelo: the dark side of citrus

Jo Loves offers two free samples for anyone who wishes to try their first releases. My choices were Gardenia and Pomelo. Gardenia is not bad but, let’s face it, it is very hard to create the illusion of gardenia. There is no gardenia extract so the entire smell has to be constituted with other white flowers and whatever ingredient one finds appropriate. Jo Loves Gardenia does not have the cool green aspect I was looking for but this is just my personal opinion. Pomelo however was a shock. It is the most passionate and counter-intuitive creation of Jo Malone since Pomegranate Noir. It opens with a big, fruity explosion of citrus. I do not know exactly what pomelo smells like and I had to look it up to see how it looks. Well, it is the biggest citrus fruit, it can reach the size of big melon and the opening of Pomelo certainly fits this image. It is very strong but instead of feeling volatile and citrusy it feels predominantly fruity. Imagine the sensation of biting a tart mango: it is very fragrant in a round sort of way, thick, sweet but also sour and close to the skin it has a slightly resinous note. The topnotes of pomelo is all these wonderful notes, except that the mango centre has been replaced by bergamot. Forget about summery citrus, this is neon light strength. There is also a very pronounced green bitter orange note in the mix. Like pomelo, the oversized fruit, Pomelo the fragrance is a gigantic ball of citrus glow. I very rarely get excited about citrus scents and certainly all this thick fruitiness would not be enough to impress me. It was good to get my attention but what came next was amazing. As it develops on skin its focus shifts completely. From citrus to earth. A very resinous vetiver emerges with dark intentions. It feels thick, gluey and it immediately made think of the bottle of the new Eau Sauvage Parfum. I have not smelled it yet but the vetiver in Pomelo created a synaesthetic impression of the exact black-green hue of this bottle. In fact the entire composition has the same vibe of looking through this black tinted glass. Even the citrus is tinted black. As development progresses further into the base notes the darkness materializes with a turpentine note that reminds me of Olivier Durbano Black Tourmaline. Pine resin, turpentine, rubber, all mix to create this amazing base.

In my defence I have to explain that I have tried this several times because my impression is nothing like what I expected from the company release information: clean and crisp! I can get the crisp but there is nothing clean about it and I say that as a big compliment. Who needs another clean citrus? Then of course I read Jo Malone’s notes on it:  “Pomelo is clean and crisp; it’s my best friend made up of memories and moments.   It’s that feeling of fresh linen sheets or a glass of bubbling fizzy water with a slice of lime and lots of crushed ice.  I spray Pomelo onto my skin a couple of times when I go into the office, when I’m out and about and again before lunch or cocktails.  Like me, Pomelo has a masculine side to it, it’s confident and sharp.” And this is exactly what Pomelo is. A strong masculine dark vetiver scent. I get similarities with Terre d’Hermes Eau de Parfum or to be more precise with Montale Red Vetyver but Jo Malone has done a wonderful job at making this more dark and dangerous. Bright orange citruses, dark green vetiver and shiny black resins create an amazing kaleidoscope of contradicting notes and make this one of the most versatile scents I have tried. I imagine myself reaching for this on a hot sticky summer night to experience the intensity of the citrus opening but I also see myself wearing it in the winter for the lively, dark basenotes.

A big thumbs up for Jo Malone’s new gem!

Notes from Fragrantica: grapefruit, lime aldehydes

Notes from my nose: bergamot, green bitter orange, vetiver, turpentine, pine resin

Contrary to my policy I publish my note listing interpretation in this Quick Sniff because I think the official publicity text and Fragrantica notes do not do it any justice. I agree with grapefruit and lime, after all all citruses are variations on a tune, and I do get the bright aldehydic explosion at the top but they only account for a fraction of the Pomelo experience.

Addendum: I get a bitter insence note in the very deep reydown that adds another dimension to the experience.


About Christos

Scientifically minded but obsessed with the subjective aspect of things. Photos copyright of MemoryOfScent, with special thanks to Pantelis Makkas You are welcome to link to my blog but you are definitely not allowed to copy text or use the photos without my permission. All text and main photos are originals and property of MemoryOfScent All perfumes are from my collection unless stated otherwise.


  1. I love your review! I agree 100%. Pomelo is an explosion of light and darkness. A very unexpected perfume indeed.

    • My humble opinion is that Jo Loves underplayed this trying to sell to more people. Creating the most interesting recent vetiver release and selling it as clean and bright is a major understatement

  2. Oh my, my! You sound so excited by this, and Birgit loves it too …. now I’m just waiting to see if Undina comes along to chime in, since she is a Jo Malone fan girl. At any rate, if it reminds you of Terre d’Hermes a bit, then it must be pretty darn good.

    • Undina is the person I am waiting to hear her opinion too. To set things straight I think Terre d’Hermes is a very good idea but I find the execution of the EdT hard to stand for some strange reason that probably has to do with the tonalities of the synthetics used. The EdP is much better. But I am making a mental note to send you a sample of Red Vetyver which uses the same idea in a more earthy way and the reults are excellent. Pomello takes the same idea sveral notches up but also further into darkness.

  3. I wasn’t ignoring your review! I read it as soon as it had been published. But after reading it I thought: it can’t be right! We were testing two different perfumes. So I went and re-tested Pomelo. Nope, I get consistent results. I completely agree with your description of the opening, you put it just perfectly: “neon light strength”, “a gigantic ball of citrus glow”. But that’s it. I smell nothing dark in it at all. It calms down on my skin to a pleasant slightly herbal scent.

    After a couple of tests on its own I tried Pomelo in parallel with Jo Malone’s Grapefruit. These two aren’t identical but to my nose they are very close. Pomelo has that slightly sweeter “neon glow” opening but other than that I’m not sure I can recognize one from the other in a blind testing. Since I like Grapefruit I wouldn’t mind alternating it with Pomelo if they come at the same price but I wouldn’t pay more for it.

    • This is really interesting Undina. I have tried Grapefruit and it is lovely but I don’t think it is nowehere near Pomelo in terms of strength. I definitely get the herbal vetiver and turpentine note and I did get a ghost of incense on the day after from my wrist. Why is perfume so frustratingly subjective? I guess this is why we like it.

  4. Pomelo is my favourite citrus fruit so I’m very interested in reading about pomelo scents. It always brings back fond memories as I used to live on a pomelo farm in Thailand when I was an exchange student 🙂
    The only other frag I know about that features pomelo is Ormonde Jayned Osmanthus, in the top notes, and that pomelo is very life like. Sounds like the JM pomelo would be a great compliment to the Osmanthus as it’s darker and woodier (or at least herbier, as Undina gets it). I really will have to try it out!

    • Please do Sigrun! It is driving me crazy how differently Undina and I have experienced this and I a in desperate need of a third opinion :). I haven’t found any good reviews of this yet

  5. Christos, I gave Pomelo a thorough testing on Monday and have to say that my experience is similar to Undina’s. For me, your review very accurately describes the fragrance except that I don’t get the dark, resinous vetiver that you speak of … I don’t get darkness at all, but eventually I do get a bitter note that might match up to your description of the whiff of turpentine you get in the far drydown. When the perfume reaches this state, it reminds me of the pith of a citrus fruit (I think that’s what you call the white part of the citrus next to the rind … that’s the part I’m referring to anyway).

    I do agree that Pomelo is quite a distinctive citrus scent … I can see many people falling in love with it, as that beginning stage of the scent that you describe so well seems to last a fabulous amount of time. It’s definitely a punchy citrus with a big burst of energy!

  6. Mona Rao

    Pomelo reminds of a fall/wintery evening, in front of the fireplace, bitter orange, some fragrant woodsmoke, wool, leather, a touch of dampness–expensive and seductive.

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