Kerosene Pretty Machine: how do you play “linden flower” in Charades?

These are not linden blossoms!

These are not linden blossoms!

Disclosure No1: this review is based on a sample sent by the perfumer

Disclosure No2: I haven’t the faintest idea what linden blossom smells like

Why do I need to disclose this? Because Pretty Machine official description reads:

 It’s as if you’re sitting underneath a Linden tree, newly blossomed in the heart of spring.

And I have no idea what this could be… So smelling this is like trying to guess what linden flowers smell like, reading through the blank spaces of the composition. A bit like playing Charades.

Pretty Macine has a rather strange name to begin with. Knowing a little bit about John Pegg’s trajectory and philosophy it  is understandable. His involvement with machines and his mechanical background, which he used to create his beautiful bottles, painted with a slick, impermeable coat of car paint, can explain his aspirations. To justify his unusual choice of adjective for his favourite toy, Pretty Machine opens with a strong citrus cocktail. I cannot pinpoint exactly what the citruses are but they smell rather green and thick. A very pleasing citrus accord. This is not a citrus scent however because quickly a neroli note takes center stage. Neroli is a difficult note for me. It is laden with memories and feelings as it dominates the  few, glorious days that Spring lasts in Athens. The cool, energizing weather does not last long, succeeded by relentless Summer heat, but during these few weeks the streets of the city center are filled with the narcotic scent of bitter orange trees. So associations are plenty. For many reasons they have not been very pleasant up until a few years ago but recently it seems that I have made my peace with the bitter orange trees, and I noticed that I have started enjoying neroli-centric perfumes. I seem to focus less and less on a sulfuric, almost breath-like aspect I get from it and explore the sweetness of the flower. Pretty Machine does not stop there. A delicate honeyed note enters the composition and becomes the main attraction. It is humid and vegetal and although it is very pleasant, “pretty” seems like an understatement. Pretty Machine is a more serious floral scent. Although it is not as bewitchingly weird as the name implies or as previous Kerosene perfumes like Creature and Fields of Rubus, I think it is a very interesting take on the floral genre, just what I thought was missing from House of Kerosene. The only thing that is missing now, in my humble opinion, is a good vetiver!

So judging from the blanks I had to fill in my scent note pinboard, I think I like linden blossoms!

Notes from my nose: Green citrus, Neroli, Honey, Green notes

Notes from the House of Kerosene:  Bergamot, Lemon, Lime, Neroli, Linden Blossom, Orange Blossom, Jasmine, Rose, Vetiver and Musk

Kerosene Perfumes available from The House of Kerosene as well as a very pretty sample kit

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MemoryOfScent by Christos is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.


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. Great review. I like the smell of linden blossom so I think I might actually like it. In fact I still haven’t tried a thing from Kerosene.

  2. I cannot believe that you haven’t ever smelled linden blossom! Ever! Ever? Really? This is one of my favorite natural spring aromas. Here, in Bulgaria, we even have s town called ‘the town of the linden trees’, and if you happen to be there in late May-early June, you will smell nothing but linden blossom. Even the dirty chypres and oud perfumes give up the fight with the thick warm fragrance of the air. Aren’t there any linden trees in Athens? Not a single? At all?
    Funny, but last year was somehow my best ‘linden’ year. I had 3 months of linden blossom to enjoy! How come, you say – well, in April, I was in Tirana and felt the first wafts of inden there. Next were the linden trees in my country (early in the province and late at the seaside) during May and last were the linden trees in Frankfurt, Heidelberg, Marburg, Wiesbaden, Hamburg and Prague in June.
    Pretty Machine sounds fresh and fun. I hope I could sample it someday.

    • I suppose there are linden trees in Greece, I looked it up and the greek name is “φιλύρα”, I know this name. But I have never come across the tree and I haven’t heard anyone mention this here. From what you are telling me I think it will be easier to find in the northern parts of Greece rather than in hot weathered Athens. Lots of bitter orange trees here!

  3. I haven’t tried anything by Kerosene either but I sure want to. I used to enjoy his YouTube reviews. So happy he is now a perfumer. This one sounds really lovely and your review inspired me to aspire to a trip to Athens in the spring.

  4. Christos, I think your description of the perfume is actually a fitting description for linden blossoms, so I think you really do know, now (via this perfume) what they smell like. 🙂 I’m entranced by the scent of linden blossoms in nature but have only sampled a couple linden perfumes and didn’t care for them, oddly enough.

    • usually when I like the scent of a flower very much it is very difficult to find a perfume that is doing it justice. I love gardenias but no luck with gardenia perfumes.T here is always something very soapy in the drydown that has nothing to do with the flower. Honeysuckle is another flower I love but it usually comes off rather dull in perfumes. Usually deconstruction rather than reconstruction works better with the aura of flower scents. Vitriol d’Oeillet was a successful deconstruction I think.

  5. This is going back a ways, but the first thing I thought of was an early NiN album, “Pretty Little Hate Machine”. That might have been a reference point for Kerosene, too. I’ve never smelled linden blossoms either, but now I have an idea what they would smell like. Florals just about never work for me, but if I had to wear a floral scent, this one sounds at least interesting.

  6. Apointofsmell

    I can tell you are good in charades Christos. Your lack of experience with this flower make you describe more of what you actually smell and less of what you think. Well, judging by the pyramid and your review this is a floral-floral (no woods, no spices, no leather, not even a drop of oakmoss to shift it towards a floral chypre) and usually this kind of scents bring to my mind 60+ years old ladies with silly hats and exaggerated make up. I ll keep Paris and the huge Fracas for this job and thats more than enough for me for this category. I dont want to be harsh on anyone, but I have the feeling that either the way to become an accomplished self taught perfumer is extremely long or the talent needed is exceptionally big.

    • I would have liked a bit of a twist in this floral but the choice of linden blossom is interesting. Have you smelled linden trees in Greece?

      • Apointofsmell

        I photo googled it and it is completely unknown to me. The closest I can get is the “tilio” herbal tea that comes from this tree (flamouria) and we use to give to babies (and adults too) to calm down stomach pains and aches, but from what I remember it smells nothing like “blossom”. Givaudan makes a quite cheap linden fblossom aromachemical recontitution – possibly the main ingredient of Pretty Machine.

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