Simply Pretty: Micallef Ylang in Gold Perfume Review

ylang in goldIt’s Christmastime, and I’ve been making my grandmother’s boiled custard. First, I should explain: “boiled custard,” in the American South, is not your classic custard preparation. It is not the same as baked custard, and it is definitively not crème anglaise, either. It is more like a thin, drinkable sauce than a pudding. My grandmother Nell always made it at Christmas, and we’d have it at our family Christmas Eve dinner, poured over a slice of pound cake or spooned up from cups or small dessert bowls, with a dollop of vanilla ice cream slowly melting on top.

It is not a “fancy” dessert. No raisins or candied cherries or chocolate, no dustings of shredded coconut or dragees or chopped nuts adorn it. It tastes of egg, milk, sugar, and vanilla, and it is exactly as good as its texture is smooth.

In fact, Nell never gave me her recipe. She’d say, “Well, you start with a gallon of milk – whole milk, mind you – and fourteen eggs.” Then she’d sigh, shake her head and go on, “It’s tricky to make. You’d just have to watch me make it sometime.” And then she’d leave the table. My aunts knew the recipe, and the trick, apparently; after Nell’s Alzheimer’s disease forced her to sit and watch at family get-togethers, Aunt Doris would sometimes bring a pitcher of boiled custard, to my father’s delight.

My mother recently gave me a copy of this recipe, scaled down and adapted for the microwave, and I made it for Christmas dinner, to be eaten with pound cake. It’s delicious: smooth, velvety, fragrant with vanilla.

Which brings me to Micallef Ylang in Gold.

Cast an eye over the notes list: tangerine, peach, lychee, bitter orange, geranium, sage, rosemary, artemisia, mint, ylang-ylang, rose, magnolia, lily of the valley, sandalwood, vanilla, musk, coconut, oakmoss. Pretty complex list, isn’t it?

The fragrance smells anything but complex. It does not smell fancy. It is simple, and simply pretty, a tropical-floral smoothie with plenty of vanilla and coconut, the perfect beachy refresher when you are longing for sunshine.

It’s well-named. Other reviewers have mentioned green notes lightening the floral pudding, but I don’t perceive them as a strong presence. There is a pretty, tangy citrus opening followed by ylang – big buttery floral YLANG, lots of it – and other floral notes. I can pick out the rose fairly easily, and the creaminess of magnolia. The base is dominated by vanilla, with more creaminess from the coconut and a cushiony musk.

The fragrance, which I’ve been dabbing generously from a 5ml sample graciously provided by Micallef’s PR company, has soft to moderate sillage (it would probably radiate a bit more when sprayed) and lasts about four to five hours on my skin, which is about average longevity for an Eau de Parfum for me.

It’s simple, yes. Despite that long list of notes, Ylang in Gold is ylang and vanilla and coconut, very simple, very smooth, and very, very pretty. When I’ve worn it, The CEO has trailed me around the house remarking about how attractive I smell (his fondness for traditionally-femme scents is legend), and who wouldn’t want that?

Sometimes simple is best.

Which brings me to That Bottle. I’ve heard some whining about blingy the packaging is, and how gimmicky the optional gold shimmer is, but I disagree. I like the shape of the bottle, and the crystals decorating it seem shimmery to me, a soft sparkle rather than a Las Vegas glitz. Dressed up, yes, but appropriately so. My sample did not contain the gold shimmer, so I can’t speak to that aspect of the fragrance.

A bottle of Ylang in Gold will set you back $245 for 100ml, gold shimmer or not. In the US, it’s available at Luckyscent.

Here are a few other reviews of Ylang in Gold: The Alembicated Genie, Angela at Now Smell This, Musette at Perfume Posse, and (brief) Eyeliner on a Cat. (As always, if you know of other reviews, please share in the comments.)


24 thoughts on “Simply Pretty: Micallef Ylang in Gold Perfume Review”

  1. I’ve read criticisms of the bottle, which I love, but the juice does not sound like my thing at all!
    Happy New Year Mals! You know you have to post the custard recipe for us!

    1. I think the bottle is pretty.

      Oh, I will definitely post this recipe, probably in the next couple of days or so! Thanks for the reminder, and Happy New Year to you as well.

  2. This sounds nice… but not sure I want to try something “nice” that costs $245. sigh.

    I’ve been loving LUSH’s Cocktail lately and it’s made me want to try more ylang-focused scents…

  3. I’m so glad other commenters have asked for your boiled custard recipe. You can’t write about something that sounds that smooth and delicious and then leave us hanging. LOL. There goes my New Year’s resolution to reduce. (Spending, waste, my waist, etc. Less is more is my mantra for 2013.)
    Ylang in Gold sounds very lovely indeed. The kind of perfume that would cause my DH to follow me around like a puppy. But I don’t need to spend that much money and I don’t need 100mL of any scent. Guess I need to go off in search of a split.

    1. (I’d do a draw for the PR mini Micallef sent me, except that I sent it to a friend who was feeling down.)

      And yeah, I’ll post the custard recipe soon. Maybe tomorrow!

      1. Aw, that was thoughtful of you. I can’t think of a better pick-me-up than a beautiful perfume. Hope your friend is feeling better soon.

  4. Hey Mals! I reviewed this one too, and I agree with you. The consensus seems to be that it’s basically lovely and wearable. I thought it was innovative for a few minutes (sandalwood and mint), and would be closer to greatness if they made that last longer. A good wear nonetheless though.

    1. Yes, it’s thoroughly enjoyable (as long as I don’t have to pay the credit card bill)! Very pretty stuff. I didn’t get any mint, though.

    1. Ooh, good to know on the shimmer. It looks like superfine stuff, judging by the look of it in the bottle picture on Fragrantica. It is really attractive!

  5. I agree: we need the recipe! 🙂

    I’m still undecided on the perfume. I don’t think it’s “me” but I’ll wear it at least once more.

    The bottle is fine, in my opinion, but I won’t need 100 ml of any perfume any time soon.

  6. Your custard culture, if I may so call it, sounds like mine. Custard was always fairly liquid-y when I was growing up. That is what custard still is for me – something you pour over Xmas pud. Not being fond of Xmas pud, I don’t bother with custard. These days of course you buy custard by the carton at the supermarket. Not as good as your grandmother used to make, I sure.

    But what is pound cake?

    1. I had thought everybody was familiar with boiled custard until I went looking for recipes, and found all these reviews complaining that it was “liquid” and “runny,” so my assumption is that this style of recipe is unfamiliar to a great number of people, at least in the US.

      Pound cake MAY be what you call “sponge cake,” though my feeling is that sponge cake is a much lighter cake than pound, having a greater proportion of eggs, which are whipped to foam to serve as the leavening for the cake. Pound cake is based on that old-style “a pound of each ingredient” recipe – butter, eggs, flour and sugar, and it’s quite heavy and dense. Traditional American pound cake recipes usually include a very small amount of baking powder, but the eggs are simply incorporated into the batter and beaten well without being whipped to foam first. If you really care to read more, Wikipedia’s entry is helpful:

      Americans are usually only familiar with Christmas pudding by reading Charles Dickens, not by eating it. We tend to eat fruitcake instead, which is similar in the use of dried/candied fruits and spices, but it’s baked instead of steamed.

      1. Thanks, I see. Sponge cake for me is quite light and I’ve never liked it much as it often seems too dry. It was much loved by my parents generation. Along with meringue, scones and fruit cake, it was one of those things by which a woman’s housekeeping skills would be judged.

        Pound cake sounds closer to Madeira cake, which my mother made often because it lasted well, all through the week for the school lunches. Hers may have been a bit denser an more moist than the average Madeira though. I remember she used to make a large slab and freeze half of it for later. Anyway, I’ve found an Australian recipe for pound cake and I’ll give it a go once the weather cools down a bit (a lot). Sounds fun!

        Boiled Xmas pudding is too dark and rich for me (but custard helps!) and again, it belongs to a earlier generation of Australians who found it normal to slave over a hot stove in an Australian summer. Madness. Absolute madness.

        1. Madeira cake is another thing Americans don’t eat. 😉

          (I do think that a lot of traditional British-Isles cooking styles survived here, particularly in rural areas along the East Coast, but they seem to be slowly dying out as populations migrate and time passes.)

  7. Ylang ylang, vanilla? I’m in! The bottle also reminds me a bit of Amber YY from Estee Lauder… I have never yet found a Micallef to love – though I quite liked Hiver on very cold days – but that sounds like my thing.

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