Cologne, Perfume’s Malodorous Home

Cologne was the birthplace of perfume, so they say, and you can still get "Echt koelnisches Wasser" there, although most Germans consider it vile.

From the Perfume-Smellin’ Things Perfume blog, a review of a much more obscure perfume from Cologne, Koelnisch Juchten:

Kölnisch Juchten is perhaps one of the most obscure scents I have ever had a pleasure to encounter. The story goes that it was first produced a couple of hundred years ago by Johann Maria Farina (or "Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-platz"), the world’s oldest Eau de Cologne manufacturer in Cologne, established in 1709. At some point in time Kolnisch Juchten started to be produced by a company called Parfums Regence. In the States, it seems to be available exclusively at a small perfume boutique in San Francisco, allegedly owned by a moody proprietor, who, like the owner of the fragrance shop described in The Emperor of Scent, runs the store “according to the iconoclastic economic principle” that the perfumes are to be sold only if the owner likes the customers.

The entire blog seems to have been written by Truman Capote. It’s simply fabulous.

As to why Cologne has been associated with artificial man-made scents, let’s turn to our roving correspondent, Samuel Taylor Coleridge, who filed this report:

Cologne

In Koehln, a town of monks and bones,
And pavements fang’d with murderous stones
And rags, and hags, and hideous wenches;
I counted two and seventy stenches,
All well defined, and several stinks!
Ye Nymphs that reign o’er sewers and sinks,
The river Rhine, it is well known,
Doth wash your city of Cologne;
   But tell me, Nymphs, what power divine
   Shall henceforth wash the river Rhine?

One thought on “Cologne, Perfume’s Malodorous Home

  1. Not to forget Heine, who, in “Deutschland: Ein Wintermärchen,” arrives in Cologne and, after eating salty “Eierkuchen mit Schinken,” needs to slake his thirst with a good glass of aromatic Rhine wine:

    In die Nase steigt ein Prickeln so süß,
    Man kann sich vor Wonne nicht lassen!
    Es trieb mich hinaus in die dämmernde Nacht,
    In die widerhallenden Gassen.

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