Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Penhaligon’s Terrible Teddy is a Refined, Leathery Delight

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I’ve mentioned before that Penhaligon’s of London is one of my absolute favorite fragrance houses. After all, you don’t accumulate nine bottles of one brand’s “smelly juice” for just no reason. While I have explored their “feminine” marketed products, I’ve always leaned more towards their “masculine” scents, whether it’s fragrances such as Endymion, Sartorial, and Castille, or perfumes from their Portraits collection.

Terrible Teddy, one of the company’s more recent scents released in 2019, falls in the latter category. The nose behind this fragrance is Quentin Bisch, whom you might recognize as the mind behind scents such as Chloé’s Nomade, Marc-Antoine Barrois’ Ganymede, and a fragcomm favorite, Delina from Parfums de Marly. Bisch is most definitely a well-appreciated (if not well-recognized) perfumer and has long created stunning works of olfactive art from a wide palette of notes.

However, Bisch’s play of the day with Terrible Teddy is “less is more”. Let’s take a look at the note breakdown (or lack thereof).

Terrible Teddy Notes

Top: Incense

Heart: Leather

Base: Ambroxan

That’s right! Only three listed notes for the whole fragrance! So how does it all come together? Let’s move on down to my overall verdict!


It’s not a shocker that a fragrance essentially paying homage to a rhinoceros is going to be a leather-associated scent. In fact, we reviewed Rhino #1 and Rhino #2 from Zoologist in 2020, and both of those scents were also heavy on the leather. Where Terribly Teddy differs, however, is in its simplicity.

Whereas I’ve found both Rhinos from Zoologist to either be too much of a nuclear pine note or a tad too “tacky” from resins, Terrible Teddy stays bright and punchy, light on its feet.

The ambroxan (always one of my favorite notes) adds a nice sizzling punch to this scent, blasting out any danger of the incense and leather becoming too muddled. However, the incense adds a lovely, sophisticated touch of depth and a hint of sweetness. Terrible Teddy’s take on leather isn’t overly oppressive (though it is assertive); it’s more that it reminds you of the type of leather one would find on a fine pair of new boots, or well-made leather jacket.

This “rhino” isn’t going out on a stampede so much as kitting himself up in a flat cap, brogues, and tweed to go out for a day in the Yorkshire Dales. (Bonus: While assertive, you won’t “Beast mode” fumigate those around you.)

While this is unmistakably a leather scent, the ambroxan keeps this fragrance light enough that ladies who tend to skew away from heavier “masculine” scents should feel comfortable least give this a try. (Also, like, wear what you fucking like regardless of who it’s marketed to. #2021.)

So let’s talk price. Like most of the Penhaligon’s Portrait collection fragrances, this isn’t cheap at full price ($278 for a 75 mL bottle). That said, if you check on FragranceBuy from time to time, they restock their Penhaligon’s supply. You can find the same size bottle for around the $150 USD mark (when in stock). You can find a sample here for $5.

It’s not the cheapest leather scent (though you can find it for a more reasonable cost) and it’s certainly not the most complex leather fragrance on the market, but Terrible Teddy is, most assuredly, one of my personal favorite leather fragrances.

The Fandomentals “Fragdomentals” team base our reviews off of fragrances that we have personally, independently sourced. Any reviews based off of house-provided materials will be explicitly stated.

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