Scented candles have become the most hackneyed thing. Most of them smell horrible, and the ones that don’t smell horrible are too instantly recognisable (I’m looking at you, Diptyque Baies and Figuier). But these are amazing. Also, nice story – the woman behind them, Cassandra Hall, used to be the communications director at Lancôme. A few years ago she and her husband Jonathan thought ‘Sod this for a game of soldiers’ and moved to a mountain village in deep rural Spain, which I call intrepid.
And now they make La Montaña candles, which are the best, and best-smelling, candles I’ve ever come across. My personal favourite is called First Light, which is their attempt to capture the smell of the air in the morning before anything happens: “On our mountain, at first light, there’s a heavenly fragrance in the air. Before anyone starts an engine, or lights a fire, the air is clear, and still, and silent. The first breath of the day carries the perfume of wild mountain herbs; fennel, rosemary, mountain pepper, and intoxicating rockrose.”
If you’re thinking Christmas, the most seasonal one is Winter Oranges but honestly – they’re all amazing (also, crucially to me, they don’t smell disgustingly sweet, or like food). They make people come into your room and go “Oh my God, what is that divine smell?”. There’s a very sexy night jasmine called Galán de Noche, and an incredible one called Alfredo’s Cafe, which smells of a real Alfredo’s real cafe, namely of coffee, brandy, tobacco, leather and incense. Their latest, Sacred Roses, is beautiful and complex, even though I normally find rose scents winsome and boring. This one is neither. Really wonderful candles, with proper grown-up scents, plus they burn properly, slowly and evenly, and throw out masses of fragrance.