When Christmas presents are given as candles, there's a little feeling of apprehension where I'm concerned! I wonder to the back of my mind if it is a product brand I know of, whether it's a Yankee Candle that I'll probably love, or even Colonial, another U.S brand that I used to sell a long time ago when I worked in a small candle shop. By now if you have read any of my reviews you'll see loads of candle reviews against what I'm used to reviewing in the household line up or gadgets. At the end of the day where scents are concerned, I much prefer candles to incense sticks although I'm no stranger to spicy scents.
One of the many gifts I received from my friends was a collection of candles from Molton Brown. Now I've been disappointed by Molton Brown before and the person who gave me the gift has more or less thanked me for a lot of work I've done at her home as well as walked her dogs whilst she recuperates from massive surgery. No surprise to know how much she thinks of me when each of the new candles from Molton Brown's "Medio Candela," range costs £36 a piece - although my friend assures me that the candle set (2) cost £20 each as an introductory offer. This would all be very well if the candle was large and offered at the same introductory price off but it isn't at all and measures 10cm height by 8.5cm width and same diameter - which puts it size wise, just a little bit bigger than Price's odour eliminator candles at £5 to £7 and likewise Yankee Candle's similarly priced and sized odour eliminator range too. You'd think for the elevated price that this candle should stink the place out!
Just like the gifted candela from Molton Brown cue Christmas 2009, do you think Molton Brown have learnt their lesson?
Well, for starters the packaging is simply exquisite. There is an outer sleeve that has thousands of perforations making up a design of what I'm not quite sure of - perhaps, an angled fire fly given the title's name. MB have wasted no money on the packaging because the outer sleeve is made of thickened plastic-card, has gold lettering on the top and bottom of the sleeve showing off the name and trademark of the company. Slipping the glossy sleeve off and you'll find a black cardboard box, thick by nature and easy to unravel to take out the candle that hides inside (the outer box has the same kind of pattern as the sleeve, this time yellow/gold on black background), and the candela here is the same kind of brown thick glass that feels good to hold as my original Molton Brown Black Pepper Candela did not so long ago, albeit smaller but still has the frosted middle and trademark label embossed, giving this candle glass a rather different quality to the likes of Yankee Candle. Unlike the candle on their website, their written name is not found on the bottom part of the glass. There is a branding label, which is removable, found on the base and the glass is dishwasher safe if you want to reuse it again as a holder or candle holder thereafter.
It is easy to see (and by ingesting the sweet aroma) that Molton Brown have thought about the kind of additives they wanted when they perfected the name, "Firefly Embers," even if there is the tinniest hint of insecurity wondering if the candle is supposed to smell like burnt flies! What got me hooked was the spicy, cosy and warm fragrance I could detect just by sniffing the candle and couldn't wait to light it at the nearest opportunity - getting past all my Yankee Candles from Christmas first though! MB however have really spun out the marketing on their current range of Candela candles with the "Medio" sub-branding and there are five to six other scents in the range offered. Don't be taken in by the "benefits" of these candles - Molton Brown seem to think that by offering different levels of fragrance on offer - they can hype up the marketing and thus this scent is supposed to "enhance your senses, ...with an unusual combination which provokes your senses with puzzling aromas. Like the curious and courageous firefly - let the flame provoke you to seek out and explore your indulgent and enigmatic spirit..." Or in other words, let the candle burn for ages until the scent comes alive, more like!
As an old friend of the family was visiting, I couldn't wait to see what this candle smelt like and lit it in the guest room awaiting their arrival, which would be in the afternoon. All through the morning, I couldn't wait to open the door to the room and be blessed by the spicy amber like qualities Firefly Embers is supposed to conjure. From the off, it smells spicy, warm like aftershave and has a wonderful after smell of sweet and natural (not synthetic) vanilla, mixed with the scent of Chai tea and the tinniest hint of coconut - against what Molton Brown claim this candle has: "Amber, Birch, Cade, Leather and Tar..." The candle has a maximum duration burn time of around 40 hours.
So when I walked into the room, I could smell the tinniest hint of vanilla as the top tone surrounded by the tinniest hint of leather and amber acting as middle and base tones. I was expecting a lot more from this especially compared to Yankee Candle products that hit you in the face the moment the door to a room is opened! This Candela is certainly very subtle; more suited being sat beside me whilst I'm on the computer, as it sends out short stabs of scent rather than relying it on its purpose to fully scent a room with more impressive longevity. Whilst this is disappointing, it is also surprising to find that Molton Brown haven't produced a dud here like the larger Black Pepper Candela but the problem with the Firefly Embers is that it doesn't really scent a room in terms of fragrancing the air enough unless you burn three candles of the same type at the same time - and with the door closed over. Unless you have money to burn, the Firefly Embers is both expensive and both disappointing compared to other brands here.
There are a few highlights, one being quite literal with the phrase. Thanks to what looks like the brown colouring of the glass (about half an inch compared to the thin clear glass quality that Yankee Candle, White Company, Shearer's, Price's and Colonial, produce their ranges in) Molton Brown's candela here gives the pure yellow flame a dark red appearance as it is viewed through the glass. Having a heat insulated base is reassuring but despite the added thickness, the rest of the candle remains burning hot as the flame itself, especially if the candle is left burning for a few hours continuously.
The biggest challenge of Firefly Embers isn't the spicy perfume or additives that it promises. It doesn't smell synthetic, doesn't induce coughing or sneezing and there is very little after tone of paraffin once the candle has been extinguished. If, say this product was priced at a more competitive £10 to £15, then Molton Brown would have quite a classy bargain on its hands. For the moment though as it is priced at both John Lewis and in stores of Molton Brown at a difficult to swallow £36 for just one candle, it seems an awful lot of money just to cash in on the Molton Brown experience of fragrance. It certainly doesn't impress me to check out their further ranges of body care based on the experience of the candela alone - and if Molton Brown think that they can pull the wool over the eyes of this buyer - they have another thing coming. Firefly Embers is slightly better than previous Molton Brown candelas but the product needs a lot more strength to fully deliver and justify the marketing speak and packaging. Only then can it compete against aftershave or spicy candles from other brands. At £36 you can buy twice as many Yankee Candle large housewarmer scented candle jars, for example. Thanks for reading! ©Nar2 2011.