Perfume Directory

4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser (1792)
by 4711 (originally by Muelhens)


4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser information

Year of Launch1792
GenderShared / Unisex
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 546 votes)

People and companies

Originally byMuelhens
PerfumerWilhelm Muelhens
Parent CompanyMäurer & Wirtz
Parent Company at launchMuelhens

About 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser

The original cologne water. This light refreshing cologne has been popular for over two hundred years. Invented in Cologne, Germany (surprise!) in a house with the number "4711". It was originally developed for medicinal purposes. The fascinating story behind this cologne can be found at
The ingredients are still top secret today, with only the main ingredients known.

4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser fragrance notes

  1. Top Notes
  2. Heart Notes
  3. Base notes

Reviews of 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser

So how did people smell back then, in 19th century, after grooming themselves?
They smelled fresh - but not piercingly so. The freshness is muted and blurred. A bit aromatic. I couldn't get much citrus - maybe only a tiny tiny bit, almost unrecognizeable to me - did they do citrus differently back then?
What I was getting the most was lavender. A bit too much lavender for my liking - but still, it was really great to be able to smell history in a bottle.
14th October, 2019
Very old-school barber-shop, cologne landscape. Crisp but, slightly muddled in a herbed-floral way, IMO. Run-of-the-mill and way too dated for my taste, I'm sure it has its fans. I ended up giving away the bottle I had, to a male friend who, thought it was the cat's meow. Good for him. I think it's seen better days....
06th September, 2019
Perfect for the gym
08th April, 2019
Echt Kölnisch Wasser No. 4711 has all the historical gravitas of a famous monument in the perfume community, even if it's olfactory gravitas is pithy compared to the weakest of modern commercial sprays. Single-note tinctures existed before it, and indeed so did "Eau de Cologne" as made by Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-Platz since the beginning of the 18th century, but in the case of previous fragrances, they were mostly bespoke infusions made for the ruling class, while Farina's cologne was sold word-of-mouth mostly by nobles and successful merchant families that eventually sought it out. 4711 often contests itself as the first eau de cologne, but while nobody argues against it being an "Original Eau de Cologne" from Köln Germany, it isn't the first. Farina's product would be kept small-batch and within higher society circles until the popularity of cologne exploded in the 19th century, but 4711 became the first example of a mass-produced scent sold with that purpose and was widely available from the onset. The Carthusian Monk "legend" of how Wilhelm Mülhens came up with his recipe is pure bunko so far as I'm concerned, and is proof that perfumes high and low have been inventing their own pedigrees for centuries if it means impressing the would-be-customer into a sale. Mülhens even tried to use the Farina name when a distant relative not affiliated with the Johann Maria Farina gegenüber dem Jülichs-Platz fraudulently sold rhe rights to him, if that's any indication of manufactured provenance. Bottom line here is people caught wind of the Farina stuff, but when they went to buy, it was 4711 they took home, which is how history determined the victor, and who to copy when everyone else in the perfume industry started making their own colognes. 4711 is the reference "Eau de Cologne", plain and simple.

Regardless of how Wilhelm Mülhens actually concocted his "secret" formula, be it reconstructing the original Farina stuff by nose or actually getting a visit from a recipe-bearing monk on his wedding day, the results are strikingly similar to the erstwhile Farina cologne: a top and middle-heavy citrus splash with literally zero base notes. The directory shows them, but they're just impressions because for all intents, this has no fixative and thus a skin life of 30 minutes by itself. Bergamot, lemon, lime, neroli, petitgrain, and a spread of herbs all greet the nose at the initial splash or spray. 4711 was first and foremost meant to refresh and brace, but not sustain, and it's citrus floral profile does that well. The overall feel is unisex and always has been, but I feel more women prefer this than anyone else, which goes in contrast to modern interpretations with mossy/musky fixatives and soapy base notes like Eau de Guerlain (1974) or Mugler Cologne (2001). Even Caswell-Massey Number Six (1789) solved the lifespan issue of Farina's cologne with a deer musk base (now synthetic) an entire decade before the usurper 4711 came to be, but it was a little-known niche product by comparison, coming from the nascent United States. Rosemary, some rose oil, and dry aromatics like cedar and light vetiver finish out 4711's brief existence on skin, and that's it! Notorious French Emperor Napoleon Bonaparte was claimed to constantly soak himself in Eau de cologne, but he never used 4711, as his court perfumer was the former house of Chardin, but for the German people themselves around this time, 4711 was an indispensable toiletry, even later on in the 20th century to German soldiers in WWI and WWII.

Obviously running water and soap in the modern era preclude notions of 4711 sponge baths, even if it is possible with the huge 28oz "Molanus" bottles they sell. As with any modern eau de cologne-style fragrance, liking 4711 comes down to liking bergamot and neroli together in near-equal measure, and since this is literally the reference recipe for all them, there is little else but that bergamot and neroli on display throughout it's tiny drydown time. One might say this is also a bit of a forerunner to all the sharp citric chypres of the mid 20th century too. I've known people who use 4711 as a springboard to make custom fragrances, since it literally has no base, adding sandalwood, musk, and/or oakmoss absolutes to decanted quantities of 4711 which results in what basically smells like a homebrew modern EdC. I myself like to layer this over Clubman Pinaud, as I find the lavender, tonka, oakmoss, and vanilla of that mass-market relic to give 4711 some synergy and sustain without having to mix things like a mad scientist. Overall, 4711 is just a product of it's age, with a fascinating story, but little functional appeal as we've come much farther since then with fragrance craft. It's almost mandatory perfumista academia to try it, but unless you're using it like they did in Victorian times, 4711 makes a better thing to spray on pillows or curtains than yourself, even if the various soap and shower products are nice. Thumbs up for historical importance and universal appeal, as you really can't go wrong with this for a freshen-up, but if you're looking for something that smells like this and lasts all day long, you'll need to skip out on Mülhens and go pay somebody like Chanel, Mugler, Guerlain, Roger & Gallet, or Parfums Nicolai a visit, as they've all succeeded in taking "Echt Kölnisch Wasser" to the next level of performance as an actual wearable eau de toilette or parfum while retaining the bracing spirit of 4711.
26th July, 2018 (last edited: 29th March, 2019)
Love, Love, Love, this perfume. The citrus fresh fragrance has remained true and unaltered through all the years I have been buying it, and it is the only perfume I always make sure I have a bottle (or more) of. I wear it for the crisp, fresh, lemony fragrance and also love using it to splash on, and refresh my skin on our hot Summer days.
24th July, 2018
This is the same formula as the first eau de cologne ever produced, back in 1792 in the city of Cologne, Germany. It is one of the oldest perfumes still in production continously. It is theorized that the emporer Napolean Bonaparte would use an entire bottle of this every day. All modern colognes are based on this blend, particularly so with Tom Ford's Neroli Portofino which is basically a copy of this with added strength. The opening is very soapy and smells a lot like neroli (orange blossom), but I also detect strong notes of lemon and lime. The notes smell very natural as well, and not synthetic at all. On drydown it smells mainly of soapy neroli; it is extremely pleasant. The fragrance does not lean masculine or feminine - and I actually bought a bottle of this for my mom as well. The sillage is weak leaning moderate while the longevity is also very weak (lasts about 1-2 hours max), however - but this was the case with traditional eau de colognes which were meant to freshen up and not as long-lasting perfumes. I bought a large 200 ml splash bottle of this and simply decant it in a travel atomizer that I carry with me, which I spray before I'm meeting people at times. For this purpose, it works very well indeed. Overall I absolutely love the scent of this although the sillage and longevity are fleeting - though there have been alternatives made in this neroli-citrus style like Mugler Cologne, Ferrari's Bright Neroli, Bond No. 9 Eau de New York, Acqua di Parma Colonia Essenza, and Tom Ford Neroli Portofino Forte. Being a neroli fanatic, I own most of these already but still appreciate 4711 EDC. It is one of two 'historical' colognes I have, the other being Pinaud's virgin island bay rum.

03rd May, 2018

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Echt Kolnisch Wasser No. 4711 Original Eau de Cologne 6.7 fl. oz. New Sealed

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No. 4711 by ECHT KOLNISCH WASSER Eau de Cologne, 27.1 oz / 800 ml NWOB SEALED

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Vintage Echt Kolnisch Wasser No 4711 2.0 fl oz Natural Spray Unisex Perfume

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Echt Kolnisch Wasser NO 4711 Eau De Cologne Splash 95% Full

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Vintage No.4711 Cologne Echt Kolnisch Wasser Blaugold Doppelt 40 ml Germany Used

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Perfumes launched in the same year as 4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser (1792)