Perfume Directory

British Sterling (1965)
by Dana (originally by MEM Company)


British Sterling information

Year of Launch1965
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 94 votes)

People and companies

Originally byMEM Company
Parent CompanyPatriarch Partners > Dana Classics

About British Sterling

British Sterling is a masculine fragrance by Dana. The scent was launched in 1965

British Sterling fragrance notes

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

Reviews of British Sterling

British Sterling is a staple scent spoken in the same tone as English Leather or Old Spice, but ultimately classier than them due to the pedigree it once carried. It's interesting whisky flask bottle with the chrome-plated plastic collar had remained unchanged for over 50 years, outside of slight alterations in available sizes and the fanciness of the applied brand label. Sadly, it has fallen very far from this once pedigreed position, as it launched initially in jewelry stores where Speidel sold it's watches and watchbands, with slogans like "Make him a legend in his own time" and "so fine a gift, it's sold in jewelry stores" which lent itself to the perception Speidel already had with it's Twist-O-Flex line of metal wristbands and eventually whole watches. It was even possible to get the metal cap engraved with initials in the beginning, which is pretty cool.
Original Speidel-Textron production runs of British Sterling and the later MEM production pretty much has the same formula, and is the basis for this review.

British Sterling opens with citrus, floral, and green notes, unsurprising for a fougère from the sixties, but what is surprising about British Sterling is the shift away from powdery vanillic bases or heaps of lavender in the heart like most other "green" fougères from the period. Instead, British Sterling takes a more aromatic route, and thus sort of unintentionally acts like a precursor to all the aromatic fougères that would take over in the early 70's. It doesn't have the over-saturation of moss or woods that those scents contain, but it's definitely there. The scent quickly develops from this green opening to some uncharacteristic spices in the heart, stuff like nutmeg and cinnamon typically reserved for oriental fragrances or the much much later gourmands, before ending up in a typical dry down of amber, musk, moss, and sandalwood. There's probably a modicum of coumarin in here too, even if a strait-tonka accord is not detected. It's a fairly complex and round scent that really stood head and shoulders above others in it's class.I can easily see why this scent became so popular in it's halcyon days, and how it would eventually become so mass-market in succeeding decades. It's rich, smooth, slightly herbal, and very dapper compared to some contemporaries, and although it's not sensual enough for romantic duty, it's almost a year-round signature scent.

The original Speidel-Textron formula and the subsequent MEM version is somewhat outmoded in the 21st century for lacking any distinct "freshness" that typically defines an all-season day wear scent for men these days, and it particularly fails in hot weather, but otherwise it's truly of superior stock and rather unique for it's time. New British Sterling, as produced by Dana, has an entirely different vibe, despite having much the same opening structure.The new stuff has become quite shrill with the citrus/floral top dominating most of the scent's life. Whatever stands in for the moss and probably the woods too are also very ozonic, with the spicy heart dialed way down to quicken the transition and thin out the smell. This give the new stuff a chemical-burn personality that makes it better as aftershave than a day scent, since you never really get that smoothness, just lots of green with musk to hold it down amidst all the synthetics. It's not bad, but feels more like a new scent inspired by the original rather than a reformulation.
11th December, 2017 (last edited: 12th December, 2017)
My grandfather used to wear this, and always smelled like he was fresh out of the barber shop. I can across a discounted gift set in December and had to jump at it. It's a perfect daily scent, at work or play. So soft and powdery. Not a night owl, but, a pleasant one to wear and smell on yourself. Proudly in my rotation.
01st February, 2016
Forget all the previous reviews bashing BS. They all bitch about its cheap smelling, but that's not true! I've tried a lot of expensive niche fragrances and recent launches and BS knocks half of them down easily. Is It a bit dated? Yes, due to its slightly powdery smell. But if you like well praised old school stuff as Chanel pour monsieur, you'll definitely like this one. It's spicy, sweet and slightly powdery although truly masculine. It's a bargain and won't let you down in casual/office situations.
24th January, 2015 (last edited: 10th April, 2015)
My thumbs up to British Sterling goes to the days of MEM and Spiedel/Textron...formula remained untouched.In my opinion this fragrance was more wearable in colder weather because of it's warmth from sweet and spicy qualities.A far more progressive leap for Old Spice lovers if you will.This was a tad powdery and slightly green (from a good hit of moss) but mainly strong and spicy.

Cinnamon and nutmeg with smooth tones of vanilla...a heavy body of this spice mixture.The powder in this cools things down just a tad on being cloying and gives a barbershop feel while bitter green moss and hits of sandalwood color the fragrance nicely.British Sterling smelled very colorful and interesting as a drugstore fragrance and the original formula is where it's at.

From Dana...nothing like the original fragrance at all.80% of the fragrance is just barbershop talc powder while the remaining 20% is all the color of British Sterling's character.It's bland now,lifeless,cut down,clean and wearable year round...but boring.
21st January, 2015 (last edited: 17th October, 2017)
Bigsly Show all reviews
United States
I first tried a Dana formulation that is several years old and then an original. The smell, at least beyond the top notes, is similar, but the original has more depth and complexity to it (it also lasts longer). It's simple yet the quality of the ingredients must be what makes it so enjoyable! Basically, it's a vanillic/spicy/musky scent with a hint of wood (just a bit sweet). If you think a scent like Jaipur Homme is great you might want to give this one a try. There's something in Jaipur that doesn't work for me (I think it's a synthetic wood molecule used), but this one is just right. Moreover, you could use this for layering. You can still get Mem or Speidel formulations on ebay for reasonable prices, if you have some patience.
09th May, 2014
British Sterling was once a true gem when Speidel originally had it and it was subsequently part of MEM's strong line-up, then Dana got hold of it.

This iconic and truly classic cologne/after-shave has been a staple in many men's rotation for over 40 years...however it was a much more "true to form" fragrance when Speidel and MEM produced it.

When Dana bought and revived the brand, it was reformulated into a shadow of its former glory and has never been the same since. It's got an unmistakable strong witch hazel and burnt rubber opening note that is a real head scratcher...what's the point?

To me, it dries down to a scent quite similar to that of Pinaud Clubman Special Reserve but not quite as balanced. It's not an overtly offensive scent by any means nor is it the suave, classy, masculine fragrance it used to be.

Don't expect the British Sterling of the past...this is a ghostly reincarnation of an name only.
10th March, 2014 (last edited: 25th July, 2017)

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