First off I'd like to say that PerfumeCollector hit the nail on the head with the opening. Much like other Pinaud offerings, this one opens strong and settles down pretty quickly. Unlike some other Pinaud's it doesn't have quite the same in-the-bottle-funk that the regular Clubman and Vanilla possess.
The first 5-10 seconds of tree-tarryness settles and sends you on a Quorum-esque roller-coaster ride of green herbs and woods, which after about 20 minutes turns cedary and leathery. I will differ with other reviewers and not blatantly compare this to English Leather, although there are similar notes: the pencil shaving-y cedar is there, but the leather is more of a rugged worn leather than English Leather's bright new leather accord.
I have found, however, that although too much can be applied, too little can be applied as well. This is one that I'd rather err in the side of too much than too little, in my opinion. Applying sparingly gave me hours and hours of the faintest rubbery tree-tar smell.
I am a Pinaud enthusiast. I was enchanted by Clubman, so I ordered everything Pinaud makes(since the line costs an average of a dollar an ounce, this was a reasonable proceeding). In America, you can order them all from the Walgreen's website, with free shipping if the order comes to $25, which you can easily make up with other pharmacy items — a courtesy the Pinaud website, Clubmanonline only offers on orders over $75, as well as charging a few dollars more per bottle!
Unfortunately for me, most of them didn't work out. The Lime Sec and Citrus Musk didn't hold on me at all, (I never get duration from citrus scents, which has forever put Koelnwasser, which I love, out of my reach.) I was a little surprised to find that Lilac Vegetal and Classic Vanilla didn't hold on me either.
The Bay Rum did hold, but all Bay Rums end up a bit vinegary on me, so that was out.
No complaints about the fragrances themselves: they were, so far as I could tell, very nice, just not a good match for my skin chemistry.
The Special Reserve I give very high marks. It is a classic spicy-leathery masculine cologne, which has both staying power and presence. It's rather more aristocratic than Clubman: a more delicate blend of scents, and I had to apply it liberally, whereas with Clubman "just a dab will do you."
I would say this was a first-rate middle-range cologne, nearly comparable to the best products of Caswell Massey or L'Occitaine for for quality. A bit like Dewar's Whisky, which has a complex smoky taste out of all proportion to its modest price.
Make no mistake, this is not a great cologne: no one would mistake it for one of G. Trumper's creations. But it is a very agreeable, masculine scent, which at $5.50 for 6 ounces is well worth a try, and, for those of us without an unlimited budget, a fine addition to the permanent repertory.
I gotta give this fragrance my thumbs up, how could you not if you can get a huge 180 mL bottle for $5.99.
I get a strong birch tar note on opening which gives this scent a kind of burned rubber feel, but is not too bad, then it calms down to give a very good impression of leather and the spices come in to complement the leather very nicely. Then it turns woodier but the spicy leather remains the dominant note on drydown.
It makes me feel refreshed and is great to splash on after a shower, but I don't over do it like I do with other Pinauds like Lime Sec or Citrus Musk because this one will bite you back if you splash too much.
If you want bang for your buck, this one will do it, a real bargain no matter how you look at it.
Like many of the Clubman line, on opening this up, one's first reaction is "Whoa!". And in the millisecond after the understandable impulse to chuck it in the trash, one tries it on. And one ruminates. And maybe waits a day and tries it again. And then even if one decides "it's not for me," you find yourself thinking about it, and deciding, "maybe just one more splash...". And finally finding suddenly that there is something not just redeemable, but "special" about Special Reserve.
I do get lots of leather here, but I get lots of spicy patchouli too, and a cedary pencil-like fragrance, but without the harsh chemical smell of Dana's version of English Leather. And also something that is just right--and meaning just right on one's skin. I agree with previous reviews that out of the bottle, to the uninitiated, this is an abomination, like something gone wrong in one's fridge or like being served shoe polish when you asked for mousse. But like most of the Pinaud line, the proof is in the wearing. And each time I wear it, I insist it's not my favorite of the Pinauds--and then I find myself wearing it again.
22nd March, 2014 (last edited: 28th March, 2014)
Clubman PInaud Special Reserve After Shave Lotion is a rather linear and yet at the same time complex fragrance upon first generous splashes (DO NOT over-splash with this one) with heavy top-notes of base dark spice and ceylon cinnamon along with pine tar and light burnt rubber.
Mid-notes offer up a heavier smoldering amber ember, well-worn leather, balsam fir and mandarin orange. It stays that way through a fairly long and subtle "fade-out" dry-down. This is a surprisingly potent composition from House of Pinaud...a fairly powerful fragrance with a worthy longevity, respectable sillage (when applied judiciously) being sold at "bargain basement" pricing all adds up to a must-have...believe me, get it and you'll agree.
A value-oriented and timeless fragrance from Edouard Pinaud that's within everybody's budget ...what more could you ask for?