This is one I like quite a bit. It's a variation on Estee Lauder - Cinnabar, which is a spicy oriental floral, and a contemporary or YSL - Opium. This is the male version of those fragrances.It is rumoured that Estee Lauder herself created this fragrance for her husband Joseph H. Lauder, hence the fragrance name JHL.
The level of spice in this fragrance is not something I see in many designer fragrances these days. There is such an array of different notes here it is almost overwhelming. Mainly, Carnation and Cinnamon. Those two dominate this fragrance for me.
I could see this one being worn in the cooler months. I don't see it being something to wear in the heat of summer. Except on cooler nights. It has a tenacity and robust quality which I admire very much about it. To me it's a great example of a spicy fragrance for men but still with a refined quality about it. Not "over the top" in any way.
I think this is still a great fragrance which can be worn today, however there is a slight dated aspect to it, but not as bad as other fragrances of the same era. Many of the best fragrances of all time were created in the 1970's, and for men I think JHL is a great example of a fragrance which is classy, elegant and refined. A really nice one IMO.
I came across this fragrance when I purchased a set of Aramis Gentleman's collection, which is a great release in itself. I haven't smelled the vintage version, but Aramis has done a great job to bring back these fragrances and make them available to the public at very affordable prices. Aramis JHL is a beautiful oriental fragrance centred around spices, woods and florals. A smooth blend of cinnamon, sandalwood, carnation and rose creates a wonderful olfactory experience. There is a strange balsamic effect this fragrance has, that almost calms you down. Upon initial application I detect a rose that subsides around the middle phase of development, while cinnamon and sandalwood linger on throughout.
The overall effect is a beautifully constructed oriental that is very different from most of the other stuff out today. I have heard it is very similar to Youth Dew and Cinnabar- none of which I have sampled. JHL is an absolute pleasure to wear at any time, especially when it's not hot, and has good longevity. It almost transports me back to a place, to my childhood days when I used to go to buy books in College Street on winter days. There were bookshops, carpentry shops, flower vendors, milky tea- sometimes laced with kesar- sold in earthen cups and drank by the hundreds, people going to work, to university, mellow afternoon sunlight, and a general feeling of warm joy in the air. It makes me feel as if I've known it for ages, and sometimes makes me a bit nostalgic.
JHL is what YSL's Opium Pour Homme should have been, --- only JHL was several years ahead. It is the perfect consort to the original Opium for women --- rich, spicy, intense, elegant, sensual, sweet, and warm, with incredible lasting power. This is not for the timid, or for young men. It takes considerable panache, maturity and confidence to bring off a heady borderline-sweet scent like this. Obsession, Lagerfeld, KL Homme and Chaps are all close relatives, but none of them have the gravitas of JHL.
This is one of those scents that should be saved for special occasions --- it's too intense for everyday wear. But for a night at the opera, or a tryst at an elegant hotel, perhaps a formal New Year's Eve party --- bring it on! JHL is at home amid rich velvets and brocades, heavy draperies, and crowds dressed to the nines. It conjures up a sultry night in a Sultan's palace in the Arabian Nights, although its heat and richness makes it more of a wintertime scent than one to wear in the summer. This is a 5-star classic if ever there was one, but only when used sparingly in the proper setting.
Understandably considered a classic. Opens strong, with a peppery lavender/bergamot accord that quickly settles down to reveal a mélange of carnation and spices, all so well-blended that it's difficult to distinguish the individual notes. I pick up some conifer resin (spruce? fir?) and a very smooth rose in the mix as well.
JHL dries down very slowly to reveal a leathery base of labdanum and patchouli, with a hint of sweet tonka or vanilla peeking out here and there.
JHL is dignified, but not at all pompous, distinguished, but never stilted. In fact, it has the kind of assertive and sophisticated presence I'd hoped for from Creed's Bois du Portugal. But where Bois du Portugal's drydown is very stuffy on me, JHL retains a faint animal undercurrent that keeps me from feeling overly "mature." Definitely not for little boys, but great for the man who wants to project confidence without appearing brash. JHL is very potent, with lots of sillage and great lasting power, so it should be applied with a light hand.
I've tried and tried both current (Gentlemen’s Collection) and vintage. I'm old school and really enjoy Equipage, Chaps (original), and some of the other scents reviewers mention here. Now those I’d call masculine. Similarities may exist, but JHL just goes too far. The ‘dated’ and ‘old lady’ descriptors are apt, regardless if they offend, and it’s too fem for me, too. Describing JHL as masculine likely confuses and misleads the average Joe.
Many do call JHL among their finest, however, so test it yourself. Just know what to expect: A cinnamon, patchouli, aldehyde, amber capable of becoming a monstrosity if over-sprayed. ‘Foom-Bah’ was coined with scents like this in mind. Like shoulder pads in leather jackets, some things were left in the 80s for good reason. Honestly, I’d not want to smell this on a lady either, not with so many superior smells out there.
I'm 51, for reference.
22nd February, 2014 (last edited: 23rd February, 2014)