Intriguing history, forgettable scent
This is supposedly the real thing, based on Johann-Maria Farina’s original eau de cologne recipe from the turn of the 18th century and still sold from the old production facilities in downtown Cologne. There is of course no way of knowing exactly what Farina’s fabled concoction smelled like back then, and one can only assume that some ingredients must have changed or been modified somewhat over the last 300 years, but the sheer weight of cultural history behind this fragrance certainly lends it considerable charm and interest, not least due to the sharp contrast it presents to the ubiquitous mass market products of today’s disenchanted mainstream fragrance industry.
In its current shape and formulation, however, Farina’s Kölnisch Wasser has little more than its intriguing part in European cultural history to truly recommend it. It opens quite pleasantly with a fresh burst of citrus – bergamot, lemons, limes – that quickly yield to a largely uninspiring floral-herbal base. Although it has good longevity for a traditional citrus-centered cologne, there is really very little going on, and overall, Kölnisch Wasser makes for a quite forgettable olfactory experience. I imagine that it must originally have been received as a bit of a fragrance revolution, and the subsequent success of the eau de cologne genre seems to testify to the impact it made on European fragrance culture. It is difficult, however, to approach it as anything truly extraordinary today, thoroughly accustomed as we are to simple flowery citrus colognes. Given the amount of magnificent competitors in this genre (the Guerlain eaux, Eau Sauvage, Chanel’s Eau de Cologne, Villoresi’s Colonia, etc.), Farina’s Kölnisch Wasser is not something you need to go very far out of your way to acquire. Although the initial citrus blast is delightful, I consider Kölnisch Wasser far more intriguing as an object of history than, as originally intended, a distinctive personal fragrance.
Not particularly long lasting, but the citron burst at the start more than makes up for it. Possibly my most perfect summer fragrance.
This is THE reference Eau de Cologne and it has been copied so many times in not even funny, some more sucessfully than others of course.
4711 is probably the more comercially sucessfui l of the copies, but to me is not as good as the original. Roger & Gallet does a better job than Muelhens, but still short of the mark. Crabtree and Evelyn with Eau de Fleurs Oranger gets it so close I could not tell them apart in a blind test.
Myrurgia and Borsari, on the other hand, improved the old standard with 1916 and Acqua Classica. I'll have any of those two over any other Eau de Cologne in the world.
Acqua di Parma Colonia is to me another animal altogether, although is similar in many respects.
This scent deserves our respect, after all it will be 300 years old in just a couple of years.
A very citric, fresh opening with a musky floral drydown.
Do not expect either longevity or sillage, this is just an Eau de Cologne, but it is lovely regardless.
A magnificent summer scent. I visited the Farina factory in Köln and Farina was a virtuoso in the field perfumery. This masterpiece is evident of this. Perfectly blended fresh citrus scent with a lovely dry down.
The definition of what everybody should smell like in summer!
Fresh, sweet, smooth and citrus-laden, refreshing to apply and never over the top, no matter how many times you reapply, which is a good thing bearing in mind how long it lasts.
I prefer this to 4711, which has a bitter and chemical edge to its scent.
Having received a sample of vintage Gegenueber from my dear friend The Good Life, I was finally able to try this wonderful scent and gravitating piece of history. The ingredients are of the highest quality, which makes or breaks a traditional cologne. I venture to guess that as most things go the ingredients in the vintage version are undoubtedly superior to the modern rendition. The opening is by far one of the smoothest citruses I have ever smelled back up by a light floral element with perhaps a drop of musk and rosemary to balance the composition. Gegenueber is what today's best colognes (i.e. Acqua di Colonia, Villoresi Acqua Colonia, Eau de Cologne Imperiale, etc) would smell like if they used pure ultra-expensive ingredients. Farina is truly the cologne of the 18th and 19th Century European aristocracy.