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Number Six (1789)
by Caswell-Massey

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Number Six information

Year of Launch1789
GenderMasculine
AvailabilityIn Production
Average Rating
(based on 60 votes)

People and companies

HouseCaswell-Massey
Parent CompanyThe Equitium Group

About Number Six

The favourite cologne of George Washington.

Number Six fragrance notes

Reviews of Number Six

Caswell-Massey is an interesting case of parallel development alongside famous German and French houses of the day. They weren't a perfumer exactly, at least not in the beginning, starting life as an apothecary. Naturally, as real science-driven medicine and pharmacies took over for these, their business shifted more towards the health and beauty side of things, taking on more of the roll a barbershop perfumer in the UK had (except serving women as well), then following parallel lines henceforth. After the beginning of the 20th century, the shop became renowned among celebrities and social elite for their fragrances and skin treatments, plus started offering commissioned bespoke fragrances much like Creed and Penhaligon's had done for their most ennobled patrons, but eventually came full circle and returned to more mass-marketed products after growing into a large regional New York chain. Founder Dr. William Hunter is responsible for Number Six, as he formulated the first colognes for the company numbered 1 through 20. As the story goes, Dr. Hunter presented all twenty varieties to the famed first President of the United States, and Mr. Washington chose Number Six as his favorite, making many return trips to the shop which was then centered in Newport, Rhode Island. The scent would go on to become something of a famed item among the 18th and 19th century political aristocracy, since Mr. Washington would give bottles of this away to Marquis de Lafayette, undoubtedly for his help during the American Revolution, and news of it spread from there.

Number Six was quite possibly not gendered originally, as anything styled after an eau de cologne typically wasn't, and considering William Hunter imported actual fragrances from Europe to sell alongside his early products, he literally had a base to work from sitting right on the shelf of his very store. That isn't to say Number Six, nor any of the first scents were direct emulations, as why make twenty if they were all just shades of Farina or 4711? Still, there is a clear line of heritage drawn from those largely herbal and lemon-propelled splashes in this, but they really only act as top notes, since this is a fully-constructed fragrance with base notes that will carry far longer than any antique cologne. Number Six opens with a very similar lemon oil blast, but it's a much richer blast than anything found in it's European kin, almost drawing comparisons to Yves Saint Laurent Pour Homme, despite having a 182-year head start on that one. This "lemon polish" note is joined by orange blossom, neroli, bergamot, and clove, which help it settle down into a slight peppery base of pine and musk. The musk note here is actually very strong, and after the scent enters it's final phase close to the skin, it's almost like something similar to a genderless musk scent a la Alyssa Ashley, if not for hints of the pine and clove. I can totally see why this became considered singularly masculine over the centuries, as many male fragrances that arrived in it's wake would combine a lot of the notes here in different ways; pine and musk particularly being paired a lot in barbershop scents, clove mixed into bay rum, lemon leading several aromatic citrus chypres for men, so it's more happenstance than intent that Number Six is now listed as male.

George Washington having this as a signature scent for his lifetime was probably enough proof for anyone after the fact, if the question arose as to who this was meant for in terms of gender, but I also maintain that it's soft and discreet enough for a woman or somebody with any gender to wear. It's a very neutral feel-good smell all around, and the masculine stamp comes only as a mark of tradition that Caswell-Massey has resolved to embrace. It's the perfect addition to the collection of somebody looking for a fragrance that rides similar lines to antique eau de colognes, but can actually last as day wear with minimal reapplications. I wouldn't recommend this as anything but a fresh casual daytime wear as it doesn't really exude anything particularly formal or sensual. It could be an office scent but it would seem wholly out of place with it's herbal/floral construction, unless you have hipster coworkers that can value kitschy bits of cultural history like this on a daily basis. It's light nature makes it best for spring through fall, but the dead of summer might sweat it off too quickly while a harsh winter will render it invisible. Despite it's hefty musk at the bottom, it's still too fragile for temperature extremes. Bravo to Caswell-Massey for keeping such a piece of history alive, as it's probably the only thing available anywhere outside Farina and 4711 that was introduced in the 1700's which a modern man can purchase with relative ease. We need stuff like this, even if not for daily enjoyment, just to get a sense of where we came from, to better understand where we're going. Just don't go chopping down any cherry trees if you wear it, thanks.
03rd January, 2018
One land or two sea
As six turned out to be one
I can smell like me.
23rd June, 2017
One of the great colognes of all time and CM's top seller for almost 230 years.

The classic combination of neroli, bergamot, lime and rosemary that went into most "eau de colognes" is enhanced by a generous dose of jasmine, making this a citrus floral and rather unique in my experience. CM's advertising for this boasted 127 different ingredients, which may or not be true, but seems rather wasteful as our noses can only detect at most a dozen during its drydown.

Of note, the scent that is used for the other products in that line (soap, talc, lotions, etc) is markedly different, much drier, less sparkling, than that used for the cologne itself.

Do try it. Whether you like it or not, it must be part of every Basenoter's olfactory training.
25th February, 2017
I list this item as a thumbs up even though it is a mere shadow of what it once was.(much like Caswell-Massey itself). Back in the early 70's CM products were available as EDT as well as cologne and after shave. They were also available in 8 oz. glass stoppered bottles. As you can imagine, the scents were much more robust and longevity was not the issue it is with a lot of present day reviewers. Unfortunately, over the years as with many other products, strength has been compromised and ingredients substituted. There are CM products now discontinued that are not even listed on Basenotes. Also, there are products listed as "in production" that have been discontinued for years. I wish CM could return the offerings of the 60's and 70's but when that happens I will have to look up to see if a squadron of pigs are flying overhead.
18th March, 2015
Thee classic?

Personally I peel off the label because the bottles looks so simplistic and classy, but let's get to the important part.

This is George Washingtons favored cologned, around since 1789. You're splashing a part of history there on your neck bub. To do any less would be un-American.

Old Spice for the seasoned fume hound. At 20 bucks it's a staple in my wardrobe.
15th February, 2015
Lemon on top, mixed with a lot of barbershoppy lavender and a pinch of something sort of piney, quickly drying down to a weak mix of cloves and verbena. It's slightly powdery and VERY old-fashioned. It's hard to imagine people with modern tastes really enjoying Number Six, but it's worth a sniff as a museum piece, like sniffing a big curly powdered wig in a bottle. That being said, fans of other historical cologne lines like Trumper or Roger & Gallet may really enjoy this. It deserves a thumbs up just for historical significance, but I'm voting neutral because, with all due respect to George Washington, I just don't really like the smell.
02nd April, 2013

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Fragrances launched in the same year as Number Six (1789)