Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Brooks Otterlake

Total Reviews: 17

Aramis Tobacco Reserve by Aramis

A simpler, drier, more tobacco-forward Eau des Baux. This pleasant, mature masculine doesn't scream off the skin but makes its presence known. It boasts surprising longevity (it survived a shower and some aggressive scrubbing).

Wearing it, I picture an older gentleman with a finely groomed gray beard, wearing a lightly wrinkled linen suit, smoking a cigar in some sunny locale near to the equator.
16th April, 2019

Passenger Escapade pour Homme by S.T. Dupont

A pleasantly made, well-constructed fougere/chypre riff (more chypre than fougere, I'd say; lavender is listed as a note but I don't really pick it up) mingled with some aquatic DNA. The dry-down is where the magic happens, evoking wood soaked with seawater.
05th April, 2019 (last edited: 06th April, 2019)

Eau des Baux by L'Occitane

A nice value-for-money fragrance that perhaps gets a bit more due than it deserves just because it's so accessible and pleasing.

As nicely layered as this fragrance is, there's a lack of intrigue in this blend. It's pleasant while it lasts, but I never miss it when it's gone.
01st April, 2019
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Colonia Pura by Acqua di Parma

Colonia ditches the barbershop aura and goes aquatic. The result is a surprisingly terrific blend of old and new that delivers one of the best orange peel accords I've ever come across.
28th March, 2019

Dunhill Icon by Dunhill

Destined to be a mere footnote in the fragrance landscape of our moment, perhaps, but it's still a very nice Carlos Benaim creation, following on from his work with Polo in marrying classic masculine fragrance character with contemporary designer aesthetics.

Icon is absolutely a designer fragrance--nothing niche about it, right down to the transparently synthetic construction--but it's terrifically well-built. The sharp, neroli-fueled opening dissipates and we enter more subdued herbal greenery over a smoky background. It puts its best foot forward in cold weather, when the fragrance feels especially crisp and the juniper can really come out to play.

Perfectly suited to the well-dressed man, regardless of age.
25th March, 2019 (last edited: 27th March, 2019)

Gucci pour Homme II by Gucci

One of the most wearable and comforting fragrances I've ever encountered. Pleasant, not too strong, and wears close to the skin, while giving off that warm, spiced tea vibe that isn't particularly common in fragrances.

I'd recommend it to anyone of either gender. It could be worn in any situation in practically any weather.
22nd March, 2019

Oud Minérale by Tom Ford

As one of the more idiosyncratic fragrances in the Tom Ford Private Blend lineup, I wanted to enjoy this significantly more than I did.

There's an intriguing fishy, seaweedy, aquatic feel to Oud Minerale, and Oud Minerale does nothing to lighten it, but boldly darkens it, making it heavy and deep, accenting it with smoky minerality. That's an interesting avenue to go, making a fragrance that's wants to be evocative of a chilly, overcast day on a stony beach.

Alas, as I wore it, I found that the expensive-feeling, smoky refinement that appears frequently in the Tom Ford lineup sat kind of at odds with the more marine textures. This is a fragrance that calls not for immaculate designer polish, but for something a little rougher, a little more natural-feeling, in its construction, with a more dynamic presentation of its various elements.

As it stands, I find it a conceptually interesting failure, but there's a core idea here worth exploring (even if Tom Ford isn't the house to successfully do it).
20th March, 2019

New York for Gentlemen by Brooks Brothers

Do you wish that Eau Sauvage EDT had an update that swapped lemon for mandarin and smoothed out the herbal notes? Then this is the fragrance for you.

This is nothing spectacularly innovative, but it's very well made. It's a shame that it has been discontinued since the current market doesn't have many fragrances with this kind of classic DNA.
08th March, 2019

Jacomo de Jacomo Original by Jacomo

One of those fragrances that so wholly belongs to a past era that it now feels bracingly new. Jacomo de Jacomo is intensely, almost thrillingly masculine. A background aura of sandalwood anchors what is a very dry, spicy fragrance; it's smooth with a hint of burn, bringing to mind a smoldering clove cigarette.

After a good four or five hours of wear, it's as though the fire has gone out you've only got the mellow aftershocks, and you get a gentle drydown similar to that other early 80s masculine classic, Santos de Cartier.
08th March, 2019

Ombré Leather 16 by Tom Ford

One of the most sublimely well-crafted Tom Ford fragrances. Like its predecessor, Tuscan Leather, to which it effectively serves as a flanker, Ombré Leather 16 packs a wallop when it comes to projection and staying power, but Ombré Leather 16 is more wearable, more balanced, more elegant than its predecessor. This seamless concoction testifies to Tom Ford's ability to conjure a sense of extravagant luxury; this is an exceptionally refined kind of leather fragrance, one more suggestive of the soft leather armchairs you might find in a low-lit gentleman's club than of a biker's leather jacket.
06th March, 2019

Tom Ford Noir Extreme by Tom Ford

Some days I really like wearing this one, some days I think it's not really to my taste, but, no matter what, I always admire its seamless construction. Yes, there's no shortage of spicy vanilla fragrances on the market today, but very few are so immaculately polished and elegant. A justly celebrated designer fragrance.
02nd March, 2019

Bowling Green by Geoffrey Beene

Oh, this put an enormous smile on my face. Bowling Green opens with an exuberant, effervescent lemon-citrus, which opens over a burst of ebullient greenery. It's a bit like stepping out into the middle of a golf course on a sunny summer morning. As the joyous opening fades, the fragrance matures into a verdant masculine, as though you're moving from grass fields into shadier woods.

It's crisp and elegant--a gentlemanly fragrance--but there's nothing stodgy about this. It's a shame it's been discontinued, because a fragrance this unique deserves success.
01st March, 2019

1969 Parfum de Révolte by Histoires de Parfums

A delightfully explosive opening gives way to a kind of musty fruit smell. As with many of the Histoires de Parfums releases, it suffers from a kind of fuzziness in its construction. There's a frustrating imprecision to 1969's effects.
01st March, 2019
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1899 Ernest Hemingway by Histoires de Parfums

I've never been altogether sure what this fragrance has to do with Ernest Hemingway. Its soft sweetness and vanilla with exotic spices doesn't exactly conjure up the spirit of Hemingway, and it leans more feminine than masculine, though not dramatically so.

In a world full of sweet, lightly spicy scents, I don't know that 1899 does much to carve out a niche for itself. Conceptually, it's familiar, and it's not particularly precise in its construction. But, if nothing else, it's pleasant enough, at least until Ghislain's trademark "musty" accord creeps into the dry-down.
28th February, 2019 (last edited: 01st April, 2019)

1826 Eugénie de Montijo by Histoires de Parfums

A soft absinthe-y anise note dominates this slightly musty fragrance. As others have noted, there's an interesting "old books" vibe. There's also something in here vaguely reminiscent of Play-Doh. Nothing about it is unpleasant and it's decidedly unisex, but it's an acquired taste, to be sure.
28th February, 2019

Aqua Amara by Bulgari

When a fragrance is built out of a a simple combination of notes with one key note as throughline, that note needs to have some richness and complexity unto itself to carry the fragrance. The dominating mandarin orange note, which announces itself in the opening here and then slowly fades into the salty background over the course of the scent's lifetime, is tinny, and it's a bit grating when it's at its loudest.

But I do enjoy that saltwater dry-down. It's not revolutionary, but it has a nice, earthy feel. So once the opening citrus burst has calmed down a bit, the fragrance becomes quite pleasant.

It lasted a long time on my skin, though sillage, as you'd expect for this kind of citrusy aquatic fragrance, wasn't very strong.
24th February, 2019 (last edited: 28th March, 2019)

Robert Graham Fortitude by Robert Graham

A simple, but balanced, tobacco fragrance. At market prices, it sits alongside L'Occitane's Eau des Baux as an "affordable" sweet tobacco, but where Eau des Baux is elegant and nuanced and restrained, Fortitude has a more aggressive, masculine edge, boasting rougher edges than you'd expect from a contemporary designer release.

The patchouli cuts through strong during that opening, but the harshness of the patchouli soon settles down into something gentler and warm, a smoky honeyed tobacco, and its development is pretty linear from that point out. The experience feels a bit like a smoldering cigar paired with brandy; a little burn, a little smoke, a little sweetness.

Projection and duration are superlative, and it's powerful enough that you need to be careful with application. It's best suited to very cold weather. Warm weather brings out some interesting dimensions in it (in warmer temperatures, I get a bit of cherry here), but it also tends to overemphasize the sweetness of the fragrance.
18th February, 2019 (last edited: 01st April, 2019)