For ages I have wanted to try this fragrance because of my love for the few iterations that came afterward with a similar name. It became sort of a 'bucket list' item for me. When I first sniffed the sample I finally wrangled I was utterly dismayed that it smelled like Burberrys #2; I love that fragrance but was immediately convinced the vendor giving me said sample had also been confused by the London-Not-London name game Burberry had created. I noticed a marked decrease, however, in the 'citronella' aspect of #2 which is among its most prominent features.
I remembered it said that the very first Burberry smelled something like what is now called London, and I can now attest this is true - with all the confusion that brings with it.
Here now I will provide a quick guide to help anyone confused as I was for the purpose of navigating this series of scents.
#1 - Much like Guerlain's Derby without the smoky intensity, sort of like Hugh Grant trying to be Clint Eastwood. An herbal, mossy leather which stays close but is quite strong for a couple hours. Despite the pyramid above, a beautifully authentic-smelling sandalwood base which reminds me of Jaguar Mark II without the overbearing patchouli. Contains a flowery, plantlike bitterness which will later be over-accentuated, using tagete, in the mid-90's incarnation. Just beautiful.
#2 - Citronella and spearmint over vanillic wax and woods, like an upscale Pleasures for Men. Endlessly enjoyable.
Burberry for Men ('95) - Very bitter opening, full of marigold and sunflower laid over a then popular vanilla and lavender duo. Well constructed and well dressed but a bit wearisome. The cedar and moss drydown hearkens to the first Burberry, an attempt at recreation following current guidelines and lowered cost. This was obviously an attempt to revive the brand using the early to mid 90's guidelines of floral-fresh. Thank the powers that be they stuck with floral-herbal instead of jumping ship for Calone.
Burberry London - Once again donning the now confusing 'London' moniker we see a boozy port and fir creation which seems like the first one on holiday, like a resinous extract of the original - eschewing dryness for a winey saturation. It is still very similar in structure, (especially the delicious use of pepper) but another attempt at reinvention of the Self, much like a Madonna album.
I was for years confused by the Burberrys series, thinking of each successor as its own entirely different fragrance, but once I finally realized the house was simply tweaking and reissuing its flagship to meet modern standards it suddenly made so much sense and I could see all the dotted lines joining them. I do not like these offerings any less for being rehashes because I feel they were tweaked with a beautiful nuance to fit their respective times. I am, however, confident that any of us who have worn the first two know there is just something special about their make which has largely eluded mainstream perfumers since.
Burberry can churn out all the flankers they want but they are going to need a serious overhaul if they ever wish to return to this level of quality. Burberrys (#1) smells like a personally tailored suit feels, while their new sport juice feels a bit more Old Navy.
Long rant short, five blooming stars for one of the most perfectly proportioned and utterly beautiful creations I've ever sniffed.