Perfume Reviews

Reviews by The Bark

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Total Reviews: 32

Tabac Grande by Sultan Pasha

I have to admit, at first whiff I thought this was perhaps a bit much for me - this isn't your polite tobacco fragrance, smooth like Parfum de Marly's Harod or rough and sweet like Tom Ford's Tobacco Vanille. No, this is 100% alpha-male tobacco, rich, moist, dark raw and unadulterated with cognac. I went through a tobacco-fragrance kick several years ago and kept coming across marketing selling the fragrance as "aristocratic old-world board rooms with leather chairs and polished wood carvings." You know, money, power, etc. But the fragrances hardly ever lived up to that. This... THIS smells like that, without ever capturing anything remotely "pipe tobacco-ish" as this is more about hand-rolled tobacco leafs saturated in cognac. Actually, it smells, from my recollection, a bit like Parfum d`Empire's Fougere Bengale, to which it shares a number of common notes.

The beginning is so thick and chewy, it really made me look to the floor for a spittoon like I'm in a bar straight outta 1900. The opening gradually began to grow on me - it's not that I disliked it, rather the intensity and darkness of the tobacco and cognac here is unlike anything else I've experienced so it takes a bit to regain my senses and make sense of which way I'm walking. As it develops, I definitely get some hay which reminds me of the aforementioned Fougere Bengale, along with the tonka that smooths it out some. Make no mistake, this, even with a touch of honey, doesn't become a confectionary holocaust by any means - there's some dark cocoa lingering in there that keeps it somewhat dark and bitter while floral notes help balance it out a bit though I admittedly didn't pick up any rose. Interestingly Bengali Oud is listed as a note, not that it's in PdE's FB, but the name connection nevertheless bears resemblance.

As this dries down further, it really becomes softer with a very appealing aura. The areas under my shirt where I dabbed some are still somewhat animalic and raw, but other, exposed areas less so and it's become warm and comforting. I do sense a bit of amber that gives it a warm glow along with woody and vanilla notes and the booziness feels, for the most part, long gone, like I'm ok to drive home now (or at least ride a horse if I'm circa 1900.) Ultimately I find this to be quite the alpha-male statement fragrance that has a certain vintage quality to it and perfectly enjoyable on a cold winter's night (and bonus that I don't have to worry about missing that spittoon on the floor - those spots must be a pain to clean!).
05th April, 2016 (last edited: 25th April, 2016)

Aurum d'Angkhor by Sultan Pasha

Simply put: sublime. Anything other words wouldn't do it justice, especially in an attempt to compare/contrast it with something else. Ah, what the hell, I'll give it a shot anyway: it's the scent Creed's Royal Mayfair wants to be when it grows up, removing the annoying eucalyptus and replacing it with incense. That's just for the first couple of hours as I know there's a lot more going on, and to come yet.

This one ultimately lasted quite a while, though it wore more closer to the skin. One thing I've noticed with Sutlan Pasha's scents is that the development is deceptive in that they gradually change over the course of hours. The rose stuck out here first and foremost, but as the day grew on I would catch whispers of the oud as I'm familiar with its slightly fruity accords from Al Haramain's Sheik. I didn't get any barnyard or funky bleu cheese like I do in the opening of Al Haramain's Obsessive Oudh, but that's not to say it won't wear differently another time (as OO does). What I got was a warm, woody rose-incense that gradually got a little darker, perhaps from the aged patchouli and tobacco, neither of which were overtly noticeable as there's many ingredients here that are so well blended together and play off and against one another in a such a harmonious way.
05th April, 2016

Cafe Ambre Noir by Sultan Pasha

When it comes to coffee, my second job ever was working at a coffeehouse in the early 1990's before Starbucks went bonkers on every other street corner. We had some of the best coffees ever; so many varieties and just walking into the store itself was a treat, especially for others apparently because I would often get asked what was brewing and I'd tell them I was just concocting various blends (we had a lot of naturally flavored coffee, too, with real coconut flakes and such that was ground up.)

Probably my favorite job ever - but anyway, coffee holds a dear place in my heart and I believe I was the first one here who received Pure Coffee before its release and honestly felt like, well, where's the coffee? I'm happy to say there's coffee in Café Ambre Noir and it's not the scorched variety from Starbucks. It's almost coffee-liquor like, but then the other notes come in and give it a nice creaminess; I'm a big fan of labdanum and I could sense it here along with chocolate notes and some vanilla (tonka, if I remember reading correctly.) I don't want to say latte-like, but it definitely has a warm, creamy vibe to it while retaining just the right amount of grinds-like bitterness while getting a bit woody and darker in the later hours (maybe even a tad, dare I say, animalic.) The whole thing conjures up pleasant memories of working in that coffeehouse, popping chocolate covered espresso beans into my mouth, making cafe-mochas and eating snickerdoodle cheesecakes... sigh, the carefree days (the chain was in New York, Nancy's Cafe/Nancy's Coffee Collection and I'm not sure they even exist anymore).

This is definitely one I will be looking to invest in down the road come fall - with temperatures warming up, I've noticed my spring/summer stuff needs desperate replenishing at the moment so colder weather fragrances are going on the back burner for now, but hopefully Sultan Pasha will still be brewing a pot of this nectar come fall. I look forward to wearing it on a cool, autumn day in the cabin in the Adirondacks while brewing coffee on a percolator and watching the sun rise over the lake down below.
05th April, 2016
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Âme Sombre G1 by Sultan Pasha

If Tribute is Darth Vader, Âme Sombre G1 is The Emperor, at least in the first several minutes. It's darker, smoldering, as if The Emperor kept falling in Return of the Jedi and found himself landing in Mordor's lava in Middle Earth.

I'm about to make the weirdest, but most accurate, association I can think of: the first 15 minutes or so smells like venison jerky my uncle would make after hunting season. It's smokey, thick, spicy, but somehow juicy and mouthwatering. Now, I'm not saying The Emperor TASTES like venison (or a crispy Hobbit for that matter), but there's something appealing about it. I'm at a loss for what it's called at the moment, but had some meals in Las Vegas several times where a bunch of us would sit around a table and they'd keep bringing out these different meats, shaving bits off onto each of our plates. The meats were smoked, glazed, seasoned, and the aroma somehow brings forth those visuals. It sounds strange, but trust me - that's the olfactory illusion, not so much with the meats themselves, but just the aromas all those things conjured up - like you know you're in for a special treat (now I recall said experience in the restaurant was an evening I happened to be wearing Serge Luten's Arabie - so take some aroma, minus the dried fruits, and I see where some of the association comes from.)

Amouage's Tribute opens up a little more airy, not quite as dark and a little more refined; as Kafkaesque noted on their blog, it's the perfect scent for Darth Vader. I get a bit more of a "greener" feel to it that makes it lighter, but within 30 minutes to an hour the two scents are very, very close to one another. When I tried Âme Sombre G1 the previous day, it seemed to venture off into a slightly different, and more interesting, journey than Tribute does - but I'll have to see what happens today as I just started venturing down the proverbial yellow brick road.

As the day wore on, the first several hours the slightly darker accord in Âme Sombre G1 held on though the scent in general seemed to grow a bit softer than Tribute. Somewhere around 12 hrs in it was more or less a skin scent, though very much present if I rubbed my finger on the areas I dabbed and sniffed. About 15 hours later, I definitely smelled the aged patchouli, particularly underneath my shirt. In fact, the whole bit of it feels like a strangely, comforting trip through time - like opening someone's old wooden chest and finding preserved, pressed flowers inside. Their smell is faint, but with the patchouli, cedar and tobacco, it smells... ancient, but not necessarily dry and brittle.

All in all, it's an excellent tribute to Tribute and I'd think anyone at a loss for Amouage's discontinuation of their attars would be more than pleased with the composition here.
05th April, 2016

Ferrari Silver Essence by Ferrari

I'm not going to say I'm blown away by this, but for the price I obtained it for, I'd consider it a steal ($27 shipped for 3.4oz tester).

This starts out with an icy blast - wait a minute, that might be because the bottle arrived during -8 temperatures with wind chill factor at -38 here in Upstate New York - no, actually "Silver" seems appropriate as it's the first thing that comes to mind.

The first notes I notice are pepper and coconut, an interesting combination to start though the coconut turns rather sweet for a little while while other spices (I detect nutmeg and a bit of cinnamon, though neither are listed here), start to mingle before it delves into something woodier.

It's here that the sweetness of the coconut starts to take a backseat (though still present, it's not as sweet) and the spices come forth along with the birch and a bit of a smokiness/incense vibe. This is probably the most enjoyable phase as there's a lot of elements at play with this metallic "silver" vibe running throughout, giving it an interplay between cool and warm notes that's effect is somewhat reminiscent of Creed's Himalaya.

By the time it gets to the basenotes, everything has settled down and it's like somebody took a bottle of Azzaro's Visit, removed the "blue" and replaced it with "silver" while keeping the spices amped up a bit with coconut lingering in the background. As an EDP, this feels like it'll hang around on skin for quite a number of hours (I myself having only sprayed it about 40 minutes ago at this point so I'll have to wait and see).

This is the first Ferrari fragrance I've tried so I can't compare it to the quality of the others, but will say the Essence line piqued my curiosity as they appear to be of higher quality (I personally haven't much interest in trying any of the scents outside the Essence line). It's definitely a fall/winter scent and a fairly good buy for the price.
02nd January, 2014

David Yurman Limited Edition by David Yurman

Wonderful - and an absolute steal at the price it can be found for.

The very first time I sprayed this, the opening hit me over the head so hard I said no thanks - not for me. It didn't help matters that it was a bit, dare I say, perfume-y, making what was supposed to have been a gender-free scent lean toward feminine. But that was just the beginning...



As it wore on, the discordant notes that I could clearly smell ALL AT ONCE began to settle down. The rose takes center stage, but it's tempered by a very masculine spice - the coriander I suspect - becoming sweeter as the raspberry comes into play.

Violet is one of the notes listed and it was evident on the initial spray, but its presence lingers and gives the rounded edges the rose provides with some sharper, more masculine vibe.

It's here where I should mention Bond's New York Oud, not in comparison - but rather contrast. I happened to like New York Oud quite a bit, the honeyed saffron and particularly the tart plum. But after smelling Yurman's Limited, it comes across as... synthetic. I'm not sure how much of NYO actually is, but Yurman's Limited smells so much more natural in comparison (even their press statement states the usage of natural agarwood, which I would tend to believe considering the way it comes straight out of the bottle).

Further into its development, I get a bit of creaminess as a result of the suede and sandalwood notes. It's here where comparisons to Tom Ford's Tuscan Leather seem apropos, but this is far from being a clone and comes across much spicier - the deep drydown somewhat reminiscent of Lumiere Noir.

Longevity is excellent, as one might expect from a Parfum Extrait, but the sillage is, to my nose, a bit more moderate as it remains true to form and stays a bit closer to the skin - something I consider a blessing vs. the loudness of New York Oud.

Originally selling for $250, testers of this fine fragrance can now be found for as little as $33 on ebay! A steal for a fragrance drawing comparisons to both Tom Ford's private line and one of Amouage's attars.

Pros: Extrait strength. Very natural smelling ingredients.
Cons: The opening is a cacophony of notes. "</p>
12th August, 2013 (last edited: 11th March, 2016)

Saffron / Amber / Agar Wood / Cardamom by Korres

This was actually released a few years ago overseas, where I obtained my bottle from (2008, I believe). While there's been some comparison to YSL M7, I found this to be quite linear without the harsh, medicinal vibe of Agarwood/Oud, ultimately making it a bit smoother fragrance. But is that necessarily a good thing? I didn't think so and ended up selling my bottle off.

While it was pleasant enough, what it lacked was dynamics - and that's something I tend to prefer in a scent; something that progresses through various stages, starting off as one thing and becoming another, taking the person inhaling on a journey.

Unfortunately while this managed to take me to a place, I found myself stuck and frustrated. Much like National Lampoon's Vacation proved, the journey itself is often more rewarding than the destination... and that's precisely what was lacking here.
05th April, 2011

Stardust for Men by Llewelyn

Cool Water? GIT? Huh? I'm somewhat suspicious reading these other reviews, seeing how they're all from 2008. I've had a bottle of this stuff, which came from Neiman Marcus for $80, since 2002, and I don't smell the similarities with those other fragrances, other than from a general, 30,000 foot level (Fresh? Check. Touch of green? Check.)

The opening is a lemon/lime cocktail with a bit of a pine accord, but after about five minutes, the scent delves into creamy vanilla/amber base. The official pyramid lists leather as well, but I'm hard pressed to detect it. Perhaps there are bits and pieces of it that smell familiar (the pine accord could be reminiscent of pine notes in Hugo, Hugo Boss, and sandalwood is in both Cool Water and GIT), but what makes this an interesting scent is the oustanding lime note and how the scent itself seques into a nice, velvet-like creamy base while retaining those sparkling top notes.

Top notes: Mexican Lime, Mediterranean Lemon, Siberia fire needle, shaved nutmeg

Middle notes: Jasmine, sandalwood, Indonesian Patchouli

Base notes: Bourbon Vanilla, creamy amber, and impressions of leather

20th February, 2009

Vintage by John Varvatos

Don't be fooled by the first few moments of this scent. When testing it in the store, its opening smelled a bit been-there, done-that (almost in a Kenneth Cole way). I gave it a few moments and the top notes quickly faded, leaving something a bit puzzling to my nose not unlike a car accident: it was a little appalling, but I couldn't help continuing to sniff trying to figure what exactly it was.

Hanging in there, I was soon rewarded by a stellar dry-down that feels a bit more formal than the original's approach. Gone is the heavy vanilla feel, replaced with a dominating tobacco note with suede and tonka beans complimenting it nicely.

Early reports referred to Vintage as being a seasonal variation of Varvatos, but I wholeheartedly disagree. While it retains a shell of the original, it's more of a passing nod of recognition than out-and-out brother like resemblance as Vintage clearly stands on its own.
05th August, 2006

Kiton Napoli by Kiton

Have you ever had a feeling of deja-vu? Well, if you read my review of the original Kiton... This is indeed one hard scent to track down. I couldn't locate it for the longest time, though the original has been carried by my local Nordies for some time now. The scent itself? Have you ever had a feeling of deja-vu? Again, you can smell the quality and craftsmanship that went into making this, but there's something awwwwwwfully familiar about it. It's not an Allure clone. It's not a Lalique Faune clone. It's not a Perry M clone. But yet, it certainly feels like it has had incestual relations with all three. That's not necessarily a bad thing when speaking in terms of "All in the Family", but for $75, one would expect Archie all dressed up instead of Meathead with a combover. But who am I kidding? I like it. Besides, Meathead did go on to direct Stand By Me, which I'll do with this scent (though the $75 sure did recall Misery as well.)
22nd November, 2005

Kiton Men by Kiton

Have you ever had a feeling of deja-vu? Kiton struck me as a nice scent, however, it seemed to delve into a floral-like Green Irish Tweed drydown. I'm not sure what the notes are, but there's something "Green" to be found in it. Not a bad scent, by any means--however, I just felt like it would get that much use and found a better home for it.
22nd November, 2005

M7 Fresh by Yves Saint Laurent

Let me preface by saying that I've tried M7 numerous times, and it never so much as tickled my lamb-chops. I do believe it's an acquired taste, and somehow I'm sure it will someday end up in my collection. M7 Fresh, however, not only tickled my lamb-chops, it flat out sucker-punched me in my loins. The added citrus top-notes really make this fragrance sparkle, yet, it retains some of the better elements of the original. To me, it reminds me of leather jackets in the 70's, the type that were almost orangy-brown.
13th November, 2005

Eau des Îles by Maître Parfumeur et Gantier

Close cousin to L'Artisan's L'eau Du Navigateur--actually, it's a brother to it, considering they both share the same father. Not very sure of some people's description of it here (Chocolate?), but one thing is for sure, it lacks the magical aura of L'Artisans exotic flowers which gave Navigateur a smoother dry-down and thusly, a more dynamic fragrance. THAT being said, it's still creme-de-la-creme.
13th November, 2005
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Basala / Basara by Shiseido

One mysterious scent, it actually makes me believe in past-life experiences. It's unique, rich, darkly textured. The only thing I can REALLY think of for a Japan connection would be the fact that it smells oddly like a King Kong penny-bank I adored as a child that was made in Japan. It was made of a plastic that had a distinctive smell to it... Not that this smells plastic-like by any means. Or like a giant Gorilla, for that matter.
13th November, 2005

Duel by Annick Goutal

On Guard! Drop that hanky and draw your sword! Well, that's what the makers would have you believe (that the scent is worth dying for). And you know something... they're wrong. But hell, I wouldn't mind suffering a near death experience for this stuff (preferably with a member of the opposite sex on top--would that be asking too much?) The great Ali once lamented this smells very similar to Creed Imperial, which it does... to an extent. Go and try some yourself and be your own judge. You may just become the Fourth Muskateer.
07th October, 2005

Les Nuits d'Hadrien by Annick Goutal

Oh how I love this fragrance. What makes it even better is the fact that I won a 3.4 oz bottle off of ebay for about $40! Worth every penny, it comes the closest to poetically capturing the desert sky at night. I don't know how, but trust me on this.
07th October, 2005

Paradise for Men by Alfred Sung

Sung Paradise. After the horrible nightmare encounter of Hei, Paradise was aptly named. It's as if that little bamboo raft I was on found an island with some fresh, tropical fruit overlaying a light, white musk. The scent is aptly name, and I'd give it a thumbs up if this is the type of frag that floats your boat. Somewhat similiar to Kenneth Cole's Reaction (ok, very similar to my nose).
07th October, 2005

Hei by Alfred Sung

I've since given this away after purchasing it a few years ago. I think it was a dream I had of a past lifetime, swept to see on a bamboo raft somewhere off the coast of Indonesia. I hadn't bathed in several days under the blistering hot sun, and all there was to eat were these green leaves that caused diarreha. I was happy to awaken with a cold sweat from this nightmare, only to have realized I had sprayed some Hei on myself before hitting bed. I think it's safe to say I never wore Hei after that.
07th October, 2005

Sung Homme by Alfred Sung

My roomate in college swore by this stuff, so far as he annoited it "stud". Well, a decade later, I don't quite think it lives up to the moniker he gave it, but for the price, it certainly delivers.
07th October, 2005

Havana by Aramis

Havana, the only fragrance in the directory of Basenotes that features everything, and I mean everything, but the kitchen sink. For crying out loud, I think I even smell a bit of Grandma's drool after she's been spittin' in the spitoon (hey, at least I got her to switch to Redman). Seriously, Havana is one of those fragrances that is often lauded as a must buy here. I'm here to tell you that... well... it's almost. The stuff is pretty loud and obnoxious on first spray--I don't know how anybody could love this and complain about Lorenzo Villoresi's fragrances starting out as "train wrecks". But give it time and it settles down. It's a "tobacco" fragrance, but to my nose, there's much more spice going on than tobacco, so for those seeking something of a true tobacco note might want to try it first. Ultimately, it gets to that tobacco, but it goes 1/2 way around the world and makes several stops before it gets there.
07th October, 2005

Desire for a Man by Dunhill

Ah, to desire Desire. I've had this fragrance for a few years now, and although the collection, and my nose, has grown quite fond of the niche offerings, I do reach for Desire every once in a while just to see how far my tastes have progressed. Not a bad scent at all, it's one of those few that have an apple note, though the patchouli takes over well into the dry-down. Somewhat reminscent of Mesmorize by Avon, I believe. I'm sure Desire can be found for a decent price on the internet which would place it in the bargain-bin purchase. Not a must-own by any means, but not the red-headed stepchild either.
07th October, 2005

Original Santal by Creed

To begin with, Original Santal evolves quite a bit over several hours, yet retains some of the pungent top-notes well into its wearing. Every time I take a whiff, I'm getting a new perspective of it. It's fresh, fruity, woody and spicey, all in such a dynamic way.

Original Santal interplays nicely between top notes of Juniper Berry and cinnamon to a warmer middle which is all the more prevalent the deeper the breath one takes. Sandalwood is present in the mid-notes, but never overpowering the other notes. In fact, there's some resemblence to the structure of Himalaya where one gets an icy cool blast contrasted by a warmer gunpowder effect that tickles your nose: here, the top notes really linger and mingle with the middle notes (listed as Rosemary, lavender, and Orange Tree Absolute)--with the spiceyness of ginger providing a bit of that warm sensation that tickles the nose.

As it dries down, I don't get that "familiar Creed" basenote. Rather, the listed notes are Tonka Beans and Vanilla, which give some of the sharp top notes a softer base though the fragrance is sweet in nature, through and through.

There will undoubtedly be comparisons to Allure, which is a bit innevitable I suppose as they do share several common ingredients--but those with discerning noses will appreciate the fine craftsmenship that went into this.

After wearing it for a full two days now, I feel it has less in common with Allure than originally perceived, having had a chance to wear them side by side.

Only time will tell what the final verdict will be on Original Santal--I'm sure there will be some devotees mixed amongst naysayers. My own personal opinion is that it's a blend of old and new, with a similar aura surrounding it that one might find with Acier Aluminium as both radiat a strange "classiness".
23rd July, 2005

D'Humeur Massacrante by L'Artisan Parfumeur

Top notes of baby powder give it that fresh, innocent smell--but there are days when the basenotes reek of of a third grader named Willie Makeit who didn't quite reach the outhouse in time. Better luck next time, L'Artisan!
01st August, 2004

John Varvatos by John Varvatos

John Varvatos--the name itself may not conjure up much thought, but the fragrance itself certainly tickled my nose's fancy as a surprisingly well done designer fragrance. What I mean by this is a lot of designer fragrances ala CK, RL, or the like, tend not to develop much through their notes--the top especially fleeting to the point where one has to wonder why they're even considered part of the pyramid. Varvotos opens with the tang of fresh fruit, before delving into a floral mid-note. Some of these ingrediants haven't been used in a fragrance before, and most likely won't be confused with the likes of other designer scents as they're almost exotic--but it's the drydown that I love best: Auramber, Vanilla, and black leather. It's as if DK Men collided with JPG Le Male. Is this the best fragrance ever? Certainly not, but it surpassed my expectations, and almost qualifies as a niche-type scent and is sure to be the cat's flap for some. Probably my second favorite release in 2004 behind Miller Harris Feuilles de Tabac.
24th April, 2004

Ultraviolet Man by Paco Rabanne

Eeeek ghad! I've tried this three times, and three times walked away liking it less and less. The first time, it seemed so light--the second, not much better. This last time, I sprayed it on my skin and it just induced a big headache. As mentioned in the other review, I can easily name two dozen colognes I enjoy better than this. It has a bright, orangey burst to start off with, but dried down to that rubber alien bit. I can't wait to wash it off!! Must...go...now. It's got...like...kryptonite in...it...
06th May, 2003

Mat; Male by Masakï Matsushïma

I first sampled this almost a year ago, along Yohji. I don't recall what I ended up purchasing (Givenchy Pour Homme, perhaps), but I never forgot the impression Mat;Male left.
Recently, I began looking for a soft "white" fragrance that would do the trick for me in the summer. Immediately, Mat;Male came to mind, and I stopped by the store to sample again. I returned with a gift set including a small bottle of EDT, and a larger bottle of ASB, which dispenses through a spray mechanism as well.
The fragrance itself is a complete joy: from it's opening notes of Water Melon and Grapefruit, to the middle notes of various roses, and the base of white leather, it's a very soft and sensual fragrance that wears close to the skin after a while. If you're a fan of scents with floral notes such as 212, or like Sung's latest Hei with its bamboo note, Mat;Male should be on your list. A big thumbs up!
18th April, 2003

Lacoste pour Homme by Lacoste

There's something about the description here that would have you believing this fragrance would be out of the world. Though it's not a loss by any means, it doesn't live up to it either. Think of a refined version of Boss #6--Lacoste Pour Homme goes right where the former went wrong, however, the rum notes really stand out and give it an almost sicky sweet nature if over-used.
17th February, 2003

Reserve for Men by Perry Ellis

I find this one to be one of the better Perry Ellis scents. It's top notes of Grapefruit and Juniper Berries really catch me at first, and the amber is noticeable after a while on the dry down. It feels more like a romantic fragrance to me, but an underrated scent in general.
23rd January, 2003

Portfolio for Men by Perry Ellis

Definately a fresh fragrance, it's fruity and green at the same time. It's not exactly one to get bowled over about, and certainly can't hold a candle to the likes of L'eau de L'Artisan, but for the price, it's not a bad deal
23rd January, 2003

Perry Ellis for Men (original) by Perry Ellis

In short, I gave a bottle to my older brother a Christmas ago. When I went home last month, barely a spray had elapsed from the bottle...and he's the equivalent of Uncle Eddie from the National Lampoon's Vacation series who'd think a bottle of Brut was Godsend (Just kidding Steve!! But you might want to wash behind the ears once in a while...)
23rd January, 2003