Perfume Reviews

Reviews by Oviatt

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Total Reviews: 305
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Incanto pour Homme by Salvatore Ferragamo

Ferragamo’s Incanto Pour Homme is a fresh, fruity, woody scent with some musk and vetiver at its base. This type of scent has been so overdone—even when this was launched in 2004—that it is easy to dismiss them. When done well, this genre is a great allrounder and completely suitable for the office and anywhere else. Incanto, which is a flanker of the feminine perfume by that name, is done well but adds nothing to the genre. The bitter citrus on top is centered with cedar and geranium which gives it a slightly peppery note to offset the sweetness. Sandalwood joins the musk and vetiver in the basenotes. This strikes me as the kind of scent a girlfriend might like to smell on her boyfriend’s neck. I prefer scents to be a little less fruity and a little more masculine smelling but for what it is worth, this is very pleaseant.
24th March, 2020
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Acqua di Parma Colonia by Acqua di Parma

Acqua di Parma’s Colonia has been a favorite of mine for years during which time it went from being a well-kept Italian secret to becoming a global phenomenon with multiple lines and flankers. The Grant/Gardner/Niven mystique never fails to entice and the brand has been developed in an extraordinarily smart and successful way. Beautiful packaging! What about the scent itself? Well, it is a classic cologne with its citrus and lavender construct. In that regard it sits nicely among other great classics like Guerlain’s Eaux, 4711, etc. Colonia, however, ramps up the floral aspect of cologne with a strong damask rose in its heart notes. This pushes it dangerously close to the overly floral, lipstick territory from which I tend to run. However, in this case it is so well done that it is actually perfection. The whole cologne vibe is grounded with sturdy base notes of vetiver, patchouli and sandalwood—all stalwarts of traditional masculine perfumery—which not only give Colonia greater depth and greater lasting power but balance the rosy, lipstick note making the whole thing entirely unisex and surprisingly sexy, come to that. Wonderful grooming products as well, especially the aftershave which I think is among some of the best on offer.
20th March, 2020
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Sacred Water by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Sacred Water, is an interesting aquatic (described as “Captivating, Essential and Mystical”) that evokes waves crashing against a rocky shore. Mineral notes along with aquatic mosses, woods and grey amber bring this to life. Like all good oceanic scents, there is a note of decay as the ocean constantly renews itself and this decay reminds me strongly of the mustiness associated with a beach house that is being opened for the first time in the summer; not especially nice, but comforting nonetheless.
14th March, 2020
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Velvet Fire by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

My destination scent on the yang side is Velvet Fire (“Charismatic, Radiant and Sensual”) which has top notes of lavender, coriander and one of my favorite notes in perfumery, clary sage. The heart notes are tobacco and cypress with a base of oud (seemingly ubiquitous in modern perfumery) and tonka. The herbal opening gives this a freshness that never quite leaves even when the tobacco and oud take over. This is oud done right, a bit of skank in a supporting role that never dominates.
14th March, 2020
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Golden Wood by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Golden Wood (“Comfortable, Majestic and Powerful”) is a real standout for me—elemi and malted barley give way to oak and black pepper with a leathery birch and tonka base. This is beautiful stuff—sweet with an almost nutty pipe tobacco note that reminds me, in some ways, of Naomi Goodsir’s Cuir Velours. This feels totally masculine to me but could be devastating on a woman. Golden Wood is a cashmere sweater and tweed sort of scent that is sure to be a favorite.
14th March, 2020
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Hypnotizing Fire by The Harmonist

The Harmonist philosophy is to offer a scent for each of the elements—earth, water, fire, wood and metal—and serve it up two ways. One version speaks to the Yin in us (nurturing and sensitive, represented by the color black) and one version for our Yang side (powerful and assertive, embodied in the color white). As a first time customer, you are invited to enter the details of your birth (date, time and place) which allocates to you your position in the cosmos.

Hypnotizing Fire (“Attractive, Warm and Mysterious”), which is my “road to success” scent in the Feng Shui world, is my favorite. It has warm patchouli and vanilla with a rose heart with pimento top notes and opoponax in the base that really speaks to me. I am not alone—it is a best seller in the Los Angeles market. Warm and seductive, this is sure to be a hit with niche perfumistas with a yen for high quality patchouli, rose and vanilla. But just like the note of decay in Sacred Water, there is a slight off note, a dirty/sweaty note that adds depth and—while not quite nice—adds to the seduction.
14th March, 2020
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Challenge by Lacoste

Challenge is a light, woody, musky scent that does evoke the wood of an old racquet and the the plastic grip tape that cushions the handle, which is cleverly represented by the bottle's lid. I do not get any citrus in the top notes. Pleasant, with a soapy cleanliness about it but the game is over all too soon.
13th November, 2019 (last edited: 20th March, 2020)
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Hermèssence Paprika Brasil by Hermès

Paprika Brasil is a bit of an odd fish. It does not smell so much to me of the peppers and wood of its name. The iris note is there but smells more to me of violets and hawthorn. Another reviewer suggested that this is close to Fahrenheit, which I can see, but this reminds me even more of Grey Flannel--a darker, slightly spicy Grey Flannel. All of that said, the iris note skews this to the feminine side for me. I am not an unreserved fan of Ellena's work for Hermes and while there are a few in the Hermessence line that I like--Poivre Samarcande being my favorite--this is a neutral for me.
06th September, 2019
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Blu Mediterraneo : Fico di Amalfi by Acqua di Parma

Fico di Amalfi has a fresh, citrusy opening followed by a peppery fig heart--not too sweet but definitely fruity. Musk and cedar in the base notes gives this some heft but it still remains a light, fresh scent, in keeping with the Blu Mediterraneo mandate. There is jasmine here, but it is so well blended that, like in Eau Suavage for example, it does note read as a floral so much as just giving the whole a slight indolic note. Of the ones i have tried, this is my favorite of the Blu Mediterraneo line and the only one I own. Great for late summer into fall.
30th August, 2019
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Eau du Coq by Guerlain

Eau du Coq is a classic Guerlain eau de cologne, remarkably close to Eau Imperiale. It brings all of the citrus notes and fresh florals associated with the classic EdC construct. Where Imperiale opens with a strong and delicious lime note, du Coq relies on lots of Bergamot. Where Imperiale taps into the famous Guerlain vanilla, du Coq uses a dollop of Civet. Nothing to scare the horses, still fresh and clean.

Eau du Coq has a similar theme to Mugler's Cologne (which came out a century later) which is a clean, bright, fresh EdC but with a little underlying humanity in the form of Civet (which is the elusive "s" note in the Mugler offering).

Long gone before I even finish typing this review but, like Imperiale, worth reapplying at regular intervals.
30th August, 2019
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My Land by Trussardi

This is a recent blind buy for me and I must say that I am happy with it. Not groundbreaking in any way very nicely done. It has that leather and violets combination going for it that works so well in niche scents like Cuir Pleine Fleur with a slightly sweet, nutty tonka base. Almost marzipanny. There is a grassy, dryish vetiver running throughout which firmly grounds it in the classical men's category. The citrus top notes and lavender should push it even closer in that direction but I do not smell the citrus at all and the lavender plays a supporting role, which is nice because it can be very strident in a fragrance. The calone is not overdone. Overall a very nice, safe scent that is fresh and professional yet still a little cuddly in the end. The leather wrapped bottle is very nice, too.
15th May, 2019
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Sandalwood & Cypress Cologne Intense by Art of Shaving

Sandalwood & Cypress Cologne Intense is a great offering from the Art of Shaving, a house which has always done a Sandalwood note really well. Their Sandalwood soap—a hefty bar with a hefty price to match—is one of my guilty pleasures and everything seems to smell better with an underlying hint of Sandalwood. Sandalwood & Cypress opens with a bright Bergamot followed by a slug of pepper (although Cumin is listed, I get no sweaty note here) and then straight to the eponymous notes of Sandalwood and Cypress. During this transition it smells amazingly piney with the crisp, sharp Cypress playing counterpoint to the rich—yet austere Sandalwood note. The basenotes, with their Cedar, Olibanum, Styrax, and Guaiac could overpower but the whole thing—despite its Intense designation—is surprisingly subtle. The Cedar note does have a passing pencil shavings feel to it. All in all, this is a very nice, very masculine scent for any occasion from office to evening and beyond.
01st April, 2019
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Do Son Eau de Toilette by Diptyque

Do Son is a rare thing--a subtle white floral. This is typical of Diptyque's offerings: a few quality notes, beautifully done. This one is all about Tuberose, with Orange Blossom and Jasmine layered on top of a slightly salty marine accord. I smell some phantom Gardenia as well and this line up starts to remind me of a very unsubtle white floral, Fracas, but pared right down to its bones. Do Son--in the Eau de Toilette, anyway--is interesting because it straddles a wide market; my wife loves to wear it and so does my 20 year old daughter. The inspiration--floral offerings at a pagoda in Indochina--seems spot on for this beautiful, pared-down floral.
05th February, 2019
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Ella by Arquiste

Where have I smelled this gorgeous scent before? Why, in the 1970s, of course! Arquiste gets this part just right--it IS a throwback scent but not to the thumping beat of a glitter ball-bedazzled disco. Aviance, Magie Noir and Babe had that sewn up. No, this is a ladylike floral--rose, jasmine--with some obligatory funk in the form of Civet and a swirl of cigarette smoke. Ella evokes the "nice girl" scents of that time--the Anais Anaises and Chloes and Rive Gauches of the day, with freshly washed hair and a ciggie in the ashtray of the VW Golf (don't tell Daddy!). Just as the house's masculine counterpart El smells great, but misses the sweaty gyrations of the discotheque, so too does Ella only halfway deliver on her promise. Pero, no importa--this is great stuff, a quality niche fragrance from another time, right on trend for today.
04th February, 2019
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Quercus by Penhaligon's

I first experienced Quercus while staying in a hotel in Washington, DC that offered its guests soap, shampoo, conditioner, etc., all from Penhaligon's and scented with Quercus. I stayed there many times and associate my time there very much with this scent which is perfect for hotel amenities: it is unisex and smells like good, expensive shampoo. Mind you, I once also stayed in a hotel where all of their amenities were scented with Nina Ricci's L'Air du Temps, the last thing I wanted to smell like, then or now.

Quercus is literally the middle of the spectrum between "feminine" and "masculine." Flowers for the ladies? Check. Wood notes for the gents? Check. Citrus top notes and some musk in the base to please everyone? Check again. Smell pleasant? Check. Quality the house is known for? Check again.

I can see why Penhaligon's--at that time--wanted to put something like Quercus out but it lacks the character and differentiation that so many of their great scents, like Hamman Bouquet or Endymion have. Penhaligon's proved that they can do mainstream and proved that they could blur gender lines (although their clients have been doing that for years on their own). Thankfully they returned to producing more interesting fragrances but for anyone looking for expensive hand wash for the guest bathroom, this is the stuff (and yes, they do offer it in that format).
04th February, 2019
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1770 by Yardley

1770 is a very soft woody aromatic with vanilla and cocoa notes all underscored by a dry and masculine Patchouli. I do not get any Bergamot or fig leaves in the top notes nor do I get any floral notes in the heart notes. This is a dry spicy pepper transitioning into smooth, slightly vanillic woods. Never too sweet or gourmand, this is a subtle scent and perfect for pretty much any occasion or time of year. While it does not project much, it is tenacious and the dry down--my favorite part with its semi-sweet woods and Patchouli--lasts and lasts. Fantastic bottle and overall packaging which remind me of a fine cognac although this is not a boozy scent. Yardley needs to put out (and keep on the market) more scents like this: modern and approachable yet with a traditional bent and a nod to its legacy, as its name suggests. 1770 reminds me of Dunhill's Custom--pepper and woods but with a Pippin apple note--both of which are good all round scents. Nothing to scare the horses or indeed to excite but nothing wrong with that. Sometimes just smelling good is enough.
04th February, 2019
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Le Dandy by D'Orsay

The whiskey/fruit accord reminds me of the Scotch and cherry brandy mix some hunters take out to the field in a flask (one of Prince Charles' favorite drinks as a boy....) but in this case, the fruit is plum. I do not get any of the spices listed in the middle notes and the base is all about pipe tobacco and incense (benzoin) to me. If you were out shooting pheasant and you dashed into an old church to share a tot from the flask with the gamekeeper while smoking a pipe... well, that sounds pretty dandified to me. Less of a dandy than, say Oscar Wilde, and more like one of the denizens of Downton Abbey. A little too boozy and fruity for me to want to wear very often but Le Dandy is a great reference scent and actually quite subtle. If you want to drink like a dandy, too, this might help: https://www.thespruceeats.com/hunters-cocktail-recipe-761450


28th January, 2019
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Secret de Rochas Rose Intense by Rochas

As someone who is not a fan of the smell of roses it is very rare that I react positively to a rose perfume. Secret de Rochas is an exception perhaps because the rose comes late to the party although it lasts until the last guest leaves. The top notes are fruity with a lovely peach note that transitions to an apricot-like Osmanthus in the heart notes. This is when you start smelling roses--lots and lots of roses. These roses are soon joined by a soft musk and Patchouli sweetened with amber. This is a lady-like perfume with a classic Rochas feel but also a modern 'fruitchouli' note. Secret de Rochas reminds me in some ways of the famous fruity chypre Femme which really put Rochas on the map. This femme is not the rich, wanton beauty that Femme is but more of a modern madame, sexy in her own right, surrounded by roses.
26th January, 2019
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Stash by Sarah Jessica Parker

Sarah Jessica Parker’s 2016 Stash is a blow to the solar plexus with a plank of cedar, a KO punch of Patchouli followed by some blunt force trauma in the form of vetiver, musk and incense. Like a battalion of Gurkhas, this takes no prisoners but what a way to go! Although there is grapefruit in the top notes, it is so quickly overcome by the dry black pepper and sage that it might as well not even have been there. This is all about a cedar so strong and realistic that you could put it in a pencil sharpener and write reams with it. Bolstered by a slightly dirty Patchouli and underpinned with more wood, incense, musk and dry vetiver, this seems snarlingly masculine to me and yet it was launched as a feminine fragrance. For a mainstream celebrity scent, Stash Eau de Parfum has astonishing performance and also comes in an intriguing hair oil format—almost like an extrait de parfum—which makes one of the best beard oils out there—one drop will do you. Despite the violent terms used earlier, the dry down is really soft—although tenacious—and sensual. Stash is a fiercely manly and funkily sexy scent probably best worn with jeans and a sweater although I like this with a tailored suit and tie; it is so far from being dandyish that you could wear this with a bloody ascot and still be the most macho man in the place. I would love to smell this on a woman—with its gender bending quality, it would have suited a young Bianca Jagger, the yin to Mick’s Yang.
11th January, 2019
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Ombré Leather by Tom Ford

This is a perfect leather. I smell little if any difference from the '16 version. What I do smell is an expensive, rich leather untainted by the fruit note that so often accompanies leather fragrances. Expensive shoes, handbags and saddles in a luxury automobile with the crack of a whip barely hidden beneath the prestigious leather goods. What is not to like? A little indolic jasmine up front and a warm amber base add to the rich leather and make this a real winner.
05th September, 2018
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Bentley for Men Azure by Bentley

The Bentley Azure, sister car to Rolls' Corniche, is a coupe convertible of the greatest luxury. As both names suggest, this is a car to be driven along beautiful coastal roads, the blue of the sun-drenched sky mirroring the blue of the sea. So it is natural that when Bentley started building out its fragrance collection, that their fresh, oceanic offering would bear the name of this famous car. And oceanic it is-the Orcanox/Ambroxin sees to that, with fresh notes of pineapple and a violet leaf reminiscent of Aventus and Green Irish Tweed in the top notes, sage and lavender in the middle notes and Tonka joining the Orcanox in the finish.

Azure brings nothing new to the table but is beautifully done-as all of the Bentley fragrances tend to be-and a welcome addition to any line up of warm weather workhorses. Very good performance for a fresh aquatic scent with a passing resemblance to many of Creed's offerings-these same notes are almost house notes at Creed. You may not live within striking distance of the seaside (and may not have a luxury convertible to drive there even if you did) but Bentley Azure has a fresh yet luxurious air to it that brings a little shoreline elegance into each wearing, wherever you may be. The bottle is crazily close to Ferragamo's Subtil which is interesting since that is another perfect example of a fresh yet luxurious designer scent done right.
11th July, 2018 (last edited: 14th July, 2018)
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Pino Silvestre by Silvestre

Pino Silvestre came as a surprise to me. I have seen it for years and assumed that I must have smelled it on men in Italy on visits there. When I finally bought a bottle-blind-it surprised me that it was not as pine-focused as the name, reputation and marketing might suggest and that it rang no olfactory bells. It just did not smell familiar in the way that other widely worn fragrances smell in their home countries (Tabac, for example).

What I got was a strong clove note right at the start-a real dentist's office smell. Then there were herbs as only the Italians can do them (R de Capucci, I am looking at you) and finally whole pencils-the wood, the eraser, the graphite/lead. Lurking in the background is a pine note and it is good that it is not so strong that it brings Pinesol and other cleaning supplies to mind but where, I wondered, were the larmes de pin the marketing copy promised? Where was any reference to sunny Italy? I was expecting Respighi's "The Pines of Rome" (even though I know this hails from Venice) in a pinecone shaped bottle and instead got a school satchel left in a dentist's waiting room.

Wearing it now for a few days has allowed it to grow on me-the dry herbs, cedar pencils and faint pine note are actually very nice, dry and masculine. It does well in the summer heat and will also be a great scent for fall and beyond. Wearing it yesterday, I was smelling it on myself and all of a sudden had a vivid flashback to a time when, as a student, I was stranded in the train station in Turin (don't ask). I sat there for hours watching-and smelling-the humanity going by and sure enough, I remember the smell of Pino Silvestre in the air. One of the smells of Italy after all.
10th July, 2018
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Vetiver 46 by Le Labo

Vetiver 46 is an innovative take on vetiver--it is certainly there, but it has been pounded into a joss stick, stuffed into a thurible and bound into a smudge bundle. This is an incense scent, first and foremost--dry, woody and grassy. There is an an almost soapy, fresh top note and then smoky, incensy woods and grasses for the duration. Quality and distinction.
06th June, 2018
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Leather Essence by Ferrari

Leather Essence is Ferrari Uomo taken to a whole new level. It layers on a deeply luxurious and realistic leather note that it heralded by a boozy, semi-gourmand Bourbon/vanilla note. This is slightly sweeter than Uomo but definitely not a sweet gourmand scent. Once the top notes are over, this is a tonka and patchouli leather scent with some oud playing a supporting role. Good performance. To me, this is what Tuscan Leather wanted to be and failed. Perfect scent for fall and winter, but could also work for sultrier summer days if worn in moderation. As with the other essence line fragrances, the bottle is fantastic.
04th June, 2018
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Capucci pour Homme by Roberto Capucci

Capucci Pour Homme often gets compared to the great Eau Sauvage and the equally great Chanel Pour Monsieur. I sort of get that, but to me it smells like Monsieur de Givenchy and YSL Pour Homme merged into one. This is a delightful, old fashioned, citrus chypre with elegant, dry herbs. Capucci would later explore this herbal, mossy element in greater detail with 1985's R de Capucci and to great effect. Capucci Pour Homme has an Italian elegance to it much like we find in Bugatti and later in Ferre for Man. This is what the lunch crowd at Rome's Hotel Hassler smells like as they settle into an aperitivo, what linen-suited natives of the Amalfi Coast smell like as they drink Limoncello and it is what the busy Milanesi smell like as they go about their day. A perfect way to bring a little masculine Italian elegance into everyone's life.
31st May, 2018 (last edited: 04th June, 2018)
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Ferrari Uomo by Ferrari

I really love Ferrari Uomo. I bought it fairly recently and it does not project as much as its Italian Stallion image might suggest; in fact, this is a discreet and elegant scent and masculine as can be. Yes, there is a reference to Fahrenheit--that famous petrol note that Dior used works perfectly with the luxury Italian racing car aesthetic--but this is no Fahrenheit wannabe. Ferrari Uomo has Italian citrus in its opening (Sicilian Lemon and Calabrian Bergamot) with an herbal juniper note. The heart is all about the leather and wood of a luxury automobile and the base notes are dominated by Tonka and Patchouli. This feels amazingly restrained; it is a "lean into" fragrance that combines classic men's perfumery notes like lemon and leather with petrol and gourmand Tonka. The packaging is wonderful as well and completely lives up to the luxury brand's promise.
31st May, 2018
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Vintage by John Varvatos

You had me at juniper berries. Add in fir balsam, tonka, tobacco and suede? Right up my alley. The Santolina adds to the herbal opening of the juniper, and the patchouli and jasmine in the heart notes round everything off nicely. The jasmine--not a traditionally masculine note--works the same way that the gardenia does in Halston's Z-14, adding a nice floral counterpoint to the battery of masculine staples. And this is a very masculine scent, indeed, especially in the dry down. The next morning, you are not showering off the dregs of the base notes; it is pure testosterone coming off in the steamy water. I generally think that John Varvatos' fragrances are very good designer offerings--as good as any out there and Vintage is the proof of that. An old school masculine powerhouse, revamped for the modern day. Wife approved.
06th December, 2017
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Burberry London for Men by Burberry

As warm as a wool-lined Burberry trench, this is a wonderful winter scent, truly evoking the scents of Christmas as so many have noted. Burberry London creates a Christmas where pipes are being smoked by fires in paneled rooms, with booze and fruit and mince pies on the groaning sideboard and a freshly cut fir decorated in its holiday finery. It is a romanticized Christmas, to be sure, but a warm and happy scent nonetheless. The best thing that I have smelled from this house since its original men's fragrance so long ago. While I tend to wear it in the winter during the holiday season, this would be an excellent way to bring the festive season with you all throughout the year.
06th December, 2017
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L'Anarchiste by Caron

I jumped onboard this one when it first came out in 2000. Always a big fan of Caron, I was taken with the daring metallic spicy note in l’Anarchiste; the copper bottle sealed the deal. I was never really comfortable with this one, though. I finished the bottle and moved on and only recently decided to retry it, knowing that it had been slightly reformulated. The Caron site asserts that “only the mint top note has been softened by Richard Fraysse, the overall composition remains unchanged.” It still smells much the same to me and I am reminded of what a quality juice this is. The listed notes of Mint, Orange Blossom, Sandalwood from the Indies, Vetiver Bourbon, Accord of 7 musks and Gaiac Wood have never sounded right to me. While others talk of mentholated, metallic oranges, I get metallic apple pie, even though apples and cinnamon are not among the notes. There is a soapy, musky woody base to this, to be sure, but to me l’Anarchiste brings to mind an apple pie being cut into with a sharp steel Sabatier knife, scratching into the metal pie tin as it goes—teeth on edge, mouth watering. Might be just the thing to wear for the coming holiday season.


14th November, 2017
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Gold Leather by Atelier Cologne

I do not know why a fruit note is so often paired with leather--it seems an odd combination to me. That said, when it is done well--as it is here--it can result in a dynamic scent. Gold Leather opens with fruit and booze with the base of woods and leather not too far behind. The fruit here is an initial orange note that smells to me like chocolate Jaffa Cakes, giving way to an almost fermented plum note. A eucalyptus note keeps the fruit dry and pairs well with the boozy rum. While this is definitely a leather scent, there are lots of woods in the base, with the Gaiac, Cedar and Oud. Gold Leather has all of the quality that Atelier Cologne scents are known for and smells very rich and natural. While I like my leather a little less fruity, this is a great example of the genre, well done and very nice.
07th November, 2017 (last edited: 08th November, 2017)