Perfume Reviews

Reviews of Number Six by Caswell-Massey

Total Reviews: 21
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
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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
This has been around for some time. It smells like history in a good way. Starting with the citrus and rosemary it dries down to a spicy muskiness. Stays close to the skin and I get 6 or more hours out of this. A good old fashioned original cologne suitable for every occasion.
02nd March, 2012
This is a nice scent, I like it.
It starts with very notes of orange zest and blossom, and lemon zest. These are very pleasant and lively. They are quickly joined by aromatic and herbal notes: slightly soapy anise, herbal-minty rosemary, warmly spicy clove and nutmeg. The scent is old-school and masculine in style, but it is restrained and classy (not a powerhouse). There is an interesting note which I can't quite identify. It is creamy, toasted-nutty, slightly sweet -- perhaps it is almond blossom. The dry-down is genteel and wears well.
08th August, 2011
bokaba Show all reviews
United States
I must begin by saying that Number Six is a nice spicy eau de cologne for everyday use. It is not as decadent as the Guerlain Eaux or Lorenzo Villoresi, but it certainly holds its own in the cologne arena. Six opens with a burst of bergamot, lime, lemon, rosemary, and possibly orange. The heart is a musty floral as others have mentioned with spice--likely clove. I find this as cross between the vaunted Berdoues no. 444 Extra Vieille and Roger & Gallet Extra Vieille though it is not as good as either of them. For the price, this is a GOOD cologne evocative of small 18th Century middle class--Farina catered to the upperclasses unfortunately for Caswell-Massey.
06th February, 2011
This stuff doesn't last at all. It's even short-lived for a "classical" eau de cologne, though it's not as dilute to start with as 4711 is. Plus it smells like sprite or 7-up to me at first, and then turns into weird musty florals, geranium or something, and makes me envision a flowering garden shrub that's dead and just starting to rot. I'm sure it's not bad for 1780-whatever, but I've tried too many interesting EdCs, and EdC-esque EdTs, to really use this regularly. As is so often the case with real EdCs, the first few minutes are lively and exhilarating enough that I just had to keep it around, though its contemporary 4711 seems less rough around the edges. I prefer Monsieur de Givenchy on the sweeter side, and Burberry Weekend on the drier side.
06th September, 2009
This one is my signature cologne - very formal and very wearable. Longevity is not an issue if you use enough of it - I use about six ounces a month - and its aroma is very calming and centering. Women could wear this as well, but only with short hair and khakis. Great frag for the money, and one I would totally recommend.
12th July, 2009
Correct and masculine, this is a scent that can safely be worn by a distinguished City sort of gentleman who by constitution would pass up scent altogether. A good Waspy reliable that America can rightly be proud of. Years later I first encountered Jicky and there was a certain affinity there - even though I always regarded as a women's scent (then I learned that Jicky was Proust's favorite, but maybe that doesn't change all that much, ehh?)
16th February, 2009
Spicey for its time. If you like traditional E.d.C, this will be intense. A little raw, but overall good manly scent. Prance around in a little history:)
15th August, 2008
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bbBD Show all reviews
United States
Don't be fooled into thinking that this is anything like a contemporary citrus fragrance - its' not. The initial burst of citrus is balanced with rosemary and floral notes that keeps the citrus from being too sharp or bright. In fact, when I first put this on my skin I thought it was a spicy fragrance (the initial spice subsides a few minutes later). As mentioned below, the entire life of the fragrance is about an hour, but this is to be expected from what is titled 'cologne water'. Certainly worth a try!

from CM website: "Fragrance Note(s): Bergamot, Orange Blossom, Rosemary, Narcissus, and 27 other notes"
06th August, 2008
A clean, fairly formal fragrance - really very much what you'd expect the gentry of 18th century Virginia to favor. Don't expect to be blown away, though -- this juice lacks in sex appeal what it makes up for in snob appeal.
09th January, 2008
markc Show all reviews
United States
I'm no fan of citrus based scents. Number Six, however appeals to me as not only because Washington wore this, but kind of puts me on a porch at a farmhouse in a rocking chair, just enjoying a cool breeze. This has a country feel to it. Poor longevity, but it's cheap so reapply.
23rd October, 2007
Beautiful bright and sparkly citrus opening. The touch of rosemary blends in perfectly with the clean citrus notes. The heart florals stay quite discreet and excellently blended to retain the energy of the opening. I’m one who gets vetiver—subtle, very distinguished—in the mid and base notes. The musk, to my nose, is even less obvious than the vetiver. Whatever, it is a wonderfully clean continuance of the opening citrus / rosemary accord. The drydown as a sillage maker lasts only about a half hour. There is the ghost of the drydown vapor that remains close to the skin for an hour or two, but it is just too subtle to be called a drydown. When I first applied this my thought was, “Great citrus opening—this one is not going to last long.” I was right—it’s gone in forty-five minutes, but what an excellent forty-five minutes they are. Number Six is an enticingly refreshing summer scent that can be had for a very reasonable price—definitely worth a testing.
18th January, 2007
Vasily Show all reviews
United States
One of my favorite scents for summer. Citrus topnotes, which are mellowed out with musk in the midnotes, and a hint of colonial spices comes out in the drydown. I don't get vetiver out of this one, either. Unfortunately, this one has poor longevity but it's inexpensive so you can refresh when you need to.
28th August, 2006
Wonderful stuff; elegant without being snooty. It's a most comfortable fragrance that suggests gracious living. Perfect for semi-formal country outings or cocktails on the fantail. Caswell-Massey's best.
09th March, 2006
A masterfully blended mix of several different citrus oils and musk. Quite aromatic and long lasting for a summer scent, it stays close to the skin and doesn't project much. Others have commented on the vetiver but my nose doesn't pick this up. If you are searching for a citrus that is not overtly "fresh" in the current style, you could do a lot worse than this one.
27th September, 2005
I just received a set of mini's in a nice flip-up box. Five of C-M's most popular mens selections. Number Six is the hands down Favorite. One of the best citrus scents available for men. Don't deny yourself this reasonably priced luxury.
18th February, 2003