It’s men’s cologne time, baby – Now that we’re well into the new year, we’re due for another round-up of the best. This year’s selection builds upon a range of the best mens cologne and unisex fragrances that we’ve personally tried and tested. You’ll find Valentino, Burberry, Histoires de Parfums, Creed, Comme des Garcons, Jo Malone, Maison Martin Margiela, Le Labo, Bottega Veneta and some more obscure fragrances from perfumeries all over the world.
From oriental, to spicy, woody and deluxe leather scented men’s cologne, we’ve got you covered with a couple of curve balls as well as some of the most iconic men’s cologne to exist.
Maison Martin Margiela Replica Jazz Club
We picked up this fragrance in Milan and it’s the perfect mix of wood, whiskey and leather with an ever so slight sweet edge.
Eight & Bob
This amazing specimen was JFK’s signature aftershave. Originally created in 1937 it has notes of amber and wood. Just simply an amazing fragrance.
TOM FORD Noir Extreme
The latest offering from Tom Ford is an amber drenched, woody oriental fragrance with a tantalising and delectable heart. We picked this up in Dubai. It’s super.
Introducing Mr. Burberry, a new fragrance for men. Inspired by both the iconic black trench coat and by London – a city of great contrasts.
Icon By Alfred Dunhill
An aromatic-woody scent with an opening of fresh bergamot and neroli. At its heart are notes of black pepper, lavender and cardamom, on a woody base of smoky oud, vetiver, leather and oak moss.
Serpentine by Comme des Garcons
Notes include grass, green leaves, galbanum, iris leaf, aldehydes, asphalt, musk, nutmeg, labdanum, cedar, benzoin, juniper and guaiac wood. Bottle designed by acclaimed English artist Tracey Emin.
Pour Homme by Bottega Veneta
** TOP PICK: Top notes refresh us with accords of Calabrian bergamot, pine from Siberia and juniper from the Balkans. The heart adds spicy notes of Jamaican pepper warmed by Canadian fir resins enriched with Mediterranean clary sage, resting on strong Andalusian labdanum, leather and Indonesian patchouli.
1969 by Histoires de Parfums
Discovered this in Italy one year. Top note is peach; middle notes are rose, white flowers, cardamom and clove; base notes are musk, patchouli, mexican chocolate and coffee.
Ambre Nuit by Christian Dior
Ambre Nuit has bright and luminous fresh notes of grapefruit and sunny bergamot as an exciting overture to Turkish rose combined with passionate pink pepper.
Rose d’Arabie by Armani Prive
Composition encompasses Damascus rose, patchouli, amber, saffron and precious wood mixed with golden dust.
UOMO by Valentino
** EDITOR’S FAVOURITE: Opens with bergamot and myrtle, succeeded in the heart by roasted coffee combined with gianduja cream, on a rich base created of cedar and precious leather.
Colonia Leather Eau de Cologne Concentrée by Acqua di Parma
Top notes of Colonia Leather Eau de Cologne Concentrée provide luminous scents of Brazilian orange combined with Sicilian lime. The heart adds rose and petit grain from Paraguay followed by leather, Atlas cedar and guaiac wood from Paraguay.
Cuir 28 by Le Labo
The fragrance features leather, vanilla absolute, woody notes, vetiver and musk.
Frederic Malle by Dries Van Noten
The fragrance features sandalwood, guaiac wood, tonka bean, vanilla, saffron, jasmine, musk, bergamot, lemon, nutmeg, cloves, patchouli, woody notes and peru balsam.
Jo Malone Velvet Rose & Oud
We picked this one up in Dubai. Darkest Damask rose. Rich and textural, wrapped with smoky oud wood. Spiked with clove, decadent with praline. Magnetic.
Encre Noire by Lalique
Top note is cypress; middle note is vetiver; base notes are musk and cashmere wood.
Forever Now by Gucci
Smooth leather and floral heart. There are also Moroccan and Bulgarian rose, jasmine from Grasse and exotic ylang-ylang. The base accords are vetiver, patchouli, precious woods, amber and musk.
Gentlemen Only Intense by Givenchy
Another D’Marge favourite. The composition opens with green mandarin oil, black pepper and birch leaf. Its magnetic heart includes notes of patchouli, Texas cedar and leather, placed on the sensual base of tonka bean, amber and incense.
Jardin d’Amalfi by Creed
Top notes: mandarin, bergamot, lemon, pink pepper and petit grain. Heart: cedar, rose and apple. Base: vetiver, white musk and cinnamon.
Oud by Maison Francis Kurkdjian
Oud is enriched with woody and spicy notes of cedar, patchouli and saffron.
Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens
The fragrance features sandalwood, cacao and damask rose.
Blue Encens by Comme des Garcons
This fragrance combines a strong fusion of mysterious incense and crushed artemisia, as contrast to frozen spices.
Sunday Cologne by Byredo
Top notes are cardamom, bergamot and star anise; middle notes are lavender, geranium and incense; base notes are vetiver, patchouli and oak moss.
Tobacco Oud by Tom Ford
The fragrance features agarwood (oud), tobacco, sandalwood, patchouli, spicy notes and whiskey.
Type D by Henrik Vibskov
Top notes are bergamot and pink pepper; middle notes are jasmine, african orange flower, cinnamon and ginger; base notes are sandalwood, tonka bean, vanille and styrax.
Upper Ten by Lubin
Before even scraping the scent’s surface, Upper Ten gives off a smoky, spicy suggestion reminiscent of the aromas of a late 19th Century Chicago gentleman’s club. However, on first spritz, top notes of Bergamot, Cardamom, Bay Rose, Saffron and Juniper Berry give way to Upper Ten as the scent of success that it is.
Velvet Orchid by Tom Ford
Velvet Orchid opens with bergamot, mandarin, Succan absolute (purified rum extract) and honey. At the core is Tom Ford’s distinctive, “timeless” signature – an imaginary accord of black orchid blended with notes of velvet orchid, which gives the perfume its name, with intense Turkish rose oil and jasmine and a new accord of purple orchid that grows in the wilds of southern Brazilian coast.
Whiskey by Commodity
Whiskey by Commodity is a Oriental Woody fragrance for men. Whiskey was launched in 2013. Top notes are bergamot, lemon and eucalyptus; middle notes are lavender, sage and ivy; base notes are amber, cinnamon, oak and black musk.
The Orchid Man by Frapin
The Orchid Man starts off fresh and exuberant with fragrant top nots of Madagascan Black Pepper and Calabrian Bergamot. As it settles, the aroma channels the iconic boxing glove with humid, hot and leather tones through base note additions of Patchouli, Black Amber and Oak Moss.
Royal Mayfair by Creed
Royal Mayfair by Creed is a Floral Fruity Gourmand fragrance for women and men. Top notes are gin, lime and pine tree; middle note is rose; base notes are orange, cedar and eucalyptus.
A Brief History On Men’s Cologne
Once upon a time, pleasantly scented potions were a matter of necessity. One’s nose was constantly assaulted by the unpleasant odours of smoke, rotting food, and open sewers. And that was just the people – imagine what the actual sewers smelled like.
Long before modern perfumery began in the late 19th century, perfumes existed in some of the earliest human civilizations. The art of crafting scents began in ancient Mesopotamia and Egypt, then was further refined by the Romans and Persians.
Knowledge of perfumery came to Europe as early as the 14th century, due in part to developments in the Middle East. Islamic cultures perfected the extraction of fragrances through steam distillation and introduced new raw materials to the industry. With that, fragrances were ready to move west.
Today’s colognes don’t perform such a purely practical purpose, but they do serve a more interesting one: helping you get lucky. Pair the right scent with the right man and some kind of sorcery happens. If you don’t know what we’re talking about, you just haven’t met The One yet (scent, that is).
Men’s Cologne Tips
The best mens cologne must be thoughtfully paired with the specific situations and occasions in which it will be worn. Seductive dark, tobacco and woody smells suit evening events, while fresher or citrus fragrances work better for everyday wear and the office.
The last thing you want to do is be known as the ‘too much men cologne’ guy at work, so choose appropriately and apply sparingly.
Most of the best mens cologne and fragrances can be purchased online, however we recommend trying them on in store first. Spray some on in the shop, then go for a walk and see how it smells after 15 minutes. Most mens colognes smell different on everyone. Your skin and pheromones react with the potion to personalise the scent, meaning you don’t have to drop thousands on a custom cologne to get something unique.
Tips From The Experts
Briony Wright, OdeLab.com
“Choosing a new fragrance should be a fun time but it does have the tendency to be overwhelming.
By the time you’ve sampled your fourth average fragrance at a large department store you’ll likely have scent fatigue so a better place to begin is a smaller boutique specialising in fewer lines which has done some of the ground work for you.
Decide whether you’re after something fresh and light or a heavier scent and stick to that category. Then just start spraying. Remember that any aftershave will smell quite different on your skin to how it comes across on a cardboard scent strip, so make sure you test the favourites on yourself.
It’s nice to ultimately have a collection including a fragrance from each scent category, for instance: a citrus, a woody, a floral, a spicy and a marine – this way you’re covered regardless of the mood or occasion.”
Samantha Taylor’s Top Picks, The Powder Room
Eight and Bob
The story behind this fragrance is almost as good as the smell. Whether the fascinating story of Albert Fouquet and JFK chance meeting is true or not, the fragrance is a timeless classic in the cologne style.
Serpentine by Comme de Garcon
Comme de Garcon do quirky very well. Serpentine is not just a snapshot of the London park, but of London itself including notes of asphalt and grass. It makes for a green fragrance with a dark heart.
Colonia Leather Eau de Cologne Concentrée
Aqua di Parma Colonia is a fragrance wardrobe staple, one that every man should own. This latest incarnation takes the sophisticated freshness of Colonia and combines it with the warmth of leather and woods. Delicious. Apply liberally in winter.
Dries Van Notten for Frederic Malle
An intimate self portrait that reflects the elements of Dries designs, this fragrance is an enveloping scent that stays close to the skin. A touch of vanilla sweetens the woods and spices.
Santal Majuscule by Serge Lutens
Santal Majuscule is an homage to sandalwood, creamy and smokey with a twist of cocoa. This is the perfect winter aftershave to wrap around you on a cold night.
Blue Encens by Comme de Garcon
I love this fragrance, I classify it as a men’s cologne wardrobe essential. A spicy incense with a cool blast of aromatic artemesia, Blue Encens is ideal for a business meeting or a lunch date.