Recently, a Now Smell This reader from Canada asked me what I thought of the Burberry fragrances for men. I had to fess up: “I’ve never tried any of them!” Shocked by my ignorance, my friend from the north braved the post office (and its rigmarole for shipping liquids across international borders) and sent me generous samples of Burberry for Men, Burberry Touch for Men, Burberry Brit for Men and Burberry London for Men.
Burberry For Men is the oldest Burberry scent but has been reformulated several times since its release in 1981; the current version contains lavender, bergamot, thyme, mint, moss, cedar, amber and tonka bean. Burberry for Men opens loud and proud: it’s cool, sharp and herbal. Burberry for Men’s lavender is enlivened, and somewhat disguised, by strong bergamot, mint and thyme. Straight out of the bottle, Burberry for Men smells like a lip-puckering French mouthwash I used to buy at Caswell-Massey. As I wore Burberry for Men, I experienced other “medicinal” moments — again, associated with my mouth. I like it when perfumes remind me of faces and places, but I don’t want a fragrance to prompt me to call my dentist and arrange a check-up — Burberry for Men is the scent of my dentist’s office!
Burberry Touch for Men was created by perfumer Jean-Pierre Bethouart and was released in 2000. When I read Touch’s list of ingredients, I was excited by the “promise of GREEN” — artemisia, violet leaf, mandarin leaf (other notes are white pepper, Virginia cedar, nutmeg, vetiver, tonka bean). On application, Burberry Touch for Men reminded me of an old fashioned barber shop with its scented suds, pomades and hair dressings. Touch opens with the smell of fresh leaves (violet leaf, artemisia) and as the leaves lose their punch, a pleasant vetiver aroma arises. Touch’s “mid-section” reminds me of Guerlain’s Vetiver (after it’s been on skin a few hours). Touch ends with a light vanilla-tonka bean accord. My overall impression of Touch for Men is of cleanness — not only the clean lathers and talcum powders of a barber shop, but the clean smell of freshly laundered clothes, dried outdoors in summer sunshine.
Burberry Brit for Men’s (2004; perfumer Antoine Maisondieu) list of ingredients intrigued me — green mandarin, bergamot, ginger, “frozen” cardamom, wild rose, nutmeg, cedar, “oriental” woods, grey musk and tonka bean — but when I sprayed on the fragrance for the first time I thought: “This is the BLANDEST of the Burberry bunch so far…even with ginger, rose and nutmeg….” At first sniff, Burberry Brit for Men seemed over-blended, its notes pounded together to produce a character-less blob. Just as I was about to wash my arms to rid myself of the boring Brit fragrance, something pleasant began to happen — the lemony scent of freshly grated nutmeg appeared, accompanied by sweet musk, tonka bean, and a calming vanilla-cedar accord; I felt cozy and content and Brit for Men became my favorite Burberry scent at that point, toppling Touch for Men from its pedestal.
The most recent Burberry men’s fragrance release is Burberry London for Men (2006, Antoine Maisondieu). By this stage of my testing, I knew that Burberry men’s fragrances changed and “developed” on the skin and should not be judged until they were worn for a few hours. London for Men starts safely, with the scent of lavender-bergamot, then comes cinnamon, pepper and wine (with a faint hint of leather). For me, it’s ALL about the base notes in this fragrance: the rich amber, the strong, but mellow, tobacco leaf, and smooth guaiac wood. London for Men is the most powerful and masculine of the Burberry men’s fragrances and it became my favorite — poor Brit had but a day in the spotlight. (Since mimosa flower is listed in London for Men’s ingredients, but is not readily apparent, one day I wore London for Men layered with Diptyque’s mimosa room spray and the result smelled great.)
I liked three of the four Burberry men’s fragrances; I don’t need full-size bottles of any of them but I may seek out a miniature of the London for Men. The Burberry men’s scents are calm and collected and pleasant to be around and though their vibe is “traditional” the perfumes are not dull. I was happy to wear a men’s line of contemporary designer scents that didn’t make me gag or feel like I was being sanitized by a mist of cheaply scented rubbing alcohol.