Davidoff Adventure ~ fragrance review

Ewan McGrefor for Davidoff Adventure cologne for men

For Davidoff Adventure, my inspiration has been what I dream about adventure…a dream of wild nature where bright colors and hot spices blend with the humid freshness of the rainforest and the sensuality of exotic woods,” Antoine Lie, perfumer*

I don’t know how much traveling Lie has done, but with Adventure, he’s stayed on the beaten path and only dreamed of wild places and rough journeys. Davidoff, who may have reined in Lie’s more daring ideas, makes many claims in its Adventure ad campaign: Adventure “explores uncharted fragrance territory” “is daring and elemental” and was “inspired by … wildernesses and raw, masculine emotion.” “Rainforest,” “wild earth,” “intense thrill,” “discovery,” “exoticism,” and “challenge” are reference points for the aura Adventure aspires to capture. This is all reminiscent of Ralph Lauren’s ad campaign for its Polo (armchair) Explorer fragrance.

To add another layer of “adventure” to its new cologne, Davidoff hired actor (and “adventurer”) Ewan McGregor as its model for video and print ads and mentions McGregor’s two filmed adventures: Long Way Round and Long Way Down. (Like most well-heeled adventurers in history, McGregor has sponsors and is equipped with a team, including a medic, on his trips.)

Davidoff Adventure is described as a "fresh, woody and spicy" scent and contains mandarin, lemon, bergamot, black sesame, pimiento, maté leaves, chili black pepper, cedar wood, vetiver and white musk. Though these ingredients are nice, I would not, in 2008, describe them as “adventurous” in the least (unless all a person has worn before encountering Adventure is lavender water or Jean Marie Farina Eau de Cologne).

Adventure begins with the scents of creamy ‘fresh’ citrus and (hints of) pepper and sweet sesame; then, there is a quick chilled-tea break (maté?) before the fragrance segues to smooth, mellow woods, light vetiver and musk. Adventure’s white musk dry down is rather feminine to my nose and it’s similar to the sweet base notes in another Lie perfume: Etat Libre d’Orange Tom of Finland. Adventure provides a well-blended, seamless fragrance trip; there are no: glitches, bumps in the road or nights without a bathroom (or bath). Adventure smells clean, but its “freshness” does not seem to be created by overt use of ozone/marine accords. Overall, Adventure is a pleasant fragrance but it does not conjure up the rainforest — or any particular place for that matter.

As usual with “BIG” mainstream perfume launches, Adventure’s style (huge ad budgets) trumps Adventure’s substance. I don’t need a bottle of middle-of-the-road Adventure. If anyone wants some real “adventurous” perfumes that bring to mind exotic places and provide exciting aroma experiences try: Comme des Garçons Incense or Red series fragrances; Diptyque Eau Lente; Eau d’Italie Sienne l’Hiver; L’Artisan Parfumeur Timbuktu or Bois Farine; Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Route du Vetiver; Parfumerie Generale L’Eau Rare Matale, Harmatan Noir or Aomassaï; Serge Lutens Fumerie Turque or Muscs Koublai Khan; or a knock-your-hiking-boots-off oud perfume by Montale or Amouage…thankfully, the list of gutsy niche “adventure” fragrances is long and varied.

Davidoff Adventure is available in 50 and 100 ml Eau de Toilette sprays ($47.50/$59.50), 100 ml aftershave ($45), hair/body shampoo, 100 ml aftershave balm ($45) and deodorant ($16).

* All quotes are via the Davidoff Adventure website.

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  1. Anonymous says:

    This is hilarious! You really could teach “slap that “fresh woody spicy” men's fragrance” 101! ;)

  2. Anonymous says:

    Hi Kevin,

    My husband and I saw the big Ewan poster in an airport shortly after watching the Long Way Round. We got a good laugh out of the white scarf and sleeves. In the film he is covered in dirt most of the time and looks nothing like this ad. Sounds like the dirtiness didn't make it into the fragrance either.

  3. Anonymous says:

    Agree with you absolutely on Adventure's unadventurousness, Kevin! The print ad also amuses me – I think Ewan looks as if he's just been told that they can't get the Chablis down to the right temperature, and he might have to make do with Beaujolais Nouveau with his dover sole. Why they'd stick a white linen scarf and a snowy white tee-shirt on someone who's supposed to have been adventuring on his motor-bike, is beyond me.

  4. Anonymous says:


    (this type of fragrance is everywhere right now…the new “thing” for men.)

  5. Anonymous says:

    Sariah: yep…the scent is clean. (I was just looking at that scarf myself!)

  6. Anonymous says:

    VG: don't know if you've watched yet, but the “behind-the-scenes” footage of the ad on the Davidoff website is pretty funny too. LOVE the images of Ewan consulting his maps at night, his wide-eyed gaze at the Brazilian landscape….

  7. Anonymous says:

    Looks like Ewan needs to dirty up a bit. Sigh, no adventure here….

  8. Anonymous says:

    SFLizbeth: …smelled it all before

  9. Anonymous says:

    Wait … you're saying it's boring and predictable?!?!
    G'wan!!! Glad I was sitting down ;-)
    And I linked through, you cracked me up with your armchair Explorer review. As dull as women's scents can be, holey moley, the new stuff in the men's dept is so often a snooze. I love your list of true adventure scents.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Sounds like fresh woody is the newest trend in men's fragrances. I'd probably like it. I've always thought that Ewan was the most unattractive man which has precluded my watching Moulin Rouge.

  11. Anonymous says:

    sir yes sir!

  12. Anonymous says:

    March: it takes a lot of #$%%s to say that a scent explores uncharted fragrance territory…I keep hoping such claims won't be a lie! HA!

  13. Anonymous says:

    Celestia: I always wondered about EMcG's appeal too and finally a workmate asked: “Have you SEEN, uh, 'The Pillow Book'?” I shall say no more but after seeing The Pillow Book I realized Ewan's appeal, for my friend, had little to do with acting ability.

  14. Anonymous says:

    Wearing L'eau Rare Matale right now! Though I can't say I'm feeling particularly adventurous about it. I'd settle for wide awake…

  15. Anonymous says:

    ahtx: wide awake is good

  16. Anonymous says:

    Hey, you know what I did like, a lot — Polo Double Black. Not slaying me with its edginess, but I think that mango/coffee combo is just stunning. One of my surprise favorite mainstream scents from the last couple of years. What did you think of it? Wondering whether men think it's a snooze … also, what about Le Male and/or Fleur du Male? Wearable? I smelled Fleur and thought, well, you don't smell THAT every day…

  17. Anonymous says:

    My hubby wears it (Polo Double Black) and loves it. It smells very nice, clean sexy on him.

    He also wears Jo Malone Pom Noir, and Fendi Life Essence. (My coaching….) I'd love to see what the original Fendi for men would smell like on him.

  18. Anonymous says:

    M: I've only smelled Polo Double Black on scent strips in magazines and it didn't thrill, but that's an unfair way to sample something. Mango and BLACK coffee DOES sound good…I'll spray some on next time I'm in Nordstrom. I like Le Male/Fleur du Male and they are wearable…but after I sampled them to write reviews I wasn't inspired to buy either.

  19. Anonymous says:

    Have not seen Pillow Book, but I'll take an Adventure poster, please… which I'll unfurl while happily wearing my Timbuktu.

  20. Anonymous says:


    Ewan once admitted that apparently the “Appeal” runs in the family. Although I'm quite certain he used another (typically British) term for it [rhymes with Bob] :)

    I'm a fan of Greenaway but The Pillow Book was just ok, much like Adventure the frag. I do love your list of perfumes for adventurers with bls though!

    P.S. To his credit, Ewan is a great actor – and I loved the Long Way Round. Am now enjoying LWD.

  21. Anonymous says:

    joe805: HA! Good choice on the cologne!

  22. Anonymous says:

    Dusan: haven't seen either series…but agree about Pillow Book for sure! I like many Greenaway films…and the great scores he gets from Michael Nyman too.

  23. Anonymous says:

    Ewan's ahem appeal was also featured prominently in “Velvet Goldmine” where he played a send up of Iggy Pop. Adored him them. This promo does not have the same dirty appeal, but he can do dirty.

  24. Anonymous says:

    I agree – very boring scent… confusing coconut topnote which caught me by surprise as I don't think this is mentioned in the advertised notes.

    I have to laugh – my sister bought this fragrance for her boyfriend because it came with a free pair of mini-binoculars in a leather case


  25. Anonymous says:

    Ewan has always given a lot 'more' than other actors! But seriously, he should have fronted “Trainspotting” the fragrance…. one filled with indoles!

  26. Anonymous says:

    Oh, I like Nyman even better. Prospero's Books are set to a most fascinating score. Nyman's non-Greenaway scores are brilliant, too – I adore his music for The Piano and Carrington in particular.

  27. Anonymous says:

    shiny99…well, Adventure is downright CHEAP pricewise so maybe the binoculars were a 'deal'?

  28. Anonymous says:

    Santemon…Trainspotting should be an Etat Libre d'Orange scent!

  29. Anonymous says:

    Dusan: I find the “Carrington” score especially effective on moody dark days whilst I'm staring out the rain-drenched windows looking for the mailman to arrive with some…TRUSSARDI from Europe!!!!!!!!! HA! (WHY did you have to go and say it was so GOOD?)

  30. Anonymous says:

    Hilarious! I don't want to smell Etat Libre d'Orange scent now *LOL*

  31. Anonymous says:

    My nose is always attune to my surroundings. More than once, I've had to stop and ask a passerby “WOW YOU SMELL GREAT WHAT ARE YOU WEARING”…and the answer was PDB! Own a bottle, but dont go to it much. Adventure sounds *typically boring* although the poster looks…ehem…*kinda good* to me..not being a EMG fan. Go stylists!

  32. Anonymous says:

    Davidoff Adventure, it doesn't look or sound very robustly adventurous, but more like an adventure under the permanent luxury of airconditioning.

  33. Anonymous says:

    ha ha, yes, I think she would've bought straight alcohol denat if it had come with the free binoculars :D

  34. Anonymous says:

    You see, my terribly childish sense of humour can't be resisted and I have to make a sniggering comment about Ewan 'Get my kit off in every film' McGregor being 'Fresh and Woody'.

    I'm sorry. I'll get my coat.

  35. Anonymous says:

    BFL: looks like the stylists opted for a “pre-ADVENTURE” pose/vibe…even the motorbike looks freshly shampooed.

  36. Anonymous says:

    Wordbird: you are sentenced to wearing Adventure for an entire month for such talk!

  37. Anonymous says:

    MW: like most people, I don't mind a muggy day in the tropics or a scalding desert trek…as long as my nicely appointed ROOMS are air conditioned for sleep each night!

  38. Anonymous says:

    A fragrance like Kouros for example is not meant to be worn in airconditioned rooms. Airconditioning deprives a room from many basic natural scents, we are born to stink Kevin..;)

    Davidoff Adventure sounds to me like a very undercooled adventure.. I must admit though that I have not tried it although I've seen it everywhere.

  39. Anonymous says:

    Only smelt this on paper when I was hunting for a father's day present. To me it smelt like baby oil + a spicy restaurant. I thought it was quite unique for a department store fume though not something I'd want my dad to be wearing.

  40. Anonymous says:

    george3b: why can't your dad wear this?! You can always give your dad a bunch of perfume samples from the department store in a wrapped box and tell him to choose the scent he likes and you'll buy it…always SAFE.

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