True Religion for Men, Billy Jealousy Illicit and Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Malt ~ fragrance reviews

True Religion for Men

True Religion for Men

It's a lot harder to find a good-fitting pair of jeans than it is a 'good-fitting' cologne. My house is full of jeans that no longer make the cut (except for gardening duty) — jeans that are too: short, faded, loose, "deconstructed" or embellished for my own good (and the good of innocent onlookers). It's hard to find a slim-tailored pair of dark blue jeans that have not been abraded, faded/bleached, embroidered, ripped or whiskered. True Religion Brand Jeans are not 'me', but what about the new True Religion for Men cologne?

As usual, the company description of True Religion for Men is confusing and unintentionally amusing:

Introducing "the fragrance for the senses" True Religion for Men. A modern timeless fougère that breaks all the rules with a surprising citrus and herbal aromatic introduction. Moss and patchouli provide a darkly rugged feel with a vintage vibe. A masculine brew that demands attention. Fougère The essential masculine structure. Never out of style the classic elegance of the fougère continues to evoke pure masculinity, combining classic perfumery ingredients with modern accents. Aligns perfectly with the character of True Religion. A timeless classic creation needs no explanation and is unapologetically easy.

So! What we 'learn' about True Religion for Men:

It should look, sound, taste and feel as good as it smells;

It's a fougère — both classic-vintage AND modern; and

The "fragmented" copywriter doesn't know a fougère from a hole in the ground (True Religion for Men breaks no fougère rules).

True Religion for Men opens with sweet-tangy citrus (smells like mandarin to me) and a touch of vibrant, nose-tickling violet leaf (not the gray-dull, lung-battering, nostril-scraping type of violet leaf I hate). As True Religion for Men dries down, a powdery-"leather-lite" accord develops; the moss and patchouli in the base notes are transparent and lively (not opaque and plodding). True Religion for Men DOES fit me better than True Religion Brand jeans. The fragrance is well done, zingy, and though not 'original' in the least, it does not bore or annoy me. I prefer True Religion for Men to other recently released fragrances of its type: Ed Hardy Love & Luck Man, Burberry The Beat for Men and DKNY Men.  (True Religion for Men reminds me of Tom Ford for Men — without the muskiness in the base.)

True Religion for Men Eau de Toilette is $59-79 (50 ml/100 ml).

Billy Jealousy Illicit

Billy Jealousy Illicit

Billy Jealousy is a Texas-based company that produces men's grooming products; Illicit, the company's only fragrance, debuted in 2006 and contains bergamot, ivy, ginger, tea and sandalwood.

Illicit starts off with refreshing bergamot and crisp-tart "greens." Illicit's ivy note is joined by a green floral note (smelling like wintersweet flowers). Illicit's green accord smells great, and it lasts and lasts. I do smell ginger in Illicit's mid-development but green notes are the stars in this composition. (The tea note, if actually present, has been obscured by other notes; I can't tell if it's black or green or ginger tea.) Illicit's base notes of sandalwood and musk are sheer and take a back seat to residual "greenery." Illicit reminds me of Diptyque Eau de Lierre, but with added "Green Power!"

Even with its limited ingredients, I really like Illicit. If you live with someone who adores his "sport fragrances," get him a sample of green-tinged Illicit to try— maybe he'll stop wearing the 'blues' (ordinary, aquatic/ozone sport scents).

Billy Jealousy Eau de Parfum is $65 for 100 ml.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Malt

Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Malt

Just released without fanfare, Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Malt is simply described on the Mugler website: "Pure Malt honors the tradition of Scotland's peaty whiskies with its smoky and sensual woody accents. The result is a surprising fragrance of elegance and sophistication in which several malts collide, exciting the senses and revealing a truly noble and refined masculinity."

A*Men Pure Malt smells a lot like Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Coffee (without the coffee and chocolate, of course). A*Men Pure Malt goes on strong, and I can't decide if it's the alcohol of the formula or a boozy "malted barley" aroma that sears my nostrils. After those fumes quickly disappear, I smell warm woods, sweet musk, vanilla, perhaps a drop or two of patchouli, and a background "cereal" scent (a bit food-y, like sniffing a bowl full of Kellogg's Raisin Bran®).  A*Men Pure Malt is a pleasant and comforting fragrance that's not too food-y or sweet — think of it as a low-cal alternative to A*Men Pure Coffee.

At first, A*Men Pure Malt disappointed me because I was SO looking forward to those "peaty" whisky and "smoky" wood aromas, and I can't detect them. As I wore A*Men Pure Malt, I liked it more and more, and if it had been available at the same time I bought my 100 ml. bottle of A*Men Pure Coffee, I would have probably bought A*Men Pure Malt instead — it's hard to commit to 'chocolate and coffee' first thing in the morning (for me that's 4:30 a.m.) when I choose my cologne for the day.

Thierry Mugler A*Men Pure Malt Eau de Toilette is a limited edition; 100 ml for $70.

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Parfums Raffy


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  1. LaMaroc says:

    Hmmm, I was hoping for “peaty and smoky” too. Guess I’ll stick with Cumming for that. Kevin, do you know if Pure Coffee is still available anywhere?

    • Kevin says:

      Lamaroc: I think it’s hard to find; a SA at Nordstrom found me a bottle back in January at another store.

      • LaMaroc says:

        Ah, yes, Nordy’s SAs have been my lifeline more than once for discontinued products. (I miss living in Seattle, but am so thankful for 1-800-7BEAUTY!) Maybe one will be my fairy godmother/father yet again!

  2. Carlos BFL 319 says:

    Hello Kevin. Wow…You liked ALL 3 in this weeks review. :-)

    • Kevin says:

      Carlos: BEWARE! A tornado will rip thru Brooklyn this p.m.!

      • krokodilgena says:

        last time I was in NY, my dad really wanted to see the Financial District, and I really didn’t want to but he forced me to anyway. And I said I was tired of walking but we’d have to walk alllllll the back to our hotel sfjdlfkjdfkjdlkfj. And my dad was like “oh, we’ll take the subway back to our hotel!!”
        But there just haaaaaad to be a tornado in Brooklyn and the subway lines were down.
        So we had to walk from the Financial District to our hotel in the Lower East Side and then we had to walk to Penn Station and it was like a zillion degrees that day. ; ___ ;

        I want to try A*Malt.

        • Kevin says:

          Krok: hurry up and sniff it then…it will “disappear” after August supposedly.

          • krokodilgena says:

            Is it at Sephora and is it available now?
            I need to go to H&M tomorrow and there is a Sephora in that mall too.

          • Kevin says:

            K: I think Sephora, some of them, have it, Macy’s, Nordstrom….

          • krokodilgena says:

            A*men Pure Malt was not at the Sephora I went to.
            I tried the original though. I actually like it D:
            I also tried HeWood and John Varvatos Artisan which are nice I guess.

        • Carlos BFL 319 says:

          Macy’s has the Pure Malt.

          • krokodilgena says:

            I didn’t go to Macy’s
            I ran to H&M, grabbed my Tokio Hotel (yeah yeah yeah, I know) and Dita Von Teese t-shirts (and paid for them of course) and ran to Sephora and then got out of there.

            I will find a way. Where there is a will there is a way!!!

  3. Joe says:

    Hi Kevin. Illicit sounds very nice. I love green, but I’m confused when I see that “ivy” note listed in a fragrance. Does ivy really have a smell?

    LaMaroc said what I was thinking: maybe Cumming is better when you’re looking for that peaty/smoky vibe? Still, I’d like to try Pure Malt… and I’ve still never gotten around to trying Pure Coffee.

    Lastly: 4:30am? Good lord! I’m impressed.

    • Kevin says:

      Joe: rip up some ivy leaves and sniff…some ivy scents are strong. I doubt “true” ivy is in any fragrance though.

  4. cazaubon says:

    I just bought the Pure Malt for my BF – I really like it, it’s my favorite A*Men so far.

    • Kevin says:

      Cazaubon: it’s very nice…hope the BF likes it!

  5. Somerville Metro Man says:

    Just wore A*Men Pure Malt yesterday for the first time. I think I found the top less irritating than you and more peaty, malty. One of the things I like about these A*Men flankers is they accentauate different aspects of A*Men. In Pure Malt I really notice the caramel accord present.

    • Kevin says:

      SMM: Wish I could smell that peat! But Pure Malt has a “clarity” I really like (and I wasn’t irritated by the opening…I love a punch-in-the-face opening myself…so HATE it when SAs spray a card and then wave it about before letting me sniff).

  6. Veronika says:

    I’m exactly the person who is tired of this blue lemony-sporty-fresh juice in a bottle of L’eau par Kenzo in my boyfriend’s bathroom.
    And I’ve been trying and trying to find something more interesting and still to his liking. He refused to wear Acqua di Parma Colonia Intensa, Pour Monsieur in Edt and Eau d’Orange Verte in EdC.

    I doubt that I can find Illisit in Moscow, and I’m out of ideas what to buy him next.

    • Veronika says:

      Oh, and I understand you about the jeans… It seems the most simple things are the hardest to find. I also can’t find white or black t-shirts that are good quality and don’t have any labels on front.

      • Kevin says:

        V: thankfully, the newest thing here are “label-less’ T-shirts…much more comfy to wear.

    • Kevin says:

      Veronika: Can you interest him in a big ole bottle of Dior Eau Sauvage or Guerlain Vetiver? I wish I could airlift you some Illicit….

  7. elaborate says:

    Apparently Pure Malt whisky note is supposed to smell like Laphroaig. I’d like to do a side by side comparison some time as Laphroaig is one of my favourite tipple.

    • Kevin says:

      Elaborate: AYE!! My tipples are more of the fruity-floral variety so you’ll have to let me know about the Laphroaig! HA!

  8. Bunny says:

    I’ll go the opposite direction, I like the solitary pair of True Religion Jeans I own better than the womens True Religion scent which, of course, is the obvious choice because the scent made me feel sick lol Still not the best jeans I’ve ever owned in the comfort dept. but they do have a nice 34″ inseam.

    • Kevin says:

      Bunny: haven’t smelled the women’s fragrance but I didn’t like the sound of the notes.

  9. miss kitty v. says:

    I’m glad True Religion is good, because the following quote, ” A masculine brew that demands attention,” can’t help but conjure up the sensation of being chased around by a drunken frat boy, beer in hand. Unintentionally amusing ad copy is right. That one will have me snickering to myself hours from now.

    • Kevin says:

      Miss Kitty V: yes, I chuckled at all those lines!

  10. zara says:

    kevin, does pure malt come close to the booziness of lubin’s idole?b

    • Kevin says:

      Zara: I don’t get booze at all in Pure Malt…unless the alcohol-y opening is booze. I’d say Idole is more “drunken.”

  11. tuberosie says:

    i loved a*men pure coffee!! i can’t wait to smell pure malt, but I keep thinking of the “malted milk” type of smell and so I think I’ll be a little disappointed :)

    • Kevin says:

      Tuberosie: well, malted milk CAN be nice…you just have to be in the mood for it!

  12. datura5750 says:

    I really enjoy Cumm…the Alan Cumming scent, I tried A*men malt and Coffee last week from samples and hurriedly tracked down a bottle of Coffee.

    • Kevin says:

      datura: lucky to find a bottle of Pure Coffee still about….

  13. Juniper says:

    OMG Kevin!!! I asked my Nordstrom about Pure Coffee last fall and just got a shrug and “it’s no longer available.”
    Just last weekend I got Pure Malt for my husband. My step-dad’s father always smoked a tobacco pipe and the whole dry-down smells exactly like that to me.

    • Kevin says:

      Juniper: it seems people are STILL able to find a Pure Coffee bottle here and there…my Nordstrom here in Seattle found me a bottle in San Diego. Glad you like the Pure Malt.

  14. heydaves says:

    way late on this boat…but i just sniffed the pure malt the other day.

    to me it smelled way more like cognac than whiskey. at least, i’ve never smelled a whiskey like this.

    on the sample card it was unremarkable, but on me it was pretty nice. though quite sweet. it had a nice aura, and i picked up hints of it as i moved my arm, or we were outside in light breeze.

    it reminds me very very strongly of Frapin 1270.

    its one of those “if i had the money to blow, i’d have impulse bought it” fragrances that would be nice to have, but not something i’m going to lust (and save) after like Musc Rav or Chergui.

  15. Viraj Vyas says:

    any good perfume with tobacco notes?????

  16. prism says:

    late to the party. but True Religion smells like Escada’s Sunset Heat for Men to me.

    (sorry, it just came out like 2 weeks ago in Europe)

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