Crabtree & Evelyn Indian Sandalwood Cologne ~ fragrance review

Ah, the wonderful, long-ago days of fragrance, when perfumers used real Mysore sandalwood (santalum album); now, I only get to smell it in my vintage perfumes — where delicious, irreplaceable Indian sandalwood appears like a ghost, a reminder of a loved one long departed. I probably won't live to see the return of Mysore sandalwood, if it ever returns — the best sandalwood oil comes from trees fifty years or older. The Indian government's effort to save surviving, old-growth sandalwood trees is in disarray (with trees, even almost-worthless 'teenage trees,' being chopped down all the time on government and private property by thieves who trade in sandalwood oil).

Crabtree & Evelyn says the sandalwood in their Indian Sandalwood Cologne1 (formerly named Sandalwood, and presumably tweaked) is from sustainably harvested sandalwood trees; if that's true, those trees are probably outside India and grow in Australia (santalum spicatum)...but who knows? There may even be synthetic sandalwood augmenting natural sandalwood oil in Indian Sandalwood Cologne.

Like many things to do with fragrance — use of endangered animals and plants, IFRA restrictions — the topic of sandalwood is depressing. 

Indian Sandalwood Cologne is not depressing; wearing it makes me happy and nostalgic. Indian Sandalwood Cologne goes on with brisk citrus and lavender notes; quickly, those notes are joined by a refreshing, sheer sandalwood aroma. If you've ever smelled sandalwood window blinds as the sun hits them, or used a sandalwood hand fan, you'll know the sweet/dry wood smell I'm talking about.

Indian Sandalwood Cologne, during mid-development, presents unadorned sandalwood (with maybe a hint of cypress); this perfume reminds me of summer (or should I say, since it IS summer, this is a summer-enhancing scent). Indian Sandalwood Cologne brings to mind the sandalwood-scented fragrances and shave soaps my father used when I was growing up. Indian Sandalwood Cologne  isn't "old-fashioned" — it's just rare to smell a sandalwood "soliflore" these days. 

Near the end of its development, Indian Sandalwood Cologne presents some spice:  a cinnamon-and-nutmeg-like accord accenting the sandalwood and mixing with faint, but not boring, musk (neither "white musk" nor "laundry musk" in case you're worrying). I really enjoy wearing Indian Sandalwood Cologne, and I've been wearing it liberally in hot weather; it has good lasting power and sillage. Men and women: indulge, because Crabtree & Evelyn Indian Sandalwood Cologne is, take a deep breath, only $45 for 100 ml. Now, if the sandalwood oil from a 60-year-old Indian sandalwood tree were being used...we'd know it at the cash register.

Unimportant Aside: I was surprised to see that Crabtree & Evelyn uses the identical bottle design as Maître Parfumeur et Gantier fragrances, minus the cheesy MPG tops, of course.

The Crabtree & Evelyn Indian Sandalwood Cologne fragrance collection also includes shave soap and shave cream, aftershave balm, and hair & body wash.

1. Listed notes: bergamot, lavender, sandalwood, cypress, vetiver, musk

Note: top image is via Lakshmi as "Gajalakshmi" [cropped] via Wikimedia Commons.

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  1. relleric says:

    I noticed the bottles are the same as MPG too, after I picked up a bottle of C&E Sandalwood in TJM a few months ago.
    Great article! :)

    • Kevin says:

      relleric: thanks, and I probably would not have noticed the same bottles unless I saw them side by side…it happened that a summer staple, Baime, was sitting next to Indian Sandalwood Cologne.

    • chandler_b says:

      Oh I love TJM finds!

  2. Marjorie Rose says:

    Wow, how nice would it be to find a pleasant fragrance for such a great price! My summer sandalwood has been Bois des Iles, as it seems to be the only time that I can smell it beyond an hour or two. My other sandalwood, Champagne de Bois, is so heavy-hitting, I rarely reach for it. No need to make everyone pass out in my wake!

    Might have to find some and see if it appeals to Mr. Spicebomb. . . I think it’s time for him to branch out a bit! :)

    • Kevin says:

      MR: famous last words, but don’t think you can go wrong with this one…if he doesn’t like it, it would make a fabulous roomspray! HA!

      • Marjorie Rose says:

        More than one of my less-than-loved scents have gone the route of room spray! Guerlain Vetiver is especially refreshing in a newly cleaned room! :)

        • Kevin says:

          MR: for me right now, it’s a bottle of Cumming…given to me, not purchased.

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            I admit, the advertising on that one nearly got me to blind buy–just to support the silliness!

        • AnnS says:

          I started to use my less than loved or just plain hideous frags I find at yard sales to keep the deer out of my garden. I spray it on discreetly hung rags I keep on the fencing. It works a lot better than that liquid fence stuff and is a lot cheaper!! A few bottles of liquid fence could by me a nice frag I want!

          • Marjorie Rose says:

            Oh too funny! And that stuff must be expensive if perfume seems an affordable alternative (even yard sale types)!

    • Oakland Fresca says:

      My addiction to Champagne de Bois has been a real surprise. I sleep wearing it. My tiny sample bottle is almost finished, so I’m starting to think about my next SSS order :)

  3. AnnS says:

    This sounds great – I need to try it! My fav summer “sandalwood” is the AG Heure Exquise which has a significant amount of whatever she is using in the base to make it very sandalwoodyish.

    • Kevin says:

      Ann…yes, love the base of Heure Exquise

  4. Merlin says:

    I was wondering if anyone knows in what way this actually differs from their ‘Sandalwood’ – the previous version. I tried that one today and found it pleasant enough, but not something that grabbed me. Then again I’m not necessarily a lover of sandalwood…

    • Kevin says:

      Merlin: where did you find the “old” one? If memory serves, this one is spicier, not as “soapy.” I used to buy the “old” sandalwood soap…wonder why they’re not having soap with this one, too….

      • Merlin says:

        They recently had a sale in their South African branches. I think some of the older stock came out of hiding :)

  5. nozknoz says:

    I’m sure that a good part of my love of vintage perfumes is due to the real sandalwood. Even or perhaps even especially when it’s not a primary note, sandalwood adds beautiful tone. Most of the new woody notes are so dull, clumsy or sharp in comparison.

    It sounds like C&E has done an amazing job on this cologne – thanks for letting us know about it!

    • Kevin says:

      Noz: you’re welcome…I still want to try their Lime(s) cologne too…

  6. Rappleyea says:

    Nice review, Kevin. C & E scents are surprisingly well-done, especially considering the price. I wore my favorite jasmine/sandalwood perfume the other day – vintage Samsara. The real sandalwood in the drydown was gorgeous.

    • Kevin says:

      Rappleyea: ah, vintage Samsara…LOTS of sandalwood there.

    • bookwyrmsmith says:

      I love Samsara too . And it’s two flankers are quite good as well.

  7. AnnieA says:

    Tried this on the way home yesterday – alas, it is Too Dude for me. Complete shaving cream on me.

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