4/14/12

Brut Splash-On (Helen of Troy)



Brut 33 was recently re-released in a new "Splash-On" form, and with the number 33 nowhere to be seen on the packaging. I find this amusing.

It's a good thing because Brut 33 hasn't been available in many years, and I've often wished it was. Regular Brut cologne is nice enough, but a tad . . . pungent. I get a little squeamish with those massive lemon, lavender, and basil top notes. The soft greenness of Brut is lost to the aromachemicals (which are cheap), and it's a Burt Reynolds car chase through the middle notes to the base. If it were distilled down to the smoothest interpretation possible, this cologne would be a soapy masterpiece of subtle masculinity. That's what Brut Splash-On is.


I'm not entirely sure why they opted to rename this scent, but I have my theories. Brut 33 made it a point to advertise its 33% concentration, an awfully technical angle for advertisers. It's hard to successfully submit a "less is more" campaign in a world where more is, very decidedly, more. Creating two concentrations of the cologne with the less telling "Splash-On" label gives Helen of Troy some extra leverage in a relatively lax market. With very few new drugstore colognes out there, Brut now has two versions up against one version of Old Spice, Skin Bracer, Aqua Velva, and Clubman. Well, there's four versions of Clubman, but only one is widely available. You get the point.

Shamu1 recently opined on the importance of Brut, and I must say that I agree completely with his assessment. I'm not an avid fan of the fragrance, but there's no denying Brut's place in the pantheon of classic masculine fragrances. There was a terrific perfume shop here in Connecticut that sold older formulations of the classics, things like Kouros, Zino, Grey Flannel, and it was run by an older, soft-spoken guy who knew his stuff. He related to me that his fragrance of choice was Brut. He said it was the only thing he wore. The man's inventory wasn't your typical Perfume Palace mall crap, and he could have worn anything he wanted (including any one of three genuine Creeds behind the cash register), but he chose Brut. Maybe it's not such a big deal to the average Joe, but it stuck with me. It was quite an endorsement.


If regular Brut is Burt Reynolds, then Brut Splash-On is Al Pacino in the movie Sea of Love. In a now-forgotten but spectacular performance, Pacino played the exhausted and disheveled Frank Keller with an understated elegance not seen from him in any movie since. I can't help but feel that Frank used Brut 33, a minimal fragrance in a maximal world of iron towers and endless subway tunnels. It's perfect for a cop because it's a skin scent, very low-key and hard to detect, yet remotely perceptible to an astute nose, even at a distance if the wind is right. It also affords a man some much-needed sensuousness, should the right (or wrong) lady lean in for a closer sniff. The no-frills, no fancy-pants attitude is utilitarian but focused, and intended for men living in a new and dangerous age. Just like a gun, it's easy to grab a bottle of Brut Splash-On, slather it all over, and lope out the door to catch up with your partner.

I may not be a Frank Keller, and dangerous New York dames may not be knocking on my door at two o'clock in the morning, but I recognize anything that smells fresh, green, and clean, and Brut Splash-On carries an old tradition of crisp cleanness very nicely. It has a place in any man's wardrobe, and is the ultimate "in a pinch" scent. I'm definitely a member of the 33%.










6 comments:

  1. Good review, and one I completely agree with. I don't think I'd ever smelled Brut 33, but like you I always suspected that the Brut "Splash On" stuff is simply Brut 33 renamed.

    I really like the Splash On stuff, but I don't find it that subtle. For me, it's weaker in the longevity department, more than the sillage department. When I put it on, even without splashing it on, my wife tells me she can smell it downstairs, about 30 feet away.

    I like it as a pick-me-up frag for evenings at home. When I want to wear Brut for the whole day, I wear Brut Classic.

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    1. The Splash On has a very strong presence in its first two minutes on my skin, but then fades fast. I'm thinking it's probably my skin chemistry, with some other skin types keeping that potent intro around longer. Doesn't surprise me that your wife can smell it across the house.

      I'm going to see if I can procure a bottle of Brut Classic today. If I manage, I'll be reviewing it today as well.

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  2. I need to resniff this. It was second in my Dad's 'fume cabinet to Old Spice, and I wonder if it will call up any memories. I definitely associate my Dad with Old Spice, but maybe there is a lurking memory of Brut in my mind somewhere, too. Thanks for the review and history, too. I had no idea about the happenings in "Brut land" and the 33%. (Love your last line, too.)

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    1. It's more love-it or hate-it than Old Spice, that's for sure.

      If you search Brut in basenotes, you'll find numerous discussions about the many different incarnations of this scent. It gets downright confusing at times!

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  3. I like the current Splash On better than the cologne. For me the splash on smells sharper. Brut Classic is the best though (which I just received yesterday).

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    Replies
    1. Yeah I agree, the Splash-On has a nice bite to it, but I wish it hung around longer than a few minutes.

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