Tsar (Van Cleef & Arpels)

Tsar had a terrific nose behind it: Philippe Bousseton. The puzzling thing about Bousseton is his apparently flimsy output - basenotes lists a meager four fragrances, and fragrantica only seven. The brilliant opening of Tsar's bergamot and lavender accord is pure sensory pleasure. The citrus is neither synthetic nor bland, and smells so bright, clean, and realistic that I'm transported to a verdant garden somewhere east of whenever I am. Well-blended notes of oakmoss (in a subdued amount), pine, coriander, juniper, cedar, coumarin, sandalwood, and tarragon create a green, soapy aura that stays fairly close to its source, projecting politely and for several hours. 

What lends Tsar distinction is its drydown. Where other fougères smell a bit clunky and overtly soapy (see Sung Homme), Tsar is just smooth. The soapiness is predicated on freshness, not a simulated lye effect. It's the very definition of "gentleman's scent," in a traditional manner closely wedded to the British style of ferns. Anyone curious enough to try it will find something forgotten since the early nineties - a green aromatic fern made of high quality materials. Sadly it has been discontinued, but if you keep an eye out for it in brick and mortar stores, it can still be found for reasonable prices.