Eau de Cologne Imperiale (Guerlain)

I know I've already reviewed a Guerlain this month, but July is long in the tooth, and August, which is generally the hottest month of the year in these parts, is right around the corner. Those of you who are seeking a beautifully-made EDC for sweaty mid-summer afternoons should look no further than Eau de Cologne Imperiale. Mind you, this is the "affordable" EDC from Guerlain - actually one of a few - and if you have a well lubricated bank account, by all means spring for the pricier Eau de Guerlain instead. It's a bit harder to source, though. I'm not so sure it's worth the trouble. I've never had the chance to try it, but I understand EdG is the best of Guerlain's colognes.

EdCI, however, seems to be ranked second, and I can see why. With the exception of Shalimar, I have yet to encounter another citrus accord as good as the one in this cologne. Most EDCs boast a broad array of citrus notes, with lemon, lime, bergamot, bitter orange, and sometimes grapefruit present and accounted for. 4711 is a good example of this - it has a very nice bitter citrus opening, and although its note separation isn't top shelf, I can make out lemon, bergamot, and lime. Legible enough, but after three minutes they meld into one thing, and get overtaken by herbal and floral notes.

Guerlain has a knack for using citrus aromachemicals that are crystalline, easy to identify, well-blended, and smooth. EdCI opens with a lovely rush of bright, bitter, truly naturalistic citrus. The lemons, the limes, the oranges, all come tumbling out onto skin in a wet splash, like one of those visually-dishonest chain restaurant commercials with slices of food and water droplets flying everywhere. There are some prickly herbs: a touch of rosemary, the quietest hint of basil, accents of neroli, and a nondescript aromatic wood, probably cedar.

Spray on. Let seconds pass. Enjoy this sparkly citrus-herbal wonder. Revel in it. Then say goodbye. Longevity is roughly fifteen minutes with reasonable application. Which, in a way, is good. It supports the supposition that high-grade naturals were used. For citrus lovers, those who require a light, noncommittal fragrance in close quarters with others, or just people who want a little lift in the middle of a heat wave, this juice is for you.