Silver Mountain Water (Creed)

Basenotes.net, which is little more than a male fragrance frathouse, has entire forums and subforums devoted to one topic: Creed's batch variations. I can only imagine how tiresome these conversations must be for female BN members. If there are female BN members - I count around six that participate in forums, and only irregularly.

I say it must be tiresome because Creed isn't popular with women. They offer a whole line of "Femme" Millésimes, some of which are unisex, many of which are too stodgy for modern tastes. But Creed's overall marketing approach and perfume range is geared toward male tastes, with the ladies seemingly an afterthought. The girls don't get their own Green Irish Tweed. They get Love in White instead.

So it must be a drag to have to endure all the batch variation chatter. The notion that Millésimes change from year to year, with stark differences per batch, has many men in a cold sweat. It actually puts them off when looking at Creeds online. Inevitably the question arises: "I called Fragrancenet and asked them what batch of GIT they had in stock, and they said """"""". Can anyone tell me if it's a good one or not?" Which leads to pointless code comparisons, arguments over quality, and whole threads devoted to de-coding numbers and letters. Here's the kicker - Creed batch variations are a myth. 

What does exist are age cycles for Millésimes. This is what confuses people about Creed. A guy will purchase a brand new Millésime from Neiman Marcus, take it home, spray it on, and immediately complain that it's not as strong as the tester was. Sometimes the item is returned. But he's mistaken. Let's take Green Irish Tweed. When brand new, fresh into the bottle, Green Irish Tweed is a rather weak perfume. It smells very green and crisp, but has limited longevity, and almost no sillage. But if you notice, Creed bottles aren't airtight. They're actually very poorly made. My last bottle of GIT used to leak from the atomizer base. That means air is getting inside the bottle, and mingling with the fragrance. It also means alcohol and water is evaporating out.

After a few wearings, let a bottle of Green Irish Tweed sit for six months. Then come back to it. When you spray again, you'll be blown away by its strength. Suddenly, this perfume is an eighties powerhouse. Full-blown violet. Huge verbena. Sweeping sandalwood. One spray will do ya for a good six hours, no problem. Of course, given enough time, GIT (and likely any Creed) will age past its prime, and begin to smell a little skunky, as did my 1 oz bottle of GIT from 2001. The scent was basically the same as my 2011 bottle, except the musk in its base was actually a little stinky. Its balance was definitely off.

The age cycle applies to all Millésimes. Except Silver Mountain Water.

With SMW, age is just a number. It is to date the only Creed in which I have distinctly detected a batch variation - or more accurately put, a reformulation. Earlier vintages yielded a very pungent mineral-like green tea note, married beautifully to blackcurrant to create a uniquely dark freshness. It opened with clear citrus, touched with currant, and slid rapidly into that tea-centered heart, which was bolstered by a sizable dose of ambergris. Lurking in the mix was a blatantly synthetic ink note, somewhat similar to those Hitachi inkjet cartridges. It sounds disgusting, I know, but it smelled pretty terrific. The balance was right, each note was proportionate to its role in the composition, and Silver Mountain Water evolved on skin as a very masculine fresh fragrance, with just a touch of the weird.

I sampled a new bottle, and was disappointed. Gone are the citrus top notes. Gone is the pebbly tea note. Gone is the generous ambergris base. In its place is a limpid ambergris, barely enough to keep the synthetic berry top afloat. Once the pink-smelling top evaporates, there is only a combination of ink and amber. The tea, however muted it may have been, now seems absent from the composition, with its synthetic companion as a stand-in. That's a shame, because on its own the ink note doesn't cut it. It smells too stark and strange, and is poorly wedded to the fruit-punchy top. That top has become awfully screechy, by the way. It isn't the playful lemon-lime 7-Up of yesteryear. It's Snapple on steroids, no longer "made from the best stuff on Earth."

Gentlemen readers (those new to Creed), I don't mean to throw the scare into you. I know you're already feeling a little flighty about Creed, what with all the static about batches. Rest assured, all Millésimes are solid offerings, are consistent from year to year, and so far only one has been obviously reformulated. Until further notice, stay away from Silver Mountain Water. We don't need new threads about it. We don't need anyone's feelings hurt. Just get Green Irish Tweed instead.