Interesting Interview With Roja Dove

I happened across this interesting conversation with one of the most famous noses and fragrance experts currently working in the industry. His opinions on matters of fine fragrance have always held a lot of weight, and I was truly thrilled to find such a thorough article (published in three parts). It's a few years old, but sometimes these things fall through the cracks, and need a "bump." Hope you enjoy it!


Memoir Man (Amouage)

According to the company website, Amouage's Middle Eastern-styled perfumes are currently made in Grasse under the direction of Christopher Chong. Is Grasse where Amouage ended up? Or is Grasse where Amouage has always been? I'm inclined to believe the official history of the brand, which states that Oman's Sultan Qaboos bin Said greenlit the perfumery project in 1983 as a nationalist endeavor, presumably to be representative of his country's many exotic olfactory pleasures. One could question the legitimacy of once again tying royalty to niche perfumes, but when you read the Sultan's biography, you find that he received an upper-crust English education and joined the Queen's Royal Infantry battalion. The guy's been around. He's an interesting person who probably favors the finer things in life. That he applied an understanding of whatever shapes the air in European bedrooms to his homeland's traditions of using incense, rose absolutes, and spices isn't such a stretch. 

It's not like he created the perfumes himself - Guy Robert was behind the first. They say Amouage Gold was once the most expensive perfume in the world, and judging from its quality, and that of every fragrance from this brand, I wouldn't be surprised if that were also true. Amouage's perfumes are, quite simply, amazing.

Still, there's something odd about them, and that strangeness stems from Gold Man, which smells like a powdery, Scandinavian-barbershop oriental of the sixties, and in no way evokes the mysticism of the desert. Memoir Man doesn't smell particularly Omani to me either, although I am ignorant of the specific nature of Oman's cultural styles. What Memoir does smell like is one of the many woody fougères and chypres of the seventies, eighties, and nineties, full of crisply-minty herbs, aromatic tobacco, heady artemisia and cedar (ala Balenciaga Pour Homme and Venezia Uomo), and precious woods, with a generous animalic twist of musk and ambergris. 

The ambergris note is subtle, and tucked behind silvery frankincense. It smells natural, but so does everything else in Memoir's pyramid. This is a throwback fragrance, an ode to classics in the French tradition of woody ferns perched atop earthy bases of sandalwood and moss, and it isn't hard for me to forget that it's from 2010. Nose Karine Vinchon Spehner, who also made Interlude Woman and Opus III, seems to know wormwood better than anyone else these days, as the artemisia note in here is really lovely. Framing it with all the other elements - including lavender, spearmint, basil, vanilla, vetiver, and carnation - brings out its otherwise-untapped freshness, and maintains its piney sharpness without ever becoming Yatagan.

My familiarity with Memoir's structure, via a handful of inexpensive designer masculines, makes it something utterly unnecessary to own. I won't drop big bucks on something that, when dissected, resembles in even fashion various parts of Balenciaga, Venezia, Yatagan, and even Tsar and Zino. It's true, Memoir is made of good quality naturals, and feels tangibly rich, its glistening oiliness on skin suggestive of high concentrations of premium, high-viscosity essences. I get a three-dimensional depth and realism from Amouage that I don't get from Malle or Lutens. Yet I notice a similar oiliness, and smell a similar richness whenever I wear Venezia Uomo, and I think there's a parity of quality between Venezia and Memoir. Still, if you enjoy woody fragrances, I recommend Memoir Man. 

Even if you don't wish to purchase it, you'll enjoy a classic structure that was made using the utmost skill with the finest quality materials. Smelling it is an exercise in nostalgia; if you're like me, Memoir will have you perusing your back-catalog of oldies until you locate at least one fragrance that matches its temperament and radiance, at one-tenth its price.


Polo Black (Ralph Lauren)

I have to quote this review, which was written on basenotes. It's one of the funniest things I've read in a long time. It's a bit juvenile, but so is being a fragrance reviewer:
"Pros: Smells amazing.
Cons: It is not a sillage monster. Oh I don't care, really.
What? 'You need 6 sprays for it to last, oohh'.... 'It smells American.' 'It reminds me of a laundry gel (????)' What the F&%* is wrong with (some) reviewers here? Are you this kind of snobbish DOUCHEBAGS that you complain about the AMOUNT of sprays? Is SIX sprays too much? You sirs, are complete morons and losers. This fragrance is great. I wasn't actually gonna rate it, but hey, 5 stars, take that and suck it up."
This guy really likes Polo Black, and can't understand why others do not. I agree that the number of sprays needed to get good longevity from a fragrance should never be a factor in recognizing greatness, but I have a theory on what drives the naysayers.

Polo Black is not a darker version of the original Polo. People who approach it with that expectation might be better served to skip it altogether. If anything, it's closer to Polo Sport. Counter-intuitively, Polo Black is actually a bright, fruity fougère with a mellow, tropical acidity in lieu of lavender and pineapple. Its top accord is fresh and spicy, with what is ostensibly mango (super synthetic) and mandarin (even more outrageously synthetic) lending greenness to its dusky patchouli/coumarin heart. There's a synthetic analog of woods and musk in the base, which compliment each other in one of those polite department store drydowns we've all encountered a gazillion times.

Despite its banality, Polo Black is svelte and charming, qualities fragrance enthusiasts can get at better value from the original Polo (minus all the happy-happy, joy-joy fruitiness). The original is smoother, better rounded, and well, original. People who like perfume enough to read about it aren't going to spend all that much time on Polo Black, an outlier in the weird crossover trick that RL attempted to pull off here. Going from earthy chypre to fresh fougère isn't worth revisiting when you've already reinterpreted the main theme that way once before, and with success.


Sole 149 ( Emilio Pucci )

This is my favorite of the colorful Pucci trio, which was released in 2009, and although I am not especially fond of it on its own, I think it's a successful piece of fine fragrance, done in a commendably inventive way. 

After Joop! broke new ground for tomato leaf with What About Adam, this leafy material began appearing in designer and niche perfumes of varying prestige. Eau de Campagne by Sisley is possibly the truest starting point for the mainstreaming of tomato leaf, but enthusiasts will agree that Joop! attempted to bring it to a younger demographic, with middling success (What About Adam is discontinued, and has been for quite some time). Other notable fragrances featuring this bitter, "stemmy" green note include Halston's Unbound for Men, Adidas Sport Field, and Lorenzo Villoresi's Spezie.

Another interesting note in the heart of Sole 149 is that of the infamous jasmine flower. Fragrances like 149, Anaïs Anaïs, and Tommy Girl showcase jasmine in three different ways, and convey just how surprisingly versatile and unisex it can be. Prior to getting into fragrance, I had always assumed that jasmine was just for girls, but it didn't take long for me to realize how untrue that assumption is. The rich sweetness of this flower lends itself to a wide variety of olfactory variables, in much the same way that white light yields a rainbow through a prism. They range from the warm-ambery, to an almost citric freshness, and 149's composition definitely leans toward the citric. It smells fine for a woman, but seems better suited for men, with its snappy galbanum, vetiver, and tomato leaf accentuating in equal measure its fresh, dusky jasmine note.

It's a bit simplistic, but Sole 149 is an example of how unconventional green notes can enhance the same-old, same-olds. Its vetiver is flat, and its galbanum, though well placed, smells the way galbanum tends to when left exposed to the elements: cheap. Nevertheless, with its brilliantly-placed tomato leaf note, its heart accord is concise and pleasant at all times. Despite a slightly unfinished feel, I think it's worth mentioning that this fragrance works because nose Michel Girard has extensive experience with fresh, earthy masculines (see Cerruti Pour Homme, Wolfgang Joop!, and Azzaro Pour Homme Elixir), and Pucci's brief must have been old hat for him. Creating a fragrance that brazenly highlights the beauty of crisp leaves and flowers without falling prey to undue soapiness is no small feat, and Sole 149 manages it nicely.


Neroli Portofino ( Tom Ford )

The nose behind Ford's 2011 summer release is the accomplished Rodrigo Flores-Roux, who also created the new Fougère Royale, and most of Arquiste's range. NP is part of Ford's Private Blend range, and was released but a shoulder's breadth from the much-maligned Lavender Palm. You would think, given its lineage, that NP would smell like a brand new take on citrus aurantium, the woody-fresh blossom oil of the bitter orange tree, but alas, it is simply a conventional perfumer's rendition. The very first thing I thought of when it hit my skin was 4711. That's surprising, given how cheap 4711 is, and how expensive NP is. Yeah, it's oddly the only fragrance I can think of when I smell NP, and that's not terrible, because 4711 smells really, really good. This Private Blend has imbued me with a whole new appreciation for the National Granny Cologne of Germany.

What becomes problematic is that NP doesn't really develop much, and remains a linear, semi-sweet, and utterly woody neroli, with hints of mandarin orange and cool amber in the base. That's fine, except that NP's price-point suggests it should be something more. Comparatively speaking, 4711 has complex development, with a rosy herbal structure underlying its layered citrus top accord. The basil and rosemary in that little $20 cologne really add dimensionality and zest to it, but NP is thoroughly non-herbal, possessing neither the humor, nor the panache of its predecessor. 

Speaking of humor and panache, the advertisements for this one really do a disservice to the buyer. I'm not normally influenced by visual advertising (I've been jaded by my graphic design studies), but with NP I really expected something fizzy and sexy. What I get instead is something flat and rather formal.

All well, at least the 4711 connotation is interesting. It's just a shame that little else about Neroli Portofino grabs me.


Euphoria Men (Calvin Klein)

I happen to own a small, .5 oz bottle of Euphoria Men, for reasons that are unknown to me. I can't even recall when I picked it up, although I suspect it was during a holiday season a few years back. 

I can't be bothered to wear this fragrance, or bring myself to address its popular reputation as a successful part of Klein's mediocre legacy. I won't wear it because I don't really care for it, and I've already covered Klein's mediocre legacy here. I do want to point out that Euphoria Men has one somewhat interesting thing I hadn't really noticed before - it possesses a rather good ginger top note. If you enjoy the damp, warm-fresh scent of ginger, Euphoria's rendition of it may be a good incentive to check this fragrance out.

I'm afraid the rest of it is a total non-entity. The ginger note is very fleeting, and lasts about three minutes on my skin before disappearing behind a thin wall of sweet ambers and peppery, synthetic leather notes. There's a point where the ginger transitions to the amber and makes Euphoria smell like ginger ale, but it's a short-lived effect, and it doesn't really add anything interesting to this fragrance's development. There's an intense version of Euphoria Men? That's to be expected, I suppose. While the original's longevity and sillage are adequate, it's not exactly a barn-burner in those departments. Euphoria remains in my collection as a fragrance to refer to solely for its top note.


Set Sail St. Barts for Men (Tommy Bahama)

One of the prevailing issues to be had with department store fragrances of the last ten years is that they tend to smell like very expensive deodorant, and since many are made in deodorant form, that's not really surprising. Bleu de Chanel smells that way to me, with its ashen woods lost in a powdery haze that smells neither good nor bad. Many contemporary Chanels smell like that, and when I tried this perky tropical cologne by Tommy Bahama, I found the same intentionally inoffensive, deodorant-like quality. 

The difference between Set Sail and Bleu is that Set Sail actually smells like something fun and relaxed (which is truly unexpected these days). It's a lovely little melange of salty lime, lemon, margarita mix, guava, vanilla, and musk. The citrus is fleeting but fairly natural, and the salt note is pretty distinct for most of the fragrance's life on skin. Guava fruit has a variable fragrance that ranges from dry and papery to sweet and musky, with a slight creaminess. Set Sail's Guava is the latter kind, and it lends coolness to the mix. 

This fragrance was released in 2007, but I wasn't aware of it that year because I was working in Eastern Europe. American fashion accessories tend to find their way slowly to that general region of the world. I learned of this brand when I returned home, probably because Set Sail was a resounding success. My attraction to it is a little more aesthetically motivated than usual - I really love the bottle. It's a hefty, oblong chunk of glass in a stunning Mediterranean shade of Brandeis Blue. Its atomizer is faux gold-plated metal, housed under a matching plastic cap with a little piece of docking rope wrapped around it. It's probably the nicest bottle in my collection (YSL's Jazz is a close second). 

Design-wise, I think that the fragrance and its bottle are good examples of thematic congruence. The juice smells tropical, blue, and fresh, and the bottle looks like a cross between Venetian blown glass and a polished gemstone. Set Sail is in a cologne concentration, but I get a nice four or five hours out of it before it completely reduces down to a skin scent, and it's startlingly cheap at discounters. Do look into it as a summer option, as there's a lot of good to be found here.


Soap Review: Old Spice Pure Sport & Swagger

I told you I'd review these bar soaps after using them, so here we go. 

I'm happy to report that the Pure Sport and Swagger soaps work well. They lather nicely, and leave skin feeling toned and clean. It's unclear as to why P&G chose to market only three bars - Pure Sport, Fiji, and Swagger - and opted to leave the original Old Spice fragrance out of the mix, but so far I'm pleased with the two I've tried. Let's hope they sell like hotcakes and spur the company to release the "Classic Scent" in bar form. A few points on Pure Sport and Swagger: 

  • The bars are generously sized at 4 ounces (Irish Spring is only 3.75 ounces) and they feel  dense, like they've been triple milled (although I doubt they are). 

  • They last a while. I get well over a week's-worth of showers from one bar (about ten days), while Irish Spring only yields around six or seven showers. I lather a lot though, probably more than a lot of folks do, so your mileage may vary on this.

  • The bars are shaped in a way that prohibits them from splitting in two while being used. Unlike Dial and Irish Spring, which separate into two little pieces about two-thirds of the way through their life, Old Spice soaps remain one solid piece, right to the end, due to the attenuated curvature in their design. 

  • Their fragrances are potent, but unlike other soaps, they don't cloy upon lathering. I get olfactory fatigue with these, to the point where I don't even smell them while showering. After I step out and towel off, however, I get whiffs of freshness that remind me of what I just washed with. Those whiffs endure for about five minutes after showering, so there's no doubt these soaps have strong scents. 

The lower curve in the bar shape doesn't effect its solvency in leftover water after showering, so you're unlikely to get that mushy-bar effect of soggy soap. I'm not sure how that is, but I suspect the density of the soap has something to do with it - they're actually not so easily permeated by water. Even in lathering, it takes a little extra effort to get suds. That can be viewed as a negative, in the sense that you have to work a little harder to get the same effect as other bar soaps, but I doubt anyone will mind. The lather isn't super-rich, and won't cover skin completely like Ivory Soap does (stingy bar, awful scent, but decent functionality to that one), but it's pretty good, and a little better than Irish Spring, so I can't complain.

Between the two fragrances, I think I like Pure Sport just a little more than Swagger. It smells fairly close to the aftershave, but a little more top-heavy, like Pure Sport's woody-citrus, without the sandalwood dry down. That's the reverse of  most bar soaps, which tend to feature only base notes. Pure Sport soap is very bright and fizzy-fresh, while Swagger is a little smoother and sweeter, with a muskier aroma. I really like Swagger as well, but it reminds me of Irish Spring Icy Blast for some reason. Maybe the light blue color and the sweetness is what does it. But it's a good smell and performs the same as Pure Sport.

I hope to try Fiji soon. For those of you who are interested in these soaps, I give Pure Sport and Swagger two thumbs up. They're excellent products, and a pleasure to use. 

Adam Levine For Men (Adam Levine)

I'm one lucky fucker. I have a job I enjoy, and I work entirely with women. And somehow, after all these years of being a dick, I'm still their favorite employee. I don't have to worry about catty stuff from them, and have learned that being the walking personification of Switzerland gets me through any and all issues unscathed. The key to success: don't take sides. Living by this results in good karma.

My one rue, however, is that they all love the guy pictured above. They're Maroon 5 fans! Not that there's anything wrong with that. I don't mind some of their music, although a few songs rub me the wrong way. And I have no quarrel with Mr. Levine. He seems like a fine, upstanding citizen. Probably gets more ass than a toilet seat. I don't know what his karma looks like, but I'd say it looks good, judging by his popularity. His voice is certainly adequate, and he has enough sex appeal to ruin whole generations of the female race.

What continues to puzzle me is that someone as far removed from the fragrance world as Adam Levine should take it upon himself to fund two celebuscents. Easy question - why? What could possess a Top 40 radio star to think that fragrance is a necessary addendum to his manly swagger package? Don't answer that, it doesn't really matter. 

He somehow managed to hire the accomplished Yann Vasnier to do his bidding, and apparently his bidding was an ode to grapefruit, because it comprises ninety percent of his masculine composition. Vasnier, probably using artistic license, fleshed the fruit note out with pleasant hints of lemon, sage, ginger, lemongrass, and cedar. It's not very woody, and more fruity than anything, but it smells nice enough. Expensive body wash for men, in liquid-spray form.

The grapefruit note in Adam Levine for Men is fairly standard designer issue, i.e., not quite true to the fruit. People who want grapefruit in their perfumes should know that it's a very pissy accord, with urinous off notes that elicit associations with rubbing alcohol and ammonia. To embellish the accord means robbing the fruit of its identity, resulting in something unnecessarily sweet, an almost unidentifiable citrus-like smell, that never truly represents grapefruit. Such is the case here in Mr. Levine's offering, with some spare lemon and herbal elements saving it from falling into the gummy-synthetic territory of a recent reformulation of the original Quorum.

I tip my hat to Levine for releasing something that smells fresh and citrusy without becoming sickeningly sweet and cloying, and recommend the much-cheaper Old Spice Wolfthorn as an alternative for those on a budget. Truth be told, P&G manages to achieve the same (almost exact same) fresh-citrusy effect, to the extent that I kinda feel bad for Levine. This type of structure has become all-too common, and its ubiquity devalues whatever cache it may have had ten years ago. Somehow I expect ALfM will be discontinued before the decade is out (its licensing company, Andrenalina, is in big financial trouble, so it all depends on whether someone else buys the formula). I'm not saying I don't appreciate the joy Levine spreads to the world, and my co-workers. I'm just saying he shouldn't quit the day job.


L.12.12 White (Lacoste)

White is probably the best of Lacoste's ill-advised color series, and deserves at least a test spritz at a retail counter. The recent standard for masculine fragrance is any combo of grapefruit, ginger, cardamom, some pungent cooking herb, usually rosemary or sage, and several clean laundry musks, stacked a mile high so disinterested noses can detect at least one or two as they smother a wan woody-amber. How does L.12.12 White measure up? All notes are accounted for, and the fragrance smells very generic and fresh. 

Now, you might ask me, "Bryan, why bother reviewing these tedious designer fragrances that, by your own admission, are utterly boring?" I answer you: L.12.12 White is neither boring, nor tedious, and smells good. Its citrus accord, though saddled by the requisite synthetic grapefruit, actually strives for a smoother, sweeter development, not too far removed from that of Eternity for Men (a superior fougère, albeit just as cheap). So it doesn't exactly break down doors, but does sidestep the predictable bitter-fresh effect commonly found in masculines these days.

The herbal mid is green and snappy, and many have commented on the white floral notes, but I think it's disingenuous to speak of them without irony. Yes, there's a hint of tuberose, perhaps a tiny drop of sweet ylang, but nothing really steps out as being blatantly floral. The ingredients are of decent quality, but not blended with great care, so lines are pretty blurred. You can sift under the fizzy, fruity-herbal top accord to find a semi-sweet cleanness with just the vaguest hint of green earthiness, but only if your mind is really set on it. Otherwise you're just smelling soapy-clean freshness that is as pleasant as it is nondescript. Eventually the powdery laundry musks arrive, with a cool blue amber in their wake. White gives a sense of billowing airiness, like clean sheets flapping in a country breeze. Nice, and definitely more on the "Masculine" side than "Unisex," for reasons that are hard to determine. Could be that piercing rosemary note, set against White's prominent citrus, with the feminine elements competing against the underlying amber.

Would I buy this? No, but not because there's anything wrong with it. I prefer Eternity for this sort of smooth-woody theme, but perhaps I'll stumble across White some day at Marshalls and plunk my wallet down for it. I am a lover of fresh fragrances, and would not regret the purchase.


Lime Sec (Pinaud)

The history of Lime Sec is difficult to trace directly, as its name does not appear in the few remaining editions of The Pharmaceutical Era Weekly, which advertised the full Pinaud range during the nineteenth century. I keep combing its pages in search of anything similar to it, but haven't seen many citrus references (apparently they had a hell of a lavender water - world renowned). This makes Lime Sec's true age a mystery, and it should be further noted that the brand has not been manufacturing perfume since 1810, as Lime Sec's label suggests - Edouard Pinaud was born around 1810, and I imagine little Eddie's perfumery skills were underdeveloped that year.

Pinaud's history is interesting. Edouard ventured into pharmaceuticals at the sprightly age of twenty (or thereabouts), setting up shop in 1830s Paris. By 1833 he had achieved a commercial break-through with Lilac Vegetol cologne water, which is found in the aforementioned catalog, and which is still available today, oddly enough. I used to own a bottle of "The Veg", as members of the online wetshaver community affectionately call it, and found it nearly impossible to wear. Its pungent, urinous, spoiled-greens top accord is enough to put you off your lunch, and the powdery lilac drydown isn't quite nice enough to redeem it. Still, it's a good aftershave, and deserving of preservation as a reference barbershop "toilet water" of the time.

Unlike expensive niche brands like Penhaligon's, Creed, Truefitt & Hill, and Floris, Edouard Pinaud is exemplary in that he held a Royal Warrant, issued by Queen Victoria, to be sole importer of fine toiletries into England, and English colonial territories, yet never used this official designation to add prestige to his commercial exploits. The Queen's warrant is no longer printed on Pinaud's packaging because royal warrants can only be reproduced within the lifetime of whoever issued them. When Victoria perished, so did her warrant, and any of Pinaud's rights to it. Nevertheless, at the height of his popularity it was rumored that Edouard's toiletries were favored by Napoleon and his armies, and that this brought Pinaud into Europe's royal circles. Edouard reputedly had little to say about this, but didn't deny it. The timeline for Napoleon is off by at least twelve years (Napoleon died in 1821), but Queen Victoria's warrant remains very much a factual part of the brand's history.

A Page of The Pharmaceutical Era Weekly, Featuring Pinaud

It is suspected that Pinaud's labels bear the words "Perfumers Since 1810" because of their takeover of the French Legrand Perfume House, which was founded in 1810. Once the facility was under his ownership, Edouard was able to mass produce his toiletries, and began exporting to the States. By the middle of the nineteenth century his most successful export to America was his Eau de Quinine hair tonic, a much-loved product that is still available today. Most of Pinaud's products were too pricey for the American market, so a cheaper line was developed, and "Pinaud's Roman Smelling Salt Perfumes", a direct ancestor of the Clubman line, was born. The line entered the U.S. barbershop circuit in 1895, and Pinaud's Bay Rum was introduced in 1900.

For a concise summary of the company's split into producing both Clubman and Pinaud ranges, see my review of the original Clubman aftershave-lotion. Lime Sec is not a Clubman-branded product, and is one of the few remaining items to still bear only the Pinaud namesake on its label. Prior to buying Lime Sec, I assumed it was a cologne in the same manner as Clubman aftershave, with a very cheap execution of a cheap idea, affably rendered to satisfy wetshaver tastes. To get better insight into the wetshaver community, visit Badger & Blade, where devoted men gather to discuss shaving techniques, products, and history. Yes, that's right, history - shaving history. It's actually a really interesting forum. It's probably not pulling in many ladies, but the guys love it, and that's understandable, since shaving is mainly a guy thing.

Lime Sec has a bad reputation, and even on B&B it doesn't find much love. Many guys feel it's a poor lime fragrance because the lime note is way too sweet. I thought I was in for Lime Jolly Ranchers when I bought my 12 ounce bottle blind for eight dollars, so expectations were pretty low. I happen to love limes, and how they smell. Last summer the only thing I drank was sparkling mineral water with fresh lime squeezed into it, and I would sniff my juice-covered fingers for the raw smell of pure lime oil. It's a very dry, citric, bittersweet aroma, with a distinct greenness about it. I'd know it anywhere, and it stinks to imagine a cologne that touts itself as a "dry lime", but smells like lime candy. I've learned from reading other people's descriptions of Lime Sec, and then smelling Lime Sec for myself, that I cannot believe everything I read on the internet.

To my nose, Lime Sec is a wonderful lime fougère in a very old-fashioned style of herbal citrus, coumarin, and musk. It smells very crisp and fruity on top, with a gentle burst of semi-sweet lime (not candied), followed by a touch of lemon, and a faint dusting of cinnamon and clove. Very shortly after application a low-key rose note develops, and is devoid of any floral sweetness. Across this little green bridge struts a bone-dry coumarin, welded to a cheap-but-pleasant musk note. The drydown has a strangely airy feel of something both powdery and aqueous, a nice effect for a cologne that doubles as an aftershave. None of Pinaud's aftershaves contain menthol or skin toners, so slapping their cologne on freshly-shorn cheeks yields little to no difference in effect. If you're gonna wear a Pinaud, you might as well get dual use out of it.

I understand why some guys say Lime Sec is a sub-par lime fragrance. It doesn't have a hyper-realistic lime note, and you won't wonder why it's not more expensive. But the lime note isn't candied, either, and trends closer to realism than I expected. It isn't such a stretch to imagine that I'm smelling lime juice when I sniff Lime Sec. I'd say it's nearly identical to real lime oil, except that the synthetic nature of its constituent parts (this is a lime reconstruction, of course) prohibits it from being completely convincing. 

That said, for eight dollars, this fragrance really does smell good, and is definitely a satisfying lime cologne. It does not scream "synthetic" or dry down to something thin and crass. The simple coumarin base note is very wry and direct, tinged with the after-effects of fresh, citrus-like aromas. I imagine there are guys who are anosmic to the one-note musk that accompanies the coumarin in the base, and that might detract from the experience for some. I'm impressed by Lime Sec, and it warms the cockles of my heart to think that a more natural formula may have been worn by mustachioed dandies over a century ago.