I want to thank my dad for buying my bottle of Old Spice Original aftershave while on holiday in Ireland. (I requested it.) I'd read on Badger & Blade that the European version was a bit different from the "Classic" stuff sold here, but lacked a convenient way to compare the formulas. Now, thankfully, I can compare them side by side.
I really hate to add to the Old Spice controversy, but I'm afraid I must. True to form, the European version is markedly different from the American formula, and also different from the Indian Rubicon formula. My bottle of Original aftershave is labeled "Proctor & Gamble UK, Weybridge, Surrey." The box is not remarkably different from any other I've seen, but but but, drumroll please: the bottle, oh the bottle! Glass! A big, 150 ml bottle, all glass! How nice. I'll never need another bottle again. Any other version I buy, if not in glass, will be decanted into this flacon. I should remind you that I don't value the glass for any supposed advantage it might lend the scent. I've researched the plastic used for Classic, and found that it has no negative impact on Old Spice. It's just a novelty to have a glass bottle, and it's good fun to splash from something this hefty.
Anyway, the scent itself is easy to describe. It's actually a hybrid of the Rubicon formula and the American formula. The top and early drydown phases of Original closely match the Rubicon aftershave, with a fresher, lighter, creamier characteristic. There's a lot less clove, more sharpness to the cinnamon, and the orange aldehyde is brighter, and dries as something sheer and clean. Wait about five minutes and sweetness takes over, the balsamic powder of the American formula gradually taking over, until I'm left with a fairly close match to the stuff in plastic. It's not exact, but it's so close that I'd be splitting hairs if I tried to describe the difference. Some variance in balance and throw may also be attributable to how the skin toners are used in each. If I were asked to do a blind test, I'd immediately identify them, but if pressed about what exactly gives them away, I'd likely come up short.
Despite its best-of-both-worlds nature, Original isn't as good as Classic. The US formula might be "clovier," sweeter, rosier, more powdery in the base, but ultimately it feels like the most complete scent, with a burlier nature. It's definitely the most masculine. Granted, aftershaves are prone to transience, but I get pretty good time out of the American aftershave (an hour or more). I can't say the same for the Original formula, which feels fleeting after ten minutes, and gone entirely after twenty. If you can find it, try the Original formula for yourself and report back to me. I'd love to know what you think. Curiously enough, it's available stateside as a stick deodorant in their "High Endurance" line, and although it's tricky to get a sense of a fragrance formula from a deodorant alone, I'm now able to verify that it matches the aftershave quite well.