Bourbon (Bath & Body Works)

In my opinion there are two kinds of fragrances: intellectual perfumes, like Ocean Rain, The Dreamer, Chanel N°5, Diorella, and Green Irish Tweed, and functional hygienic fragrances, like everything found in The Body Shop and Bath & Body Works. The former category contains hundreds of complex concepts executed with attention to form; these are efforts to create new scents not found in nature.

The latter category is devoted to mimicking known smells in nature and combining them into simple and pleasing compositions. They are aimed at casual fragrance wearers who want to recognize everything they smell, and associate positive attributes to smelling "good." People who primarily wear B&BW fragrances take pleasure in selecting specific scents based on identifiable materials, and rarely attach abstract meaning to how they smell. They don't wear peppermint body lotion to make a statement. They wear it to smell clean and inviting while snuggling by a fire. Nobody dons White Citrus to impress upon coworkers a citrusy identity. It is worn to keep your cubicle fresh while you're in it.

Of the five fragrances in B&BW's Men's Signature Collection, I found Bourbon to be closest to an intellectual masculine. It has distinct notes of white pepper, oakwood, amber, and musk, and if I focus on the fragrance in the first twenty minutes, I get good note separation. But when I let the composition speak for itself, an interesting thing happens: the notes coalesce into a smooth, dry, corn-fed bourbon liquor, warmed by a soft musky amber, which gets stronger over the course of three hours. Longevity and projection are a bit meek, with the first clocking in at about four hours, and the second getting you maybe five inches of attention beyond the limits of your shirt collar, but still, this fragrance is unique, well made, and a good value at about $10 an ounce.

Another bonus to this fragrance is that it comes in a variety of forms, ranging from a shea body lotion (which my girlfriend got me), to a shower gel and deodorant spray. If you intend on using the body lotion and don't have the EDT to go with it, fear not. Any number of old-school, woody, "cigar box masculine" fragrances should go well with it. If you're a fan of The One by D&G, this is probably for you, as it is most often compared to that scent on Fragrantica.


  1. B&BW's men's fragrances aren't bad. They're usually knockoffs of more popular men's frags. As you say they- the don't last long. I used to buy them for my teenaged sons- they've moved on to traditional attars now.

    Unfortunately BB&W's women's fragrances are all hyper-sweetened fruity vanilla things with maybe a hint of a floral lactone. Weird, because when BB&W first started in 1990 they had more of a spa/natural thing going much like The Body Shop with scents like Tunisian Neroli, Indian Vetiver, etc. I think the only 'natural' type fragrance left of their initial offerings is their Coconut Lime Verbena.

    1. Yeah CLV is a nice one, although it falls under the "fancy-functional" category of fragrances that have almost nothing to say, other than "hey, what do I smell like?"

      The men's line is more restrained, austere even, than I expected, and I don't really get an attack of the clones feeling from them. They just don't hit any originality marks. And unfortunately they smell a little cheap, even though they're not all that cheap!

  2. Yeah, I remember their men's lime from the early 2000s. They did really good knockoffs of Polo Sport and Obsession- Glacier Bay, and Woodlands respectively. I don't remember what Mountain Frost was supposed to copy, but it was really good too. Then they discontinued the old line and started a new line which never interested me.
    Of the women's one, Coconut Lime Verbena is really nice, like Bibi mentioned. Same with Moonlight Path, and Rainkissed Leaves (though I'd always sneeze and have trouble breathing for a few minutes when I sprayed it on). There was a fig one which was a decent gourmand too.

    1. They got into pushing the C.O. Bigelow brand (guess they're the same entity) and to me it's more compelling to explore those products than B&BW's own men's line. Unfortunately the store near me only had one of their colognes on hand to sample, which I will briefly review here in the near future.

    2. I had a bottle of Blue Elixir. It was more or less a clone of Curve, which is, oddly enough, more expensive than the original. Despite all the reviews saying it disappears after couple of hours, I was actually getting 20+ hours longevity out of it, with the musk and lavender base projecting quite a few inches by then.
      The Black Elixir didn't do much for me when I smelled it. Same with the Green. The White one smelled like a pleasant citrus, woody, spicy, but I never cared enough to buy a bottle of it.
      I haven't tried any of the others


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