Fresh (Dunhill)

Can you believe I've been writing this blog for ten years now and have yet to review a single Dunhill fragrance? That review happens today, with Dunhill's Fresh. For whoever was waiting for it all this time, here it is. Be glad, because this is an interesting fragrance. 

There are many reviews written for Dunhill Fresh. Many of them address the same points, from various angles. This is Fahrenheit's kissing cousin, this is a "fresh" fragrance (truly shocking), this is a "green" fragrance (also shocking), this is an aquatic (not really), this is dull, safe, synthetic, etc. I agree there is a bit of Fahrenheit here - a good bit, actually. I like it a little more than Fahrenheit because there's a much lighter gasoline note, and it's less dense than Dior's composition. Yes, it's fresh. Yes, it's grassy-green with all that mint, sage, lavender, and coumarin. Yes, it's a bit familiar, and it's synthetic, because really, let's get crucial here, this is a derivative masculine.

To quibble a bit with the average assessment, I'd point out that Fahrenheit has a tightly-knit accord of honeysuckle and hawthorn, both of which add to the high-pitched petrol note that made it famous. Fresh shares only the honeysuckle, and eases out on the throttle, leaving no exhaust behind. It also shares something in common with Creed's original Silver Mountain Water. While one can wax poetic for hours on the myriad possible notes in the base of Dunhill's scent, I think it prudent to note that the woody violets that own the dry-down are the same or similar to the aroma chemical that smells of printer ink in SMW. Kinda has a glossy magazine paper vibe. Its far dry-down yields something akin to a blend of Cashmeran and Iso E Super, with maybe a hint of Ambroxan in there as well. A smooth and slightly buzzy woody smell that is far nicer than I expected in a cheapie like this.

But the review that I agree with most is by basenotes member chet31:
"I get a bit of a barbershop vibe from this, this scent would not have been out of place with one of my Dad's old aftershaves. There is a bit of Bengay to it on dry-down, but I don't find it objectionable. I don't hate it, don't love it, a sideways thumb seems fair. 

I agree with this assessment almost to the letter, although I admit I haven't used Bengay in years and wouldn't know its smell if it slapped me. Despite the similarity to Fahrenheit, Dunhill Fresh smells like a very good minty-green aftershave with an intensely watery violet leaf base. It's like a failed flanker of Fahrenheit, like if Dior had reinterpreted the acetylenic esters aspect into an Aqua Velva top, upheld by an oddly murky green-woody foundation. This inhabits an alternate universe in which Fahrenheit is what men splash on after morning sessions with their Gillette Techs. 

Still, it leaves me wondering what they were aiming for, because obviously it wasn't the barbers chair. When you name a scent "Fresh," it leaves little to the imagination, except the word on the box seems tinged with irony. Actually, I'm wondering what the brand is aiming for in general. The main reason I haven't gotten into Dunhill is that its eclectic selection and spotty reputation make it difficult to know which fragrance represents the house. Is it the retro-mod ambery 51.3N? Is it the apple cognac of Custom? The more obviously barbershop Dunhill 2003? The dusky woods of Dunhill Pursuit? The fruited tobacco-vanilla of Desire? 

These fragrances have ambition, but never quite reach any of their goals due to Dunhill's tight-fisted accountants. I like to joke that a Dunhill frag costs the same as a pack of Dunhills. There are tons of favorable reviews for their masculines, but I've done enough reading to notice that a sizable percentage of reviewers find ample use for adjectives like "cheap" and "safe." Dunhill Fresh does little to cut against that, but hey, it smells good enough for regular wear, isn't unforgivably cheap (quality of materials is fair), and is modeled after an institutional masterpiece by an upscale designer. Maybe I should leave the hypotheticals for another day, and just stick to this one: got a light? 

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