Of all the senses, it’s the scent of something that triggers our memories. It’s one of the most powerful senses, able to conjure imagination and fantasy, evoke emotions and make a lasting impression. This means that colognes are more than just about smelling nice. It’s about showing who you are without even saying a word.
Depending on what you put on your skin, a mere whiff reveals who you are.
Notes in Men’s Cologne
Perfumery reveals there are three ‘notes’ to a scent – top/head notes, middle/heart notes, and base notes – each denoting a group of smells that can be sensed with respect to the time after the application of a cologne.
Top/head notes last the least time (it’s the scent that hits you when you first apply a cologne), whereas base notes are what you smell 2 – 3 hours after application, depending how long-lasting your cologne is.
Woody Notes in Men’s Cologne
Woody notes are stable and pliable, and usually act as an anchor and base note to a cologne by reinforcing other scents. Not many woody notes can serve as a top or middle note for a cologne.
Whilst there’s a huge variety of woody notes – think cedar wood, moss, sandalwood, maple, pine trees – they are commonly found in men’s colognes because they’re associated with masculinity and maturity.
If you’re the type of man who wants his cologne to smell masculine, evoke a sense of mystery or hint at a darkly sensual side, then look for colognes with strong woody notes, including the below.
It’s difficult to choose a ‘best cologne of all time’, so this review focuses on what we think are the top men’s cologne that contain woody notes.
Best Men’s Cologne Review: Woody Notes
By Kilian Back to Black for women and men
This cologne by niche perfumery By Kilian is unisex, but its woody fusion of cedar and oak has made it a favourite to many men.
Released in September 2009, Black to Black: Aphrodisiac By Kilian is not a cologne you’ll find in your average department store, so there’s no worries about smelling like someone you know (we know how that feels).
It’s composed of honey, fruit and wood, light tobacco with a hint of saffron and a sweet touch of raspberry. It’s a sophisticated cologne that’s very long-lasting (up to 4 hours depending on your skin type) meaning it evolves over time.
When you first smell Back to Black By Kilian, it’s slightly sweet, but over time it turns into a cologne with a warm, dark, sensual and mysterious aroma.
The notes of Back to Black: Aphrodisiac By Kilian are: bergamot, saffron, nutmeg, cardamom, coriander, raspberry, chamomile, olibanum, honey, cedar, oak, tobacco, patchouli, almond, vanilla and labdanum.
Bang Bang Marc Jacobs for men
Released in 2011 as a summer version of the original Bang cologne (2010), Bang Bang Marc Jacobs for men is a refreshing take on woody notes.
It’s described as a dynamic and confident cologne, designed for independent men who strive for perfection. This cologne opens with citrus top notes including lemon and cardamom and then settles as a light sandalwood before ending at a soft musk aroma.
It’s more subtle that the original Bang cologne and yet still smells individualistic amongst many other generic men’s colognes (think Polo Black, Kenzo Sport, Play Sport… in fact, most colognes containing the word ‘Sport’).
This is mostly a day time cologne, but great for playful night out as opposed to a romantic dinner.
Top Notes include: coriander seed, cardamom, fennel oil. Middle notes: sandalwood, patchouli. Base notes: benzoin tears, white amber, cashmere musk.
Released by Hermes in 2006, Terre d’ Hermes has become one of the French fashion house’s most popular men’s cologne with a mixture of cedar, grapefruit, rose, gunflint, orange and pepper.
Most people who smell this will immediately sense the citrusy aroma of grapefruit and orange, but once the cologne settles, it is earthy and masculine. If Bang Bang conjured up images of a young man, then Terre d’Hermes is like a man in his prime who is quietly confident.
The Terre d’Hermes cologne is minimalist in its scent (i.e., doesn’t change too much over time) and yet it’s subtle enough it doesn’t smell one-dimensional. It has cedar, grapefruit, orange, gunflint, silex, pepper, rose, geranium, patchouli, vetiver and benzoin.