One Thousand Scents

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Lumberjack: Hermes Rocabar


One of the best ways to ensure that a man's scent is manly enough is to overdose it with outdoorsy smells. As long as there aren't any flowers in the mix--at least none that are individually discernible--you're golden. This is the tack that Hermes Rocabar takes.

The top is all outdoors: juniper berries and cedar needles, a little zap of lavender and spices. It has no evident citrus notes, but it's bright and sparkly, almost piercing, for all that. The middle is all about trees: cedar, cypress, and fir, dry and quietly majestic. (It's meant to suggest the outdoors, all trees and earth, because it's named after a Hermes horse-blanket: you can see a miniature version of that blanket wrapped around the bottle.)

But Rocabar plays a little trick on its wearers. The top and middle notes are unimpeachably masculine, but underneath it all is a carpet of soft, dreamy vanilla--nothing like the brutish vanilla of Opium pour Homme--bolstered with ambergris and (I think) benzoin. It's a real shock to find something so warm and sweet lurking under all the dry woodsman's notes. There's nothing unmasculine about vanilla, god knows: but anyone expecting base notes of leather, tobacco, or oakmoss is in for a surprise. The drydown is marvellously unisex: warm, supple, inviting. It's unexpected, yes, but it's also the perfect ending to a remarkable scent.

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