It’s cold, isn’t it? The perfect time to indulge in rum booziness.
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Best of all, you don’t even have to like the taste of the spirit to enjoy this selection. Neither do you need to know your rum from your whisky and cognac.
It’s nearing the end of another extreme year, so let’s just enjoy ourselves, shall we…
Where known, the name of the perfumer is included in brackets after the fragrance.
My Favorite Bay Rum Cologne
Kilian Straight to Heaven EDP (Sidonie Lancesseur)
There’s no missing the dark booziness in the opening of this 2007 release from the Paris-based niche brand’s The Cellars Collection, thanks to a shot of rum.
It’s quite intense, so give it time to settle with the creaminess of vanilla, the sensual stickiness of dried fruit and the earthiness of nutmeg.
The drydown sees the warm spiciness of patchouli contrasted with the freshness of cedar.
It’s not as animalic as the brand makes it out to be, but that doesn’t stop it from being a wonderfully rich treat.
Bentley for Men Intense EDP (Nathalie Lorson)
Many people are surprised to hear Bentley is in the fragrance game. What’s not surprising is the quality of releases from the British luxury automotive brand.
Top perfumers have produced all their scents. Exhibit A: Bentley For Men Intense, created by master perfumer Nathalie Lorson (Gentleman Givenchy EDP, Lalique Encre Noire EDT, Dolce & Gabbana K EDT).
She also created their launch fragrance, Bentley For Men EDT (2013), which we can recommend for its spicy refinement and bay rum infusion. The first flanker, Bentley For Men Intense EDP (also released in 2013), takes it to another level of classiness.
The impeccably smooth rum note stands out in this oriental-spicy composition, with incense, leather and woods accentuating its timeless appeal.
A contender for the best bay rum cologne on the market and brilliantly priced too, we reckon this beauty should be a staple of every dapper gentleman’s fragrance wardrobe.
Bvlgari Man in Black EDP (Alberto Morillas)
The Bvlgari Man range was launched in 2010 and Man In Black is one of its best iterations.
This 2014 EDP opens with an irresistible trio of spice (slightly peppery on the skin), rum and tobacco notes. They’re perfectly blended and balanced. Sometimes, we get more of one than the other. And that’s the way we love it.
The sensual mood continues with smooth leather and a hint of powdery iris.
The tonka bean, guaiac wood and benzoin notes in the drydown have a sophisticated vanilla-ish facet.
The result? A snug treat.
While we’re in Bvlgari mode, look out for Bvlgari Man Black Orient EDP. Lots of spice, leather and oud + a bit of rum booziness and florals (tuberose, rose) = oriental with major sex appeal.
In Bvlgari Man Black Cologne EDT, rum meets the freshness and greenery of citrus, then deftly contrasted with the sunny white florals of tuberose and orange blossom. An amber accord, benzoin and sandalwood up the creamy warmth. Intriguing…
Both these 2016 releases are sadly discontinued, so shop around for reasonable prices.
John Varvatos Dark Rebel EDT (Rodrigo Flores-Roux)
The American designer brand is often about the rock ’n roll aesthetic and this 2015 release has it in abundance from the black bottle to the juice.
It’s so good because it was created by Rodrigo Flores-Roux, the perfumer behind many other standouts from the company, including John Varvatos EDT (2004), John Varvatos Vintage EDT (2006) and John Varvatos Artisan Pure EDT (2017).
Dark Rebel gets the party going with notes of bay rum and sugarcane (appropriate as the spirit is derived from this grass). The aromatic spiciness of cardamom and fir absolute is also discernible.
What’s a rebel without leather and tobacco? So there’s plenty of that warmth here, without the full-on animalic smokiness.
It all builds up to the drydown, where the synthetic Akigalawood, with its patchouli-like properties, mingles with the creaminess of vanilla.
As the notes will tell you, this is a ride on the sweet side but with a refined edge. All good things must come to an end (i.e., it’s been discontinued), so don’t be suckered into paying crazy money for it.
We would normally want to avoid any side effects. But this 2016 release is so darn delectable, we’ll make an exception.
As with the French niche brand’s 2015 hit, Initio Absolute Aphrodisiac EDP, there’s plenty of creamy vanilla to go around. But this time it’s complemented by a bay rum note with its warm spiciness.
There’s more spice, of the powdery kind, from cinnamon bark, while saffron brings complexity and depth to the blend.
The creaminess of sandalwood and caramel tones of tobacco complete the olfactory pleasure.
Kilian Black Phantom EDP (Sidione Lancesseur)
An unashamed gourmand, this 2017 release will be too sweet for some (even we sometimes find it too sugary). But in the right context (snuggled up in bed or in front of a roaring fire on a chilly night, for example), it’s the best kind of indulgence.
Rum meets coffee in the intro. Their dark richness is accentuated with the milkiness of creamy caramel.
And what of the dangerous-sounding cyanide accord listed in the official notes on the brand website? FYI: the poisonous chemical is known for its almond-like smell, so more than likely the powdery nuttiness is the result of the use of the synthetic heliotropin.
It’s finished with the creaminess of sandalwood.
Malibu Party in The Bay EDP Intense (Simone Andreoli)
This 2018 release is the first bay rum cologne we’ve tried from the Italian niche brand and we’re impressed by how its travel inspiration is translated to produce the olfactory equivalent of a daiquiri.
The multi-facetedness of lime is revealed in the opening in exemplary style: fresh, bright, invigorating, juicy, green, sweet and sour.
The tropical tones of coconut nectar and sugar are added to the blend for just the right amount of dusk-to-dawn sunny sweetness.
The rum, warm and fruity, comes through in the drydown, with creamy support from sandalwood.
What a deliciously uplifting cocktail from start to finish. Fantastically festive stuff with a summery spin on the theme!
Penhaligon’s Halfeti Cedar EDP (Christian Provenzano)
The original Penhaligon’s Halfeti EDP (2015) was a big hit for the British heritage brand with its spice and oud mix. It was followed by Penhaligon’s Halfeti Leather EDP in 2020. Who says niche brands don’t do flankers à la designers, we grumbled to ourselves smugly, as we thought the range would taper off into predictable mediocrity.
Well, we were wrong. Very wrong. The 2020 release Penhaligon’s Halfeti Cedar EDP is the best one yet.
There’s a whole lot of boozy fruitiness going on at first with peach, dried fruit and rum notes at the fore.
And then something almost metallic (that must be the mineral accord in the official notes) together with the powderiness of cinnamon. Intriguing…
The Atlas cedarwood is resinous– and balsamic-rich, with vanilla rounding it off with spicy creaminess.
Now, we know why the bottle is so dark…
Richard Goller is a fragrance and grooming blogger. His blog is called Fragroom. A senior editor with 20 years' experience, his blog allows him to combine two of his passions: engaging content and the always-intriguing world of fragrances. When he isn't blogging, you'll find Richard indulging in his newly found passion for balcony gardening.