During the winter, there’s no shortage of events to attend, from office parties to romantic nights out to family gatherings and of course the biggest night out of the year, New Year’s Eve. This involves big decisions in terms of what fragrance to wear to enhance your style.
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We’ve done a lot of sniffing around to help you in this endeavor. While we’ve categorized them by specific events, many of these recommendations can be worn for the various get-togethers you have been invited to.
Remember during the winter, the colder weather means our nose is less sensitive to smells it’s time to put away the light aquatic and summer citrus colognes and bring out the warm, spicy fragrances.
Fragrances smell different in the winter than they do in the summer, that’s why it’s important for you to adjust your fragrances seasonally. Every guy knows that fresh, beachy smell isn’t quite right when there’s snow on the ground, but what sort of fragrance is right for the cold?
Winter colognes tend to be a little bit heavier, without smelling overbearing and will often smell a little bit spicy. If you’re struggling to make an educated fragrance choice for this winter, here are our top picks for best men’s winter cologne.
Over-All Favorite: Best Winter Cologne
Acqua Di Parma Sandalo EDP
The Italian niche brand launched its latest collection, Signatures of the Sun, in 2019. Consisting of a mix of 10 re-releases and new releases, Sandalo gets our vote for its ultra-smoothness. And you don’t have to be a sandalwood connoisseur to appreciate its refinement.
It opens with the typical citrus vibe the company is famous for, with notes of bergamot, lemon, orange, and petitgrain creating a warm Mediterranean mood. Lavender and cardamom keep it clean and spicy.
The best variety of sandalwood, Mysore, has been sourced from India and its creaminess is seductive and sensual in the dry down. Notes of amber and tonka bean round off the scent.
Best Budget Winter Cologne
Bentley For Men Black Edition EDP
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Bentley has produced top-notch scents since its debut in 2013, including Bentley for Men Intense and Bentley for Men Absolute. They’re also surprisingly budget-friendly.
Launched in 2018, Bentley for Men Black Edition strikes a nifty balance between the sweet, the spicy and the woody.
Notes of tangerine, pink pepper, and nutmeg define the sophisticated opening. The heart goes in a woody and earthy direction with patchouli, cedar and papyrus notes in play.
The rich sweetness of tobacco unfolds in the dry down, with incense and moss adding to the spicy oriental mix.
Work & Office Parties
Nasomatto Baraonda Extrait De Parfum
Perfumer: Alessandro Gualtieri
We wouldn’t normally recommend smelling heavily of booze, even at an end-of-year office party. But then Baraonda isn’t your ordinary boozy scent. Launched in 2016, it’s one of the best whiskey-themed fragrances you’ll find on the market.
Its creator, Alessandro Gualtieri, isn’t one for listed notes. But we like to think we’ve managed to sniff out what’s what in this beauty.
It opens with the unmistakable waft of the finest whiskey. Rich and sensual, it’s complemented by woody and musky notes, which add to its depth. A hint of rose is discernible in the background, while ambroxan gives it impressive longevity.
It’s an extrait de parfum, so spray lightly when you apply it.
Roja Parfums Reckless Parfum
Perfumer: Roja Dove
Born in England, perfumer Roja Dove is highly respected for his creativity and insistence on only working with the best ingredients. He founded his own company, Roja Parfums, in 2004, after working for Guerlain for many years.
His perfumes are known for their opulence and complexity (with a price tag to match), and Reckless is no exception.
Its opening is all about spicy and herbal freshness, courtesy of notes of lemon, bergamot, artemisia and bay leaf. Cinnamon, black pepper, ginger and cardamom build on the spiciness and warmth of the bay leaf. They are paired with woody notes of cypress and cedar.
The base notes of oakmoss, labdanum and frankincense are given a soft and sensual treatment.
Date Night or Romantic Night Out
Penhaligon’s The Uncompromising Sohan EDP
Penhaligon’s is an authentic British heritage brand and has been producing classic scents since its founding in the 1870s by William Penhaligon.
Launched in 2016, its Portraits collection is a humorous take on the idea of the fragrance family, with an assortment of releases named after delightful characters, including The Impudent Cousin Matthew, Mr Harrod and Monsieur Beauregard.
We love Sohan for its big, bold and powdery rose opening, with spicy pink pepper in the background. We don’t pick up much of the listed vetiver, but all is forgiven when the dynamic between the rose and Laotian oud in the dry down is so gorgeous. Sandalwood adds to the oriental mood.
Diptyque Volutes EDP
Perfumer: Fabrice Pellegrin
Whether you’re a smoker or not, there’s something super seductive about the smell of tobacco. Launched by the Paris-based niche fragrance brand in 2012, Volutes is one of the greatest examples.
Tobacco makes its presence felt from the outset. Sweet in all the right ways and full of fruit, it’s inspired by Khedive, a classic Egyptian cigarette brand, according to the Diptyque website. It’s intermingled with honey, cinnamon and opoponax notes, accentuating the alluring sweetness and depth. The sweetness is balanced by a dose of powdery iris.
Although officially discontinued, this oriental perfume is also available in a lighter EDT format on websites such as Amazon.
Family Reunion or Get Together
Berdoues Hoja De Cuba EDP
Perfumer: Ane Ayo
The Berdoues family has been producing fine perfumes since the early 20th century. Launched in 2015, the French brand’s Grands Crus collection currently numbers 11 EDPs, all inspired by different regions around the world and made with the finest ingredients.
Hoja de Cuba takes its cue from the Caribbean island and evokes its influence with simple elegance.
The exotic scene is set with the opening of allspice berry from Jamaica, featuring accents of cinnamon, ginger, cloves and nutmeg. Turkish tobacco heightens the warmth and sweetness, while vetiver brings its characteristic woody earthiness.
While you’re exploring the collection, we also recommend Selva do Brazil, Scorza di Sicilia and Vanira Moorea.
Maison Francis Kurkdjian Lumiere Noire Homme EDT
Perfumer: Francis Kurkdjian
With its impeccable ouds and other high-profile fragrances like Baccarat Rouge 540 and Grand Soir, it’s probably safe to say that Maison Francis Kurkdjian has been the niche company of the decade. But the buzz around these releases has unfortunately overshadowed some of the house’s other releases that are also worth sniffing out.
Lumiere Noire Homme is one of the perfumer’s earlier creations for his own brand and is a standout in its own right.
Opening with a full-bodied Turkish rose note, it’s infused with spice (cumin, cinnamon) and herbal (mugwort) appeal. Indonesian patchouli also makes an impact in this EDT, giving it earthy intensity.
Understated by Maison Francis Kurkdjian standards, it’s stylish from start to finish.
Big Blow-Out Party or New Year’s Eve
Paco Rabanne Xs Night
Perfumers: Caroline Dumur, Anne Flipo & Bruno Jovanovic
Sometimes you want a loud and unashamed fragrance that announces its presence to all those around you. From 1 Million to Invictus, Paco Rabanne has made that its business with block-busting flair.
Paco Rabanne XS was originally launched in 1994 and Pure XS Night is its latest flanker.
An intro of warm, spicy ginger, followed by large doses of sweet vanilla and cinnamon, sets the tone of exuberance. A note of cacao adds to the spiciness.
But this EDP is really a typically modern gourmand, with lashings of caramel bringing on the bad-boy candy overload. A note of myrrh adds an oriental dimension.
It’s a fun fragrance with party mode set on high.
Nomenclature Fluo-ral EDP
Perfumer: Nathalie Feisthauer
Since its founding in 2015 by Karl Bradl and Carlos Quintero, NYC-based niche perfume house Nomenclature has specialized in releases that focus on the synthetic molecules that have become integral to modern perfumery.
Fluo-ral focuses on the Calone molecule, which got a bad reputation due to its overuse in the aquatics that were big in the 1990s. This EDP shows how with technical expertise and imagination, it can be displayed to great effect.
Calone is pronounced in this composition, but it’s offset by an array of notes that make for a most intriguing scent. Rhubarb, black currant, and tomato leaf give it a sharp, fruity-green style at first. It softens as the fragrance evolves with the addition of rose, cedar, and incense notes.
It’s not for everyone but makes a fine New Year statement of looking back and forward at the same time.
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.