It goes without saying that a man's smell is a deeply personal thing. It's also, by default, a natural form of self-expression. So to get a feel for the best scents being offered this year, we consulted with Marlen Harrison, creator and editor of theperfumecritic.com and contributor to Basenotes, NowSmellThis,and Fragrantica. "This season it's all about the wood," says Harrison, referring to many current fragrances that are dominated by woody scents, typically sandalwood, cedar, and oud. Some even contain a dash of citrus or aromatic notes for character. Think of fragrances as similar to wines, whiskeys, or cigars; they all have various layers of notes and their characters are apt to change over time. With input from Harrison, we compiled a list of 2013's 10 best new colognes.
Blackbird (House of Matriarch)
If you manage to get your hands on this fragrance, sold under the banner of famed Seattle men's boutique Blackbird, don't let it get away. The scent is the first installment in a series of 12 fragrances created to celebrate independent perfumers of the Pacific Northwest. And because it's being produced in extremely limited quantities, you can be sure you'll be the only guy you know rocking it. It also helps that it's one of Harrison's favorite fragrances: "Big character and projects really well. A little goes a long way," he says. Not much is known about its formula, but it captures the smell of the forests of the Pacific Northwest quite well and contains a mix of woods, leather, oud, amber, herbs, and tinctures – almost 300 ingredients in all. [$120 for .25 oz roll-on; matriarch.biz]