A rambling review of Brambleberry "masculine scents" sampler

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May 1, 2017
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I'm looking for some non-floral "masculine" soap scents for bath soap and shaving soap, so I decided to try the Brambleberry sampler for men. Descriptions sounded good, and I'm totally unfamiliar with "modern" aftershaves, etc.

The sample box arrived today, nicely packaged, so I got out my new 12 mini bar mold I made and lined with freezer paper last night and whipped up my first batch of CPOP soap.

I stick blended to light trace (as I needed to mix 12 individual samples in place in the mold, didn't want it to set up on me too soon), filled the mold fairly evenly and started mixing in fragrances.


I'm having a bit of fun with this, I'll report on the actual soap scents later when they've matured a bit. Obviously, OOB scent are VERY strong and not always indicative of what you get in soap.

Before I describe the scents out of the bottle, I should tell you I'm VERY sensitive to smells. I'm quite happy to use half a gram of FO ppo, I only want a faint whiff of scent while I'm using the soap and no linger at all, can't stand scents that keep coming back. Because of that, I won't be using most of these, but more of that later. I have used Old Spice original scent for forty years, and have been forced to buy it on eBay recently, it's vanished from all the usual spots and been replaced with eye-wateringly strong synthetic stench bombs that come in super strong and kill birds downwind for forty miles concentrations, Tried one, had to wash my bath robe twice to get the scent down to where I could stand to wear it after three minutes of exposure to the stuff, and that was one of the "mild" ones.

So here they are, in the order I mixed them:

Fierce: Had great hopes for this, instead I get a VERY powerful synthetic scent that reminds me of Axe body spray in a bad way. Discolored the soap as advertised, light mauve before it gelled.

Cold Water: Similar to Fierce, same comments, not quite as penetrating. No discoloration. OOB can hardly tell them apart.

Drakkar: Nicer than the two above, but obviously related, also very synthetic smelling and penetrating. I recognize this one, I've had to wash clothes twice to get rid of it after an evening out and contacting youngsters in a crowd.

Kentish Rain: Much more to my taste, but still very synthetic smelling, very penetrating. Hopefully it will mellow in soap. Not eye-watering like the first three, but still not what I would call a "masculine" scent (I'm over sixty, guess I'm an old fuddyduddy, eh?)

All of the above are what I would call "metrosexual" scents, aimed at the hipster crowd around the age of 18.

Made to Measure: This one smells like a decent men's cologne, if a bit sweeter than I prefer. Much more muted, complex, doesn't smell like a bomb hit the scent storage tanks at the perfume factory. Still pretty strong, might be OK as soap, might not.

Sensuous Sandalwood: Sandalwood and whatever the secret ingredient is that makes all the above smell like synthetic chemicals. Could be contamination of the outside of the bottle, too -- cap on the inside smells smokier and less like Drakkar. Could be interesting in soap, but I prefer Bulk Apothecary's version OOB.

Spiced Mahogany: Finally, what I would call a masculine scent. Aromatic wood, resiny, deep spices, like Old Spice made up to date. I think I'll like this one, reminds me of the engineers and business men my father worked with back in the 60's.

Tobacco and Bay Rum: Anther traditional "masculine" scent, although somewhat like Tabac in that it has significant tobacco flower scent. Very pleasant except for the hint of that "secret ingredient" in the background (lavender perhaps?). Depending on what it does in soap it may be quite nice.

Salty Mariner: Slightly floral, but not in a bad way. Not sure if I'm sold on it yet, but it's not offensive or super strong. Lacks that eyewatering "punch" the first four have, which is good as far as I'm concerned. May be too perfumy for me.

Rustic Woods and Rum. Definitely can detect the rum in this one, still a little perfumey and sweet, but it has potential. Not sure about the wood, doesn't smell like any I've every worked with, but pleasant. I've smelled something quite like this on other people, and if it's quite faint it may suit me.

Enough snottiness -- since I just mixed a couple drops into each chamber, it's hard to say if any of them cause acceleration, although Salty Mariner and Drakkar gelled quite quickly in the oven.

Will report on initial impressions in soap tomorrow or the next day.
Love your sense of humor! I grew up smelling the light scent of my dad's Old Spice aftershave, so I know what you mean about some of the modern men's fragrances being overpowering.

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I always love reading everyone's reviews on here. Thanks for sharing! :)

I haven't delved much into masculine scents yet, so this is useful info. "Spiced Mahogany" sounds quite nice!
Relief! I'm glad to hear I'm not the only one with an unbearably picky nose. I got 20 sample sized FOs this spring and I like three of them. Two of those three are single note FOs. There are a few others that are just ok. Overall they mostly smell generic, perfumey and overly sweet. Ugh. I'm holding on to them for now though, because my scent preferences change by season and over time. A jasmine FO that I adored last year doesn't appeal to me now, and a lilac FO I thought was ok in the spring smells like old ladies now. I think I have better luck with single note FOs that I can mix with EOs. Modern fragrances are supposed to be a bit abstract, but so often that just translates to fake and cheap smelling. When did I get so snotty?
I've tried five from that batch of FOs in soap. One I liked to begin with got even better - as hoped, it lost a whiff of harsh chemical scent in the background. Aside from that they have been pretty close to OOB. Some notes do seem a bit more distinct or mellow once in soap, but the changes haven't won me over, either. One smells a whole lot worse.

I understand that scents will be different in soap than OOB, I'm just not sure that change will be enough, and if it's worth it to try the others until they appeal to me a little.

I don't mean to be snobbishly picky about scents. I think many are an aquired taste and I don't have the frame of reference to enjoy them yet. I grew up on a farm, with new-age suburbs nearby where evereyone used ineffective "all natural" deodorants. It was weird moving to a city where people mask their body odor so well! The boys weren't nearly so attractive at first ;) I'm living in the country now, and I think simple scents that immitate nature are more appealing to me at the moment because that is what I'm surrounded by. My FO preferences could easily change in winter without a garden full of flowers and herbs to compete with. I hope :)
First report on soaps:

Fierce. Still Fierce -- there is something in this fragrance that I detect at extremely low levels, which makes it horrible for me. Post-subtle A&F fragrance, seems to be true to the original and just as overpowering for me. Pleasant if you like it, but I can't get the smell off of me after handling the soap, so it's a definite no. Light pinkish mauve discoloration.

Cold Water: slightly floral "water scent", a bit sweet for me but pleasant. I'd say unisex rather than masculine, but would use soap made with it. Might be some discoloration, but minor.

Drakkar: Discolors more pink than Fierce. Mellows to a cologne like scent that is pleasant, but not for me. Another "post subtle" scent, been around for a long time and too strong for me.

Kentish rain: Mellows to a very pleasant vaguely floral scent. A keeper, will probably make soap with this for me and for Mom. No discoloration and probably no acceleration. Better than I was expecting.

Made to Measure: No discoloration or acceleration. Mellowed to a lovely tobacco leaf scent, like quality cigarettes. Will be using this one, it's quite nice unless it hangs around after rinsing. Again, but better than I was expecting.

Sensuous Sandalwood: Woody sandalwood scent with a "soapy" scent in there somewhere (whatever that is, just smells like soap....). Spicier than Bulk Apothecary's version, will have to see which I like better (or use both, eh?) Discolors light brown or reddish brown.

Shave and a Haircut. No discoloration or acceleration I could see, very faint citrus/musk scent. Will have to use more if I make soap with this again, scent is almost gone. Could just be anethestized nose nerves, though, from the Fierce.

Spiced Mahogany: Light brown discoloration. Scent much like the Sandalwood, but richer and deeper with some musky notes. Will be making soap with this one for sure.

Tobacco and Bay: No discoloration. Does NOT smell like tobacco leaf, instead it's reminiscent of Tabac shaving soap, more tobacco flower with some notes of bay leaf. Quite pleasant, but if you are looking for tobacco leaf, use Made To Measure.

Salty Mariner: No discoloration, but it was the first soap to gel so I would assume it accelerates trace. Light floral perfume like scent with some unidentifiable bass notes, unisex and more feminine than masculine to me. Reminds me, actually, of the prefume a friend uses. Not non-masculine enough I won't use it though, nice scent overall.

Rustic Woods and Rum: No discoloration, maybe minor acceleration. Less woody than Spiced Mahogany, rum note is much less obvious in soap. A little sweeter than I like, but I'd suspect it to be quite popular, it's a nice scent that doesn't shout "perfume".

I should note that I scented these bars at approximately one half gram ppo -- less by far than most people like to use, so keep that in mind when making notes. I don't like to smell the soap in the shower unless it's actually in use, and do not want any residual skin scent at all (which is why Drakkar and Fierce won't ever get used by me).

I think I'm going to do some checking -- I'm beginning to think I smell at least one component of Fierce and Drakkar at very much lower concentrations than most people - some minty/resiny thing that is simply overpowering to me. Might not even be part of the scent, could be a "scentless" carrier that most people don't smell but I do -- if so, it's in all the current offerings from Old Spice in deodorants and at high concentration, it's the same scent, and it "tracks" for me on everything.

Enclosed is a pic of the soaps and my mold. Bars average around 60 grams today, but vary from 50 to 70. Next time I'm going to measure out batter into paper cups and mix with plastic spoons, less mess and more even bars, not that I really care about that.

I will update every week or so as they cure, then see how they work in the shower (except Fierce and Drakkar).

We all have different "smellers", that's for sure, but I have the feeling most suburban folks have become accustomed to very high scent levels. Don't know if it's over exposure, habit, burned out noses from air pollution, or what, but I just cannot manage many commercial scents (Fierce, for instance). I think skunk spray would be better, it doesn't last as long a Fierce does for me, I'm STILL smelling it in the back of my nose from making soap yesterday.

I'm happier with some simple FO combinations I've made myself -- F&M, sandalwood, and wisteria/lilac, or some lemon grass and gardenia I made for some Castile.

That said, Made to Measure is very nice....

Happy soaping!
Please keep us updated, and please add those to the review thread! I am looking for a new scent for my hubby (I can only take so much peppermint/eucalyptus), and he is an old fashioned guy. I am going to try the sandlewood/allspice combo that is said to duplicate the old Old Spice scent next.
Made to Measure, Spiced Mahogany, or the "old spice clone" would all be nice if he like tobacco smells. Rustic woods is a bit perfumy, and I'd guess none of the others except sandalwood would suit him. I'm planning on making the sandalwood and allspice mix myself, Old Spice is my go to scent.
The old spice clone is equal parts sandalwood and allspice. Probably have to use an EO for the allspice, I've not seen an FO, so experimentation is in order.

I hope I can duplicate it, it's my favorite scent.
Rustic Woods and Rum smells AMAZING if you could use that as a room spray or even in a candle. I judged it out of the bottle as something I would never use but I'm glad I was wrong when I tried a little in an tea light burner (with some water to keep it from smoking.) I find it to be a perfect fall home product scent.
Ok, one week update.

First, all the scents have tamed down considerably. No gas mask required for evaluation...

Fierce: Spicy herbal cologne scent, too penetrating and sweet for me, but is quite popular. Definitely brings back memories of 90's club kids wearing too much of it. Sticks very well, pale mauve discoloration.

Drakkar: Another strong scent that sticks well so far. Also penetrating, but a sweeter scent than Fierce. Should also be popular in some markets, too strong and sticky for me -- even at this very low rate i wouldn't use it, the smell stays on my hands from just picking up the soap. Pink discoloration.

Cold Water: Nice mild "soapy" scent with some spice. Very nice "up market" scent, discrete rather than loud. Hard to describe, but I will be making soap with it. Sticks well so far. Probably "fresh" is a good description. No discoloration.

Kentish Rain: Floral version of Clairol Herbal Essence shampoo, if you remember it. Very nice, probably more unisex than masculine, but I will be making soap with it for personal use probably. Sticking well so far. No discoloration.

Made to Measure: Probably my favorite fragrance from this batch. Smells just like expensive cigarette tobacco with a very faint floral note. Very nice gentleman's scent, makes me think of English manors from some reason (not that I've ever been to one). Will use this one too someday. No discoloration for me.

Sensuous Sandalwood: Very spicy sandalwood, has an Ivory soap note that is jarring to me, at least so far. I prefer Bulk Apothecary's sandalwood. Makes a nice Old Spice clone with allspice EO though. May or may not use it, depends on what it smells like in a few more weeks. Not offensive, just not quite what I expect when I think sandalwood. Light tan discoloration for me, probably darker if you use more.

Shave and a Haircut: Generic citrus with some herbal undertones, smells "clean" and vaguely soapish. I like it better than the scent in the shaving cream at my favorite barber shop (which reminds me I need a haircut tomorrow). May make shaving soap with this one depending on final scent after cure. Will have to try some in hot process too. Will make nice bath soap. No discoloration, holding well, but lighter than the others.

Spiced Mahogany: Sweeter version of Old Spice. Will be using this one next time I make bath soap, I think, very nice. Tan discoloration at high usage levels (mine is very low, so it only shows where I didn't get the fragrance oil mixed in completely). Quite strong, holding very well.

Tobacco and Rum: Sweet tobacco smell, some hints of tobacco flower still, a tiny bit of rum, very nice. Getting better, actually. Will probably use this one someday too (if I live long enough to use all that soap....) Very pale tan discoloration if any. Some fading of scent, but it's still very present.

Saltly Mariner: Light floral notes, "ozone" and "ocean", although it really doesn't smell of ozone or seawater -- I've smelled plenty of those and while the scent makes you think ocean front, there is none of the fishy smell I think of when I see ocean water (and I've spent some time sailing on it). Very nice, also probably a good unisex fragrance. No discoloration, holding well although it's a light scent.

Rustic Woods and Rum: Sweet almost incense notes, aromatic wood, maybe some rum. Nice scent, but a little sweet for me. Holding well, no discoloration.

Overall this is a nice selection of more or less masculine scents. Fierce is still way too strong for me, but if you like it this version certainly has staying power (cough). Otherwise they are all well balanced fragrances, it's personal choice for what you like or don't.

Hope this is useful!
Two week update:

Fierce: Has faded down to a tolerable scent, spice and cologne. Still reeks of arrogant teen to me, but that's a separate issue from the scent. Has lost the penetrating UGH and is now rather pleasant. Discoloration has faded a bit too, but may not with higher usage rate.

Drakkar: Toned down quite a bit, now a sweet cologne smell that can be faintly heard singing Donna Summer. Holds pretty well, too. Not my favorite, this one reminds me of bad disco music and college kids (the age I was when it was really popular). Still faintly pink.

Cold water: Now a nice cologne scent, lightly non-descript floral scent. Quite pleasant, will work well in soap. Not strong, but holding well.

Kentish Rain: nice aroma of fresh cut grass, slight floral background. Holding well, although fainter than when freshly made. Very nice soap scent (rather than cologne). No discoloration.

Made to Measure: Same as before, scent is holding nicely, smells exactly like quality cigarettes and tweed jacket. Not sure it's my idea of a soap scent, but it's very nice.

Sensuous Sandalwood: More sandalwood, less soap, but still has that generic "soap" scent to my nose. Holding well, should make a nice soap scent if you like this version of sandalwood. Might be strange at high usage rates though.

Shave and a Haircut: Nice generic "citrus" scent with something nice in the background. Very light, and fading a bit (was very light to start with), might need a bit more of this for most people. Should be a very pleasant soap scent, if light.

Spiced Mahogany: Sandalwood, vanilla, spice, quality tobacco -- this one is getting very nice, holding well. Made a 500 gr batch with it a little stronger than the tester the other day. Very light tan discoloration, I'd expect more with higher usage rates.

Tobacco and Bay Rum: Has morphed to a nice tobacco and bay rum scent (who'd have thought, eh?) with some tobacco flower in the background. Very nice, should make very nice soap. Holding well, although fainter than at first.

Salty Mariner: Nice almost floral "ocean" scent. Light but holding well, should make excellent soap that appeals to a wide audience. Will be the next soap I make for myself, I think

Rustic Woods: This one has changed the most. Didn't like it to start with, but it has mellowed into a sweet cedar and bay rum scent, quite nice. Losing a little scent, but not too badly, might make some soap with this one too.

In spite of my initial impressions, I think all of these would be popular scents. Now that the Firece has stopped smelling like three lions holding me down shoving rosemary and cardomom essence up my nose it's not too bad, although I still don't like it as a soap scent, and the Drakkar is almost tame enough to try using the soap. Probably sell like crazy, just not to me!
Wow - I've used 8 of those fragrances and my description of those 8 is very different from yours. It still surprises me how different our senses of smell are! (I used the highest usage rate though)

I can't stand the tobacco leaf - and haven't found anyone who does. I LOVE spiced mahogany - it smells like aged wood to me!
Everybody smells things differently indeed. I used half a gram ppo of all of these (rather than half an ounce, so 1/28th!) and can smell the testers sitting on the floor next to my desk. I suspect most people would smell nothing!

And whatever Drakkar and Fierce have in common is something I smell at vastly lower threshold than most people, I'm sure. But then two cardomom seeds crushed in a batch of Danish is almost too much for me, too.

I'm curious as to what your impression of those scents are -- I'm not sure I could manage most of them at an ounce ppo, it would run me out of the house!

Good thing there are plenty to chose from! Too many, actually -- if I make a pound of soap with all of these I may not outlive the supply.
Everybody smells things differently indeed. I used half a gram ppo of all of these (rather than half an ounce, so 1/28th!) and can smell the testers sitting on the floor next to my desk. I suspect most people would smell nothing!

And whatever Drakkar and Fierce have in common is something I smell at vastly lower threshold than most people, I'm sure. But then two cardomom seeds crushed in a batch of Danish is almost too much for me, too.

I'm curious as to what your impression of those scents are -- I'm not sure I could manage most of them at an ounce ppo, it would run me out of the house!

Good thing there are plenty to chose from! Too many, actually -- if I make a pound of soap with all of these I may not outlive the supply.

I went to the curing rack and took a re-smell of Tobacco/Leaf and Shave/haircut and Spiced Mahogany (this is my second batch of S. Mahogany)

The Tobacco/Leaf is over 5 months old. The scent is respectably strong, and it has turned a bit more herbal (which is good). But that scent went through a lot of changes - especially during the first curing weeks.

Shave an a Haircut has a bit of cologne, but mostly shaving cream type scent to me. People find it pleasant, but that's it. It does fade a little - but still keeps a nice strength for about a 9 - 12 months. So its a good "generic" mens scent.

The Spiced Mahogany is cured only 3 weeks - and I could smell some of the notes you mentioned....but probably because you "educated" me with your description. However, I remember that this scent does continue to change after a few months...and the wood scent gets strong while the other notes fade. It's also a respectable scent strength at 9 months.

I haven't used Fierce, but did use Drakkar. I strongly dislike cologne-y scents and Drakkar definitely fit that bill. Turned soap that weird pink color that the men's cologne-y scents tend to do. And if I remember correctly - that scent stuck hard for 2 years....until I the threw the thing away.

I loved Kentish rain; but I love fresh, ocean, rain, herbal and citrus scents. The scent mellows over a long cure but it was a good sticker.

Btw, BB Celestial Waters is "sweeter" than Kentish Rain. I have a few bars curing right now.

Hope that was helpful!
Be warned, salty mariner is know to be a very bad accelerator. Not sure what % needs to be used before it gets finicky but be prepared just in case.