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Smell Test: John Varvatos Artisan Acqua


With his stellar track record, nobody is doubting John Varvatos’s fragrance chops these days.

But when a sample of Artisan Acqua, his latest citrus-and-basil-laden scent, made its way into Kempt HQ with the oddly specific claim to “embody the panache and leisure of the Mediterranean man who, without overthinking, achieves high style and an effortless nonchalance,” we couldn’t not be curious.

Fortunately, we have protocols in place to handle such skepticism. And so it was up to our resident bloodhounds/writers to take a good, strong whiff of the stuff and put into words what their noses were telling them.

Their olfactory musings, after the jump.»

Smell Test: Gold Jay Z

1105_GoldJaz_HED Rapper + Producer + Designer + Agent + Team Owner + Philanthropist + Beyoncé’s Plus-One = Your New Perfumer.

Yes, Mr. Carter is getting into his eighth-ish career with his forthcoming scent, Gold Jay Z. It’s apparently the essence of an icon in a bottle: power, pride, confidence, strength, success and courage.

But what exactly does an icon’s essence smell like? Yeah, we didn’t know either. So we got our hands on a bottle early and unleashed our regiment of noses on the Smell Test™.

Take a whiff of the gilded mogul, after the jump.»

Smell Test: Odin 11 Semma


First there was 1. Then there was 2 and 3 (see where we’re going with this?). And now with its 11th iteration, Odin delivers Semma.

With layers of tobacco, chili pepper and sandalwood, it’s professed as “a collection of notes from distant lands veiled in mystery.” Bold words.

As recreational conquistadors of distant lands veiled in mystery, we’ve put the claim to the test and asked the unbiased and hypersensitive noses of Kempt HQ to take a whiff.

Here’s what they had to say.»

Smell Test: The Glenlivet’s Spirit of the Glen


Just when you thought there were enough single malt scents...

The Glenlivet goes and teams up with Brooklyn-based perfumery HYLNDS to make a “scotch-inspired” eau de parfum they’re calling “The Spirit of the Glen.” (We’re guessing “scotch-inspired” means there’s some “barley malt” and “sherry cask” listed in the scent’s low notes.) And while it won’t be available for purchase until the holidays, we’ve managed to get our hands on an advance sample.

Thus, in our long-standing tradition of providing helpful, honest commentary on what your olfactory centers have in store for them, we’ve asked the great noses at Kempt HQ to take a good, strong whiff and tell us what they think of the stuff.

Check out their slightly-less-than-sober reflections, after the jump...»

Smell Test: Atlas, by the Motley

Smell Test

Yup, it’s that time again.

The last time we did a smell test on Kempt, we investigated Michael Jordan’s Flight Sport. And the results were, shall we say, mixed. But this time around, with some samples in hand from grooming specialists at the Motley and our olfactory palate cleansed of Gatorade and sweat, we’re feeling much more optimistic.

The first fragrance from these young-but-well-regarded curators of fine dopp kittery, Atlas boasts notes of cedar, oak moss, leather and green mandarin. And that’s all great. We’re pretty sure, though, that there must be a more expressive way of describing this “clear, strong and righteous” attempt at men’s perfumery. So we had the finest noses at Kempt HQ take a whiff.

What they thought, after the jump.»

Smell Test: Michael Jordan’s Flight Sport

Smell Test

Basketball legend Michael Jordan has made some questionable decisions since the days we trusted him on the court. So when we saw he had released the “Sport” version of his original eau de toilette, Flight, earlier this year, we were skeptical.

According to Perfumania, Flight Sport boasts notes of mandarin oil, geranium, patchouli, white lavender, vanilla and skin musk. We’re not convinced. So we had a few of Kempt’s most sophisticated noses take a spritz and evaluate. Here’s what they had to say:»

Test-Driving Viktor & Rolf’s Spicebomb

Our latest smell test comes from Viktor & Rolf, who shifted their popular women’s scent Flowerbomb into a men’s spinoff, dubbed Spicebomb.

The result is full of rich, sweet florals—but in the interest of describing it without perfume lingo, we thought we’d ask a few of our ruthlessly articulate lady friends what they thought of the scent. What follows is an unedited transcript. This could get ugly...

Hear what our panel had to say about Spicebomb»