With names like Tobacco, Moss and Maine, you’d be forgiven for immediately turning your nose up at these colognes. You would be missing out though, so I politely suggest that you man up and prepare to smell like just that – a man.
These colognes are created using age-old techniques by Portland General Store; a brand run by the lovely Lisa and inspired by Czechoslovakian pharmacy bottles among other things.
The cologne sampler kit comes all the way from, you guessed it, Portland, Maine. It is packaged in a metal tin with a hinged lid, or more exactly, in a Ziploc bag, tin then another Ziploc bag. What at first may seem like overkill later prevails as a good call once you see how delicate the beautiful test tube-esque bottles are.
With each tubule individually labelled and tightly capped, they have a distinct vintage scarcity to their appearance and feel. And they are scarce, each being crafted on India Street in Portland and blended by Lisa using absolutely no chemical additives or fragrance oils. They are vegan and organic: it’s all how it should be – natural.
The Portland General Store Colognes
There are eight tubule in this sample pack: Cardamom, Maine, Moss, Professor, Saltwater, Tobacco, Whiskey and Wood.
If you’ve ever had cardamom pods in your pantry, you’ll recognise the fresh, almost minty scent with hints of . I liken it to waking up at 6.30am on a sunny Spring Sunday morning and going for a cycle ride.
Having never visited Maine, I can’t vouch for the authenticity as a scent representing it, but I can vouch for how wonderful it smells. It has mellow tones of vanilla and bubblegum; like a British seaside ice-cream shop.
The moss scent actually has fragments of moss floating throughout it: A sentiment of the natural purity within if you ask me. Surprisingly, it is much fresher than my clothes smelt last time I lay on a bed of moss, but that’s another story for another day. It smells like a combination of freshly cut grass and vanilla ice cream, but with more earthy undertones.
Imagine you are exploring an abandoned estate when you find a mysterious mansion with ivy growing up the front; you enter. Inside, it is the juxtaposition of the exterior; grand with an extra dose of mystery. You walk into a room and inside is a crazy looking professor standing beside a plethora of scientific instruments straight out of a movie; you then run over to a table of empty test tubes and documents just across from him and take a big breath in. If you are anything like me, you’ll be imagining this scent; a deep, sweet, citrus-smoky fragrance.
A breezy day on the shores of Nice, France; lying beside your lover holding their hand. A fresh, minty smell that is similar to moss and cardamom, but distinctly more relatable to the seaside rather than inland. This also includes Atlantic sea salt, adding a notable authenticity.
“But I don’t want to smell like I’m a heavy smoker!” I hear you cry; as it was also my first reaction. But surprisingly, this scent takes all the worst parts out of the tobacco smell and leaves behind a tasteful and light fragrance that is only slightly smoky. Like an orange plantation sitting parallel to a lavender field with a wood bonfire a mile downstream.
The smell of being a raging alcoholic is distant enough to tastefully wear it, this cologne smells like a whiskey which has been watered down with melted vanilla and orange ice cream then blended carefully with cardamom.
A sherbet-dipped cinnamon stick comes to mind. A playful mid-tone of sherbet surrounded by the earthy tones of cinnamon; like a lumberjack having a love affair with a secretary.
What I love about these colognes is that they aren’t offensive to the senses. I’m sure you know the scenario when someone sprays a choking floral perfume, or when you sneeze around a particular person because they smell like they are wearing everything in the cosmetics department of John Lewis. These aren’t like that.
At $38 or about £25, they won’t break the bank. Have a look over on their website and support the greatness that is the Portland General Store.